Rack Magazine

Where the Tractors Don’t Go

Where the Tractors Don’t Go

By John E. Phillips

This Kansas deer hunter knows the value of untilled ‘scrap’ land.

When looking for deer hunting ground, David Yutzy of Nickerson, Kansas, doesn’t seek out traditional blocks or farms. He’s not interested in leasing land he can’t hunt in order to have a sliver he can.

“I hunt the scraps,” he says, “small properties of generally 3 to 20 acres. No one else wants to lease them, so the farmers allow me to hunt these properties.”

From 2010 to 2013, David retrieved trail camera photographs of a great whitetail he nicknamed the River Buck.

“I first got trail camera pictures of the buck when he was a 10-pointer that should have scored 140. One side of his rack was broken off from fighting.”

The impressive half-rack buck gave him a 15-yard shot opportunity that year, but David let him walk. He didn’t see it again until the following season, but only briefly. And he didn’t see the deer at all in 2012, the year he arrowed a 167-incher.

David’s buddy retrieved some trail cam pictures of the deer that year, however.

“My 17-year-old hunting partner had 2012 trail camera pictures of the River Buck. He had an 11-point rack then, but it was busted up from fighting. If the rack had been intact, he probably would have scored 190.”

The third time David saw the buck was on Nov. 14, 2013.

He was hunting beside a creek within a 20-acre woodlot that is surrounded by fields of soybeans, corn, wheat and milo. The creek provides water, cover and easy access to the many harvested crop fields.

“The creek was about 150 yards wide with hardwood timber and bedding sites all along its edges,” David said. “I never hunt that spot until the rut arrives every year. The bucks travel up and down the creek’s edge, wind-checking for does out in the fields or in the bedding area.”

After his morning hunt that day, David stopped by the only trail camera he had set out in that little funnel of hardwoods. There were two pictures of the River Buck – one from 3 a.m. and one from the previous morning at first light.

After grabbing a quick sandwich, David returned to the property and realized the breeze was going to ruin his chances of ambushing the deer.

“I had the wrong wind to hunt any of the lock-on stands that I had put up,” he said. “The only place I could go was to the property’s backside. If I wanted to hunt, I’d have to find a tree and put up a new stand where I’d never hunted or even had a trail camera.”

About 2 p.m., David reached the area he planned to hunt and spent about an hour finding a tree suitable for his fixed-position stand. He also had to trim shooting lanes to the creek bank, which caused so much racket that he assumed he was probably spooking the buck he wanted so badly to take.

“I couldn’t find a tree big enough to hang my stand,” David said. “Finally, I decided on a relatively small hedge tree where I could get only about 10 feet off the ground. I didn’t have much confidence in the site, but decided just to wait and see what happened.”

Where the Tractors Don’t GoDavid’s stand was right on the edge of the creek, allowing him a full view up and down the banks and also of a milo field across the creek that hadn’t been cut. Twenty minutes into his sit, figuring he had at least another 45 minutes before any deer in its right mind would come through there, he pulled out his cell phone to send a text message to a friend.

“That’s when I heard a noise across the creek,” David said. “I saw one side of a fine buck’s rack 60 yards away, and I soon recognized it was the River Buck. From my trail camera pictures, I’d estimated the buck would score between 170 and 180.

“He walked right to me. While I was putting the stand up, cutting bushes and dragging them out of the way, I think the River Buck might have thought that all that noise was coming from two bucks fighting, since I was hunting during the rut.”

The buck had appeared directly behind David’s tree and walked steadily toward him. David had to stand and turn around to draw his bow. As close to the ground as he was, he felt certain the buck would see him and spook.

The buck stopped to gawk at him from 20 yards.

“I didn’t want to take a head-on shot, but I knew the buck was about to break and run,” he said.

Aiming about 6 inches up from the bottom of the deer’s chest, David let the arrow fly, and the Rage broadhead centerpunched the buck, which wheeled and ran back the way he’d come.

“I could see the buck as he ran about 60 yards and then dropped in a wheat field,” he said.

David remained aloft for a little while to regain his composure and to decide what to do next. The creek beside his stand was too deep to wade and too wide to jump.

When he got down from his stand, he called his hunting buddy, Jordan, and walked the quarter-mile back to his truck, which was parked at the landowner’s house. After he told the landowner he’d shot the River Buck, the man suggested he take his four-wheeler to get the buck out of the woods.

Thirty minutes later, Jordan got out of school and met David at the landowner’s house. The two of them retrieved the deer.

“When I put my hands on the antlers, I realized I’d finally taken the buck of my dreams,” he said.

Hunter: David Yutzy
Score: 182 6/8
View Scoresheet

This article was published in the October 2016 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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