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Kevin's Long Quest

Kevin's Long Quest

The old saying "Good things come to those who wait" is very appropriate in Kevin Radke's case. After 12 years of bowhunting, his first buck ever was a 238 2/8-inch megagiant!

Kevin Radke made up his mind from the start that any buck he took by bow would have to be 3 1/2 years old or older, with the antler spread equal to or outside the ears. For 12 long years Kevin arrowed does and passed up shots on numerous 130- to 140-inch bucks. But that elusive trophy buck never came along.

Kevin passed up numerous smaller bucks over the years, but on the morning of Nov. 3, 2007, his patience and determination paid off when this rutting monster appeared.

On Nov. 3, 2007, however, Kevin's patience finally paid off. For years, every time he came home from hunting, his wife would ask, "Did you catch a deer?" On that memorable Nov. 3, the first words out of Kevin's mouth when he got home were, "I caught one!"

Kevin had scouted his hunting area in east-central Illinois during October and located several large rubs. He decided to take off work on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2 and hunt through the weekend. He hunted both mornings and evenings as planned but saw only a few does and small bucks. After that, he contacted his brother-in-law, Mike Schuetter, and arranged to meet him on Saturday morning, Nov. 3.

Kevin likes to get into the woods and set up in his tree stand at least 30 minutes prior to daylight. He also likes to park at least a half-mile from his actual hunting site. After he and Mike met up in the predawn darkness, he gave Mike first choice on which stand site he'd like to hunt. Mike's choice actually left Kevin's favorite stand location open.

Kevin reached his designated tree in the dark and went up 22 feet with his Summit climber. He pulled his bow up and let everything calm down with 30 minutes to spare before daylight. Although he'd hunted this area several times earlier in the season, this was the first time he had hunted this particular spot. He had purposely saved this tree for use during the rut.

About 15 minutes before daylight, Kevin heard what sounded like a deer walking in the leaves behind his stand. The sound stopped. Moments later, just before daylight, he heard the same sound again. This time the sound was closer to his stand.


Kevin waited patiently for what seemed like an eternity for the woods to lighten up. He strained his eyes to see a deer in the darkness, but none appeared. Every 15 minutes he heard what sounded like a deer taking a few steps, and then the sound would stop. Each time he heard the sound, he stood up with his bow in his hand, ready for action, but nothing ever materialized.

At 7:15 a.m. Kevin heard the same sound once again and stood up. By now the sound was only 35 to 40 yards away, but no deer came into view and the woods grew quiet. Kevin sat down. If this is a deer, Kevin thought, it's taken him an hour to move 75 yards.

At 25 yards, Kevin finally saw a deer. It was a buck, and the buck was moving through a dense thicket coming directly toward Kevin's tree. The buck passed under the tree and emerged on the other side. It was not until he eased out of the thicket 15 yards away that Kevin got his first good look at the antlers. Kevin knew immediately that this buck was a shooter. The buck walked out from under the tree and stopped on Kevin's left side, in perfect position for a right-handed shooter.

"When I saw how big he was, I told myself not to look at the rack again until he was on the ground," Kevin said. "But I was in a dilemma. I wondered, do I take a high-risk shot now or wait for a better angle and risk getting winded?"

When the buck was at 12 yards, Kevin drew back his bow. The deer was extremely cautious and stood surveying the area.

"It was so quiet I was afraid the buck would hear me draw back," Kevin said.

With the buck at 12 yards and somewhat broadside but standing at a very steep angle, Kevin aimed a little high and released the three-bladed 100-grain Muzzy broadhead. The buck went down. Up until now, Kevin had remained amazingly calm. After the shot, however, he got so shaken that he had to sit down.

Scorable Points:28 (13R, 15L)TOTAL LENGTH OF ABNORMAL POINTS: 52 2/8
Tip-To-Tip Spread:16 6/8
Greatest Spread:21 0/8
Inside Spread:19 0/8
Main Beam26 7/827 0/81/8
1st Point (G-1)6 4/87 0/84/8
2nd Point (G-2)10 2/89 4/86/8
3rd Point (G-3)11 7/811 2/85/8
4th Point (G-4)8 5/811 0/82 3/8
5th Point (G-5)--1 7/81 7/8
1st circ. (H-1)6 4/86 0/84/8
2nd circ. (H-2)5 2/85 3/81/8
3rd circ. (H-3)5 0/85 4/84/8
4th circ. (H-4)4 4/84 5/81/8
TOTALS:85 3/889 1/87 4/8
Gross Typical Score:193 4/8
Subtract side-to-side differences:-7 4/8
Add abnormal points+52 2/8
TAKEN BY: Kevin Radke, DATE: November 3, 2007, LOCATION: East-Central, Illinois

"Suddenly it dawned on me -- I had to get another arrow in him," Kevin said.

Kevin nocked another arrow and started to shoot, but the arrow fell off the string and hit the ground. He was now down to one arrow (he had only taken three arrows with him).

"I took extreme care to make sure my last arrow was securely nocked on the string," Kevin said.

Kevin's second shot was well placed, and the drama ended. Moments later Kevin heard a noise. A 140-inch 10-point buck walked within a few yards of his tree. Then a coyote approached within 20 yards of the downed buck before running off. By now Kevin was on his way down the tree. He paused and took a photo of the buck with his cell phone and tried to send it to Mike. After no response, he finished his descent and went to the edge of the woods, where he started waving his arms to get Mike's attention.

Kevin then went back to the buck and tried to count antler points, but he kept losing track of the number. After Mike climbed down and came over, Kevin said, "You'll never believe what I just shot. He has horns everywhere!"

Indeed, Kevin's great buck did have 28 measurable points and

27-inch main beams. The 12-point typical portion of the rack gross-scored 193 4/8 inches. When you add to this an amazing total of 52 2/8 inches in abnormal points, it's easy to see why the buck netted 238 2/8 as a non-typical.

Mitch Chapman, Kevin's other brother-in-law, had National Guard duty that weekend and could not hunt with Kevin and Mike. His prophetic words before Kevin left were, "Since the rut is on, I just know you're going to kill a big one!" That turned out to be an understatement!

By the way, this was Kevin's first antlered buck with a bow. Shooting does, passing up young bucks, and having the patience of Job really does pay off!

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