January 06, 2024
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Deer hunter Clay McEachern had been watching a buck late in the 2022 season. Although it was a nice deer, he knew in one more year it could explode into a great buck. The Kansas resident was hopeful the deer would survive the remainder of the hunting season. Monitoring his hunting area closely, Clay discovered the buck had made it through the 2022 season.
“In late July 2023, a good stand of soybeans was behind my house,” Clay says. “And that’s when I first laid on him on the hoof.”
The buck was consistent on Clay’s trail cameras for a couple weeks, but after the beans dried out he vanished. Clay thought the buck was a 180-incher, and he knew it would be the deer he’d target.
Clay assumed the buck had shifted a mile to the north near a neighbor’s milo field. Clay learned his assumption was right when he got word from his neighbor that they’d seen the buck and tried unsuccessfully to take the deer during the early muzzleloader season. Clay and his neighbor both agreed that if either of them would happen to kill the buck, they’d update the other.
Clay received consistent trail camera photos of the massive buck, but they were all taken at dark. On Nov. 1, the buck finally showed up in daylight. From then on Clay hunted 12 straight days trying to put his tag on the buck.
“It was a game of cat and mouse each time I’d see him,” Clay says. “With four sightings from the stand, the buck was always with a doe, and I was in the wrong tree too far away. Trail cam pictures showed the buck was still roaming the property I was hunting, so I kept after him.”
On day six of his 12-day stint, Clay nearly killed the giant buck. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned.
“I had a lone doe in front of me in the dry creek bed,” Clay says. “I looked back and saw him walking toward her rapidly. I thought he would come right through and give me an easy shot. Unexpectedly, instead of continuing toward me, the doe bound up and ran across a big open field, taking the buck with her.”
Clay hunted other areas for several days before returning to where he had the close encounter with the buck. As he sat in his stand on Nov. 11, Clay noticed the hunting was quite slow. With about 20 minutes of shooting light left, he spotted a doe heading his way and behind her was the massive buck. “I saw the big mass and knew it was him,” Clay says.
On cue, the buck stopped on his own at 25 yards. Clay was already at full draw, and he sent an arrow from his Xpedition bow. “As soon as I released, the buck lunged forward after the doe,” Clay says.
The shot was a little further back than Clay had planned, so he gathered his gear and quietly left. Clay went home and made a few phone calls to tell friends the news.
“My friend James came by to offer advice,” Clay says. “We stayed up until midnight researching gut hit deer and what to do and not do.”
After getting less than two hours of sleep, the next morning Clay and James went out to pick up the blood trail. Clay was walking the dried-up creek bottom while James was scanning the field up top. Moments later, James yelled, “Right there he is!” The buck had only gone about 100 yards.
As they approached the downed buck, they couldn’t believe its size. The massive Kansas buck sports over 50 inches of mass, which helps push the gross score just over 200 inches.