Hunter: Gerry Rightmyer
Date: November 29, 2005
Location: Morris County, Kansas
Weapon: Centerfire rifle
Preface: Newly trained B&C official measurer and Realtree pro staffer Gerry Rightmyer knows a trophy buck when he sees one. But the buck that stepped out in front of him one cold November day this past season was unlike anything he'd ever seen in the wild.
A friend of mine from Colorado frequents internet hunting chat rooms and offered to swap a mule deer or antelope hunt on his property in exchange for a big game hunt somewhere else. A gentleman took him up on his request and offered him a whitetail hunt on his property in Morris County, Kansas.
My friend asked me to join him, so I flew in from Rochester, New York, on Monday, November 27 to hunt with him in Kansas. We talked to John Hower, the property owner, who gave us a tour of the land and provided us with maps. For this hunt, we could scout at our leisure and hang our stands wherever we wanted to hang them. This was a do-it-yourself type hunt.
The Game Plan
John has approximately 10,000 acres of property including rolling hills, creek bottoms and soybean fields. He gave us four maps of the different properties we could hunt. After checking out the maps, I scouted three of the four properties. One felt too small and not conducive to what I was looking for. The second property had a good bottleneck, but no deer sign. I ended up choosing a piece of property that was loaded with rubs and scrapes. I could tell that the deer were actively working the land. I discovered numerous trails and a good bedding area that funneled down to a place where I decided to hang my stand. There was a cornfield to the north of the stand and a CRP field to the east.
That Tuesday when I hung my stand, temperatures reached a record high of 70 degrees. I worried that the bucks wouldn't move due to the warm weather. Luckily, the temperature dropped by 50 degrees that night, and on Wednesday the highs only reached the 20s.
On that frigid Wednesday morning, I climbed into the stand under the cover of darkness and waited. At 10 minutes after 7 a.m. I heard a shot. I knew that there were other hunters in the area because the property bordered some public hunting land. Sure enough, those other hunters bumped a small buck by me at 15 yards. He was actually downwind of me, but because of scent control, he had no idea that I was there. Shortly thereafter, at about 8:30 a.m., I spotted a lone doe in an adjacent field. At about 8:50 a.m., I spotted two more does with a nice buck following behind them. He was definitely interested in the does and scooted through the woods at a quick pace.
I didn't waist much time. I got my gun up on the buck, but I couldn't get a good look at what he had on his head, so I let him move on through the area without shooting him.
Then I spotted two hunters to the south of me on the public access ground. They could see me in the tree with my blaze orange so they respectfully moved out of the area. About this time, the weather turned nasty. The winds picked up to 25 miles an hour. It began to rain and then the rain turned to sleet.
The Monster Moment
I mentioned to my partner that I would meet him at the road around 12 p.m. if I killed a deer. I hadn't killed a deer at that time, so I remained in my stand. At approximately 12:40 p.m., just as the sleet was beginning to turn to hail, the buck of my dreams stepped out of the creek bottom.
When he walked out in front of me, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I had never seen that much mass on a deer in the wild. I immediately went into autopilot mode. I've hunted five Canadian provinces and have seen some monster deer, so I managed to stay calm and my natural instincts took over.
He stepped out from behind a tree and began moving along at a slow pace. I lifted my gun and gave a doe bleat with my mouth in an attempt to stop him. Fortunately, I was downwind of him, but this posed a problem. He couldn't hear me because the wind was blowing heavily.
Finally, when he reached 61 yards from me, I managed to get him to stop. Luckily he stopped between two trees that just bordered his vitals. When he stopped, I immediately fired my .270-caliber Remington 700. He ran 75 to 100 yards and then piled up. I breathed a sigh of relief.
When that deer first stepped out of the creek bottom, I immediately knew he was a good buck, and I was prepared to shoot. The entire process of following him, getting him to stop and shooting him only took about 10 to 15 seconds, which is a good thing because I didn't have time to get nervous.
When I finally saw the non-typical buck up close, I was in complete disbelief over his massive size. I was awestruck and knew immediately that he was a 200-inch deer.
With 27 scorable points, the unofficial score is 285 3/8. I believe he will net 269 1/8, which will put him as No. 2 in the state of Kansas. As of 2005, he'll be the 20th largest non-typical North American deer of all time. I can't believe I killed a deer that will place in the top 25 biggest deer killed in all of North America.
Some Serious Buzz
I was amazed at how quickly news spread into town. I couldn't even go to lunch without people stopping to get a look at the deer. I was fortunate to have a guy come down from Kansas to measure the deer for me. He put his tape to the buck and was very surprised at its size. He said he'd never seen anything that big. It had more than 50 inches of mass measurement, and more than 97 inches of non-typical points -- just incredible. The Boone & Crockett Club officially scored the deer after the mandatory 60-day drying period.
News also spread quickly to my home state of New York. Since coming home, I've heard all types of stories. Most people are happy for me and they are congratulatory, but some claimed that I poached the deer. There are always a few people who like to spread lies when someone takes a record buck.
Many people that I've talked to have asked me if I plan to continue to deer hunt because, "there's no where to go but down." I just reply that since I've taken my big non-typical deer, now I'll pursue a really big typical whitetail. I love my whitetail hunting, and I'm not about to give it up.
I've encountered some big changes since I've returned home. Magazines and radio shows have called me. People are really interested in learning more about the deer and the hunt.
Editor's Note: This was originally published January 26, 2007.
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