Blessed Memories

Posted by Scott Mensing | Posted in | Posted on Sunday, March 27, 2011

What you are about to read is written by one of the most humble people I have ever met. Lee Schmidt is one of a kind. I came to know Lee a few years ago when I happened by his truck while hunting in KS. Lee wasn't at his camp at the time, but his farm bordered my lease and I wanted to introduce myself. I left a note on his windshield with my phone number. A few days later, I got a phone call from Lee. We've been friends ever since. Scott and I have really enjoyed getting to know Lee, his son, Chris, and both of their families. They are all good Christian people. I'm sure as you read the following letter, you will realize how deeply Lee's faith in Christ runs. Lee was fortunate enough to harvest not one but two outstanding bucks this year. One of which, is a true "buck of a lifetime". In his own words, Lee is just an old cornstalk country boy. While that may well be true, he is also one of the finest men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. You'll soon realize just how humble and greatful Lee is for the blessings the Good Lord has bestowed upon him. I'm very proud to know him and can't even describe how happy I am for him and his good fortune. I hope that you all enjoy reading Lee's story as much as I did. A portion of this story can be read in the current issue of Missouri Deer Hunter Magazine. Please enjoy!

As written by Mr. Lee Schmidt.

I started hunting whitetails in 1965, as a junior in high school, at Tipton, MO. My first rifle was an old .303 British Enfield. My first deer, a much-celebrated doe, came several years later. Having very little knowledge and no teacher, I guess I got off to a slow start. However, I loved to hunt and spend time in the woods. I was learning more and more with every hunting season. Experience is a great teacher. By the mid 1970s, I had evolved into a fair deer hunter and was bagging a deer nearly every year. It did not matter much whether the deer was a buck or a doe, large or small, I was all about the thrill of the kill and getting the wonderful meat. I recall my first buck as being a small basket racked eight-pointer, taken in Morgan County.

Then a funny thing happened. I started developing a real respect and admiration for these incredible, awesome creatures that our creator designed. I started studying and reading everything I could find about the whitetail deer and deer hunting. I took up bow hunting for several years with a Ben Pearson recurve bow. I did not have much time to devote to my bow hunting efforts and I never did kill a deer with my bow, but I did get to continue and advance my whitetail education. I continued gun hunting with even greater success.

By the early 1980s I was targeting bucks as much as possible and any buck would do. In 1987 I shot my first real trophy buck, near Trenton, MO, a 13-pointer that officially scored 143 3/8" B&C. His mount still graces my family room wall after all these years. I shot him through the heart with a Model 70 Winchester .243 at 14 yards and from a homemade brush blind that I had built myself. What a thrill!!

My son Chris was coming of hunting age about this time. I found myself mentoring him through his first deer, a doe, and the next year, his first buck - a nice young 8-pointer. I gave up my best stand locations for him and taught him all that I had learned. I was totally enjoying his success. It was now more important to mentor him than to have the success myself. Looking back I can see that I was maturing some, as a hunter and as a father. With a good start Chris took off on his own with an enthusiasm, which turned him into the family whitetail expect and a good hunter. He was soon teaching me all of the latest techniques, like camouflage, portable stands and blinds, scent control, trail cameras, etc.

In 2002 my wife of nearly 42 years, who is a "fair weather" deer hunter and has several deer under her own belt, inherited a half interest in 200 acres located in Western Linn County, KS. This farm has proven to be a real "Honey Hole" with more deer and bigger deer than I have ever seen or imagined in one place. We have been developing this property ever since, with just the whitetails in mind. We are practicing Quality Deer Management with farm crops, CRP, ponds, food plots, mineral lick sites, tower blinds, shooting houses, stands, timber management, travel corridors, sanctuaries, etc. We have been trying to manage our harvests by limiting buck kills and shooting does. Deer and turkey abound, as well as, some great hunting opportunities. We know that when we hunt there we have a chance at a true trophy. We have taken several nice bucks in the 120-160 inch range and have let quite a few walk too. Kansas has been very good to us, but we still hunt Missouri as it doubles our hunting opportunities, is more convenient to our homes, and is much less expensive.

In 2003 I started hunting with a Thompson Center Encore rifle. I like the challenge of the single shot and it allows me to hunt with the same gun (rifle, muzzleloader or shotgun) all the time. My main rifle barrel is in .30TC caliber, the muzzleloader barrel is a 209x50 caliber in-line and the turkey special barrel is in 12"gauge, three-inch magnum. The Encore is compact, light, quick and very accurate. I fell in love with it and even tried an Encore pistol (15", 30-06 barrel) for several seasons. Three deer - two does and a buck - fell to it before I went back to my faithful .30TC rifle barrel, to again extend my shooting range.

Three years ago we moved from our home of 35 years in California, MO to Adrian, MO to be closer to our children and grandchildren (four boys and new little girl born 11/11/2010). All praises to God who is good!

The last few seasons I have again been mentoring a new hunter, my son-in-law Ben. Again, I have had another dry spell here in Missouri. Thank God for our place in Kansas. Ben has been a great Christian addition to our family and a good addition to our Missouri deer hunting. He has a natural ability and the patience to be an excellent stalker. Seven deer have fallen to my old Model 70 Winchester .243 in his capable hands during the last three seasons, including his first buck.

The 2010 Missouri firearms season came way to fast for me. I was not prepared as life had been very busy. I retired in 2007 and I do not know how I ever had time for a career. About a month before the season started, I set a pop-up blind and brushed it in about 400 yards behind our home where a hedgerow meets a little block of timber and near a small creek. There were several nice trails there and I had observed a couple decent bucks there earlier in the fall. This was supposed to be a "just in case" stand. Opening morning dawned wet and cool. I found myself hunting alone and using that particular blind. At about 6:45AM I saw a ghostly figure slipping down one of the trails, about 70 yards away. I knew it was a good buck, but in the low light and with the brushy background, I was having trouble counting points. The buck kept walking and I kept straining to see more. His main beams appeared to be massive. By the time I figured out that he was in fact a very nice and legal buck, he was out to 94 yards. I swung the Encore, centering on his shoulder, and squeezed the trigger. He dropped in his tracks, never knowing what had happened. I reloaded and waited for a few minutes while calming myself. I walked over to him praying "Lord, thank you for another of your bountiful blessings". When I got to the buck, I could not believe my eyes. He was a non-typical 25-point giant. I started to realize that I had just taken the buck of a lifetime. I was having trouble taking it all in and even daring to believe that he could be that big. I dropped to my knees beside him, admiring him, and again started praying to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It was a humbling experience, as I knew this particular blessing was not because I am great deer hunter or person for that matter. It was just another of my Father's rich blessings to an undeserving son. The "Freak Nasty" buck, as we have come to call him, weighed 201 pounds field dressed and had 25 points (of which we feel only 20 will actually score). We did unofficially green gross score him at 189 2/8 inches.

My new friend Brian, who is an avid bow hunter on an adjoining property, has provided me with trail camera pictures of this buck on the hoof. Brian also found the matched set of sheds last spring on the adjoining property. How cool is that?!?! They gross score approximately 196 5/8 inches!! No, they are not for sale! Because of these sheds and one trail camera picture, Brian hunted the "Freak Nasty" buck all fall. However, he never once saw him in person and on November 7th, settled for a real nice 10-pointer instead. I call it divine intervention, that the same day (approx. 30 minutes prior to Brian's arrival at his stand location) is when the second trail camera picture of the buck was taken, just a few short yards from his stand. Brian was unaware of this until after he had settled for the 10-pointer, which was his first bow kill buck. Congratulations Brian!! Had it not been for these "circumstances", I may not have had the opportunity to connect with this buck or become friends with Brian. Thank you Lord for both!

December 1st found my son and myself at our "Honey Hole" farm in Kansas. The weather was down right cold. I choose to hunt an enclosed shooting house overlooking an Imperial Whitetail Clover food plot. I saw 18 deer that morning - 12 does and 6 bucks. It was too early in the hunt to shoot a doe and the two shooter bucks that I saw and decided to pass on. At 9:45AM Chris and I spoke by phone and we decided to stay out until at least 10:30AM, in spite of the cold. At about 10:15, a big buck jumped the fence into the food plot and followed the edge toward me. At about 150 yards he turned and angled across the food plot right to me, apparently on a mission. Again, I raised the Encore and settled the crosshairs on his shoulder. He was huge bodied, had a big sagging belly, eight points and was really tall and wide. I had no doubts as I squeezed the trigger. He ran from the food plot, but I felt the 102-yard shot had been on target. I found him a few minutes later only 10 yards into the woods. His rack was sticking up, as well as his belly. It was a perfect shoulder shot. Once again, I praised and thanked my Lord for the experience, His wonderful creations, and His many blessings. What are the chances of taking two nice trophies (the two best deer of my life) and receiving a beautiful healthy new granddaughter (my first) and all in less than three weeks?!?!

This big 8-pointer had actually been a crab claw 9-pointer, and had one side of the crab claw broken off. My son has several good trail camera pictures of him. We dubbed him the "Claw". The pictures show almost to the day when he broke off the claw. He has not been green scored yet, but we feel he should score around 145 inches and possibly a bit more. This buck weighed in at 249 pounds and field dressed at 195 pounds. Chris went on to take a nice 10-pointer that evening and a big doe the next evening.

I have been called "Lucky Lee" a few times in the past. More aptly, it should be "Blessed Lee". While I have the same challenges, trials, and troubles in my life that we all do, I know beyond any shadow of a doubt that my life is and has been truly blessed. I have a Lord and Savior who loves me and who gave His life for me so that I could be forgiven for my sins and spend eternity with Him in Heaven. I have my faith, health, freedom, family, church family, a treasury of cherished memories, and over course my beloved past time of pursuing whitetails. What more could an old country boy ask for??

Comments (2)

  1. Awesome story. I may have to start stopping by this blog more often!

  2. Thanks Bobby. Glad you enjoyed the post! Feel free to stop by often!

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