To be honest, Jay Price had not even purchased his archery deer license yet when he and hunting buddy Rick Arnall and Rick’s son, Alex, turned off the highway onto one of the countless county dirt roads that crisscross the rich farmland region of southeast Kansas.
It was only October 1, and even though the generous Kansas deer season had begun a couple weeks prior, Price’s scouting forays and trail cameras had really not yielded a buck worth pursuing this early in the season. It’s not that he was holding out for a monster by Kansas standards, but Price really wanted his tag to hang on a buck that would best his biggest buck to date, which scored right at 150 Pope & Young inches.
As the evening shadows lengthened, they continued to bounce down the dirt road towards another small 20-acre farm that Price had permission to hunt. They had already scouted nearly half a dozen farms, glassing bean and hayfields from the comfort of their pickup truck, but to their surprise, their evening had been uneventful and not a deer had been sighted. Frankly, Price felt the small farm they were heading to now would yield pretty much the same results as the others but figured since they were close they would check it out anyway.
Price has called the Sunflower State home for nearly a decade and owns Price Auto Body in Baxter Springs, Kansas. Over the years, he has managed to slip an arrow through several Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri bucks, about a dozen of which measured over 125 Pope & Young inches. But when Price put his truck in park on that fateful evening and glassed the distant hayfield, he couldn’t believe his eyes at first.
“Even without binoculars I could tell it was a big deer,” expressed Price, “but when I actually saw him through the binoculars I knew it was a buck of a lifetime.”
Price said even at nearly 900 yards away the buck dwarfed the 160-inch 10-point that was feeding with him, and the longer he watched him from the cab of his truck, the more excited he became.
“It’s not everyday you see a 200-inch whitetail feeding in a hayfield,” said Price, “and we were enjoying every minute of it.”
Needless to say, as the sun fell below the evening horizon and Price headed back towards town, the first place he stopped was at the local Wal-Mart to buy his Kansas archery whitetail permit. As he signed his name on the dotted line, plans were beginning to take shape as to how he was going to hunt this Kansas giant.
The Game Plan
Price couldn’t stop thinking about that buck and found himself tossing and turning while he slept that night and daydreaming about him the following day, anticipating the events he hoped would happen that evening. He figured just seeing the buck with his Hoyt Trykon XL bow in hand would be some measure of success. An actual shot opportunity would be out of this world.
Price had only hunted this particular 20-acre farm on a handful of occasions the previous season, but because it was relatively small, he felt that he knew how deer used the property’s limited cover. He figured that because it lacked any significant bedding cover, the buck was probably not living there but instead was taking advantage of the rich hayfield and feeding there in the evening.
He also suspected that the buck would enter the hayfield near its northwest corner in the general area of where the neighbor’s tree line touched the property, or somewhere along the north/south hedgerow that ran along the property’s west boundary. Price had obviously never seen this particular buck before, nor had he heard about such a beast in the area, which he knew would have been a secret hard kept, especially since one of his hunting buddies was bowhunting the adjacent property. However, because he had a good idea how deer typically used the property, he was confident in hunting it the following evening without doing any additional scouting.
Many hunters might feel additional time behind the glass a few more evenings would be warranted with such a mature buck on the hoof, and Price readily admits that those thoughts were no doubt swirling through his head as well, but one of the biggest concerns he had was the buck’s behavior. Price explained that since he had never seen this deer before, nor heard about him or had any trail camera photos of him, that this particular buck might be a roamer who was here today and gone tomorrow.
“Frankly” Price stated, “I really didn’t want to miss an opportunity at such a giant buck.”
Needless to say, Price was a little nervous as he exited his truck the following evening and slipped on his Realtree AP leafy-suit. He knew one mistake could send the deer packing, and he wanted to make sure every “T” was crossed and every “I” was dotted.
One of the tactics Price employs while chasing whitetails is to always wear a leafy suit, especially when there are still leaves on the trees, and his camouflage pattern of choice is Realtree AP.
Another tactic is his use of scents even during the early season, and he uses them religiously. His favorite is Tink’s No. 1 Doe-P and Tink’s 69, and according to Price, he’s not afraid to use them generously. “Sometimes I will use half the bottle of each scent if the weather’s hot or the wind’s not blowing in the ideal direction,” he said.
He will literally spray down with these scents like one would with scent eliminating spray and insists that it not only masks his scent but also acts as an attractant, regardless of the season. On countless occasions, Price says bucks have been downwind of his stand and unaware of his presence, and oftentimes when they hit his scent line, they headed directly to his tree.
While in the treestand, he will also spray down the area around him and will leave one of the bottles open as well. He admits that he does not think this tactic completely covers his scent, but his personal experience has shown that it most certainly masks his scent enough to keep deer from getting nervous most of the time.
After donning his leafy suit and generously spraying down with Tink’s scents, Price grabbed his bow and began making the warm, 1,000-yard jaunt towards his stand. He had thought long and hard about where he was going to set up, and after much contemplation, he decided a natural ground blind in the hedgerow that ran along the hayfield was the best option this evening.
Although he prefers to hunt from a treestand, Price said that he wanted to be cautious and not bump any deer and also felt that using the natural cover the hedge row provided was a better option than setting up a portable ground blind and brushing it in at this point of the hunt. His idea was to keep the area as natural as possible and not raise any suspicion.
Needless to say, Price had the jitters as he settled into his impromptu blind early that afternoon, and like anyone else, his anticipation soared. The wind was perfect. He didn’t bump any deer, and there was plenty of time to hunt before the orange ball dipped below the western horizon. For the next few hours, Price envisioned how the buck would mysteriously appear in front of him, but as darkness eventually fell, not a deer appeared in the hayfield. The following morning Price tried the same tactic, just hoping for a glimpse of the giant buck as he sat nestled in the ground blind, but as the sun rose higher and mid-morning arrived, not a deer was seen then either.
Price was a little discouraged, to say the least, and as he walked back to his truck that morning he was beginning to think his opportunity at a Kansas giant was slipping through his fingers. But like any bowhunter who has chased mature whitetails, dedication and tenacity are often factors to success. So when 4 p.m. arrived later that afternoon, Price once again went through his scent-masking ritual and headed to a treestand that was positioned in the hedgerow deeper into the property.
Throughout the evening, Price scanned up and down the hedgerow looking for the slightest movement, but the only activity that drew his attention was a family of skunks playing under his stand. As the evening shadows deepened, so did Price’s discouragement. He stood up and started making plans to exit his 20-foot perch.
In seconds, his heart sent an electrical surge through his chest when he caught movement behind his stand. Noticing a deer’s leg first, and then an enormous set of bone-white antlers through the screen of thick brush, Price knew in an instant it was a big buck. Grabbing his bow, he quickly pressed it into service as the buck was hunched over, doctoring a scrape.
The release surprised Price as much as it did the buck, and at 23 yards it doesn’t take long for a shaft of carbon to rip through its fur-and-bone target. The buck flipped forward upon impact, landing on his side and then got back up and disappeared through the tangle of brush. Price shook uncontrollably as he sat back down and replayed the last few moments in his mind. In less than 30 seconds, he went from feeling like a zero to a hero.
“Nothing can prepare you for something like that,” remarked Price, and when he followed the blood trail the Rage broadhead provided a short time later, he couldn’t believe that he had actually killed such a whitetail!
(Editor’s Note: Jay Price’s Kansas non-typical was scored at the Kansas Monster Buck Classic in January and tallied a gross score topping 226 inches, but side-to-side deductions reportedly knocked the net non-typical score down to 206 6/8 inches. The buck carried more than 45 inches of mass and a 9-point mainframe that scored more than 176 inches. At press time, the buck had not been entered at that score.)