"First Hand Account" of Bagging
The Monster Buck
by: Kyle Koon
Editor's Note.....Almost everyone in Hopkins County and all of Northeast Texas has heard of the "Monster" buck killed by Kyle Koon at the beginning of this year's bow season. The giant buck has set records and the kill has been featured all across the state of Texas. But, as you'll learn, this great kill wasn't taken lightly by Kyle and his fellow hunting partners. They'd watched, patiently waited, and took every precaution to make certain that they took advantage of the trophy they'd anticipated for several years. Below is the first person story that Kyle shares with us about his bagging this monster!
An ordinary day of going out and checking the game cameras boosted the anticipation of the upcoming bow season to a whole different level. Checking my trail cameras is not only an important aspect in the scouting process to me, but also a favorite past time. My brother Kody and I love to watch the bucks grow and mature from year to year. I like to take my laptop computer with me when I go check my game cameras. It allows me to check the pictures as soon as I get out of the woods and perhaps make any adjustments to my hunting strategy before I leave the area.
"It was a hunter's dream to share the woods with a giant buck
that God placed on this earth, in your path!"....Kyle Koon
After I pulled the card from my Cuddeback camera and began to sift through the pictures I halted when I set my eyes on an absolute giant buck. There he was at 9:23 am on September 8th,“The Kicker 10”. It was the nickname that we gave him last year when he had a 2 inch kicker on his left G2. Although he didn’t carry his kicker this year his antler characteristics left no doubt it was him. We were in disbelief when we concluded from the picture that he was going to be in the mid 160’s only to be ecstatically surprised how big he really was after we had him on the ground. The buck that has riled up locals in my part of the country has been on my camera for 4 yrs. This buck exploded from a very nice 135 inch 3 year old to an incredible 4 year old deer. Sporting a nice 135 class rack there was no way that Kody and I would put this 3yr old on our hit list last year. We knew he had a lot more potential as a 4yr old when his skeletal structure would be peaking out. We have gotten numerous pictures of this buck from age 11/2 in 2008 to 41/2 in 2011 and knew he had the ability to be a trophy once he got a little more age on him. One thing a lot of folks don’t realize about game cameras is how they can help the hunter identify which bucks are too young and which ones need to be taken. If I hadn’t gotten so many pictures of him before the 2010 season his rack may have distracted me from taking a look at his body to determine his age. My advice is to save all your buck pictures on your computer and compare them with bucks next year. You will be surprised the small details and traits a buck will have from one year to the next. By doing this it will help you understand how much a deer in progressing in its antler development and not to mention help you identify cull bucks. Kody and I do so much for the local wildlife. We feel as hunters and land owners we must be good stewards for what we have been given. We plant food plots, put out protein feeders, selective harvest, take does, and “try” to control the hogs that cause so much destruction in our part of east Texas. Controlling the hogs can be monotonous, but is a crucial part of preservation and management. This year was looking to be one that would reward us for our hard work.
Now that we had determined that he would be the first buck to try to harvest we were very careful about scent and stand placement. By carefully reviewing his activity on the game cameras I was able to pinpoint the general area he would be coming from on opening day. From experience I know bucks are a lot easier to predict this time of the year. I knew if I didn’t get this buck early his patterns would change soon! We had the stand up three weeks prior to the opening of the 2011 bow season so that we could give the buck time to acclimate to any new smells or sights the stand may have produced. I love to use my API tree stand along with climbing sticks to eliminate any unnecessary noise created when climbing with the stand alone. During the early fall the wind is predominantly out of the south. I knew he would most likely come from the northeast which would make the stand placement difficult.
Kody had recently been to Kansas for the muzzleloader season which likely persuaded him to offer me the first chance at the monster buck. Although I would be equally excited if he were to shoot this deer, I was extremely pumped about the upcoming hunt. I had shared the pictures with my best friend Danny Lawrence on occasions a few weeks before the season. He was just as excited about the buck as I was. He made a few comments about trying to film the hunt, but I was a little bit hesitant to give him the ok. Mainly because I know that human scent is a bow hunter’s biggest enemy. I remember thinking about the idea constantly until I finally decided to try to film the hunt. That’s when I became more fanatical about my scent than I had ever been! I hung my clothes outside for a solid week before season opened and asked Danny to do the same. I’m not talking about just my pants and jacket I mean everything (hat, socks, backpack, facemask, boots, and underwear). I even laid out a pair of pajamas to wear the morning of the hunt just to keep anything inside my truck from ruining our scent control.
Well the morning finally arrived. I had hardly slept that night with all the thoughts of what might happen the next morning. First thing that morning I took a shower with Scent Away shampoo. I was about to make a pot of coffee and realized it probably wasn’t a good idea. Since coffee is a natural diuretic I didn’t want to chance having to sit in the stand with a full bladder. Surprisingly Danny was able to resist the urge to grab breakfast as he passed McDonald’s on the way to meeting me for the hunt. I’m pretty sure having hash brown grease on our hands would have easily pierced the nostrils of any whitetail within a 2 mile radius.
"The killing of this giant buck, wasn't a sudden kill. It took hours of planning,
years of patience, and making certain that everything was right!" ....Kyle Koon
We arrived at the spot I usually park the truck at about 5:00 a.m. We were about 400 yards from the stand location at this point. I remember feeling very anxious as I stepped outside the vehicle. Probably because reality had finally arrived! It was a feeling of confidence that I was actually going to see this magnificent animal but also nervousness that the outcome of this hunt was resting on my shoulders. Luckily a weak cold front came in a couple of days earlier and the wind shifted out of the north. Despite the reasonably good wind that morning we were relentless with our scent control. Danny and I both got down to our underwear and sprayed each other with Scent Killer to eliminate any remaining body odor. I couldn’t wait to get into my Realtree camo so I could regain some comfort after being practically naked and being sprayed with a cold mist. Not to mention the fact that it was about 50 degrees that morning.
Danny insisted that I spray him first in case I was too generous with the spray then he could have his chance at revenge!
Going into the woods knowing that you have done everything possible to better your odds, whether it’s practicing your shooting or pre-season scouting is something that goes without saying.
Lastly I put on my LaCrosse rubber boots and grabbed my Diamond Bowtech bow and we were headed to the stand. I was very particular with the direction that we entered the area. The wind was out of the north so we came around in a way that our scent wouldn’t be blown into the vicinity where I suspected the buck would be bedded. As we walked up to the stand we caught scent of hogs. It is an odor that is easy to recognize for any hunter in East Texas. It wasn’t long after that when we heard one squeal which confirmed the smell. You won’t hear me say this very often but I was actually glad to see that they were eating the Acorn Rage that I had been using to attract the deer to my stand location. Since hogs and deer don’t mix it was a blessing in disguise that the hogs kept us from being the ones to bump any deer as we arrived. I could only hope that the hogs would not return.
Our stands were hung on a tall straight pin oak that didn’t provide much cover so I picked up a few branches off the ground a few days before and attached them to my Easyhang. This was more than adequate when combined with my RealTree leafy wear to conceal our silhouette. We got into our stands quietly and with plenty of time to let everything calm down.
Darkness finally gave way to chattering birds and squirrels. Danny ranged a couple of distances with his Nikon range finder at first light. Crunch time had arrived! I favored the area I felt the buck would come from by constantly glassing with my Ziess binoculars. A small buck appeared out of nowhere in front of our stand and he milled around for a few minutes before walking off into the brush.
I was looking over my right shoulder when some movement caught my eye. I tapped Danny on the leg and pointed at the deer coming from the area I had been periodically watching since daylight. At this point I was unsure if the deer I saw was the “Kicker 10”, but as he fed closer it became very clear it was. He was accompanied by a nice ten point that I was very familiar with.
Now the inevitable shakes and pounding heartbeat began as he closed the distance to approximately 70 yards. But he was not in any hurry. He was nipping at twigs and browse as he inched toward my stand.
He would stop every few steps to watch, listen and check the wind like mature bucks will do. Like they say “he didn’t get big by being dumb” and he was no dummy!
His alertness and caution as he approached added to my nervousness. I kept praying to God “bring him closer and keep the wind steady”. My prayers were answered as he finally got within 15 yards. I prefer to take a broadside or quartering away shots and he had offered nothing yet. Instead he stood facing my stand for over five minutes just looking things over. Probably the longest 5 minutes of my life!
The wind was not giving him any of our scent, but the deer seemed uneasy at this point. He peered into our tree as if he knew of our presence. I suspect that he was attempting to create a larger down wind circle than his initial approach, when he finally turned and gave me a quartering away shot. I carefully drew my bow and was on him immediately. As my top pin drifted over his body I released the arrow when my aim fell into place. It was a great shot!
The buck ran only about 25 yards before he slowed down to a walk. This is when I expected him to expire. Instead he laid down!
"This beautiful giant deserved the care, consideration, and respect of all
the planning and preparation to harvest him! He was truly a trophy and
a once-in-a lifetime harvest!".......Kyle Koon
A close high angled shot sometimes will not allow a double lung shot. That’s why I use Shwacker broad heads. These broad heads provide a wider cutting diameter leaving vital organs and vessels hemorrhaging more heavily as they pass through. Blaming a failed recovery on your broad heads is the last thing you want. I felt like the shot was pretty good but when I noticed his heavy breathing I knew I had only hit one lung. Luckily I clipped some liver along the way. It was a complete pass through. My confidence of recovery remained high until he was suddenly disturbed from his bed by the other buck.
Curiosity of what just happened caused the ten point to agitate the injured buck. Not able to tolerate the aggravation from the ten point, “The Kicker 10” got up and stumbled a few more yards and finally expired!
We quietly climbed down and slowly walked over to the area where we'd seen him fall. There he laid an absolute giant!
I can’t explain the emotions I experienced when I first laid my hands on this "East Texas Monster." I was in total disbelief that a deer like this could come from this part of Texas.
We rough scored the deer to be 193 B&C. Much to my surprise a few weeks later I had him scored by an official of Pope & Young and got a green score of 196 4/8’’ (non-typical) and a typical 10 pt frame of 179 6/8’’.