Kevin LaRosh thought the monster deer he’d been seeing for two years had disappeared, but the buck came home at just the right time
|Rack Report Details
|187 6/8 inches (gross non-typical)
|Time of Year:
|October 31, 2023
Kevin LaRosh’s buck scored an impressive 187 6/8 inches (gross non-typical). Image courtesy of Kevin LaRosh
The Land of Oz really is magical. At least, it can be for deer hunters, as Kevin LaRosh proved with a massive 5 1/2-year-old buck he shot on Halloween of 2023.
LaRosh knew the buck well, and had nicknamed him “Splits.” He had three years of history with the deer, including trail camera photos of it at 3 ½ and 4 ½ years old. He even has the buck’s 3 ½-year-old sheds. But this season, at 5 ½ years old, Splits vanished. Despite intense scouting efforts, LaRosh couldn’t find the buck with trail cameras or lay eyes on him while scouting or hunting. Eventually, though, neighboring hunters shared some trail camera photos, and LaRosh knew Splits was still close.
Despite the buck’s 2023 early season core area being elsewhere, he thought the deer might come back home. “The area where I harvested my deer is our family farm's sanctuary,” LaRosh said. “It's where my grandfather showed me years ago where the deer are most likely to be. I've spent the better part of the last seven years studying it to determine what parts to hunt and what parts to leave alone. Those left alone parts are where I find the majority of the sheds. It's their bedroom.”
LaRosh scouted this buck effectively. Image courtesy of Kevin LaRosh
On October 31, 2023, LaRosh had the whitetail encounter of his life. He’d stayed out of the stand until conditions were perfect. The weather was decently cold, with a 10-mph wind out of the northwest. It was the tail end of one of the best October cold fronts he’s ever seen.
The area consists of hilly pastures mixed with valleys, heavy cedar groves, and other timber. His blind allowed him to watch two large funnels that led out of the main bedding area draws on the farm.
It took a while for the deer to get moving that afternoon. While he waited, LaRosh watched birds flutter around, heard coyotes howl in the distance, and smelled the scent rutting deer recently left behind. Obviously, deer were in the area.
That’s quite the happy ending to a blood trail. Image courtesy of Kevin LaRosh
Soon after settling in, a coyote trotted by at 20 yards. It went up a key deer trail — one that deer usually walked down. After a while, a yearling buck worked through, and departed as quickly as it arrived.
Then, an old, 6 ½-year-old buck stepped into view. Unfortunately the buck had already snapped off a main beam, and so LaRosh passed — a decision that would turn out to be a blessing. Minutes passed, and several does made their way in. Behind them was a 6 ½-year-old, 7-point buck nicknamed “Clubby.”
“I was busy self-filming Clubby, and I happened to glance over at the trail that the coyote had gone on, and there was Splits standing at 50 yards,” LaRosh said. “When Splits made his appearance, I wasn't even sure what buck it was since he was walking broadside to me. It wasn't until he walked past me through some trees at 60 yards, turning his back to me to show off his giant 9 7/8-inch split brow tines.”
Kansas produced yet another monster whitetail. Image courtesy of Kevin LaRosh
The buck he hadn’t received a trail camera photo of all season was back home. And it looked like a 200-incher to LaRosh, for sure. Unfortunately, the deer turned and started walking away.
“I think it was his first visit to the property that year,” LaRosh said. “I ran several cameras and had yet to get a pic. There he was, just checking everything out in the draw. He made a 100-yard loop on the sidehill. That gave me an opportunity to get some amazing video footage of him. As he made his way back in my direction, I carefully put the camera on my tripod and picked up my bow.”
His blind windows were shut to prevent scent from escaping. And, just as he started to open the blind window, Splits looked up and saw the movement. The stare down started.
“Splits became very nervous and started to backpedal,” LaRosh said. “I came to full draw on him as he started to turn. My [25-yard] shot was far from perfect, but he dropped a few inches when I released, resulting in a spinal shot. I quickly got a 2nd arrow in him, hitting the mark. Splits expired only 20 yards in front of me. He was only a few steps from getting his first trail cam pic of the year, but I cut him short of that.”
Man, I wonder what he would’ve been next year, LaRosh thought.
But he’d rather have him as a 187 6/8-incher on the wall to look at, rather than nothing at all.
“I was ecstatic to harvest such an animal of his magnitude,” LaRosh said. “It’s my biggest deer to date, but the chase never stops.
“It is my time to find peace with everything,” LaRosh continued. “It just fills my heart until the next season. Deer hunting is a huge part of my life, as you could ask any of my friends or family members. It’s a 365 type of thing for me. I'm always finding new ways or trying new things every season. I try to manage and maintain the healthiest deer herd I can. Fall, winter, spring, and summer, there are chores to be done to be a successful bowhunter and have the history with them also.”