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Phillip Kalmbach’s 318 Pound Kansas Buck Deer

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Editor’s Note: Phillip Kalmbach from Lincoln, Texas, wanted to take a trophy buck. He’d taken plenty of bucks in Texas that would score 120-140 on Boone and Crockett but never had taken a buck that scored any higher.

In 2015, Kalmbach called Cabela’s booking agent ( to try and set-up a hunt in Kansas, because he’d read about all the big bucks being taken there. “I applied for a Kansas deer tag through Cabela’s, and the company recommended I hunt with Central Kansas Whitetails (,” Kalmbach explains. Kalmbach booked a 5-day hunt with Central Kansas Whitetails, not knowing anything about the guides, the land they’d hunt or the possibilities of taking a trophy buck. On the last day of the hunt in Rush County, Kansas, as he sat in his stand, he wondered if he’d lost his mind, since he hadn’t spotted a big buck. “When I had talked to the owners of Central Kansas Whitetails, they told me they owned or leased more than 15,000 acres, and that regardless of the wind and weather conditions, they could put me in a stand where I might have a chance to take a mature buck,” Kalmbach remembers.

On this hunt, Kalmbach took his Excalibur ( Axiom crossbow. “I’d just bought a new compound bow, but I didn’t feel comfortable enough shooting that bow to hunt with it. However, I was very confident with the crossbow. On Wednesday, the first morning of the hunt, I saw a 3 point and a spike. On Thursday, a major cold front moved in with winds at 50-60 mph, and I didn’t hunt Thursday morning. But that afternoon I spotted a 4-point buck and a couple of does. Friday morning I did see a mature buck 400 yards from my stand. Saturday I spotted nine does in the morning and a small 6 pointer in the afternoon. Sunday morning, November 15, 2015, was the last day of my hunt, and I was discouraged.” That Sunday, Kalmbach was taken to a ladder stand in a small draw with a wet-weather branch and a small strip of woods between a harvested corn field and a Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) field. Kalmbach was about 100 yards or so from a road when a flock of several hundred turkeys came past his stand. He saw a car coming fast and heard some turkeys getting thumped.

“The outfitter had cut some shooting lanes in front of me, expecting bucks to walk down the edge of that creek,” Kalmbach says. His guide had told him to look for deer coming from the north. “About 8:30 am, I heard a snap to my left where a bank dropped off into the draw. I looked there and saw a doe coming toward me. Suddenly behind her, I spotted the biggest buck I’d ever seen. Behind him was another 5X6 buck that was just as big, but he only had an 18-20 inch-wide rack. The front buck had what I believed to be a 26-27 inch spread. The length of his tines was so long I was amazed, and he had about an 8-9 inch drop tine on one side.”

When Kalmbach first saw the two bucks, they were about 50-yards away and behind his stand. The first thing Kalmbach thought was, “How am I going to get a shot at either of these bucks? They’re behind me. I’ll have to stand up, turn around and shoot through the branches on the back side of this tree.” To complicate matters, the doe moved to the back of the tree and spotted Kalmbach as the bucks kept coming. Luckily, the doe didn’t spook, and the bucks were so focused on this estrous doe they didn’t look up from the route they took to get to her.

As Kalmbach’s brain scrambled about how to prepare for the shot, he knew standing up with his safety harness on meant he had to get the harness strap out of the way to keep from choking himself. “I’d also have to find a hole in the limbs that I could get my crossbow in to where the limbs of my crossbow wouldn’t hit a branch of the tree,” Kalmbach explains. “I had to locate a place where I hoped one of those two bucks might stop, and where I could take the shot without any of those three deer seeing me move.” While Kalmbach was trying to solve all these problems at the same time, the two big bucks walked steadily toward him. Then he wondered how he’d stop the bucks to get a shot. Kalmbach’s brain was definitely on overload.

“As I stood up, I glanced down at the doe looking at me,” Kalmbach says. “She didn’t seem too concerned watching me stand, turn around and search for a hole in the limbs through which I could shoot my crossbow. I guess my Realtree ( Xtra camouflage was working for me.” Kalmbach’s experience from 20 years of bowhunting deer kicked in, and he found one spot on the ground clear enough to get off a shot, as the bucks kept getting closer and closer. The second buck came by his stand, but Kalmbach really wanted to take the wider-racked first buck he’d seen. As the buck approached a clearing 15 yards from the base of Kalmbach’s stand, he grunted, hoping to stop the buck. But the big buck didn’t stop.

“Finally, I just hollered, ‘Hey, you,’” Kalmbach remembers. The buck stopped long enough for Kalmbach to get off a shot with his crossbow. When the giant buck took the arrow, Kalmbach’s broadhead hit right behind the front shoulder of the big deer. The buck ran about 100 yards, stopped and laid down. Kalmbach stayed in his stand until his guide, Trevor Olson, came to pick him up to recover this huge 318-pound buck. When Kalmbach took the buck to the taxidermist, the buck was older than the jawbone aging tool that the taxidermist had to age deer. The taxidermist said, “He’s probably 9-1/2 years old or more.”

Phillip Kalmbach harvested this 185 6/8 buck in Rush County, Kansas, on November 15, 2015, with his crossbow.

To learn more about hunting deer with John E. Phillips’ Amazon Kindle eBooks, print books and Audible books and Nook books, click here at You can type in the name of the book and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer. For a free download on how to make jerky from venison to provide a protein-rich snack, choose “How to Prepare Venison Jerky: The Ultimate Snack Food” at


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