Posted by Bo Parker | Posted in | Posted on Wednesday, October 27, 2010
2010 marks my 3rd hunting season in KS after moving from GA in 2008. What a ride it has been! Last year, I took a dream buck that grossed in the 170's on our 80 acre lease. This year, I took a deer that is a true legend of our Kansas farm.
In the summer of 2008, I got my first trail camera pictures of a nice 3 year old buck that would soon become known as Potato Digger. My first on the hoof encounter with Digger occured in November of 2008 while hunting with my wife, Sarah. We'd seen a few bucks already that morning when I heard a deer slipping through the CRP behind us. At first glance, I reached for my bow, but quickly elected to pass the 125ish 8 point at a distance of 15 yards. Afterall, it was early November and we were in the Land of Giants. We saw many good deer that weekend, but the big boys never presented me with any shots.
A few short weeks later found me back on stand in late December. It was to be my last KS hunt of the year. We were experiencing some sub-zero temperatures that day and the deer movement was fantastic! At the 11th hour, who would show up again? It was the wide young 8 point, and he was once again at a mere 15 yards. I'll admit, it was quite tempting as his antlers were larger than any of my GA bucks, but I didn't move to the Midwest to shoot 3 year olds. I felt that he needed at least one more year.
In late winter of 2009, I invited Scott to start hunting the property with me. We went down in March to shed hunt. We were walking along a creek that runs through the CRP when Scott spotted a shed that I had nearly stepped on. When he picked it up, he said, "Sweet, it has a potato digger point!". Little did we know, but he'd just uttered the words that we would use time and time again for the next two years. The shed that Scott held, belonged to the young 8 point that I'd passed on twice during the 2008 season.
During the summer of 2009, we ran trail cams and on the first card pull discovered that the potato digger buck had made a big jump! We estimated that the 4 year old whitetail had put on an additional 20 inches of bone and had some very impressive main beams. He was a deer that we definitely wanted to pursue. During our first hunt of the year, Potato Digger made his first appearance. We were sitting in a double ladder stand that we'd hung just 30 yards from where we'd found Digger's shed. While waiting on a young doe that was feeding to the East of the stand to give me a shot, I caught movement to the West. I quickly whispered to Scott, "Big buck! It's Potato Digger!"
By the time Scott got the camera on him, I was at full draw and looking through my peep sight at the big whitetail. 35 yards is well within my comfort zone, the only problem was that he was quartering to me. I try to avoid those shots at all costs. We hoped that he would take the same path that some earlier does had chosen, but as luck would have it, he fed directly away from us. We were pretty bummed.
During our next trip down, I was fortunate enough to arrow my largest whitetail to date. Potato Digger was safe from me for the remainder of the 2009 season... but Scott still had a tag. After I tagged out, Scott was on a mission to get Potato Digger. We'd already had daylight encounters with him during the past two seasons, and he was highly visible on our trail cams throughout the season. We often got pictures and videos of him hitting scrapes and rubs during the mid morning and early afternoon hours. He was definitely a killable buck. As luck would have it, when we chose door #1, he was behind door #2. The entire season played out like that. In the game of cat and mouse, we were always one step behind. One thing that we really noticed about him though, was that he was clearly a dominant buck. He ran with some larger antlered deer during much of the summer months, but seemed to really push them aside during the fall. In fact, our sightings and pictures of other mature bucks were severely limited with Potato Digger claiming the farm as his home. His dominancy was very evident.
The 2009 season closed without a second encounter with Potato Digger and Scott got a dose of Kansas Tag Soup... Trust me, I've had it and it tastes pretty terrible!
(For a recap of our first 2010 KS shed hunting trip, visit our March archives.) In March of 2010, we headed down to shed hunt the farm with one particular set in mind... Potato Digger! Not long into the trip, Scott found the matched set! We were pretty elated that he had found exactly what we'd been hoping for and that he had found them before the squirrels did. The beam length was quite impressive at 26+ inches. The matched set was found within 60 yards of his 2008 shed and within 100 yards of all of our encounters with him. We were definitely starting to narrow down his core area.
In the summer of 2010, Digger was once again the first mature buck to show up on trail cam. It appeared that he hadn't changed a whole lot, but his beams had amazingly grown even longer!
He had officially reached the "Stud" level in our book as a 5.5 year old KS brute. We were extremely excited to have the opportunity to chase this legend again. His dominant nature was very obvious to us during the summer months as his aggressive demeanor towards other bucks showed even as early as July. He seemed to really command the corn pile... even when feeding near much higher scoring bucks, such as Crab Claw 9. Potato Digger was officially named the #1 buck on our 2010 hitlist... even though we had larger antlered deer to chase. Our history with him and his aggressive nature made him our top priority this year. We hung stands, built ground blinds, and planted food plots specifically for this deer. It was time to take down our old nemesis.
On Friday, October 22nd, around 6:45 PM, the final chapter of our quest for Potato Digger was written.
I don't want to spoil the footage, so you'll have to watch the Great Plains show on www.midwestwhitetail.com on Thursday, October 28th. I will say that it was an incredible hunt that involved rattling and some intense decoy action. I shot him off the ground and he dressed out over 240 lbs. His beams measured 28"+ and his green gross score was 148 1/8th. Harvesting him was the result of a lot of hard work and was truly a team effort. He belongs to Scott as much as he does to me. We earned this buck! I'd also like to say a special thanks to Craig Galey, our neighbor, for giving me the match to the 2008 shed that Scott found. I now have both matched sets and they will be displayed with the mount in some fashion.
Harvesting a deer like this is a truly humbling experience and it reminds me to give thanks to our loving father. Without you, Lord, none of this would be possible. Thank you for creating whitetails and giving some of us the passion it takes to chase them.
Thanks for reading and please watch the show on Thursday to see the hunt. It is my favorite hunt of all time!