WICHITA, Kan. — For three years, Scott Carlson got frequent nighttime trail camera photos of a big non-typical buck on his hunting grounds. But he rarely saw it in the daylight.
It was the final minutes of the muzzleloader season on Oct. 2 and Scott Carlson was hurrying toward the buck of his dreams.
Time, he knew, wasn’t on his side because hunting the buck during the 11-day firearms season beginning Nov. 30 probably wasn’t an option.
The non-typical buck had broken one antler by early October the previous two falls.
“I suspected he had a problem with his horns and they were easy to break,” said Carlson, of Atwood, Kan. “Plus I never knew if I’d ever get another chance to see him. I saw him five times in three years and most of those were right at dark.”
So it often goes with world-class bucks. The deer he shot that evening is most likely the largest whitetail shot with a muzzleloader in Kansas.
Carlson first learned there was a special buck on his Unit 1 private hunting grounds in September 2009, when a young buck with many extra points showed up on a trail camera. He estimates the buck would have grossed about 150 inches of antler at the time.
He never saw the buck during the daylight that year, but found a broken right main beam in September.
Going into the 2010 muzzleloader season, Carlson had more nighttime trail camera photos of the buck he guessed might then score about 190 inches. He found its broken main beam the first week of October.
The buck again was fairly common on camera this past summer.
“He was pretty consistent on one trail camera, heading down into a creek bottom,” Carlson said. “I’m guessing he was heading down there to drink.”
Carlson plants no food plots and puts out no feeders to hunt over. His plan for this season was to take a seat overlooking several canyons that lead from pasture lands into the creek bottom the buck frequented.
Like the previous two seasons, Carlson headed into this fall’s seasons thinking he’d shoot the big nontypical or nothing.
Carlson was beginning to think it was going to be another nothing season when he saw a deer several canyons over late on Oct. 2.
“I suspected it was him, but it was far enough away I really couldn’t tell,” Carlson said. “I didn’t have a lot of time to get around two draws and make sure I had the wind in my favor.”
As the sun was setting, Carlson peeked into the canyon where he’d seen the buck and got his first really good look at the big whitetail.
At 80 yards with a scoped-muzzleloader, Carlson easily made a quick kill.
“He was bigger than I thought,” Carlson said of walking up to the downed buck. “I was surprised to see all of his points were intact. Seeing him in person was impressive, very impressive.
Antlers that are 30 inches wide on the outside with 30 scorable points have a way of being impressive.
The antlers carry four droptines and each sprouts multiple points. The rack carries about 80 inches of non-typical points.
Carlson’s taxidermist scored the buck unofficially at 255 gross inches, netting about 245 inches after deductions. An official net score will be obtained 60 days after the deer was shot.
Per Carlson’s research, he expects the buck to be one of the top 10 non-typicals killed in the world with a muzzleloader during modern times.
It should rank about seventh for Kansas’ overall firearms listings.
It should easily eclipse Kansas’ largest recorded muzzleloader non-typical, a buck of about 228 2/8 inches shot in 2009 in Lincoln County.
Mike Miller, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism information chief, said the state’s listings probably don’t hold all of the biggest deer ever killed in the state. Miller said word usually gets around, however, of bucks the size of Carlson’s.
Carlson said he’ll probably enter the buck’s official score in the Kansas listings, but not the national books.
“I’m not really a big deer hunter,” he said. “I’m just a hunter who got a lucky deal.”