The Slick Six
September 30, 2010
A 3x3 whitetail that almost scores high enough to make the prestigious Boone and Crockett record book? Only in Kansas!
By Marc Murrell
"It was a 6-pointer that nearly scored 170!" My friend was telling me about an incredible buck that was killed in southwest Kansas during the 2002 season.
"No way!" was my immediate response. I'd heard about a couple of 6-pointers that would make Pope and Young, but never one that would even scare the Boone and Crockett minimum! I reasoned that there had to be something more to it.
As it turned out, there was a "rest of the story" to this tale of a giant buck with only 6 scorable points. And that story is as impressive as the buck itself.
Larry Konrade and Galen Krier, who are partners in Tamarack Outfitters, make it a habit to watch deer in southwest Kansas for most of the summer and right up until the fall deer seasons. While big deer are common sights, one the pair saw in an alfalfa field last summer really got their attention.
"The first time we saw him was the third week in June," Konrade remembers. "We spotted him with another group of deer. I think we counted 18 bucks coming to an alfalfa field. The following night we got some video of him and we saw him a number of times that summer."
With two busted brow tines, Brian King's Kansas giant had only 3 scorable points on each side of its rack - yet it still almost netted high enough to make B&C records! Photo courtesy of Brian King
As luck would have it, the monstrous 8-pointer (at that time) disappeared about two weeks before the September muzzleloader season.
"We couldn't seem to find him and thought he went nocturnal," said Konrade. "He had actually started staying in a feed field a mile and a half north of where we'd seen him. He was probably staying within 50 to 100 yards of the road in the feed that was about 12 feet tall. While we were muzzleloader hunting we probably drove by him about 30 times in a period of 10 days."
The secret of the buck's whereabouts was uncovered the last night of muzzleloader season. A local bowhunter saw the buck run across the road on his way to water after dark.
Archery season opened Oct. 1 in Kansas, and on that day, the bowhunter who had discovered the buck's hideout was waiting for him. The buck crossed in front of the anxious hunter at only 15 yards. As the hunter drew his bow, the release was somehow or other tripped before he had the shot lined up.
"He's just one of those kind of deer that, if you have the opportunity to have him under you, it's easy to let it get to you. They have a tendency to 'help' you make mistakes," Konrade admitted.
Konrade and Krier had their sights set on the buck, too. The feed that hid the buck had been cut and so the deer returned to areas he'd inhabited earlier. The two positioned several stands in a shelterbelt they knew deer used to travel to the alfalfa field.
"From year to year, if I can't kill a deer that is at least 4 1/2 years old or better, I won't kill a deer," Konrade said. "Which means you're not going to kill a deer every year, most likely. I haven't killed a deer the last couple of years."
Konrade wanted to kill the Clark County buck, one that would easily smoke the Pope and Young minimum entry score and by all calculations the Boone and Crockett minimum too. Doing it with a bow would be the hard part.
His encounter with the big buck is one Konrade will likely remember forever. "I had eight other bucks under me and he just surprised me when he came in," Konrade remembers from his hunt on Oct. 17. "I went from as calm, cool and collected as you could be to basically being paralyzed. As soon as I saw him he was exactly where he needed to be if I was going to kill him."
Rather than stopping in Konrade's shooting window, the huge buck kept walking, making it more difficult for Konrade to get drawn. "I grunted to stop him and didn't make a good shot. That's all there is to it."
During that encounter, Konrade noticed something different about the buck. "I really believe he had just got done fighting. His left eye was noticeably closed and he was blinking it and panting when he came in. At that point it was the first time I'd seen him without his brow tines."
The 8-pointer-turned-6-pointer was next chased by well-known bowhunter Bob Foulkrod when he came to hunt with Tamarack Outfitters during the first week in November.
"He had him within 50 yards one morning and just didn't feel comfortable shooting at that distance," Konrade said. "We decoyed the deer but just couldn't get him to leave his doe."
During the second week of November, the buck would tally another lucky break in his favor. A Georgia bowhunter missed the buck, shooting over the top of him at 25 yards. Another bowhunter during the third week had the buck closing fast on his stand only to have the deer get sidetracked by a hot doe.
Rifle season opened on Dec. 4. Konrade knew the odds of taking the big 6-pointer then tipped in favor of the hunter, but he was still a bit reserved about his chances.
"I felt like he was the kind of deer that you would have one chance at and that was it during the rifle season," said Konrade. "On some of the land that surrounds us there's absolutely no deer hunting, and that's where he would go if you pressured him."
Mother Nature aided the hunters on the eve of the season.
"We were fortunate we got an 8-inch snow and it held everything out really late," Konrade said. "It was just a matter of getting set up in the right spot, and hoping he was on the alfalfa field long enough where we could move on him if we needed to."
The lucky hunter that was chasing the deer then was Brian King. King, who had killed a nice buck the year before with Tamarack Outfitters, was lured to Kansas initially by the thought of one thing: big deer!
King already knew about the giant 6-pointer, and he heard more stories when he arrived for the 2002 firearms opener. "Larry seemed to think we had a pretty good chance of finding him," King remembers. "Larry and Galen were on top of it."
King's hunt supplied even more stories and it didn't take long. "It was kind of a blur," King recalled. "It happened kind of fast."
After watching a few deer and not finding the big 6-pointer, Konrade and King decid
ed to move.
"We saw him and moved again to make sure it was him," King remembers. "After we looked at him, Larry told me it was definitely him."
Knowing it was just a matter of getting within range, the duo put a sneak on the buck; they moved through the hills and across a small creek.
"We got up on him and he was trailing a doe," King said. "We got up behind these little trees and I could see the doe and see the buck moving through the tall grass. All I could see was his head and neck and I didn't want to shoot him there."
The doe stepped out into a little opening and King thought he might have his chance if the giant 6-pointer followed her.
"He followed that doe and came up in just one little opening out of the grass and that was it," King said. The hunter fired his .300 Win. Mag. at the buck from an estimated 200 yards.
"He took off and then of course I couldn't find him in my scope; by the time I found him again he was stumbling and went down," King said.
King was admittedly excited when he walked up to his second Kansas whitetail.
"Wow!" was his first comment on seeing the buck. "It was pretty impressive to see that antler sticking up out of the grass."
Despite having only 6 points, the huge Kansas whitetail rack unofficially grossed a whopping 166 inches of typical antler. The rack was incredibly symmetrical with a 25-inch spread. It only lost 3 inches owing to a lack of symmetry and netted 163 inches - just 7 inches shy of a B&C listing - as a 6-pointer!
"He had been one lucky deer," King concluded. "To me, the story is the deer, and that's the interesting thing. I just happened to be the last paragraph in the whole deal, and I was very fortunate."
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