The buck was an absolute monster. No doubt he would gross over the 200-inch mark as a typical, and he was only seven yards away.
The bowhunter could see every inch of the massive buck and his regal crown up close and in person, but try as he might, the hunter could not find any way to draw his bow and get an arrow to the giant.
"I knew he was the buck of a lifetime when I saw him 75 or more yards away," Arkansas bowhunter Jeff Edwards said. "I grabbed my grunt tube, which was a Primos Buck Roar, and called to him. His immediate response was to charge my treestand. He ran behind me and stopped on my right side. I am right-handed so I had to try to turn around to get a shot.
"The problem was that there was a limb in that exact place that I had decided earlier to leave instead of cut. There was not going to be a deer coming up on that side of my tree anyway. I looked at every angle and there just wasn't any way I could shoot the buck. The buck finally looked up and spooked. He ran about 70 yards and stopped. Then he came right by my stand running wide open. I couldn't believe it! All I could think was, I just blew it on the buck of a lifetime. I will never see a buck like that again."
Though Jeff Edwards has hunted turkeys in Kansas for 10 years, this was his first trip to hunt the big whitetails that live there. "My passion is turkey hunting," the 40-year-old married father of two explained. "I am glad that bow season and turkey season does not happen at the same time because I would hunt turkeys most of the time."
Jeff lives in Batesville, Arkansas, with his wife, Cathy, and their two daughters, 14-year-old Abby and 10-year-old Lexi.
Jeff's passion may be turkey hunting, but he is a dedicated hard-core bowhunter who has taken 100 or more whitetails with his bow. "We had been seeing a lot of bucks and some good bucks, but we didn't tell anyone just how big this buck was," Jeff said with a smile. "I don't think it is good for a whitetail hunter to go telling people that they are seeing a 200-inch buck.
"The landowner found a set of sheds off this buck about 30 yards from the tree that I was set up in, so I knew I was in a good spot."
To reinforce the fact that Jeff and his hunting buddy, Chris Gillihan, were in a good area, they had hung trail cameras that produced pictures of some good bucks. There was a creek bottom with a fence that created a pinch point to funnel the deer through the area.
Before he headed back to Arkansas after his encounter with the monster buck, Jeff arrowed another buck that would gross in the 130s, but he could not get the enormous typical 12-pointer out of his head. "I thought about him every day," he said.
On the return trip to Kansas to bowhunt in November 2010, Jeff and Chris went back to the same spot.
"We were seeing some good bucks, and there was some chasing going on," Jeff recalled. "We had trail camera pictures of several bucks. I passed on a non-typical buck with a deformed antler that was crippled in one shoulder. I passed a 140-inch 8-pointer, too. I wanted to kill a 10-point. They would be good bucks for Arkansas, but I knew that there were bigger bucks there like the one I blew it on last year.
"Actually, Chris saw him while we were there. We got a picture of the buck I thought was an 8-point and it showed he was a 9-point, so I thought that I might try to kill him. We wanted to go to that stand but decided that it was too late to get there and get set up. Chris was going to film for me because he had killed a nice buck the day before, so we put two stands in the tree that I saw the buck from last year.
"We had not seen any deer and we were wishing that we were somewhere else. I sent Cathy a text message at 4:43 p.m., saying that I was not going to make it home for the football game and that we were not seeing any deer. Chris was videoing an intro for our hunt when he looked up as said, 'Here comes a shooter!'
"'What?' I asked, and he said, 'Here comes a shooter!' I turned to look at the buck and instantly knew it was him.
"The buck was chasing a doe right past our stand, but I couldn't shoot because of Chris. I had to wait until he passed before I would have a shot. He was in a hurry. I came to full draw and grunted at the buck. The buck swung his head towards the source of the grunt at 25 yards but didn't stop.
"The instant the buck responded to the grunt, I instinctively punched my release. I saw the arrow hit him and it was way too far back. The buck had no idea what had happened, and he chased the doe for several yards before he stopped at about 70 yards. I wasn't too worried at that point. The buck stayed where he was for about 45 minutes. I sent another text message to my wife, this one at 4:53 p.m. telling her that I had just smoked a Booner," Jeff said.
"We stayed in the stand until the wind changed and we knew we had to get down or we would spook the buck. Chris decided to rewind the tape to see exactly where the arrow struck the buck and that was when he realized that he had not pushed record and failed to capture the shot on video," Jeff recalled.
"We didn't sleep at all that night. We watched the weather and there was a 70 percent chance of rain. Finally, about 3 a.m. we decided that we would go try to find the buck. We found the blood trail but lost it before it got daylight. We decided that we would wait until it got daylight to continue. When we started again we jumped the buck and he opened up the bleeding. I felt good at this point. I knew the buck was hurt bad.
"We jumped him again in the weeds. He wasn't going very fast. We knew he was headed toward the pinch point at the fence crossing in the creek bottom. Chris went ahead and we knew that the deer had gone down into the creek," Jeff explained. "I would ease down the creek, then peek up over the top weeds. I spotted the buck's rack over the weeds so I nocked an arrow, eased up over the weeds and shot the buck. He grunted when the arrow hit him but didn't move. I knocked another arrow and shot him in the same place. He grunted again but didn't move. He stood his ground until he died," he said.
"Chris wanted me to field dress him so he would be easier to get out of the creek bottom but I was determined to bring him out like he was. I wanted to know exactly what he weighed on his feet.
"When I finally got my hands on the huge rack, it was bigger than I thought," Jeff said. "I took pictures of him and sent them to three people. Within 30 minutes I started getting text messages and emails. It was unbelievable."
The buck that Jeff Edwards had on the ground was unbelievable too. The massive, typical, long-tined 12-pointer has incredible mass, with all measurements running from just over six inches to slightly more than five inches. The outside spread is more than 25 inches. The G-2 and G-3 on the right side are each more than 12 inches long, while the G-2 on the left side is split and only 8 inches long. The G-3 on the left side measured more than 11 inches long and has a short sticker point going off to the side. Main beams, both over 27 inches long, sweep around and make the Jeff Edwards buck one impressive typical whitetail. Overall the rack on this buck screams 200 inches at a glance.
After the 60-day drying period, Jeff took his incredible Coffey County, Kansas, bowkill, which he arrowed on November 17, 2010, to the Big Buck Classic in Little Rock, Arkansas, where it was scored by Boone & Crockett scorer Dan Doughty. The gross score as a typical 6x6 was 202 1/8, with a net score of 187 6/8 Pope & Young points. At press time, the Jeff Edwards buck was accepted by Pope & Young at the indicated official net score of 187 6/8, earning a ranking as the No. 6 Pope & Young typical whitetail from Kansas. The Edwards buck has not been officially accepted by Boone & Crockett at this time, but when it is, it will rank as No. 18 for typical Kansas whitetails. The two abnormal points on the left side of the rack measured 4 7/8 inches long and were deductions.
"We didn't know that all of the landowners and locals knew about this buck until we hauled him out," Jeff said. "He weighed an even 260 pounds on his feet and by all indications he was 7 1/2 years old. The landowner has a set of his sheds and a neighbor has a set as well. They scored 195 and 220. The old buck was going downhill.
"Some of the locals didn't take it too well that I had killed the buck. A neighbor's wife had been hunting him and had shot at him with her bow a few days before. He had a cut on his front leg that we think is where she barely missed her mark," Jeff explained. "It has been a wild ride since the word got out that I killed a 200-inch buck. I had no idea that it would be like this, but since I got him officially scored and mounted I can breath a little easier and take it all in.
"I wanted a really nice mount, so I took him to Jake Clark at Jake's Taxidermy to have him mounted. He did a nice job."
To have a chance to kill a world-class buck, you have to go where they live. Every second you spend in a treestand in places like Kansas, which produces giant deer on a regular basis, your odds of killing a true monster improve. It takes time and money to travel to these places, but it can produce great results.
If you ever wondered whether it would be worth the time and effort to hunt in the land of giant bucks, you could ask bowhunter Jeff Edwards of Batesville, Arkansas, and he will smile and say, "Absolutely!"