15-Point Monster is Blanton's Best Buck Ever

By author of Brow Tines and Backstrap
Rack Report Details
Buck: 188 2/8 non-typical
Time of Year: Oct. 28
Place: South-Central Kansas / JB Outfitter
Weapon: Bear Motive 7, Easton FMJ Arrows, NAP Spitfire Maxx broadheads

David Blanton has seen a bunch of big bucks in his day. So when he was telling me the story of his recent hunt in Kansas and said the words, “Biggest buck I’d ever seen,” I had to stop him.

Repeat that, David. The biggest buck you’d ever seen?

Yes, biggest buck I’d ever seen.

All the other bucks in your life previous to this one were smaller?

I told you, biggest buck I’d ever seen.

When I got a good look at a picture of the buck, I believed him.

Blanton was hunting with JB Outfitters near Pratt, in south-central Kansas. It’s a place that’s been good to him in years past, and actually where he’d killed his previous best bow buck—a 171-incher—two years ago. The owners, Jeff Bolen and Bryan Nickelson, manage some 10,000 acres of ground in this part of Kansas, where the eastern landscape begins to melt into the open West. It’s full of corn fields, river bottoms, plum thickets, and CRP areas. “Jeff and Bryan have such a good handle on what the deer are doing almost year around out there,” Blanton says.

Well, most of the deer. Blanton and cameraman Daniel Thomas were actually hunting a different buck in the area back in mid-October. Jeff and Bryan were out glassing when they saw a giant buck through their spotting scope in a picked corn field, half a mile away. They knew immediately which buck it was. “They were familiar with this deer from years past,” Blanton says. “They’d named him ‘Houdini’ because he often showed up in summer only to disappear during hunting season.”

Blanton and Thomas made a move on the buck the next day, slipping into a nearby plum thicket to hang a stand. They let the area rest for a day, and then snuck in to hunt the following evening. Houdini stood up from his bed in a CRP field about 180 yards away.

“He was just huge,” Blanton says. “The biggest buck I’d ever seen, and it was amazing just to get to see him.”

It didn’t happen that night. But just as things were looking good, the weather turned off hot. “It was in the high-80s and 90s,” Blanton says. “In fact, we were supposed to head up to Oklahoma for a muzzleloader hunt, but we canceled and came on back to Georgia because it had gotten so hot.”

Last weekend (Oct. 25), Jeff and Bryan checked a couple trail cameras, and Houdini appeared, albeit a half mile from Blanton’s stand. “That’s no distance for a buck in this country,” Blanton says, “and the photos were at night. So we made arrangements to fly back in that Monday and hunt him. This time, (cameraman) Stephen McNelly came with me.”

They climbed into the plum thicket set that first evening, full of anticipation. And there, in Kansas, the last week of October, they didn’t see a single deer.

“It’s open country, and we could see for a half-mile,” Blanton says. “Not one single deer. But we knew Houdini was in the area, and didn’t get discouraged. We were back after him the next evening.”

At 4:30 on Tuesday, the 28th, a button buck appeared. “I told Stephen, ‘At least the deer are moving,’” Blanton chuckled. “Before long, we saw a doe, too. Then, at about a quarter to 6, I’m glassing across the CRP toward a fence, and there’s his rack. He’d been bedded there the whole time, though I think he must’ve had his head down, asleep. Before long, he stood up. Stephen gets the camera on him, and he’s 450 yards away. I’m thinking, ‘This is fantastic. We know he’s here, and we’re getting good footage of him.’ Late as it was, I never dreamed we’d actually shoot him that night. But all the sudden, he started walking toward us.”

Blanton didn’t figure the buck would make it anywhere close to their set by the end of shooting light, but there was a livestock tank near the stand where the deer had been coming to water. “He took his time, feeding and milling around; disappearing for a bit and then reappearing. Finally, when he got to 200 yards, I put my Nikons down and grabbed my bow off the EZ Hanger. For the last 150 yards, he pretty much walked right to us.”

With 10 minutes of shooting light remaining, Blanton now found himself looking through the bracket of his bow sight at the biggest buck of his life, 28 yards away. He took the shot, and Houdini scrambled back across the CRP. McNelly was on him with the camera.

“Stephen was looking through the viewfinder, and he said, ‘David, he’s bleeding like crazy.’ Then, the buck crashed.”

Houdini is a mainframe 10-pointer with all sorts of character. “He ended up with 15 scorable points, and he had broken an estimated 9-inch tine since the trail camera photos the weekend before,” Blanton says. “But he’s still my best buck ever, by far. We green-scored him at 188 2/8.”

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