Kansas resident Chad Christie had chased whitetails for 20 years without ever downing a true wallhanger. Then, last season he made up for lost time by shooting an incredible buck. Here's how it happened.
Hoping to stalk much closer, Chad was forced to make an offhand 308-yard shot on this buck after a nearby doe stood up and alerted the buck to Chad's presence. The shot was perfect. Chad and his brother later found the unbelievable drop-tine buck less than 80 yards from where it had been standing.
The 2008 rifle season did not start out very well. For the first time since I had started hunting 20 years earlier, I would not be going hunting on opening day of the Kansas rifle season (Wednesday, Dec. 3). It was a tradition for me to take off from work on opening day and hunt with my brother Clint and my Uncle Daryl. But 2008 would be different due to the fact that I was out of vacation time. So Friday afternoon would be my first opportunity to hunt. What I thought would be a terrible start to the season ended up being the best season of my life!
I woke up early on Friday, Dec. 5, and went on into work so I could take off a little early and get a good start on my first afternoon of hunting. On my way home, I decided to stop by my brother's house and get a game plan for the evening's hunt.
Clint is the hunter of the family. I stopped counting the deer heads on his wall after a dozen or so as I continued to wait for my first wallhanger. No one was home at Clint's house, so I headed to my house to get changed and start hunting. I live only three miles north of my brother, and we either lease most of the ground between us or else we have hunting permission, so my eyes were scanning the fields for deer as I drove.
A DROP-TINE GIANT!
About a mile from my house, I thought I saw something in the hedgerow on the south side of our farm. I stopped the truck, backed up and glassed the buck brush where I thought I had seen a deer. Sure enough, there was a deer standing in the middle of the hedgerow. I watched the deer for what seemed like forever before he finally turned his head. Wow, a drop-tine buck! I was not sure how big he was, but I could easily tell that he was a shooter.
I had always hoped to shoot a drop-tine buck, and here was my chance. I knew I didn't have a lot of time, so I drove around the section toward my house, grabbed my gear and took off through my back yard toward the deer, hoping he would still be there.
The wind was blowing strongly in my face as I headed south toward the buck. As soon as I got to an old fencerow, I started glassing. He was still in the same spot and looking away from me. I figured as long as he was looking south and I had the wind in my face, the closer I could get, the better.
The only real cover was the fencerow and an occasional evergreen tree. Other than that, all I had in front of me was a wide and open cut soybean field. With my eyes on the buck, I kept moving slowly his way.
What happened next I'll never forget. Completely focused on the buck, I had not noticed the doe bedded in the waterway 30 yards in front of him.
SMILE, YOU'VE BEEN BUSTED!
Well, guess what? She saw me! The doe jumped up and stomped the ground with her front leg. There was no question she had me pinned; things were going bad quickly. As soon as the doe jumped up, I shouldered my rifle and found the buck in my scope. Of course, the doe had put him on full alert. Now he, too, had zeroed in on me. With my sling wrapped around my arm, I settled the cross hairs on his shoulder and squeezed the trigger of my Remington .30-06. I heard a whack; the buck kicked his back legs and took off to the west.
At this point, my legs turned to jelly and I couldn't catch my breath. By now, both deer had run out of the thicket and were headed for a draw to the west. This was when I got my first really clear look at the buck's antlers. Have you ever heard anyone say, "It looked like that buck had a brushpile on his head?" Well, that is exactly what I thought as he ran off toward the draw and into the brush. I raised my binoculars and watched the open fields on each side of the draw for about 10 minutes but saw nothing.
WAITING IT OUT
When I finally caught my breath, I walked back to my house. I knew I had hit the deer, but since it had been a long offhand shot, the last thing I wanted to do was to push him.
By this time it was 4:30, and my son Justin was getting off the school bus at my grandparents' house, so I decided to give the deer some time and go pick up Justin. As I told the story to my grandparents and my son, they all got very excited. I had actually shot the deer on my grandparents' land that joins my farm to the west.
My son and I decided to look for blood. By the time we made it back to the point where I had shot the deer, about an hour had passed. Justin and I looked all around the area, but we could not find even any sign of a hit. I called my brother to let him know what had happened and to get some help finding the deer. Clint's first thought was that I probably had not made a solid hit with such a long freehand shot. "Since we don't have a good blood trail to follow, we better back out and give the deer some time," he said.
So that's what we did. The plan was to meet at 10 the next morning and go to the draw where I had last seen the deer. There we would start the search.
A GREAT SHOT
After a restless night, I went to my daughter's 8 a.m. basketball game. The plan was to meet Clint after her game. This would give Clint some time for a morning hunt by himself. At 9:30, my cell phone started ringing. It was Clint. He had quit hunting about 9 a.m. then made a quick pass though the draw to look for any sign of the deer before I got home. When I answered the phone all he could say was, "Get home now!"
I knew from his voice that he had found my deer! I told my wife she would have to find a ride home with someone because I had to go. I raced home and drove straight to the draw where my brother was parked. I got out of my truck and ran over to where my brother was standing. He was smiling from ear to ear and standing by the biggest buck I had ever seen! The buck had run only about 30 yards into the draw before going down for good.
My buck sported a huge main-frame 6x6 rack with four drop tines and heavy mass. What else could a whitetail hunter ask for? I had made a perfect lung shot and the deer had run only 80 yards from where I'd shot him before he expired. I'm a total believer in the saying "When in doubt, back out." That was the best advice my brother had ever given me.
After all of the high fives and slaps on the b
ack, we shot the distance with a rangefinder to see how long my shot had actually been. I was shocked to find that I had made a 308-yard shot on the deer. This was by far the longest I had ever made, and it couldn't have come at a better time. I was proud.
When we got to the house, we took a picture of the deer with a phone and sent it to a couple of friends. Within minutes, my phone was ringing off the hook. People could not wait to see this buck. For the next two days, I did nothing but show my buck to friends, family and people I barely knew.
One of the most pleasant things that happened as a result of shooting this buck was having the opportunity to meet some truly great people. Not long after shooting the deer, I received a call from Mike Charowhas, an avid antler collector and whitetail fanatic from Abilene, Kansas. (Mike is also a regular contributor to North American Whitetail). Mike set up a time to meet with me. After seeing my buck, he helped me in countless ways. He told me what to expect over the next few months, and he advised me on how to go about getting the deer scored.
Mike eventually called his good friend Dave Boland, a well-known official measurer who lives in Chatfield, Minnesota. Dave agreed to drive down from his home just to score my deer. It was a neat experience watching Dave work his tape while listening to stories about many of the great deer he had scored over the years. After studying the score sheet and talking to both Dave and Mike, I realized just how special my deer was. Dave stated that my deer was the biggest non-typical he had ever scored that had only 40 inches of non-typical growth.
A WORLD-CLASS RACK
In other words, the typical frame of my buck grossed 209 inches with only 7 7/8 inches in deductions, giving him a net typical score of around 202. If the rack had not had those long drop tines, my buck would have scored within the top 10 typicals ever entered in the record book, but I'm not complaining.
When you add in those 40 inches of non-typical growth, my buck ended up officially scoring 242 non-typical B&C points. That still puts him within the top 15 or 20 non-typicals ever taken in Kansas. I wouldn't trade him for anything, and those drop tines give him a lot of character. Mike and Dave are both whitetail experts and truly great people, and I'm honored to have met both of them.
After getting the official score, the next step was to get the deer mounted. I decided to go with a family friend, Ron Lax of Lax Taxidermy in Conover, Wisconsin. Ron has been mounting deer since 1964, and he did a tremendous job with my special deer.
As I said at the beginning of this story, it seemed as though the 2008 season started out to be one of my worst seasons ever, but it ended up being one I'll never forget. And oh, by the way, I can now say that I have finally taken a true Kansas wallhanger!