October 09, 2023
Getting emotional is understandable when talking about huge bucks. Alan Bullard’s hunt for a giant whitetail he named Carl was a roller coaster of excitement, and his voice quivered as he relayed the details.
The story begins with Alan on vacation in 2020. He was afield with a video camera when he saw a young deer that had the “right look.” Kansas has a well-deserved reputation for producing trophy bucks, and this one was off to a good start.
“At first glance I knew he was going to be somebody,” Alan explains. “He just looked special!”
The next year, the buck jumped into the 140s. And since Alan wanted to see where this could go, he stayed off the property all season. “He was beginning to show real potential as a 4-year-old,” Alan recalls. “I really wanted to leave him undisturbed.”
Alan feeds protein year-round, and Carl was getting his share. In 2022, he made an exceptional leap in antler size. “I’ve seen how feeding helps, but this buck put on about 40 inches of growth,” Alan says. “That had to be because of the supplement.”
Now a big, mature buck, Carl was no longer getting a pass. Alan was monitoring the farm closely. When his trail cameras showed consistent daylight activity, he moved in for the hunt.
His ladder stand was set up near the edge of a creek, overlooking a milo field. On the first morning, Alan slipped in well before daylight. Carl came in close very early, but in the low light there was no way to ensure a clean kill. Alan came to full draw three times and had to let down each time. Carl eased away, then reappeared at 125 yards.
“When I saw him out there, I told myself, ‘He’s big!’” Alan recalls.
On Oct. 22, 2022, Alan climbed into the ladder stand again. While waiting, he decided to range the other side of the creek; it was 55 yards. If push came to shove, he knew he could make that shot, but he really wanted the giant in tight to ensure a clean kill.
Late that afternoon, two big bucks began sparring across the creek. It was Carl and another big deer. Alan drew his bow, but he decided to let things play out. The bucks separated, and Carl slipped down into the creek. He was closer, but still a solid 30 feet below Alan. And again, no shot! Then a smaller buck came into view and changed the dynamic. Carl bristled and came up out of the creek to prove his dominance. Then they both moved away.
“I thought it was not going to work again, but the smaller buck turned and came back to me,” Alan adds. “And Carl was right behind him, just 15 yards away!”
Alan’s arrow hit behind the buck’s shoulder, and the hunt was over! In the fading light, he watched Carl collapse out in the milo. Alan walked out to his truck to get a light, then videoed the recovery. Carl’s massive rack stretches the tape to 184 6/8. Kansas had come through again!