Phillip Vanderpool, host of The Virtue, knows a thing or three about killing big bucks. He fills several tags each year and has taken numerous Boone & Crockett bucks. Simply put, the man knows how to get the job done. And he’s done it again this year in grand fashion.
Vanderpool has been hunting the same 10 acres in Kansas—yeah, there’s only one zero on the end of that number—for three years now. On December 23, 2013, he killed a 202 1/8-inch buck named Dagger. You can watch that hunt here. On November 17, 2014, setting in the exact same spot (now known as the Dagger set), he killed a 150 7/8-inch buck named High Nine.
That brings us to this year. Vanderpool put a camera out back in August to see what the property would yield this time around. They saw some good bucks, but it wasn’t until November 17 that Vanderpool saw what he was looking for: a massive whitetail. They swiftly made a plan to kill it, and that plan was to do exactly what they did the two years before.
The went in the next morning and sat in the same ground blind where Vanderpool killed the other two bucks in 2013 and 2014. They were on the edge of a hedge apple thicket, just to the west of a wheat field.
Right at daylight, a 130-inch buck cruised through and demolished his DSD buck decoy. After setting the decoy back up, several small bucks came in to check it out. Around 8:15 a.m., a doe came in and began inspecting the decoy, too. Seconds later, Vanderpool’s cameraman, Don Palmer, looked at him and said, “Oh my gosh, there’s the big one…He’s leaving…No, he’s running off another buck…Here he comes.”
The buck came in and hung up about 30 yards from the blind and stopped in the exact same spot Dagger did in 2013. Vanderpool couldn’t see the buck, so he watched the LCD screen on the camera. After several seconds of pure anxiety, he leaned over and peeked around the blind window to see the buck.
It was time to act. Vanderpool drew back his Elite Pulse, leaned to the right a little more, and settled the pin. When he did, the doe saw him move and eased off to their right. Afraid the buck would run, he released the arrow. The Nockout lighted nock glided through the air before disappearing in the deer. The buck bounded three times, stopped in some tall grass, and tipped over.
The 4½-year-old buck scored 175 inches. “That’s when the big buck celebration began,” Vanderpool said. “I knew he was good, but I thought he was a 160-class buck.”
The moral behind this deer hunt, and Vanderpool's hunts from 2013 and 2014, is that someone can kill trophy class bucks on small properties year after year. It just needs to be the right property.
“Just because you have a small piece of property doesn’t mean it isn’t good,” Vanderpool said. “It just needs to be the right property. It needs food, cover, and water. If the terrain funnels everything into it, that’s even better. That’s how this property is. Everything connects and funnels into this 10-acre tract.”
Vanderpool was hunting with outfitter and friend, Donovan Huehl, when he killed this buck. But the fact remains, you can find a small property like this and get it for a reasonable price.
The other important takeaway from this story is that you can kill numerous bucks out of the same treestand location, or (in this case) a ground blind setup, year after year. Deer alter their travel routes slightly each year. But a good spot will likely continue to be a good spot, especially if it has everything a deer needs...and the hunter doesn't apply too much pressure.
Remember, you don’t have to be rich to own good hunting ground. In fact, with the right planning and dedication, it’s a very obtainable goal. So this “secret” I speak of isn’t really a secret at all. The property needs to have the three basic needs of a whitetail. That’s it. The secret, if there is one, is that people don’t realize this is within reach on virtually any budget.
You can share the same success Vanderpool has had these last three years. You just have to set your mind to it and make it happen.
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Whitetails make the hunting world go round. Josh Honeycutt, deer hunting editor and "Brow Tines and Backstrap" blogger, knows a fair bit about killing mature deer. He was raised up hunting the river bottoms of Kentucky. And he still hunts there—among other places—to this day.
Follow along as he shares his adventures, experiences and knowledge of the white-tailed deer.