In the fall of 2004, Solon Springs resident Larry Kline ended a three-year quest and killed a huge non-typical buck nicknamed "The Ghost Buck." It scored 229 inches and became the No. 1 non-typical bowkill in Douglas County, Wisconsin. The buck was featured on the January 2005 cover of North American Whitetail magazine. Many people told Kline after he shot the Ghost Buck he might as well hang up his gear because his odds of ever shooting a buck that large again were not very good. But that’s not how Kline thinks.
It’s been five years since the Ghost Buck and Kline has still been hunting. Addicted to the challenge of hunting mature bucks, he keeps going, and against all odds every season, he finds another big buck. He consistently shoots large mature whitetails. Although none have come close to the size of the Ghost Buck, that doesn’t matter to Kline. He just loves to hunt big, mature bucks. They seem to fall into his lap sometimes. It is rumored that he carries a lucky horseshoe in his pack with him.
Kline told me, "I create my own luck by thinking positive. When you think positive and keep a good attitude, it makes sitting for long hours a lot easier." This is key if you want to be successful in chasing mature deer.
Tom Indrebo, owner of Bluff Country Outfitters, and Kline have known each other for many years now. Kline has hunted with Indrebo several times in the past, and they both share a passion for managing and hunting large bucks. Indrebo, famous for his knowledge of deer and deer management, has been managing his leases for more than 20 years now. He manages his leases intensely each year, making sure the deer have all they need.
Kline also manages his own land, and he manages land for several other private owners around his home in Douglas County. Kline and Indrebo often discuss management ideas, and Kline has even come down to visit in the spring of the year to help Indrebo with some of his food plots and construction of watering holes. Part of Indrebo’s management also includes running several hundred trail cameras to keep track of deer movement and individual bucks that live on his leases. In the summer of 2009, Indrebo got a nice surprise when a very large, very impressive typical buck showed up on one of his bean fields.
The big buck became a regular, visiting Indrebo’s fields and his watering holes, and soon was given the nickname "The General." His rack was wide and tall. By mid-summer his main frame was a basic 6-by-6, and it also had a couple of stickers coming off the base of its left antler. He was truly another Buffalo County giant with a lot of potential.
A TWIST OF FATE
Mid-summer came and Indrebo and Kline had been talking about the upcoming season. Kline tries to bow hunt with Indrebo every year. Indrebo told him of several big bucks including the General that he thought were over 190 inches gross on his leases. "I wanted to go down and hunt with Tom," said Kline, "but I had a couple of bruiser bucks close to home and work was pretty busy." It was disappointing for Kline because he enjoys bowhunting Buffalo County and especially Indrebo’s place. "It is just one of those places I would hunt every year if I could." Kline said. Then, in a twist of fate, Indrebo mentioned to Kline that Hank Williams Jr. would be hunting with him during the Wisconsin rifle season. "Really? Hank Williams Jr. the singer?" Kline asked. "Yes." Indrebo said
"Would you be interested in hunting with us during the rifle season?" Indrebo asked. Kline replied, "Yes!" without any hesitation. Even though he is a die-hard bowhunter, Kline is also a huge fan of Hank Jr. "I had not ever missed the traditional rifle season back home." Kline said. "I have rifle hunted the same land with my family since I was a kid. I felt a little guilty, but it was Hank! I had to do it," he said with a smile.
EARLY BOW SEASON
Bow season opened and things were heating up at Bluff Country Outfitters. On a warm September evening, one of Indrebo’s hunters was sitting over a water hole and the General walked in for a drink. The bowhunter drew and released. "He thought he had made a good hit." Indrebo said. The blood trail looked good at first but they later lost it. They returned to the water hole and closer inspection of the arrow it revealed there was no blood on the broadhead, though the nock was busted off. The best they could figure was the hunter shot under the buck as it reacted and somehow he landed on the arrow, busting off the nock end and causing a flesh wound. Several days later, the buck was again caught on one of Indrebo’s scouting cameras at the same water hole. Although the buck was now coming in later at night, it looked healthy and showed no signs of being hit.
Meanwhile, Kline had been hunting hard. On the evening of October 10, he was hunting in northern Minnesota, where he had been chasing a couple of large bucks. He had passed up several bucks previously but not one of the big boys he was hoping to get a shot at.
On this evening, he settled in like he always does.
"You have to trust your stand setup," Kline said. "Every time I go out, I think I am going to shoot a Booner. If you think this way and trust your stand, you can stay still and you’re not tempted to move."
Kline also is a scent freak. He keeps everything scent-free. He double bags his clothing when he isn’t hunting and never hunts a stand if the wind isn’t right. It paid off big that night, as he filled his Minnesota tag on a very unique 158-inch gross non-typical.
With Kline’s Minnesota tag filled, he started thinking abo
ut his Wisconsin setups. He had several good places in northwestern Wisconsin and several nice bucks roaming the woods there too. He had been in contact with Indrebo and knew things were heating up as the pre-rut took effect in Buffalo County. Indrebo had told Kline that the General was still roaming the area and another one of his hunters had a close call with him. The General was within 30 yards, but the hunter never got a clear shot. With the rifle season coming up fast, Kline was starting to get excited about his upcoming adventure. He was even crossing his fingers a little, hoping the General would not make the wrong move before the rifle season opened.
READY TO HUNT
Days before the hunt, the excitement built. Kline was preparing himself for some long all-day sits. "You just never know what will walk when you’re hunting at Indrebo’s place." Kline said. "When you’re down there, you better be ready to do some sitting.
"Not everyone can sit all day, but this is Buffalo County, and with people on the move, there is not a better time for it."
Before Kline left town, he told some friends, "I’m going to go hang with Hank and then kill a Booner." Although he was joking, they all knew if anyone was going to get that lucky, it would be Larry Kline.
After arriving in camp, Kline and friends Jeff Cattew and Bob Anderson got a quick tour of camp. They all settled in for a meal and some camp conversation with the other excited hunters and, of course, Hank Williams Jr. So far, so good.
AN OPENING MORNING PLAN
Indrebo decided to take a chance with Kline on opening morning. "I needed someone that was going to want to stay put all day no matter what happened around him." Indrebo said. "I knew Kline had it in him to sit all day and also knew other hunters nearby wouldn’t discourage him." So Indrebo decided to put Kline in the area where he thought the General was living.
Indrebo knew the neighboring farm was going to have some pressure on it but figured there was a good chance they would move some deer toward Kline. Indrebo’s neighbor and good friend, Craig Oesau, leases the adjoining property to him for bowhunting, but Oesau and his family rifle hunt the property every year. Oesau’s son, Justin, had also been bowhunting there, and they too had been getting photos of the General on their trail cameras. Since most of the sightings of the General came from that area, Indrebo knew the buck felt safe there and was confident it would be in the area.
BUCKS IN THE FOG
Kline spooked two deer on the way into his stand. "Not good," he thought. He climbed up and settled in just as daylight broke. "I heard a deer right away, but it was so foggy, I couldn’t see a thing." He recalled. "At 7:30 a.m. I thought I saw a basket 8-point and a doe, but again it was so foggy I was only able to get a rglimpse of the deer. The fog was so thick I didn’t think I had a chance of shooting anything in it."
At 10:30, the fog had lifted some and Kline heard something. He turned to see a large, wide buck running. He didn’t have time to think. It looked like a shooter and he lifted his gun and took aim. "The buck was on a dead run at about 85 yards," Kline said. "I shot four times and the buck went down on the fourth shot.
"After the shot, I wasn’t sure. I saw mass and a nice spread but was hoping I hadn’t killed a smaller buck."
Kline got down and started walking toward the downed buck. "It just got bigger and bigger," he said. As he approached it, he knew he had just killed something special. When he reached the buck, he realized it was the General.
"I called Tom and told him that I had just shot the General." Indrebo excitedly replied, "I’ll be right there to help you track."
"No need," Kline said. "I’m standing right over him."
Soon, the woods were full of excited voices. Indrebo’s son, Shane, brought the camera and started taking pictures of the beautiful buck. "Quite the crowd showed up to take photos of the buck," Kline said.
The buck had 14 points total. The spread was 18 5/8 inches long. Its main frame was a basic 6-by-6 and the left antler had two sticker points coming off the base of the left antler, giving the General some extra character. The main beams were both 26 inches long. The G-3s each taped over 11 inches. Its gross green score as a typical was 184 5/8 inches and it netted 171 inches. Add in the extra non-typical points and the overall gross was 189 6/8 inches.
Once again, Kline has shown that with a little persistence, a positive attitude and a horseshoe in your pack for a little luck, you can make things happen. I know I speak for everyone at Bluff Country Outfitters when I say congratulations on another great buck!