I started my bowhunting career in 1975, when I was 15 years old. Like all hunters, I dreamed of giant bucks. The area that I grew up hunting in Louisiana is bottomland hardwoods — not prime habitat for a Boone and Crockett-caliber deer.
I learned a lot about bowhunting through the school of hard knocks since nobody I knew was really versed in even still-hunting, much less bowhunting.
In December 2011, I decided to book a semi-guided hunt in Kansas. I spoke with several outfitters and decided to book with Tim Clark at Red Dog Outfitters, located in northwest Kansas.
There have been Boone and Crockett-class deer taken in this part of Kansas, but not as many as in the eastern part of the state.
Tim was willing to work with me on hunt dates, and he sent me a layout of the farm I would be hunting. I put in for the tag lottery in April, and found out in July that I had drawn. When
Tim asked what size deer I wanted to try to take, I said anything that would score 150 inches or better. On November 4, 2012, I killed a 10-point buck that scored 152 5„8 inches.
On the day before I arrowed that buck, I drew back on a 180-class deer at 60 yards, but it was right at the end of legal shooting hours and I didn't want to take a chance of wounding a deer of that caliber, so I passed on the shot.
Then, in April 2013, eight hunting buddies and I put in for Kansas tags. In July, we found out that only three of us got tags — me, my son, Jared, and our friend Jared Persick.
November couldn't get here fast enough. I purchased a new Bowtech Experience and had it tricked out at Spillway Sportsman in Brusly, Louisiana. In no time at all, I was proficient with my new rig out to 60 yards and ready for Kansas again. I hadn't quit dreaming about the 180-inch deer that I had passed on in 2012.
Our hunt started on November 2, but we arrived at the lodge on November 1 and checked out some trail camera pictures before going to bed. Tim showed me a picture of a deer from the farm where I was going to hunt.
The buck, which he'd named the "Lottery Buck," had passed so close to the camera that all you could see was a monster main beam and nothing else. The pic was taken near a stand that could only be hunted in the evenings because it was surrounded by fields that would be full of deer, and I would blow them out of there if I tried to slip into the area in the morning.
The first morning I hunted a different stand, but the weather was hot and there was very little pre-rut activity. That afternoon, I went to sit the stand where the picture of the big buck was taken, but the wind was wrong, so I changed my plan.
I told Tim that I had to move until the wind changed, so I went to a farm about five miles down the road and hunted there the rest of the evening.
The next day was Sunday, November 4. The wind was blowing about 35 mph out of the south, so we opted not to hunt. On Monday, a front was rolling in and the wind switched to out of the north.
I headed down the road to the stand I had hunted the evening before. I saw several bucks cruising the edge of the field that morning, but they were all about 400 yards away. It was raining, and by 11 a.m. I was soaking wet, so I collected my gear and went back to the lodge to dry off and get a bite to eat.
From the lodge, I called Tim to tell him I was going back to my original stand since the wind had changed. He thought that was a good idea and told me to stay put as long as I could since the deer were moving.
In my haste to get to my stand, I accidentally grabbed the wet ScentBlocker Protec fleece I had worn in the rain that morning. On the walk to my stand, rack bucks were running everywhere. The rut was on!
The wind was blowing 30 to 35 mph with gusts to 40. In case you didn't know, those of us from South Louisiana aren't used to that kind of cold weather!
I eased into the ladder stand set up in a cottonwood tree at 12:30 p.m. and nestled in for the afternoon. The wind was brutal, and being wet didn't help. The stand was in a treeline between a cut cornfield and a beautiful, lush alfalfa field, so that cold wind was blowing right at me with nothing to stop it. I have hunted Canada three times and have never been that cold.
I started seeing deer come out of the bottom at about 1:30 p.m. The bucks were running and the does were coming out and bedding down behind any hill or knoll that they could find.
At about 2 p.m., two yearlings came out and walked right underneath me. They made a circle and ended up about 100 yards in front of me, where they bedded down below the edge of the creek bank to get out of the wind. I watched them chew their cud and then curl up and go to sleep.
The whole time I was slowly getting colder and colder. But I kept thinking about Tim's advice to stay in my stand and not get out for anything, even though he knew it would be rough for us "swamp stompers."
At 3 p.m., I was freezing and seriously contemplating getting down. Then I remembered the raingear in my backpack, so I took out the jacket and put it on with the hood up to help break the wind.
This worked for a while, but soon I began shivering again. This time it was almost uncontrollable. I will never be able to hit a deer shaking like this, I thought.
At around 3:30, I couldn't take it anymore. All the deer that I could see were lying down, and I decided it was time to call it a day. I removed my bow from my bow hanger and tied my pull-up rope to it.
I looked around the cornfield one more time and lowered my bow to the ground. When it reached the ground, I looked up to see if I had spooked the yearlings. What I saw almost made me fall out of my stand: A monster buck was walking up to the yearlings to sniff them!
I had a cottonwood in front of me, so I leaned behind it and hurriedly retrieved my bow. Once I got it in my hand, I nocked an arrow and got ready.
After a couple of minutes had gone by, I peeked around the cottonwood and saw the buck making a scrape at about 80 yards away. I readied myself again, and when I peeked around the cottonwood again, the buck was now 40 yards away and closing.
I knew that he was coming to the right side of the stand, so I positioned myself for a shot in that direction. When he popped out from behind the cottonwood he was only 10 yards away, and it was at that moment that I realized I was looking down at a legitimate 200-inch buck!
Without hesitation, I drew back, I don't remember touching my anchor point, and at seven yards the buck filled up my sight guard. I touched my release trigger and let my arrow fly. My bow is very fast, and the shot was pointblank, yet this time my arrow seemed to cover those few short yards in slow motion.
I saw the arrow go through the buck, right behind his shoulder, and then bury in the ground. At his first lunge forward, blood was pumping out of both his sides. I just held my bow up in the air and thanked the Lord.
I kept my bow up in the air until the huge buck ran out into the cornfield and started to wobble at 65 yards. I had kept my composure from the first time I had spotted him right up until that moment, but when I watched him hit the ground, I came completely unglued!
The first call I made was to Tim.
"Did you get one?" he asked immediately, knowing I wouldn't be calling at that time of day if I hadn't.
"I am looking at him dead in the cornfield 65 yards away," I replied.
"Holy cow," he said, "How big is he?"
"I shot that 200-incher!" I said. "He's lying dead right in front of me!"
"No way! I'll be right there!" Tim said.
My next call was to Jared Persick. When I told him I had just killed a monster buck, he told me he was on his way, too. I took all my gear out of the tree and climbed down.
When Jared got there and we walked up to the deer, we immediately started high-fiving and jumping up and down. Neither of us had ever seen a deer that big before. I put my tag on the buck, and when Tim got there we loaded the buck into the truck and headed back to the lodge.
When my son Jared got there, we hugged and the high-fives and celebrating started all over again. I don't know if this was the buck I saw in 2012, but he was definitely a "lottery" buck.
We took the buck to Grinnell, Kansas, the next day to have him caped out. The taxidermist there taped him at 208 7/8 gross and 193 5/8 net.
I have never had him officially scored, but at Simmons Sporting Goods Big Buck Contest, he grossed 201 in March.
I have taken plenty of deer with a bow in my life, but I have never experienced something like this. Other than my children and my grandchildren being born, this was the happiest day of my life!
And, for my son to be there with me, it was even more special. He took his biggest buck with a bow a month before on our lease in Louisiana. The only thing that would have made this experience better is if my son had taken this giant buck.
It was also my granddaughter Amelia Hobbins' first birthday! We had her birthday party the Saturday before I left for Kansas so Jared and I could be there. Needless to say, November 5 is definitely one of my favorite days of the year!
My equipment on this hunt included a BOWTECH Experience bow, Carbon Express Maxima Hunter arrows, Rage 2-Blade broadheads, QAD Ultra-Rest, HHA Optimizer sight, and ScentBlocker fleece clothing.
If you would like to book a hunt with Tim Clark at Red Dog Outfitters, you can contact him at (720) 232-0173. But don't expect to see a 200-inch buck behind every tree. They truly are a once-in-a-lifetime animal.