May 22, 2023
By Blake Garlock
In the fall of 2021, Jake Kaullen began looking for a new property to gain hunting permission on. There were some other guys who were now hunting a property he normally hunted, so he needed to find a new spot. Although it took him until late October to do, he eventually got permission to hunt a new place in exchange for helping the landowner manage the doe population. After tagging a nice buck with a rifle, Jake went back to uphold his end of the deal.
“I went in there on the last day of the 2021 rifle season,” Jake says. “I talked to the landowner, and I told him I was going to the back field to shoot some does for him.”
Just after sitting down, Jake spotted a bedded doe in some tall grass. Since it was November, he looked around for the buck that should be with her. It didn’t take long for him to spot tines sticking up from the tall grass.
“He was a 170-plus-class mainframe 12-point, and I couldn’t do anything about it because I didn’t have a buck tag left,” Jake remembers. “At that point I knew this deer had the potential to be 200 inches the next year. I knew from that point on that was my target for 2022.”
Jake fed the deer corn through winter and received plenty of pictures of the giant. When the summer of 2022 rolled around, Jake put out a few cameras far from where he had seen the buck before; he didn’t want to spook the deer. He didn’t get any more pictures of the deer, so in the early fall he put out some more cameras.
Finally on Oct. 28, 2022, Jake checked some of his cameras and was surprised to find the buck had been there a day earlier. The camera was near a fenceline in the timber. Knowing that this was his most recent and only piece of intel, Jake went all-in on locating the buck in this spot.
“I knew he had to cross that fence at some point,” says Jake. “So I just put cameras out every 50 or 60 yards on crossings where I thought he’d be. But I never got any pictures of him.”
Once the calendar turned to November, Jake moved a camera to a creek bottom that had steep banks on either side in anticipation of the rut. The non-typical showed up on Jake’s camera the first night it was out, and then the buck passed the camera once again three nights later.
Jake couldn’t bowhunt the spot because the dominant wind never worked there. However, he did have intentions of hunting the area during Missouri’s rifle season.
“I didn’t hunt the farm on opening weekend of rifle,” Jake says. “Three other guys hunted the farm and killed two nice bucks. I was waiting on them to send me a picture of the buck. I would wonder, did they shoot him?”
Once opening weekend had passed, Jake planned to spend the entire first week of rifle season hunting the non-typical. He picked a spot on a topo map that he thought gave him the best vantage point of the creek bottom, and he went in with his climber.
“I had a doe come by me first,” Jake recalls. “A few minutes later, I heard a buck roar and a three does came trotting over the hill single file. Then I saw antlers coming over the ridge!”
Everything happened quickly, and all Jake knew was that a shooter buck was running straight toward him. So Jake readied his rifle as the buck stopped broadside just 30 yards away. Jake squeezed off a shot, but the buck acted unfazed.
“I thought I had missed,” Jake says. “I worked another shell into my gun and shot again. This time he dropped.” Jake immediately phoned his friends and family.
“I called my brother first and I told him that I thought I got the big deer,” Jake says. “It happened so fast that I wasn’t even sure if it was him. I then called my wife and a buddy that was hunting with me. I told him he better get over here.”
Boone and Crockett officially scored Jake’s Missouri giant at 202 gross and 191 5/8 net. For Jake, all the excitement of killing a 200-inch whitetail came after everything had ended.
“It all happened super fast; I didn’t even have time to get nervous,” Jake recalls. “At least until after I had killed the buck.”