You've probably heard the story of a young kid sets out on his first bowhunt and shoots the buck of a lifetime. Well, this isn't that kind of story.
This is the tale of a young man who knew exactly what he wanted and was willing to go the extra mile to get it - even if that meant passing on a buck that most bowhunters would have gladly taken given the opportunity.
Kaden Schlipf is no stranger to big bucks. Growing up in the trophy-rich state of Illinois, Kaden spends a great deal of time outdoors pursuing his whitetail passion with his father, Jared Schlipf. Now, if you're a serious bowhunter, then you probably recognize the name. Jared Schlipf is the owner of Lonewolf Treestands.
In 2014, Kaden planted a modest food plot on a small piece of pastured land bordering some timber. It wasn't long afterwards that he began to get regular images of a 10 point pushing 150" of antler. Setting up near the food plot, Kaden finally crossed paths with the very buck he had managed to capture so many images of. Then, he did something most 13 year old bowhunters would never consider... he let the buck walk!
Why? Well, after shooting a few smaller bucks with his bow (the first at age 9), Kaden made the decision to set his sights on a mature buck. He knew if he let this particular buck live just one more year he could really turn into something special.
Fast forward to 2015. It's a new season, and Kaden is anxious to relocate the big 10 point from the previous year. He searches his family's property for sheds and although he finds plenty, he never finds those belonging to his target buck.
Then, the big 10 starts showing up on trail cameras that are scattered throughout the property. In fact, capturing images of the trophy buck becomes a regular occurrence. There is only one problem. All of the pictures are taken under the cover of darkness.
However, the buck is much larger now.
Kaden and his dad guess him somewhere in the range of 165-170". That's quite a reward for letting the buck walk away at 15 yards the previous year. However, letting a buck mature and introducing him to your arrow a year later are two completely different things. Kaden still had to locate him, hang a stand and ultimately kill him.
It would have been understandable to hunt the buck immediately. Instead, Kaden shows the patience of a grizzled veteran and decides to wait until the odds are more in his favor before setting out to chase his goal.
Armed with information gathered from numerous trail camera images, Kaden and his dad already have a good idea regarding the direction the buck is coming from. He seems to be using a small ridgeline adjacent to the field where the trail cameras are placed.
However, suddenly the buck vanishes.
For a week he is a no show. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking and the pre-rut is starting to crank up. Kaden decides it's time to play his hand and start hunting the buck he has dreamed of for two seasons, even though he hasn't been seen in 7 days.
November 6th is a mild day and Kaden and his dad set out with an assumption of the buck's whereabouts and a couple of LoneWolf hang-on treestands. They reach the wooded ridgeline and begin to look for clues to the buck's location. Immediately they find a fresh rubline that they suspect was made by the trophy 10 point.
Walking back into the timber they encounter two variables that would prove vital to the outcome of the hunt. The first is a blowdown that is forcing deer into a predictable direction. The second is a crooked, gnarly tree (unsuitable for most treestands) growing in exactly the right ambush spot.
If the buck approaches using the rubline path and works his way around the blowdown, he will essentially be funneled right into the pairs lap. The only catch is the wind. Although the buck would be within killing range, he would also have the wind to his advantage. A shot would have to be made quickly before the wary buck realized something was wrong. It was a risk they were willing to take.
Using four ultra-quiet LoneWolf climbing sticks, Kaden and his dad hang two Alpha stands. Luckily, the treestands incorporate LoneWolf's self-leveling system and easily adapt to the crooked tree. Slipping into his Sitka Whitetail clothing and checking his watch, Jared notes the time at 3:39. The minutes pass with little action but things are about to quickly change. Suddenly, at 4:03, he spots a large buck ambling down the trail. It's the big 10 pointer!
Kaden hears his dad whisper "shooter," and turns to see the biggest buck of his life making its way on the backside of the tree (where his dad is standing). The buck is 30 yards out and closing fast. At 15 yards the buck steps onto the trail and is funneled around the blowdown.
Knowing that his dad is running a video camera behind him, Kaden (already at full draw) awaits the go-ahead signal to shoot. But it never comes. Jared isn't willing to risk spooking the already suspicious buck merely for the sake of filming the event. So, he decides to remain motionless.
Feeling the strain of the bowstring, Kaden begins to question his dad if he has the buck on camera. Over and over, "Have you got him?" "Have you got him?" No answer. Only a "uurrrpp" from his dad's mouth to stop the buck which is moving quickly through the shooting lane.
Kaden refocuses, carefully takes aim and releases the arrow from his Hoyt Carbon Spyder 30. In the blink of an eye, the G5 Montec broadhead slams home. He watches as it sprints away with blood pumping out around the arrow which is buried half way up the shaft. The two watch the massive buck as it runs toward a deep ravine on the opposite side of the woodlot and then disappears.
Climbing down before nightfall arrives, the two begin to follow the heavy blood trail into the timber. Kaden quickly finds part of his arrow shaft that has been broken off as the buck made a mad-dash to escape.
Staying with the last blood found, Kaden's dad moves ahead to the edge of the ravine. There, lying near a small stream Jared finds what his son has so tirelessly pursued. Motioning for Kaden to come ahead, it doesn't take long for him to reach his trophy.
Words can't describe what the young bowhunter felt as he knelt down and grabbed 160-plus inches of deer antler. It's indescribable.
Since that day, Kaden has been asked "What do you do after shooting the buck of a lifetime?" Many hunters have suggested that there really is nowhere to go but down.
Kaden has elected to repeat his process. True to form, he has already began post-season scouting and predator control of his hunting area in preparation for the 2016 hunting season.
You've probably heard the story of a young kid sets out on his first bowhunt and shoots the buck of a lifetime. Well, this isn't that kind of story. And Kaden Schlipf isn't that sort of bowhunter.