Brent Bracken Buck: 244-Inch Kansas Giant

Brent Bracken Buck: 244-Inch Kansas Giant

brent_bracken_2Some deer-hunting stories feature drama leading up to the kill. Some are interesting due to the size of the buck. Well, get ready for a story that offers an overdose of both. Brent Bracken's Kansas buck is amazing enough, but the events that led up to the day he shot the deer have plenty to make you shake your head.

Growing up in Oklahoma, Brent was fascinated by hunting. Trips to his great-grandfather's place in South Texas fueled the fire as he admired the big bucks on the wall. He became an avid hunter himself, finding some success near his southern Oklahoma home. And like many other hunters, he eventually tired of just shooting deer and became filled with a desire to take a great whitetail.

"The really large bucks seemed like something we all dreamed of or saw in magazines," he says. "There was a four-buck limit at home, and there was a large percentage of 1 1/2- and 2 1/2-year-old deer harvested across the state. Plus, there was the issue of overcrowded hunting areas.

"One day, as I was talking about the quality of deer we were seeing to my friend Joe, he said, 'This is just hunting around here. If you want to shoot a really big buck, you need to go north to Kansas, Nebraska or South Dakota.'"

And so, in 2008 Brent and a couple friends decided it was time for their luck to change. They bought leftover Kansas tags and took their first road trip.

Over the first few years, they began to have some success in southwestern Kansas. In fact, Brent shot a 190-class mule deer and several nice whitetails. But then, the first round of bad luck hit: A couple of the walk-in public access areas they'd been hunting were leased by private individuals. The majority of the big bucks Brent and his friends were seeing at that point were on private land they couldn't hunt.

So they decided to make a move. With the help of a few friends and relatives in north-central Kansas, they found some good places to hunt there and started doing so in 2012.

brent_bracken_3The hunters quickly realized they had come across great whitetail land, because they were seeing really big bucks.

"We had some close calls the first year," Brent said, "but couldn't get it done. We just hunt big deer. If it isn't a big one, we don't shoot." Letting the "nice" bucks go allows them to have a crack at some of the truly big, mature bucks inhabiting that part of Kansas.

Brent says they don't use trail cameras because of limited time to hunt. Instead, they prefer to watch the deer from a distance and try to learn movement patterns through such observation. The guys might actually spend the first couple days just watching deer before they move in and read the sign, then put up stands. The more they get to know the property and the deer's tendencies, the less they have to observe and the earlier they can make a move with confidence.

They felt really good about their chances in 2012, thanks to the great information they'd gained. But then, bad luck struck again. Brent arrowed a 160-class buck straight below his stand. The shot looked lethal, but after many hours of trailing and searching, the men begrudgingly admitted defeat. They couldn't find the buck. Brent went back to Oklahoma with an unfilled tag.

They say bad luck comes in threes, and in Brent's case, that was the case. The spring of 2013 found him suffering with a rotator cuff torn in an accident while working on a barn. Brent is self-employed, working in the field of foundation and lift repair. A busy work schedule and the insurance expenses that come along with being self-employed had him putting off dealing with the shoulder injury for a few months.

He was living with the pain. However, as fall approached, he realized he had another major problem. "I couldn't even draw a kid's bow," he says. "But I wasn't going to give up my hunting season. So I traded my bow off for a Horton HD 175 crossbow."

When Brent and crew arrived in Kansas in early November, they did so with optimism and the dedication to work hard. They scouted the first day, then hung some stands and waited for exactly the right conditions.

"We placed my ladder stand in a narrow creek that had no hunting pressure," Brent recalls. "It was where we'd seen some really nice bucks the prior year. The deer would use it traveling to the corn in the section to the south."

On the fourth day of the hunt, conditions were finally perfect for that particular stand. "The timing of the rut is everything," Brent notes. "If you can get a cold morning in the peak of the rut, even better.

"Knowing the rut was in full swing and that a cold front was moving in, I was highly anticipating some good action. Early that morning I walked into my hunting area in the dark, watching every step with a small handheld light. I like to say I sneak in like a cat. I climbed into my extended ladder stand 20 feet up in the dark."

brent_bracken_1When daylight arrived, the hunter ranged several nearby trails. And as the morning kicked off, he enjoyed action right away. By 8:30 Brent had seen several small bucks and does. Then, to the south, he saw a shooter pushing a doe around.

"I grunted several times to get his attention, but he chased her out of sight," Brent says. "Then, something caught my eye from the north! As I turned, what I saw was by far the largest deer I had ever seen, standing only 30 yards away. He had clearly responded to my grunt call; he was bristled up, his ears alert, his chest out and his head up, looking to put it on whoever was on his turf.

"There was absolutely no hesitation; I placed the crosshairs on his shoulder and let the arrow fly!"

The deer ran hard but crashed to the ground only 30 yards away. And Brent's unlucky streak crashed to an end right along with him.

"For a brief moment, two hearts stopped beating," he says. "I was shaking so bad I could hardly text my friends that I had shot a big one. They wanted to know how big, but I could just type the word BIG!

"As I approached the buck, he grew even larger. There was absolutely no ground shrinkage. After admiring him for a moment and taking a quick photo, I counted 30 points. I was so excited I was shaking again. Still in shock, I sent a picture and called both of my hunting partners, Brent and Mike. I then drove to a nearby town and bought a digital camera to take better pictures of the giant.

"We took it by the landowner's house and showed the buck to him, but he wasn't that impressed," Brent notes. "He said, 'That's a nice one.' But both he and his wife said they had seen some really nice ones.

brent_bracken_chart"Within a few days, he was 'green' scored by a Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks employee at 32 points and 245 2/8 inches," Brent continues. "He's now been officially certified by Boone & Crockett at 244 7/8. He's mounted on my wall, and those dreams of big deer in my great-grandfather's living room have come true for me."

Brent's trophy could be the world's largest non-typical taken by crossbow in 2013. While the sheer number of scorable points is a striking feature of this rack, the 19 1/8-inch inside spread also adds to the look. The stunning rack has an even 66 inches of non-typical growth. He really does have it all.

In Conclusion

Many people set out to hunt new areas in hopes of shooting bigger bucks than they could at home. Some are successful; some aren't. But in Brent Bracken's case, hard work, persistence and the end of an unlucky streak all came together in a buck for the ages.

Of course, few who set out to hunt trophy bucks far from home will experience this level of record success. Bucks of this class are rare. But Brent's incredible experience in Kansas last season proved it can happen. And that's what keeps all of us going when times are tough.

"They all call me 'Lucky,' and I guess I am," he says. "Maybe I'll be lucky again in the 2014 Kansas archery season. Maybe preparation and opportunity will meet again in the land of giants!"

Kyle Heuerman

Any serious whitetail hunter knows that it's not often that we get a second chance on the buck of a lifetime, or even a first chance for that matter. But luck was on the side of Kyle Heuerman and his girlfriend Jennifer Weaver when they put an arrow through this 196-inch Illinois brute.

Read the full story.

Joe Franz

We estimate he was 7 1/2 years old. That's based on photos from 2010, when he clearly wasn't over 3 1/2. When I got him he weighed over 300 pounds on the hoof, as suspected. Official B&C measurer Glen Salow came up with a 'œgreen' gross score of 258 7/8 inches. After the 60-day drying period, he again taped the rack. This time he got a gross non-typical score of 261 3/8, with a net of 230 7/8. The gross score evidently makes this the highest-scoring wild whitetail ever harvested on professional video.

Read the full story.

Jon Massie

Jon's no stranger to free-ranging whitetails across the central plains, having guided a number of clients to trophies and harvesting many big ones himself. In fact, going into 2013 he'd shot two net Boone & Crocketts: one a non-typical scoring over 200, the other a typical from public land. With such success behind him, Jon felt all of his hunting dreams already had come true. At least, he did until a buck he'd never seen showed up on one of his trail cameras.

Read the full story.

Tom Boyer

Knowing I couldn't even come to my knees without breaking the little concealment we had, I decided to lie on my left side, using my left elbow for as solid a rest as could be achieved within the slight incline of the old fencerow. But when I shouldered the rifle, the sight of the crosshairs oriented at a 10-4 o'clock angle was definitely a different look from the normal 12-6 position we all practice from. Even so, I didn't figure that would matter if I aimed at the right spot and squeezed off a clean shot. I settled the crosshairs where I needed to place the bullet and steadied the rifle. Whispering 'œfire in the hole' while floating the crosshairs on the spot, I gently squeezed the trigger until the recoil removed the buck from my view.

Read the full story.

Teddy\'s Buck

With a whopping 40 inches of non-typical growth, he has a gross Boone & Crockett score of 215 3/8. The rack's 21 6/8-inch inside spread certainly helps to show off its unique character. He was just a special deer, and very much a result of patience in both management and hunting.

Read the full story.

Ryan Sullivan

Ryan Sullivan was only 19 when, during the 2013 season, he arrowed an Arkansas buck of gigantic proportions. Like many of his fellow Arkansans, Ryan is a deer and duck fanatic. For several years, however, he gave up most of his duck season to lock horns with the world-class buck.

Read the full story.

Junior Key

Junior's outstanding whitetail is the biggest ever recorded from Monroe County, and he ranks as one of the Bluegrass State's top bucks from the 2013-14 season. This great non-typical also is the latest member of Kentucky's all-time Top 30 list.

Read the full story.

Mikell Fries

At 16 yards, Mikell took aim at the giant and released his arrow. In an instant, the shaft had passed through him. The deer instantly whirled and ran out of sight . . . but then, within seconds the archer heard him crash to the ground. 'œI remained in the stand for several minutes to gather my thoughts and calm down,' Mikell says. 'œI'm sure the entire encounter only took a few minutes, but it seemed an eternity.'

Read the full story.

Bill Robinson

Three double-digit tines of 10 2/8 to 13 5/8 inches, plus 7 1/8- and 9 3/8-inch brows and a 21 3/8-inch inside spread, add plenty to this regal crown. Put everything together and you have a gross 9-point frame score of 193 6/8. That's as big as it sounds.

Typical asymmetry and 11 6/8 inches of abnormal points total 25 1/8 inches of deductions, so as a typical, the deer nets 'œonly' 168 5/8. But the 8×5 rack's total gross score of 205 4/8 is much more reflective of its stunning size. Regardless of score, the Robinson buck is clearly a marvel of nature.

Read the full story.

Nick Drake

The action was fast and furious right from the get-go. At daybreak a doe busted through the cedar thicket with an eight-point suitor following close behind. The doe, however, wanted nothing to do with her pursuer and jumped into a nearby pond in an attempt to flee the buck. This, however, wasn't the last of the action. Nick continued to watch several bucks harass does throughout the morning, but chose not to take a shot at them.

Read the full story.

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