Tattooee’s change of heart allows Kansan to use a different tool to paint a shoulder red.
After an afternoon of glassing deer in fields near their hunting property, Jed States and his brother, Magnus, took a different route home. They’d seen several bucks in the 150s and 160s, so they were already excited about their prospects for the 2015 season.
The tattoo artist from Stockton, Kansas, would forget about them all before sundown.
Plenty of daylight remained while the brothers were cruising down the secondary road. So when a gigantic whitetail, its rack in velvet, stood up less than 40 yards from the road, they saw all its glory. Jed braked hard, threw the shifter in park, and grabbed his video camera.
“I filmed the deer for several minutes,” he beamed. “I grew more excited with every passing second. It was awesome to see a possible 200-plus-inch buck, and even more so because I was able to get footage of it.”
Jed and Magnus never figured they’d be able to hunt the buck. They’d driven pretty far from their farm, and neither knew who owned the property where the buck was standing.
“I drove out there several more times the next two weeks, just to look for it again,” Jed said. “During those trips, I glassed at least five deer that would’ve easily grossed at least 160. That’s when my curiosity and anxiety finally got the better of me, and I began searching out the landowner.”
Jed asked around and learned the names of a couple of property owners in the vicinity. He knew one of the men, but he wasn’t sure which piece of ground was his.
One day in early September, Jed awoke with the roosters and decided to go dove hunting. He called his father to see if he wanted to join him. He agreed to tag along, even though his ribs were too sore for him to hunt.
“I stopped at the gas station to grab a bite to eat on the way to Dad’s,” Jed said. “Dad wanted to go to the station, too, so I had to head back there first.”
Jed was acutely aware that every minute spent in the truck or store was one not spent waiting on doves to fly overhead.
“But then an amazing thing happened,” he said. “Standing in the checkout line in front of my dad was the man who owned the land where I’d seen the giant buck, and Dad struck up a conversation with him.”
When he could get a word in, Jed told the guy he was interested in hunting his farm, and they took the conversation outside.
“I asked what my chances were of getting permission to hunt his farm,” Jed said. “He didn’t even hesitate before saying I could. He even offered to take me out there to show me the boundaries.”
They met there the following Saturday.
“As we drove around the farm, I tried to take it all in while noting the best spots for deer stands,” he said.
There were wheat, corn and milo fields, and a mile-long strip of timber along the backside. The woods were 300 yards wide in places.
“That timber was undoubtedly where the deer would run if disturbed and where they would bed after the crops were cut,” Jed said. “I began to think I might actually have a chance to harvest that buck.”
Jed shared the news with his cousin, Jesse Dunlap, who agreed to accompany him with a video camera.
Their first trip was on a Monday. Jed borrowed a T/C muzzleloader, Jesse carried the camera, and they sat in the milo next to a wheat field.
Late that evening, they found themselves staring directly into the setting sun. Too much light is not a good thing. They saw a few deer, but not the big one.
Jed had to work on Tuesday.
“I was expecting to be in the shop from noon to 8 p.m.,” he said. “My last appointment was supposed to be a four-hour tattoo, so I didn’t anticipate any hunting that day.
“However, when the man arrived for that last job, he’d decided on a much smaller tattoo, one that would take only an hour. So I called Jesse with a change of plans,” he grinned.
His day done, Jed drove the 40 miles back home from Hays, changed into his hunting clothes, loaded up his gear, and went to collect Jesse. They set up just as they had the previous day, only 40 yards farther south.
Conditions were horrible for hunting. The mercury had climbed in the 90s there. Nearby, one town even set a new high – 103 degrees – for Sept. 15. Not only that, but the wind also was gusting at 55 mph.
The guys felt like overdressed Cornish game hens in a convection oven.
“It was so windy while we crossed the field, we could barely stand erect, and the dust was swirling everywhere,” Jed said. “Still, we persisted and managed to get set up: Jesse with his camera, and me lying down with the muzzleloader resting on the ground in front of me.”
The only thing moving for the next hour was the milo. The noise of the wind ripping through it was so great that they could hear nothing else.
One moment Jesse was trying to talk to someone on his phone. The next, he was kicking Jed.
“He was kicking my leg, trying to get my attention,” Jed said. “He was directing me to look where he was pointing.
“As I focused my attention in that direction, I saw this buck perhaps 80 yards from the trees, crossing the wheat stubble. It was moving at a 45-degree angle, coming right toward us.
“We had both been glassing the area, and Jesse was watching through the camera. ‘You have to get on that deer now!’ he told me,” Jed said.
Jesse was having a difficult time keeping the animal in the viewfinder. The wind-blown milo was wreaking havoc with the camera’s autofocus.
“I was ready, waiting for Jesse to give the go-ahead,” Jed said. “When he stopped the deer with a grunt, I squeezed the T/C’s trigger.”
The buck ran across the field, stopped to get its bearings, and then fell over dead, right out in the open and on camera. Jed had double-lunged the giant.
He didn’t know that until later, of course. And he was thrilled to have made the first shot count.
“I was using a borrowed inline muzzleloader. Just to be safe, I felt I ought to reload the gun as quickly as possible,” he said. “But when I opened the bag containing all the goodies, there were no bullets. Powder and primer, but no bullets.” Read Recent RACK Articles:
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