“I could have shot this buck several different times with a rifle, but I was determined to take him with my bow,” David Wagler of Osage County, Kansas, says. The CRP Buck spent most of his time in thick CRP strips, occasionally coming into the timber strips next to the CRP land. David and his brother, Lester, had been hunting a 500-acre Kansas farm since 2012 with: strips of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land about 100-yards wide, bordered by forest land with several agricultural fields; and on the east side fallow property that had grown up in brush, providing sanctuary bedding sites with agriculture close by.
“We try to put as little hunting pressure on this property as possible and stay away from it until the rut kicks in,” David Wagler explains. “Other hunters also hunt this land, but only seldom. We started hunting here seriously in November, 2012. The first afternoon Lester spotted a big buck out in the CRP strip.” From November 12 until November 16, the Waglers often spotted the big buck, but he never came close enough for a bow shot. David and Lester continued to move their ladder stands closer to the buck’s area. Although David once had the heavy-racked buck at 490 yards, he couldn’t get a clear shot. They’d never seen him in the open to determine his body size or how many points he had. Late in the 2012 season, David Wagler had the buck at 30 yards for an easy bow shot, if the cover hadn’t been so thick. He realized he couldn’t thread his arrow through the brush and into the buck’s vitals. Rather than possibly wounding what Wagler felt was a trophy buck, he let the buck walk.
From the road where the Waglers entered the property, the 60 acres where they had spotted the big buck had a 100-yard-wide strip of CRP land that continued off the property and a strip of timber. The bucks on that land had everything they needed – agriculture and hardwoods where they could feed, thick-cover bedding, feeding sites and a stream. The Waglers recognized that if they didn’t put much hunting pressure on this land, the property should produce some nice trophy bucks. David Wagler preferred to bowhunt Kansas because the rifle season in Kansas arrived after the rut when the big bucks weren’t moving as much.
“In 2013, I bought a Trophy Rock (http://www.trophyrock.com/), put it about 250 yards from the road and left it there for about a month,” David Wagler reports. “We got a picture of the buck we were hunting in the velvet and got very excited. We started hunting earlier in 2013. Lester heard hunters rattling antlers, while watching bucks and does in one of the grown-up pastures. The rattling caused the deer to spook and run. We decided not to rattle, unless calling didn’t work.”
On November 7, 2013, David Wagler hung a tree stand about 10 yards from the edge of the CRP strip. He saw deer moving, and at 3:00 pm, does came from the woods below Wagler to the CRP strip. A big 8 point stepped out that would’ve scored about 160 inches. “I made my mind up that I’d take that 8 point if he came by my stand,” Wagler recalls. The 8 pointer was 200 yards from Wagler’s stand, angling away from him, when Wagler called, getting the buck to within 70 yards. However, this monster 8 point wouldn’t close the distance. Then Wagler rattled, causing the buck to run off with the does.
On November 13, 2013, Wagler returned to the same stand about 3:20 pm with the temperature in the 40s. Realizing the temperature would drop as night approached, Wagler stood up in his stand to put on his coat. He’d taken his mechanical release off his wrist and was reattaching his safety harness to the tree when he spotted a nice buck moving along the CRP strips’ edge.
“I knew that the buck wasn’t a shooter, but hurriedly put on my mechanical release,” Wagler explains. When the buck was even with Wagler’s stand, Wagler looked back from where the buck had come and spotted the monster buck he’d seen on the trail-camera pictures. The big buck turned, went into the CRP strip of land and made a scrape. Wagler had about a 25-yard shot but thought the buck would come closer and move along the same trail that the younger buck had taken. “Immediately, I became concerned about the young buck,” Wagler remembers. “I was afraid he might smell me and spook the big buck.”
Once the big buck presented the shot at 12 yards, Wagler had his Mathews (https://www.mathewsinc.com/) Z7 bow at full draw, released the arrow and hit the buck with a Slick Trick (http://slicktrick.net/) broadhead. Immediately Wagler spotted a huge amount of blood coming out of the buck’s side. He was confident he’d made a good shot. The buck turned, ran past Wagler and fell 12 yards from his stand.
“I got down out of my tree stand and saw that my arrow in flight must have hit some brush, because the arrow entered in front of the buck’s shoulder and went into the lower part of the neck, cutting the jugular vein,” Wagler says. “Walking back to the spot where I’d arrowed the buck, I saw more brush in the opening than I could see from my tree stand.”
David Wagler called Lester, who brought a 4-wheeler, helped him load the big buck and take him out of the woods. Later after Wagler took the CRP Buck, that 60 acres where he’d been living was sold at auction. “However, we still had 440 acres to hunt with more CRP strips, timber and a few green fields,” Wagler mentions.
David Wagler took his CRP Buck with his composite Buckmasters score of 191-7/8 as an irregular antler classification.
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