Louisiana native Mark Alexander, 53, took a weeklong hunting trip in northwest Kansas this month and returned home with a potential state record. Alexander harvested this giant typical whitetail on Nov. 5 while hunting with Red Dog Outfitters in Sheridan County, Kan. The monster bruiser’s unofficial score measured just 2/8 of an inch more than the current first place archery buck. Here’s how the amazing hunt went down.
Alexander hunted with Red Dog Outfitters for the first time last year when he took his biggest buck at the time, a 152-inch bruiser. This season Alexander returned with his son and his son’s friend to hunt with owner Tim Clark. One of Clark’s game cameras had captured photos of the buck a month prior to the hunt. “When I found it, it was one of those deer that I knew was a giant deer but I couldn’t tell how big he was. I never saw him again,” Clark said. “I started calling him the lottery buck.”
On the day of the hunt, Clark dropped Alexander’s son’s friend, Jared Persick, off at his stand. They found a telephone-pole sized rub nearby and knew bucks must be around. Just as Clark prepared to leave, they saw a buck stand up 30 yards away.
“It was the biggest animal I’ve ever seen in my life on the hoof, as far as a whitetail is concerned,” Clark said.
Back at camp, Alexander was eating lunch when he learned about the buck sighting. Clark told him over the phone to drop everything, get to his stand, and not come back until dark. Alexander was hunting a 50-yard woodlot along a creek bottom, and he climbed into his double stand by 1 p.m. The temperature was in the 30s with frequent 40 mph wind gusts. In his hurry to hit the field, Alexander had grabbed his wet clothes from that morning’s hunt, and he was freezing. By 3:30 p.m. he thought he couldn’t take it anymore. “I was shaking so bad I said, ‘If a deer comes by I’m never going to be able to hit it. I’m going to get down,'” Alexander said.
He put on another layer, but that didn’t help for long. All the deer he could see were bedded down, including two yearlings about 100 yards in front of him. “I started letting my bow down, and as soon as my bow touched the ground, I looked up to see if I spooked those yearlings,” Alexander said. “Which I knew I wouldn’t because the wind was blowing so hard, but I looked up anyway. And here comes this monster at about 100 yards.”
Alexander quickly hauled his bow back up and leaned around the cottonwood in front of him. The buck was making a scrape, and Alexander knew he had a few extra seconds to prepare for a shot. He removed his quiver and checked on the buck again. It was 40 yards and closing.
“There were a bunch of things going through my mind,” Alexander said. “This deer was a giant at 100 yards, I know what he’s going to look like when I see him close. So I just got ready and when he popped out he was between eight and ten steps from me. The first thing I thought of was, ‘That’s a 200-inch deer.'”
Alexander knew the buck wouldn’t see him draw in such heavy wind. “I remember my sight behind his shoulder and I squeezed the trigger,” Alexander said. “It was like the arrow was in slow motion. When the arrow hit him I saw blood come out.”
The buck ran 60 yards off the field and started stumbling sideways. He made it 10 more yards before piling up. “It was an unbelievable feeling…I’ve never felt that before,” Alexander said. “And I’ve killed many deer with a bow.”
Alexander immediately called Clark, then Persick, who was about 300 yards away in his own stand. By the time Alexander packed up his gear and climbed down, Persick had already reached the downed buck and was jumping up and down.
“The only thing that would have been better is if my son would have killed it,” Alexander said. “It’s amazing that I got a shot on that size deer and everything came together, because you know a lot of times things don’t always come together. But everything came together that day.”
Clark said this buck was a giant compared to the bucks he usually sees on the property. “It’s cool that we have him and I’m really happy,” Clark said. “But at the end of the day, I don’t care if the deer is a number one or a number 121. A special deer made this guy’s life probably. You’ll never see another buck like that on the hoof.”
The taxidermist, an official state scorer, determined a gross green score of 208 7/8 inches and an unofficial green score of 194 1/8 inches. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism tracks big Kansas whitetails, and their current first place archery buck measured 193 7/8 inches. That buck was taken in Wabaunsee County in 2001.
“It was just one of those once-in-a-lifetime hunts,” Alexander said. “I’ll never forget it, I can tell you that.”
Correction: February 21, 2014
An earlier version of this article misstated the location of the hunt. It took place in northwest Kansas; not northeast.