Just when Larry Hall was convinced his luck had run out and he was destined to eat his Kansas tag, the momentum began to shift.
On the fifth day of his Kansas hunt, Larry Hall spotted a phenomenal 14-pointer chasing a doe at dusk. The next morning, Hall ambushed the same buck, still hot on the heels of a hot doe. Photo by Steve Schultz
Year-in and year-out, Kansas continues to prove itself to be a 'dream maker' state for whitetail junkies. Hall, of Bigelow, Arkansas, was one such fortunate junkie. On Nov. 5, 2009, Hall's hunting career took a dramatic turn as his bow tag found itself latched to the antlers of a genuine Kansas bruiser. The typical 6-by-6 is 20 inches wide, has lots of long soaring tines, mass that carries way out and a left main beam that drops, giving it the appearance of a drop tine. The hunt was classic, and the buck couldn't have fallen to a more worthy hunter.
The 2009 season wasn't the first time Hall had hunted Kansas. In 2008, he was invited to hunt the farm of a family friend in southeast Kansas and took up the offer. On November 1, Hall arrived with the intent of hunting a full week with a good friend. Hall's friend strongly suggested that he hunt a particular stand in a narrow funnel, and Hall agreed. After the first day of hunting, he had not seen a single deer. Hall came back to camp and declared the stand a "gar hole" -- southern terminology for a poor hunting or fishing spot. Insistent that the stand was a good one, Hall's hunting partner persuaded him to sit in the area once more. The next morning, Hall's Mathews Switchback helped him cash in on a 160-class 10-point with six kickers!
Leading up to the 2009 season, Hall's anticipation for the Kansas hunt peaked when a giant typical 10-point, which they surmised would gross over 170 inches, became a regular on the farm. The area they were hunting had cut soybeans, standing corn, numerous woodlots and timbered drainages. Hall focused in on the timber surrounding the cut beans.
"During the first four days of the hunt, I passed on about 10 good bucks," Hall said. "The biggest was an 18-inch 10-point; he was young and would have scored in the mid 130s. When I am in Kansas, I impose a 150-inch minimum on myself. €¦ You've got to let those young ones slide on by if you want to kill a trophy."
On the fifth day of his hunt, Hall's high standards would pay off.
On the evening of November 4, Hall moved his 16-foot ladder stand to an area that hadn't been hunted all year. The stand site was located in a strip of timber 60 yards wide, between a cut soybean field and a railroad track. The stand was placed in the narrowest point in the strip, utilizing a classic "pinch point" strategy.
"We put the stand on a wide tree with lots of low limbs and cover," Hall recalled. "I was confident that I wouldn't be seen.
"Also, there was small slough in the timber that funneled the deer even closer. There were deer trails all around the stand."
Despite the sign and promising location, Hall sat for six hours in the stand without seeing a single deer.
Larry Hall's Kansas giant grossed 197 7/8 inches and netted 183 1/8 inches
as a typical. Photo courtesy of Larry Hall.
"I was beginning to wonder if my buddy had put me in another 'gar hole,'" Hall said. To add insult to injury, a train passed on the tracks every hour on the hour.
Just before dark, Hall saw a sight that most whitetail hunters only dream about. Out of the darkening timber a doe burst into view running directly in front of the stand. Pursuing the hot doe was a massive-racked buck, the likes of which Hall had never seen. "The buck was pushing the doe hard, and I quickly stood up and tried to grunt to stop the buck. He wouldn't stop. He chased her right on past the stand and out of sight. I was pretty upset because I knew it was the largest deer I had ever seen," Hall recalled. He went back to camp and reported seeing a buck that he was certain carried 180 inches of horn. Hall's hunting buddy was skeptical but knew from the emotion in Hall's voice that he had seen a big one. He spent a long night praying that the buck and doe would still be in the area the next morning.
Early the next morning, November 5, Hall suited up in his Scent Blocker suit and got in the stand a full hour before first light.
"The morning was brisk and the temperature was just below freezing," he said. "I remember I could see my breath. It was a clear 'bluebird' morning and a high-pressure system had pushed in during the night. I was confident it was going to be good."
Shortly after daylight Hall's assumption proved true.
About 20 minutes after legal shooting light, Hall spotted a doe coming towards the stand at 50 yards. The doe was relaxed, moving slowly through the timber in his direction. He hoped it was the same hot doe the bruiser buck had been with the evening before. When he saw the doe he stood up on the stand and got ready. Then, as if the "deer god" looked down and smiled, the huge buck appeared on the trail behind the doe! Hall's heart nearly stopped when the huge typical worked a scrape in the middle of the trail about 50 yards out.
"When I first saw the buck I got real nervous," he recalled. "I remember seeing my breath huff in the cold air like a locomotive! By the time the buck got into my shooting lane at 40 yards, I was calm."
When the buck passed through the lane broadside, Hall was at full draw. He released the arrow tipped with a 100-grain Muzzy and he heard the familiar "thump" of arrow hitting flesh. As the buck spun, he could see the fletching sticking out the deer. He knew the hit was a bit far back but still good.
Hall listened and within a few short seconds he heard the buck crash. He radioed his hunting partner, who quickly arrived on the scene. After a 45-minute wait, the pair trailed the buck about 100 yards before they saw the massive brute piled up near the railroad tracks. The stand had in fact proved to be another "gar hole" for Larry Hall!
The buck was scored after the 60-day drying period by Boone and Crockett scorer Todd Sharp of Little Rock, Arkansas. The buck's long main beams -- both over 25 inches -- consistent mass and 6-by-6 frame combine to make this buck truly a world-class chunk of whitetail bone. No doubt, you will
find Larry Hall hunting Kansas again, trying to beat the odds on another "Gar Hole Buck!"