(Writer photographs)





The hunt for this deer started in 1973, when my Uncle Bob and Aunt Pat bought an 80-acre parcel of land “up north” in central Wisconsin. Each October, Uncle Bob, together with my dad, grandpa, and different members of the family and buddies would set out in the hunt for a buck they’d name “The Large Kahuna.”

This was again within the days earlier than path cameras and nicknaming deer. My household wasn’t on the lookout for any deer particularly; they have been simply on the lookout for a buck to carry residence that may earn them prime honors as the most important buck taken that season by taking part members of the family. Some years, it will be a 10-pointer; different years it will be a button buck; and nonetheless some years the trophy would possibly go unawarded for lack of taking pictures a buck altogether.

Not lengthy after “The Farm” was bought, an annual household reunion was began. Its goal was to assemble all members of the family who had dispersed throughout the nation an opportunity to get again collectively and possibly put in a bit of treestand time every fall.

Earlier than I had sufficient muscle to attract a bow able to killing a deer, I fondly bear in mind anxiously ready for darkish so I might hearken to the tales being informed by these hunters getting back from the woods. Profitable or not, I used to be jealous of their capacity to exit in the hunt for the Large Kahuna, and I dreamed of the day after I’d get to inform my story by the campfire.

Time flies, and earlier than I knew it, I used to be sitting 20 toes up in a treestand with bow in hand, in pursuit of a trophy of my selecting.

Since I had tagged out on a buck in Missouri on opening day of the 2021 archery season, I used to be desperate to get after rutting Wisconsin bucks the primary week of November. I had e-scouted completely different items of public floor with my onX app weeks earlier than the journey and already had a handful of spots close to the farm that I needed to take a look at.

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My dad John Burk (left) and Uncle Bob Skiera (proper).

Arriving on the farm, I spent the following a number of hours catching up with household over meals and soccer — too many hours actually, because the outcome was a late begin on the following day’s morning chores, like buying a searching license on the town.

Getting again to the farm round midday the following day, my uncle informed me that I ought to go to a spot he had picked out within the far northwest nook of the property. Like all moral bowhunters ought to do after prolonged journey, I shot just a few arrows simply to verify all was nicely with my archery setup earlier than heading out for the afternoon’s hunt.

The sandy four-wheeler path I used to be utilizing to entry my uncle’s instructed hunt space was plagued by scrapes and different signal made by rut-crazed bucks in the hunt for receptive does — additional including to my confidence and pleasure. Upon reaching my vacation spot, I instantly realized why my uncle needed me to be there: It was a south-facing hillside thick with seedling oaks, briars, scattered white pines, and different cowl, which finally opened as much as a hardwood flat. It was the right funnel for a mature buck cruising to discover a doe.




After discovering just a few most important trails that related the open hardwoods to the quilt of the thickets on both aspect, I began looking for the “proper tree.” With nearly all of the deer journey patterns working east and west, and with a northwest wind, I elected to hunt from a giant pink maple tree positioned on the south aspect of the flat.

I had fairly just a few deer funnel previous me that night, together with a doe that I used to be lucky sufficient to make a great shot on. I known as my dad to carry his ATV out to assist me get well her, and after we obtained her loaded, we grabbed the SD playing cards out of the 2 path cameras that my uncle had out.

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I shot this doe the evening earlier than from the identical stand.

My uncle mentioned he wouldn’t be searching the following morning, so fueled by the thrill of the earlier evening’s success, mixed with a number of trail-camera footage of a mature 11-pointer, I used to be up nicely earlier than dawn the following morning and hiked again out to the identical stand. I wasn’t disillusioned by my choice.

It was a chilly and frosty morning, the sort the place the air stings the within of your nostrils with each breath. It was precisely the form of climate to get a mature buck on his toes and on the lookout for the primary receptive does. Earlier than it was gentle sufficient to see, I might hear deep grunts coming by means of the woods, accompanied by the sound of crunching leaves. I might barely include my pleasure as I anxiously waited for sufficient gentle for my eyes to confirm what my ears have been already telling me was occurring.

Ultimately, I noticed a doe working in from the southeast with a younger buck matching her step for step. Behind them have been two different bucks that determined to cease and struggle one another about 80 yards away.

Round 9 a.m., it began to snow, and about an hour later I heard one thing strolling to the west. Instantly, I acknowledged the bone-white antlers of the 11-pointer that we had studied footage of the evening earlier than.

The buck was 60 yards away, and he was on a path that will lead him to inside 40 yards of me. However as rapidly as he got here into my life, he was out of it, and I discovered myself watching the buck slowly slip over the hill and out of sight. I rattled and grunted at him in an try and carry him again into my life, however I obtained no response. I climbed down an hour later and headed again to the home for lunch.

Once I obtained again to the home and shared the morning’s experiences with my dad and uncle, I might see their pleasure for me — the identical pleasure I had for them upon their return from the woods after I was a child. I attempted to get my uncle to go hunt the stand that afternoon, however he gave me too many causes as to why he was busy and insisted that I am going again on the market. I’ve little doubt that he needed to go, however I might additionally sense that my killing the buck would imply extra to him than his killing the buck…and I can’t thank him sufficient for that.

Quickly after lunch, I discovered myself again in the identical stand. It was nonetheless chilly, with a light-weight and variable wind, however the barometric strain was rising, and together with it, so was my confidence.

It wasn’t lengthy earlier than a small eight-pointer approached from the southeast, together with a doe cautiously coming in from the northwest. When the pair obtained to inside 15 yards of my tree, the younger buck pinned his ears again and snort-wheezed on the doe, after which promptly chased his unwilling date again within the path from which she’d come.

It was pretty quiet till sundown, however in typical rut trend, that rapidly modified.

I heard a deer to the northwest of me on the path that loads of the earlier deer I’d seen had been utilizing. Mild was fading, however I might see the deer’s physique coming over the hill about 100 yards away and its steps sounded far more assured than these made by the youthful bucks that had beforehand wandered by.

By means of my binoculars, I might see the best half of his rack. He had foot-tall, break up G-2 and G-3’s on that aspect. I knew it wasn’t the 11-pointer from the path cameras, however there was little doubt that he was a shooter.

I instantly reached for my bow and rangefinder. Guessing what path he would take, I ranged a tree subsequent to it the place I’d have a shot alternative and obtained a studying of 42 yards. I had constantly practiced out to 60 yards and felt extraordinarily assured with that shot distance, however he was shifting so quick that instincts took over and I made the standard “meh” sound utilized by many hunters to cease a shifting deer… Besides I hadn’t drawn my bow again but. I froze.

To my aid, the buck dropped his head and continued on the identical path. This time, I drew my bow earlier than making an attempt to cease him. It was nonetheless nicely inside authorized taking pictures gentle, with loads of gentle for me to see how massive his antlers actually have been, however I composed myself sufficient to disregard that reality and as an alternative centered all my consideration on the spot behind his shoulder. The buck was simply past the tree I’d ranged at 42 yards, so I buried my 50-yard pin on that spot and launched my arrow.

I watched because the orange glow of my lighted nock hit the buck sq. in his shoulder and about six inches larger than the place I had been aiming…and he dropped!

I’ve by no means climbed out of a tree so quick in my life. As quickly as my toes touched the bottom, I took off working towards him. Figuring out backbone pictures often require a follow-up shot, I promptly despatched a second arrow into his chest as rapidly as I might.

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I needed to sit down subsequent to my buck and take a minute to completely course of what had simply occurred.

That’s when my mind let my eyes see what had grown on prime of his head. The buck’s huge rack had 14 factors and later measured 189 P&Y-style inches. I used to be awestruck and in whole disbelief that I’d had so many encounters the primary two days after which ended up killing this large buck none of us knew existed.

I sat down subsequent to the buck for a number of minutes, shaking whereas persevering with to attempt to catch my breath. Then I pulled out my cellphone and known as my dad.

I might hear the thrill in Dad’s voice as he requested for particulars, however between my lack of ability to suppose straight and a weak cellphone sign, I merely informed him, “Deliver the buggy and get out right here as quickly as doable!”

I sat and stared at my buck, whereas additionally thanking God for the chance and my late Uncle Bob for for placing his nephew’s needs earlier than his personal and sending this magnificent animal my manner. Uncle Bob had handed away 17 years in the past, however his ashes have been unfold alongside the identical hillside the place I now sat.

When my dad and Uncle Steve arrived, the celebration actually obtained began. They couldn’t imagine their eyes both, as nobody who hunted the farm had ever seen a deer of this dimension. Numerous footage have been taken, and once more, I might see the identical pleasure of their eyes for my success as they’d most likely seen in mine for theirs through the years.

There was a hearth going once we lastly obtained again to the home. We sat round it and informed tales whereas watching the hearth’s glow mirror off my buck’s antlers. I now had picture-perfect recollections to final a lifetime, and a “Large Kahuna” story of my very own that I’ll inform perpetually!

The writer lives in Fulton, Missouri, together with his fiancé, Kristen, their two canine and a cat. He works as an ag gross sales specialist for Ranch and Farm Ag Providers and Whitetail Properties.

Writer’s Word

My gear on this hunt included a Mathews V3 bow, Easton 5MM FMJ arrows, NAP broadheads, Nockturnal lighted nocks, Carter launch, Summit Viper SD stand, Nostril Jammer spray, LaCrosse boots, Realtree camo, Vortex binoculars, Bushnell rangefinder, Primos calls, and knives from Outside Edge.



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