Pete Alfano Buck: 215-Inch Kansas 'Mufasa'

The story of my experience with a buck named Mufasa began unfolding three years ago, when I was searching for a ranch to buy in south-central Kansas. In the spring of 2009, I started my quest for the perfect place to develop into a top whitetail hunting farm. I contacted land specialist Tom McFarlane from Whitetail Properties, and he showed me numerous ranches. My only problem at the end of a hot, dry weekend was trying to narrow it down between two places I knew had the potential to become something special.

We ended up breaking our piggy banks and buying both ranches, one being 1,050 acres and the other 1,040 acres. One of the biggest decisions involved in the decision to purchase the 1,050-acre tract that we called "Red Rock" was the information I'd gathered about the adjoining property. I'd heard rumors of the adjacent property's tenants having some unreal trail camera photos of a giant buck over the previous two years.

As our first year managing the two ranches passed, I actually hunted the other property and harvested a great buck in the 160s, but throughout the season, I continued to wonder if anyone had gotten a chance at the big deer rumored to be living near Red Rock. After the season, I had a chance to meet the man who had been leasing the property next to Red Rock, and he informed me that they had, in fact, captured a bunch of trail camera pictures of the giant for the second straight year but were unsuccessful in harvesting him. As 2010 rolled around, he offered me a chance to acquire the additional acreage to tie into our ongoing management of Red Rock. The day we closed the deal, I instantly went out and put trail cameras where I believed the big buck was living.

Now, my attention span is about as long as a tick's, so when the deadline for the Kansas muzzleloader application was due, I naturally forgot to put in for my general tag. As the owner and operator of Red Rock, I qualified for a landowner tag, but here's where it gets scary. I pulled the cards on the cameras two or three days after the leftover tags became available and there he was — right where the previous tenant had pictures of him. I immediately called to apply for a leftover tag, but had missed one by a day. I don't know if I actually cried, but I know I yelled out every possible combination of words and phrases you wouldn't normally say in front of your mother.

At that time, I had two choices: sit and cry about it or let someone else try to hunt him. My good friend Dan Perez, who is one of the owners of Whitetail Properties, is someone I'd always looked up to, so I decided there was no better way to pay him back for the knowledge I'd gathered about killing mature bucks than to invite him to try to harvest the buck I'd named "Mufasa."

As fall approached, Mufasa was a regular on the cameras, and I thought it literally was going to be a slam dunk. Dan hunted him hard and was unsuccessful, but that fall we learned an important thing — Mufasa was living way up in a cedar-choked canyon surrounded by big rock formations that actually made a giant bowl. Basically, if you were anywhere below a certain elevation, the wind would always swirl in his face. In the winter of 2010, Tom Mcfarlane and I went out to try to find his antlers.

As we were walking around, we were discussing different options for hunting him in 2011. On the opposite side of the canyon, there were rock formations that overlooked the whole river bottom and were 200 feet off the canyon floor. We climbed them and decided right then that we had found our spot. Based on the way the river wound around the rock formations through the canyon floor, we knew we could hunt the location with multiple wind directions.

In 2011, the waiting game started. To my knowledge, Mufasa had to be at least 6 years old at this time, and with the harsh winters, severe droughts and predators in south-central Kansas, I knew it was possible that Mufasa could have died during the off season.

I was always a little nervous going into Mufasa's home range. I'd named it Mufasa's Hole, because to get there requires a scary traverse down a rock bluff with a truck or ATV. During my first trip down into Mufasa's Hole, I'd managed to bury my truck up to the frame in sand a few feet away from my Reconyx cameras — not the best thing to do when hunting a mature buck and being less than 250 yards from his bedroom.

Two days later, I had to travel to Minnesota, but I had Tom pull the cards for me. I'll never forget answering my phone a few days later and hearing Tom yell, "We got him!"

Mufasa became a regular on my trail cameras, showing up basically everyday at some point on the camera by the river. After two years of my own scouting and the previous tenant's scouting, I had him pinned down to his bedroom, and from my rock outcropping view, I felt like I finally had a chance to harvest him. Many sleepless nights and countless scenarios played out in my mind until I finally found myself sitting on top of that rock formation overlooking Mufasa's bedroom with my Thompson/Center muzzleloader in hand.

The first few days of the season were totally uneventful to say the least. I was seeing just about every buck I'd gotten pictures of throughout the summer — except Mufasa. During mid-morning on the third day, I decided the curiosity was too much and I had to go pull the card from the Reconyx camera. As it turned out, he'd been coming by the camera alright, but it was always 15 minutes after legal shooting light or just at the crack at first light.

On the fourth evening, deer were up on their feet 30-45 minutes earlier than usual, and my hope was rising. As minutes ticked by, I started counting the deer and noticing certain bucks that I recognized. My theory was right; they were definitely moving early.

The whole year I'd been getting pictures of a yearling with tall spikes I'd named El Diablo. Mufasa would always follow or use him as his scout. I was burning my eyes looking through my Brunton optics when I spotted a flash of antler about 200 yards away through a cedar. Immediately, I knew it was El Diablo. Could Mufasa be following him?

Seconds later, Mufasa emerged from behind the cedar. I've harvested a lot of great bucks, but to see a 200-inch buck that had become a legend to so many people walking my way was a moment and feeling that words can't describe. The only problem I was facing was that he was walking in hard off my right shoulder, putting me in an awkward spot since I was up to the edge of the cliff already. I turned my entire body and hung my left leg off the cliff, leaning on my left elbow for support. The scenario was unfolding rapidly, and I rushed to get into position, steady my breathing and ready my muzzleloader for the shot.

Mufasa slowed his walk and turned broadside, offering me a 160-yard shot. As I slowly started to squeeze the trigger, Mufasa raised his head up, but this time it was to late. My 250-grain Shockwave flew true through the hot Kansas air and found its mark. The shot was about 4 inches high, but Mufasa fell in his tracks. The bullet had struck him high in the shoulder just below the base of the neck. I sat looking through my Brunton scope in disbelief of what I was looking at. I couldn't help but expect him to stand up and walk away. After about two minutes of looking at him, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was dead, and my emotions flooded out. My two-year quest was over.

Numerous times people had tried to harvest and hunt this buck, and he'd never even been seen with a human eye before this night. This buck lived his whole life in the canyon and truly lived by his nose. His unofficial score is 215 5/8 inches, and the hunt will be featured on Whitetail Properties Television.

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.

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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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