When it comes to white-tailed deer hunting, there is no place like home.
If that home is somewhere in the whitetail rich state of Kansas, that is. Because once again, the Sunflower State has provided another North American Whitetail big buck story, this time from the Fort Scott area.
That’s the area that young nine-year old Creed Clayton – who had his birthday only one week before his fateful hunt, according to mom Courtney – lives and hunts deer with his family.
There’s plenty of whitetail hunting experience in that family: dad Chad is a longtime hunter, chief guide, and hunting supervisor on the family land.
Earlier this fall, Chad helped guide his son Chayden on a successful outing, one where Creed’s older brother took a good Kansas deer and put the first venison of the year in the family freezer.
“Chad has always hunted [deer in the area] along with many other friends and family members,” said Courtney. “Deer hunting is pretty popular here in Fort Scott, Kansas.”
And it’s especially important in the Clayton family, perhaps even more so this fall.
“He [Chad] has always enjoyed the outdoors,” noted Courtney. “Hunting became even more special with teaching [the boys] and creating those [outdoor] memories with his own sons!”
All of that set the stage for young Creed to take his turn in a ground blind with dad this season, hoping to see a huge buck that first appeared on the family’s game cameras earlier this year, as pre-season preparations began in late July.
“This season was the first sighting of him [the big buck] on camera,” said Courtney. “You would have thought that they had won the lottery or something when they saw this particular buck on camera and [started wondering] who the lucky one was going to be to take him down.”
On Nov. 3rd, as the peak of the Kansas whitetail rut began to approach, that opportunity came to young Creed as he and his dad put their Under Armour and ScentLok hunting clothes on and went for a sit in the ground blind.
“My dad and I made our way to the blind about 3:45 p.m.,” said Creed of the fateful afternoon with cloudy, sprinkling skies. “We sat there for a while and had an eight-pointer show up. He rubbed on a tree but never came in close enough for me to get a shot.”
But a half-hour later, as some does eased into the area near their blind, Creed got the shot opportunity he was hoping for.
“We were watching them, and then my dad taps my leg and started pointing to his side of the blind,” said Creed. “When I looked over, there he was.”
Like most hunters staring at the buck of a lifetime, the nine-year old started battling a pretty good case of buck fever as his heart rate went up a few notches.
“He came in and chased off a doe,” said Creed. “He then turned and came back and was quartered in our direction, facing us. My dad was telling me to calm down and to wait until he turned broadside, then take a deep breath and shoot.”
Slowly, Creed got his Barnett Quad Edge crossbow up, one that was loaded with a 22-inch Carbon Express Mayhem bolt tipped with a NAP HellRazor broadhead. When a shot opportunity finally presented itself, the young hunter steadied the sight as the buck turned broadside only 20 yards away.
“I took a deep breath and shot, and off he went running,” said Creed. “There was a doe over where he ran to and she kept blowing and blowing.”
A short while later when Creed and his dad exited the blind, they walked in the direction of that noise. Moments later, a big buck celebration ensued in the whitetail woods some 100 miles south of Kansas City.
“I looked over and there he was, about 40 yards from where I made the shot!” said Creed. “I was so excited, I grabbed him by the horns and started counting points.”
“[I think] I said ‘Dad, oh my gosh! YES! YES! YES!” added the young hunter.
For sure, it was a special moment for father and son to share in the woods, just like it had been a few weeks earlier when Chad and his son Chayden walked up on his own Sunflower State whitetail.
“Being with my son on his first deer kill, wow, what a moment that was and one that I will forever treasure,” said Chad.
“After finding the deer and seeing how big he was, it was so cool, and I couldn’t stop smiling,” added Creed.
While no score of Creed’s buck has been obtained just yet – the buck is currently at the taxidermist’s shop and will be scored shortly – the huge whitetail checks in with at least 19 points. Whatever the final number proves to be, it would seem that Creed’s buck will merit the awarding of a Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism Trophy Buck certificate.
“He set the bar kind of high the first go-around,” laughed Courtney, who also added, “It was his first deer kill – he’s kind of spoiled, huh?”
In the small community of just more than 8,000 residents, Creed’s moment in the deer hunting spotlight has brought plenty of congratulations, handshakes, and big smiles from townspeople.
“It’s been a popular topic of conversation here in our small town,” agreed Courtney. “He’s [Creed] really excited to get the deer back [from the taxidermist] and display it in our home.”
Now that the two boys in the Clayton family have put venison into the freezer – and Creed has likely secured a KDWPT Trophy Buck certificate - what does the family do for an encore?
“Chad will now try to go fill his tag,” said Courtney. “They love managing the deer, letting them grow, and one can only hope that one of them, [Chad or the boys], will one day get a monster again.”
Don’t be surprised if that happens, because when it comes to chasing trophy whitetails, there’s simply no place like home.
As long as that home is somewhere near the southeastern Kansas community of Fort Scott, that is!