September 24, 2021
By Sam Forbes
Breaking News Bucks 2021
Kaden Holzbauer has been a deer hunter for years. Together with his older brother and father, the 14-year-old’s go-to spot for whitetail hunting is their family farm in Gregory, South Dakota. The property is rented for cattle, but it is also managed for whitetail deer hunting.
The Holzbauer family has known about a big buck living on their property for quite some time.
“We’ve had history with him for probably three years. It started off with finding his matching sheds two years ago,” says Kaden. “By the next year, that little growth had turned into a five-inch drop.”
The boys knew the buck hadn’t grown into his full potential, and they decided to pass him if the chance presented itself during the 2019-2020 season; but no one had seen the buck in person. And their trail cameras never captured any other photos until after the season had ended. This intel told the Holzbauer boys that the buck lived on their farm for most of the year, but he spent the rut somewhere else.
To make their property a great early season hunting spot, and to keep the deer on the farm, the Holzbauer brothers and a close friend decided to put in a food plot mix of radishes, turnips, chicory, rape and clover.
“Just a couple weeks after we got this thing planted, we got our first picture of him. And we could tell he just blew up,” says Kyler. “He was in the plot right when it started growing, and then he disappeared off our cameras for a month or two.”
Since the buck disappeared, the brothers planned for the opening day of archery season to be a management buck hunt.
“We got there about 5:30 p.m., and we had to walk in there a little ways. So, we tried to be quiet,” Kaden explains. “We were just sitting there not really seeing much, and then I looked over my shoulder and saw this cedar tree getting thrown around. I could just see the one side, and I thought to myself, he’s pretty nice.”
When the buck closed the gap to just 21 yards, Kaden knew he had to take his shot. There was a small window to thread his arrow through, so he drew back his Mathews and let one fly—hitting the buck in the lungs.
“He didn’t go far with the Mathews and the Rage,” says Kyler.
The boys didn’t want to risk anything, so they waited and gave the buck more time than they thought they needed to. Because of the great shot and their patience, the brothers found the buck quickly. Then they soaked in the shared moment that day in the woods.
The buck has yet to be officially scored, but the excitement of the kill had the Holzbauer boys trying their best to score the buck themselves. “Our best guess is a preliminary gross score of somewhere around 176,” says Kyler.
After the hunt, the boys puled the SD card from their camera.
“It turns out he was in the plot for the previous week every day at the exact same time. We had no idea,” says Kaden.
Kaden’s opening day buck sets the bar high for the 14-year-old, but the thrill of whitetail hunting continues to pump through his veins. When he’s not at school or on the football field, Kaden will likely be back in the whitetail woods with his brother and father.