It’s never a surprise when word comes via e-mail about another big buck getting tagged in the whitetail hunting paradise of Kansas.
Except, perhaps, when the story is about a young man tagging his first buck — and actually his first — on a whitetail hunt that most hunters can only dream of!
Unusual or not, that’s the crossbow hunting tale that nine-year-old Creed Clayton has to tell after taking down a big whitetail near Fort Scott in the southeastern corner of the Sunflower State.
“He set the bar kind of high the first go around,” laughed his mother Courtney, who also added the fact that “it was his first deer kill. He’s kind of spoiled, huh?”
Especially given Creed’s age and experience in the deer hunting woods.
“He turned nine a week prior to his (big buck) kill this season,” said Courtney. “He’d only went out hunting a few times this year and had just sat in the stand with his dad (starting) last year.”
Creed’s father Chad has been a busy guy the last couple of fall seasons, playing chief guide and hunting supervisor for the family. In fact, he was playing those roles a few weeks earlier when Creed’s big brother Chayden took his own good buck on the family property.
“Chad has always hunted (deer in the area) along with many other friends and family members,” said Courtney. “Deer hunting is pretty popular here in Fort Scott, Kansas.”
“He (Chad) has always enjoyed the outdoors,” she continued. “Hunting became even more special with teaching (the boys) and creating those (outdoor) memories with his own sons!”
If deer hunting together is king for the Clayton clan, the sport took on an extra measure of excitement and anticipation in July as the family began to make pre-season preparations for the coming autumn season.
“This season was the first sighting of him (the buck) on camera,” said Courtney. “This was the second season of hunting on our property. The boys always get really excited pulling the camera chips and seeing what deer have come in along with seeing a few bucks grow from the previous year.”
But that excitement ramped up big time when the dad and his sons pulled their camera cards in late summer and found a giant whitetail looking back at them from the computer screen.
“This season was the first sighting of him (the big buck) on camera,” said Courtney. “You would have thought that they had won the lottery or something when they saw this particular buck on camera and (started wondering) who the lucky one was going to be to take him down.”
On Nov. 3rd as the peak of the Kansas whitetail rut began to approach, that opportunity fell to young Creed as he and his dad went for a sit in a ground blind.
“My dad and I made our way to the blind about 3:45 p.m.,” said Creed of the afternoon with cloudy, sprinkling skies. “We sat there for a while and had an 8-pointer show up. He rubbed on a tree but never came in close enough for me to get a shot.”
As it soon turned out, that was a good thing for Creed, especially when a few does came in a half-hour later.
“We were watching them, and then my dad taps my leg and started pointing to his side of the blind,” said Creed. “When I looked over, there he was.”
At that point, the nine-year old hunter started battling buck fever, admitting that his heart started beating fast as the excitement built in the blind about the huge buck being in shooting range.
“He came in and chased off a doe,” said Creed. “He then turned and came back and was quartered in our direction, facing us. My dad was telling me to calm down and to wait until he turned broadside, then take a deep breath and shoot.”
As all of this was unfolding, Creed fought to steady his Barnett Quad Edge crossbow loaded up with a 22-inch Carbon Express Mayhem bolt tipped with a NAP HellRazor broadhead.
Hidden in the dark recesses of their ground blind — and concealed with a combination of Under Armour and ScentLok camouflage clothing — the situation settled down and a shot opportunity finally presented itself as the buck turned broadside only 20-yards away.
“I took a deep breath and shot and off he went running,” said Creed. “There was a doe over where he ran to and she kept blowing and blowing.”
A short while later when Creed and his dad exited the blind, they walked in the direction of the doe that had been blowing. Moments later, a big buck celebration ensued in the southeastern Kansas woods.
“I looked over and there he was, about 40 yards from where I made the shot!” said Creed. “I was so excited, I grabbed him by the horns and started counting points.”
“(I think) I said ‘Dad, oh my gosh! YES! YES! YES!” added the young hunter.
After examining the whitetail, Creed and his father counted 19-points on the huge buck. While no green score has been obtained as of this writing, it seems all but certain that at the very least, Creed’s buck will merit the awarding of a Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism Trophy Buck certificate.
In the community of Fort Scott, which lies less than 100 miles south of Kansas City with a population of just more than 8,000 residents, Creed’s big buck has been the talk of the town.
“It’s been a popular topic of conversation here in our small town,” said Courtney. “He’s really excited to get the deer back (from the taxidermist) and display it in our home.”
Now that the two boys have filled their deer tags — and Creed has likely secured a KDWPT Trophy Buck certificate — what does the family do for an encore?
“Chad will now try to go fill his tag,” laughed Courtney. “They love managing the deer, letting them grow, and one can only hope that one of them, (Chad or the boys), will one day get a monster again.”
In the meantime, the father and his sons will always remember a special fall of deer hunting in one of the best whitetail states in America.
“Being with my son on his first deer kill, wow, what a moment that was and one that I will forever treasure,” said Chad.
“After finding the deer and seeing how big he was, it was so cool, and I couldn’t stop smiling,” said Creed.
No matter where they live or how much hunting experience they have, the guess here is that there’s not a deer hunter anywhere in the country who doesn’t understand those sentiments.
About the deer hunting tale of a young man, his father, and a big buck that will bring plenty of family smiles for many years to come.