Jeremy Schmeidler of Hays, Kan., was hooked on bowhunting from the very first time he sat in a tree, when his lifelong friend and college baseball teammate, Darris Meitler, first took him bowhunting in 1999. An athlete at heart, Jeremy found bowhunting to be just the right sport to feed his competitive needs when a back injury ended his college baseball career.
After years of hunting other people’s property, Jeremy finally got his own in 2010, when he purchased a 750-acre property consisting of river bottom cover and cropland. He immediately planted multiple food plots, his favorite crop being milo.
“If you get a good stand of milo, it provides both good cover and a food source and is in my opinion one of the biggest draws a property could have year-round to hold deer,” Jeremy said.
He also plants wheat and oats and mixes in a few commercial blends to give the deer some variety, as well as supplementing their protein intake with Buck Nuggets, pellets containing 26 percent protein. Jeremy uses the supplement through the winter months when food is scarce and deer are worn down, all the way through the main antler growing months of June and July.
“I believe that if the deer are healthier come April, when their racks start to grow, more of a deer’s nutritional health can go toward antler development,” Jeremy explained.
He is also obsessed with trail cameras, running them throughout all the months bucks are carrying headgear, to inventory bucks and help direct management decisions.
“I prefer to put them in non-invasive spots, so that checking them once a week will not affect deer movement or bedding areas,” Jeremy explained. “Monitoring field edges in the summer seems to be the ticket for taking an inventory on bucks.”
“Checking trail cameras is like Christmas once a week for me,” Jeremy added. “The suspense of wondering what is on those cards is hardly bearable, so you can imagine my excitement on May 1, when I got a picture of a buck with main beams not much past his brow tines with super mass and some abnormal points starting to grow.”
Jeremy immediately emailed the photo to his bowhunting partner, Jeff Bieker.
“That buck looks like he could grow some wild stuff,” Jeff said to Jeremy.
“A few weeks later, Jeff and I were looking over several more trail camera photos of this buck and that’s when we named him ‘Wild Thing,’” Jeremy explained.
Jeremy, Darris, Jeff and several other buddies continued to monitor Wild Thing’s progress over the next several months. By late June, the group estimated the buck was already sporting about 170 inches of antler, and it was obvious to all of them that this whitetail was turning into something special.
“Through July, Wild Thing seemed to put on 10 inches a week,” Jeremy recalled. “By the time the first week of August rolled around, Wild Thing was a bona fide giant, and we were all confident he would top the 200-inch mark. He was without a doubt the biggest animal that I had ever crossed paths with. I made up my mind that he was the only buck I would pursue. Yet in the back of my mind, I figured I was probably setting myself up for a season of disappointment.”
Jeremy didn’t know of the buck’s existence before 2012. Although there is a chance the buck had always been on his property, Jeremy’s numerous trail cameras never revealed the buck’s presence during the previous 2011 season.
Jeremy believes the buck probably strayed from its core area to his own property for two reasons. First, Kansas experienced severe drought in 2012, so many of the smaller water sources whitetails relied on were dried up. The river on Jeremy’s property acted as a reliable water source. Second, Jeremy’s ground had a healthy stand of milo when many others in the area did not, and it proved to be a popular food source for the deer.
In mid-August, Jeremy talked with Dan Cross and Bill McCall with the TV show Full Draw Adventures, which airs on Sportsman Channel. Jeremy had teamed up with Full Draw Adventures a year earlier, and after sharing an update and texting pictures of Wild Thing to Bill, the TV show host and producer decided to dedicate whatever time and resources Jeremy needed to help kill the buck and hopefully capture it all on film.
Bill’s TV editor, Mike Devine, also does some videography for the show, and Bill arranged for Mike to drive up from his home in Oklahoma to film Jeremy’s pursuit of the buck.
“I explained to them that I didn’t feel we needed to get excited until the second week of September, when I would know if Wild Thing was still hanging around and staying on his summer feeding pattern,” Jeremy explained. “The beauty of Kansas, in my opinion, is that there are no high fences or boundaries for the deer. You can kill a giant on any property at any time. The bad news is that the buck of your dreams can change patterns and disappear overnight.”
But Jeremy continued capturing Wild Thing on his trail cameras from early to mid-September, recording the date, time, and location everywhere Wild Thing showed himself.
Further, Jeremy and Jeff took turns watching fields in the evenings for the two weeks leading up to season. They pinpointed three different bedding areas Wild Thing was using. The bowhunters had multiple treestand setups in the timber, but felt that penetrating the woods was too risky, at least for the first week.
“We wanted Wild Thing to come to us,” Jeremy explained. “With deer on the food source and heading to bed, morning hunts were out of the question. We had no clean way in and out for a morning ambush, nor could we accurately predict exactly where Wild Thing would bed or if the buck was even on his feet in the morning. One blown morning and the party was probably over.”
They decided to hunt the transition areas and field edges in the evening and would exit the field by having Jeff drive the deer off the field with his pickup when he picked up the hunter and cameraman. They set up three ground blinds that would be effective for almost any wind direction Mother Nature threw at them. With multiple blind options, a solid game plan and unseasonably cool weather, Jeremy felt really good about their chances.
Opening day of the Kansas bow season was September 17. They had a good idea which field Wild Thing would show up in, but the wind was bad for that field so they selected a blind in a different field. Just as they figured, Wild Thing showed up in the field they weren’t in. Jeff watched the buck that evening but the buck stayed out of range.
On the second evening, Jeremy and Mike set up in the cover just off the field where Jeff saw Wild Thing the night before. They had watched 25 deer pass by when Wild Thing showed up with 30 minutes of shooting light left! The monster buck circled their blind at 20 yards, but as he turned to approach the field he got nervous and hesitated.
“I came to full draw as soon as the buck got into my blind spot,” Jeremy recalled. “Mike was sitting on my right filming, and Wild Thing was only 2-3 steps away from giving me a clear shot. With the cooler air setting in, the thermals sank to the spot the buck used to approach the field. Wild Thing took a step back and stared at our blind.
He decided to walk straight away from us to about 30 yards and lip curled, but I didn’t have a good shot. At this point, he smelled us and there is no doubt in my mind that had we not had two Ozonics units in the blind with us, he would have bailed when he initially got downwind of us. He never snorted or stomped, he just walked straight away from us and never presented me with a real solid shot angle.”
The night ended with Wild Thing and three other bucks passing their blind within 20 yards. Jeremy and Mike went home and watched the footage. Second-guesses filled the hunter’s head, and he wondered if he blew the only chance he would get at the buck he had targeted since the summer.
On the fifth straight night of hunting, a heavy-horned 14-point buck with triple brow tines on each side that they called “Triple Threat” presented Jeremy with a 25-yard shot.
“The buck was a brute, and as the buck stood there, I sat in the blind with my release on the string but I just couldn’t get myself to draw back,” Jeremy said. “I estimated him to be a gross Booner and he would have been my biggest buck ever, but with Wild Thing walking around, I just couldn’t do it.”
Jeremy and Mike hunted every evening for the first eight days of the season, playing cat and mouse with Wild Thing. Every time they were on one side of the property, Wild Thing would show up on the other side. The big buck had strayed from the consistent patterns he followed right up through the close encounter on the second evening, and Jeremy was left scratching his head.
“Jeff is a smart hunter and always has solid advice for formulating a game plan,” Jeremy said. “Jeff suggested that the buck might have me patterned. Then it clicked. I think Jeff might have been right. We figured that the buck might have been seeing our truck as we drove along the access road to our parking spot every afternoon, tipping the buck off to our presence. I suggested to Mike that we take a different way into the blind.”
For their ninth straight evening hunt, Jeremy and Mike wanted to hunt the same blind where they had their first encounter with Wild Thing, but the wind direction was bad, so they set up inside an old, small stone building near the edge of the field. They set their blind up within the old house to minimize their scent, fired up two Ozonics units and began their sit.
Throughout the evening, the pair had several bucks and does walk within 10 yards straight downwind of their blind. Around 7:30 p.m., a 150-inch buck walked by at just 10 yards. As Mike looked out behind the blind for any deer following the buck, Jeremy was watching out the front and spotted Wild Thing at only 8-10 yards quartering away!
Jeremy whispered to Mike “there he is” and immediately came to full draw with his Mathews bow. Mike spotted the buck and wheeled the camera around and hit the record button on his video camera.
“I always say that five seconds can change your season, but this hunt went down in about three,” Jeremy recalled. “Hunting inside that house limited our field of view and reaction time if deer came in from our blind side.
“Mike no more than got the camera on him and I sent the Carbon Express arrow on its way and drilled him. Mike has been filming hunts for 15 years. I don’t think many guys could have captured that shot on film. His split-second reaction and knowing his equipment helped capture a shot that was probably going to happen whether he was on the deer or not.”
The pair watched the buck bolt off, jump a fence, and run out of sight. Jeremy and Mike felt the shot was good, but they decided to give the buck a little time while they went back and checked the footage. Jeremy stepped off the shot distance at a mere 11 yards!
Jeremy sent a text message to Jeff, who was hunting the other side of the property, where they had patterned a big buck they called “Mickey.” Jeremy’s text to Jeff simply read, “WHHHHAAAAMMMMMY!”
Within minutes, Jeff responded with his own text that said, “I just stroked Mickey!” Jeremy and Mike helped Jeff recover Mickey, a huge buck grossing almost 173 inches with G-2s measuring over 14 inches!
With help from Jeremy’s two young boys, Drew and Ty, the group then headed out to recover Wild Thing. They found the monster lying dead just 30 yards from where they saw him jump the fence. The four-month quest for Wild Thing was over, and Jeremy wrapped his hands around what he knew was a 200-inch-plus giant.
This buck has an amazing set of antlers. On top of a 5×6 typical frame, the buck sports 11 non-typical points, including matching drop tines growing off each side just above the bases.
The Jeremy Schmeidler buck has 59 inches of abnormal growth help boost his net non-typical score to a whopping 223 inches!
The entire story of Wild Thing, from the point Jeremy started getting trail camera camera photos of the buck all the way through the actual hunt, will be featured in the episode of Full Draw Adventures airing at 6:30 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, July 27, 2013, on Sportsman Channel.
In an interesting side story, the shot Jeremy passed up on Triple Threat in order to keep his chances alive with Wild Thing, ended up turning out great for Bill McCall. Bill ended up taking “Triple Threat” with his bow on November 17, after an exciting five-hour stalk. The buck unofficially grossed 174 inches, and that hunt will also be featured in an episode of Full Draw Adventures.
Nine straight days of hard, smart hunting paid off big for Jeremy, and getting to share that evening’s success with good friend Jeff Bieker made it even more special.
“The evening of September 25, 2012, was truly a magical evening,” Jeremy said. “For one night out in the woods, luck was on the side of a couple of bowhunters.”