A Second Chance and a 222-Inch Giant

Big Game,White-Tailed Deer


A Second Chance and a 222-Inch Giant

Posted 2017-10-18T01:04:00Z  by  Michael Pendley

One of the Largest Bucks of 2017

Rack Report Details
Buck:222 7/8 Inches
Time of Year:October 3, 2017
Place:Reno County, Kansas
Weapon: Xpedition Explorer SS  Bowhunting 

While its left side is very much a typical frame, the right side offers maybe just a little bit more character. (Evan Theis photo)

Evan Theis admits that he wouldn't have known about this buck if it hadn't been for a neighbor. About a month before season, Evan got word that a massive buck had been seen near his hunting spot.

I was a little lazy getting cameras out this year, Theis said. I didn't have any idea what bucks were in the area.

The 2017 archery season opened on September 11 this year. Early hunts proved unproductive, with no sightings of the huge buck. Then, on the evening of September 30, it happened. As Theis sat in his stand, the monster deer walked into view. As the deer drew closer, Evan reached down to adjust his single-pin sight. He released the arrow when the buck stopped broadside at 29 yards. It sailed harmlessly over the buck's back.

In the excitement of the moment, Theis set his pin for 50 yards instead of 30. Luckily, the wind was strong that evening and the buck wasn't terribly spooked. At the shot, the deer ran about 20 yards, then slowed to a walk and continued down the trail until it was out of sight. Evan was devastated.

I knew I had just blown the only chance I would get at one of the biggest bucks I'd ever seen, Theis said.

A trail camera photo of Theis' giant Kansas whitetail. (Evan Theis photo)He stayed home for a few days after the miss. On October 3, he realized conditions were right for hunting the stand again, but obligations kept him out of the stand until late in the evening.

It was 5:45 P.M. when I walked to my stand, Theis said. I bumped three does on the way in, so I didn't have high hopes for the hunt.

Even after spooking the does on the way to his stand, he began to see deer movement almost immediately. At 6:30, a group of does wandered by and hung around about 30 or 40 yards from his stand.

Soon, a buck emerged from the timber. Followed by another. Then another. It wasn't long before five bucks stood in front of him. The largest was a beautiful 160-inch 10-point that would definitely have caught his attention if he hadn't already seen the larger buck. A few moments later, a sixth buck made its way into Theis' view.

Much to his surprise, it was the same buck he'd missed just day's earlier. The two largest bucks separated themselves from the rest of the group and fed off away from the other deer. After what seemed like forever, the 10-pointer turned to walk away and the buck he was after began to move toward him.

The big deer stopped and stood broadside 21 yards away. He knew that, between the does and the other bucks, there were a ton of wary eyes scanning the area for danger. As slowly as he possibly could, Theis came to full draw with his Xpedition bow.

He heard the arrow impact the deer. The deer spun and ran straight away from the stand. He was able to watch the buck until he made it off the property, about 130 yards from the spot of the shot. After calming down, Evan descended the tree and looked for his arrow. When he found it, he was relieved to see it covered in pink blood and bubbles, assuring he'd hit at least one of the buck's lungs.

Theis immediately called three of his buddies, then called the neighboring land manager and the game warden to get permission to retrieve his buck from the next-door property. After receiving permission, they made their way back to the farm to search for the buck.

Evan and his friends got on the blood trail near where he had last seen the buck. The trail wasn't heavy, but they were able to find enough blood to follow. Soon, Theis heard one of his friends shout out. He found the buck 25 yards beyond where Evan had lost sight of him.

When we got to the deer and saw just how big it was, I was in total shock, Theis said.

The buck has a gnarled mass of antler on its right side. Interestingly, Theis and other neighbors feel they had the same buck on camera last year as 160-class, clean typical without all the abnormal antler growth. Although it may or may not account for the non-typical growth this year, they discovered a .38-caliber bullet in a healed and scarred over wound high on the buck's shoulder, just under the spine.

Evan's buck was conservatively green scored at 222 7/8 inches, making it possibly the largest archery buck ever taken in Reno County. After word got out that the buck had been killed, four different landowners spread over a fairly large range told Theis they'd either seen or also had photos of the buck on their cameras.

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