Going into the 2019 season, Brian Butcher had taken only three bucks in 13 years of bowhunting. News of his fourth spread far beyond his native Kansas.
Few whitetails can compare with the one that wound up wearing his tag.
“I’m still proud of the other deer I’ve taken, but this hunt will always be the one most talked about,” Brian says. “I shot does each year I went out, but it took a lot of trial and error to learn how to hunt mature bucks.”
The trials and errors occurred on the same tract.
“I’ve been lucky enough to hunt this same property for 13 years,” Brian said. “It’s a diverse piece of ground consisting of pasture, crops, a hay meadow, and some ground that’s been left alone for cover.”
His first clue that 2019 was going to be different came when he retrieved a couple of trail camera images of a really weird deer on April 25. One of the buck’s antlers had a lot more growth than its mate.
Those photos were taken long before the rack had fully bloomed.
“After a few months (and no more photos), we forgot about that deer,” he said.
Fast forward to Oct. 11, the day a cold front arrived in Chase County, riding a chilly wind. The high was 52, 20 degrees cooler than it was 24 hours earlier. And the temperature continued falling rapidly throughout the day.
Brian decided to go to a new place and trim some shooting lanes, but he also carried his Mathews bow. He and a friend, Clint, rode out on a four-wheeler to get the job done.
When they pulled up to the area, two or three deer ran off through the woods.
They trimmed out shooting lanes for a treestand they’d moved the previous week. Clint left about 4:00, and Brian climbed his ladder in hopes of glassing up a buck.
He sat facing a small creek about 30 yards away, the perfect yardage marker if a deer came from that direction. On the other side of it was a pasture and an adjoining milo field. An overgrown field with small trees and tall grass sprawled out to the east. And a CRP field stretched out to the west.
It was a beautiful spot, even if deer didn’t move that day.
Fifteen minutes after he set up shop, he saw a small buck. About 30 minutes after it had left, the wind finally died. Soon afterward, a decent 9-pointer came into view behind the stand. It hung around for about 40 minutes, feeding on the freshly cut limbs, and eventually walked off through the timber.
It hadn’t been gone five minutes when Brian caught sight of two more deer in his peripheral vision. He could tell one was definitely more mature than the other, but he couldn’t make out the rack.
“I thought there were branches or twine stuck in the deer’s rack,” he said. “As it continued toward me, I realized it was a bunch of antlers.
“From that moment on, I never looked at the antlers again. I was a little nervous because I was going to take the first opportunity,” he added.
When the distinctive whitetail came into range, it veered to Brian’s left and presented a 25-yard, broadside target. The arrow went right through the deer’s boiler room.
The animal ran only a short distance before expiring.
Brian realizes he was fortunate to get a shot at this deer. He didn’t know the buck was still in the area, or even how big it had grown.
“My intentions were geared toward an early observation hunt,” he said. “I didn’t have any real expectations. All I did was spend some time in the stand and remain focused.
“I think about the hunt and shake my head every time. I’ve hunted countless days, and it has never worked like this,” he continued. “We were in there trimming limbs 2½ hours before I shot this monster. It came in and presented the perfect shot for me on my first hunt of the year.
“Everyone has been surprised and confused by this deer,” he said. “It is like nothing anyone has seen. Some people who saw pictures of it early on thought it was Photoshopped.
“This deer has meant a lot to me because of where it has landed in the record books and the opportunities it has created.
“It tastes great, too,” he added.
Brian doesn’t consider himself a trophy hunter. He just loves the adventure, peacefulness, camaraderie and, of course, the healthy venison.
“Deer hunting has turned into a passion for me,” Brian said. “Hunting is so much more than killing an animal. The amount of time spent in nature as an observer can be just as rewarding as a successful hunt.
“It’s challenging. Nothing gets your heart pounding quite like when you’re so close to these animals.”
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