Category Archives: Deer Hunting

A Little Faith, a Big Blind, and a Bigger Buck

One of the ways that I earn Christmas money for the Burkhead household is by serving as the play-by-play voice of the local high school football team, the Yellow Jackets.

Friday Night Lights, North Texas style.

Recently, literal moments before beginning the radio broadcast of the Jackets’ 112th encounter against their arch rivals the Bearcats, my Blackberry buzzed.

In late October, that could only mean a couple of things. 

Casey Ingold may have initially wondered about the wisdom of hunting from one of the world's largest ground blinds - a barn - but he was no doubting Thomas after arrowing this Kansas big boy.

Either our broadcast feed had been suddenly cut off.

Or someone had knocked over a pile of big buck head-bones.

One glance at the “Caller ID” confirmed the latter as I received a text from my bowhunting brother Casey Ingold, an arrow slinging pastor from Topeka, Kansas.

The message: “I just shot a MONSTER!!!!!” 

By halftime on a storm-filled autumn evening, Ingold had sent the visual proof showing a big Kansas bruiser in more ways than one.

Along with the details of one of the more unusual hunting stories that I’ve every heard.

It seems that after a hectic week of tending his family and his flock, this pulpit version of Team Realtree’s David Blanton had decided to make a late afternoon visit to a nearby farm where he had a couple of stands hanging.

But a chance encounter with the land-owning farmer – and the empty yawn of the Ingold family freezer – changed any plans that the “Sermonator” might have had for the evening.

“Any luck Casey?” queried the farmer.

“Nope, not yet,” replied the right reverend. “Been real busy this week. You know, I’d be satisfied with just a doe this evening.”

Upon hearing that, the farmer informed Casey that he had seen a few does easing past his barn a couple of times over the past several evenings.

“You might sit down there at the barn and see if they happen to come by again.”

After all, as the New Testament tells us, with faith in Christ the size of a mustard seed we can move mountains.

Or maybe even fill a freezer with succulent venison steaks and backstrap.

So Ingold quickly exchanged his previous plans for a sit in a high hanging treestand for a now lengthy wait upon a lowly hunting stool.

A while later, Ingold was questioning his decision and growing a bit restless after no does had appeared.

But that suddenly didn’t matter anymore as my pal spied a terrific buck on the horizon.

Slowly, surely, the hefty buck sauntered his way a couple of hundred yards in the direction of the still disbelieving preacher.

Oh yee of little faith Brother Ingold.

But when the huge buck finally eased into bow range, my doubting Thomas preacher friend drew his bow in the shadowy recesses of the biggest box blind this side of Canada.

And when the buck paused within shooting range, Ingold sent the broadhead tipped meat missile crashing home.

An hour later, the Kansas man of the cloth stood excitedly beside the final resting place of a 150-class Pope & Young buck, his second in as many years.

A basic 10-point with a split brow tine, Ingold’s buck was big in the antlers and huge on the scales.

Ingold – who is a big fella in his own right – estimated the buck’s live weight somewhere between 275 and 300 pounds.

More like a side of beef than a couple of sides of venison.

But what else do you expect from a story about a bowhunting preacher hunting out of a big red ground blind…err, a barn?

And that’s no Double Bull either.

So what’s the tagged out preacher going to do now?

Watch the “Outdoor Channel” it sounds like.

“I hunted a total of one hour this year and I’m done,” Ingold said. “But I’m not complaining…for now.”

After two Pope&Young entries in as many October’s in the land of Oz and big whitetails, I would certainly hope not.

By the way bro, save me a spot in that barn for next season. 

After the home team took a shellacking in the Battle of the Axe, all I’ve got to say is that I like your version of Friday Night Lights a little bit better than mine.

Because the Kansas version of FNL is a bright flashlight beam casting its LED glow on the gleaming antlers of a really big buck with a 150-inches plus of headbone.

Put that up on the scoreboard.


The Chicken Buck?

A Kansas "chicken" buck!

A Kansas "chicken" buck!

Ok, seriously now, where does my wife keep the Vitamin C?

With illness going around the hometown and the hacienda, I can’t afford to get sick – pig flu, regular flu, or polka dotted flu for all I care.

Why? Because I have a Kansas archery deer tag burning a hole in my back pocket for a buck like this!

The e-mail I received doesn’t say anything more than a Kansas buck. You can see from the camera’s photo time and date stamp that the digital pic was taken a little more than a month ago.

Interestingly enough, the photo is labeled “chicken” for some reason.

LOL! So is the word on the street that this mega-buck is somehow afraid of his own gargantuan shadow?

Got to admit, with a set of headbones like that, I might be afraid of my own shadow too – especially since hunting season is at hand!

What I do know is this: it’s a tough job, but I’m fully prepared to go into Kansas, covertly hang a treestand up, and kill a Sunflower State monster like this in the next couple of weeks.

And of course, I’ll share a blow-by-blow account right here of my woodsy battle with this big chicken!

So, with that in mind, does anyone have any word on the who, the what, and the where of this world class whitetail?

If so, do tell – I’m seriously hoping that the property I’m hunting is somewhere in the neighborhood of this Kansas “Chicken Buck!”


Midwest Monsters!

Wow, what’s up in the Midwest this fall?

Well, besides rain, snow, and cooler than normal weather occurring in many places, this autumn is also bringing a rash of stud-monkey bucks hitting the ground with a few wearing some freakishly sized atomic headgear!

Need proof? Then read on and consider the evidence gleaned from several sources.

Seth Okonek's Minnesota Buck / Mike Hanback's Big Deer Blog

Seth Okonek's Minnesota Buck / Mike Hanback's Big Deer Blog

First up is this Minnesota mega buck as reported on Mike Hanback’s Big Deer blog:

The email I got said this giant was shot in the Camp Ripley Archery Hunt near Little Falls, MN. Camp Ripley is a military base/game refuge. 32 points, 192 lbs., thought to be 5 years old. Shot by bow hunter Scott Okonek from South Haven, MN.”

Holy Golden Gopher – that’s one seriously sized public land buck, don’t you think?!?

While there is no word yet on what this monster will score, it’s pretty clear  to me that this buck is headed for the upper echelon of Minnesota’s Pope & Young Club records. 

FYI, the current P&Y NT state record buck in Minnesota is a 222 5/8 inch bruiser taken by Gary Martin in Todd County back in 1992. With a huge main frame, daggers for eye guards, and plenty of trash, I think that 17-year old record is in serious jeopardy now thanks to Mr. Okonek’s well placed arrow.

What’s really amazing to me is that this mature buck only field-dressed at a reported 192-pounds.

What’s up with that?!?

On a 5 1/2 year old bruiser like that, especially in the upper Midwest, you’d think they would have needed a crane to hoist that bad boy up into the pickup bed!

Seth Williams' Wisconsin buck / Field & Stream Whitetail 365 Blog

Seth Williams' Wisconsin buck / Field & Stream Whitetail 365 Blog

Another toad of a buck is this one taken by Wisconsin youth Seth Williams.

According to Field & Stream deer hunting blog columnist Scott Bestul – who himself downed a 170+ Minnesota bow buck at the end of September –  Williams reportedly shot this buck in the southwestern portion of the Badger State on a youth hunt.

Heck, when I was a youth, I was shooting at spikes and small basket racked bucks, not bruisers soaring up into the 200s!

But then again, I didn’t grow up in the mega-buck rich terra firma of the American Midwest either.

For the record, Bestul says that the Williams’ buck succumbed to a 200 yard shot from the youngster.

If that’s the case, then it certainly looks like there was no case of big buck fever occurring in Seth’s deer stand on his big hunt.

Congratulations young man – I can’t wait to see the next buck that you shoot!

Lee Lakosky introduces "Mr. Gnarles Barkley" / "The Crush" The Low Down Blog

Lee Lakosky introduces "Mr. Gnarles Barkley" / "The Crush" The Low Down Blog

Finally, there’s this absolute freak nasty Iowa buck, tagged by none other than Lee Lakosky of “The Crush” outdoor television show fame.

Dubbed “Mr. Gnarles Barkley” by Lee and his wife Tiffany, this rock star whitetail was downed on Oct. 7 by the husband half of the popular Hawkeye State couple.

According to Tiffany’s report on “The Crush” television show’s “The Low Down Blog,” the Lakoskys had a couple of sets of Gnarles’ antler sheds from previous years as well as some Cuddeback trail camera photos.

But what really got their blood pumping was seeing the buck in person while he was feeding in a food plot all by his lonesome self on the evening of Oct. 3rd.

The next evening, both Lee and Tiffany hunted the buck to no avail despite seeing him at a moderate distance.

A couple of days later however Mr. Gnarles Barkley came calling in front of Lee’s stand and the rest is history as Tiffany indicates: “This buck is an 8 point with a 14 inch spread & its score ties Lee’s biggest buck that he ever shot at 196 7/8 inches.”

While the Midwest is year in and year out the hallowed promised land for many of Deer Nation’s big buck hunters, it seems apparent from where I sit that this autumn seems to be something extraordinarily special unfolding even as we speak.

With other giants hitting the ground already this season in North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Kansas, this has already been a memorable year to say the least.

And that’s despite the fact that the best big buck hunting action of the year – the treasured Midwestern whitetail rut – is still a week or two around the corner.

Stay tuned – I can guarantee you that some more Midwestern Monsters are going to fall!


Song Dog Serenade

An autumn song dog serenade can stir a hunter's soul.

An autumn song dog serenade can stir a hunter's soul. (Photo/PDPhoto.org)

If there is a better place to watch creation come alive than sitting quietly in an October deer stand, I’m not sure that I know where such a place is.

Slipping out yesterday a.m. before church for a quick archery deer hunt near my North Texas home, a morning of great anticipation fueled me. 

Sitting in a dark ground blind, I was hoping to launch a meat missile at a buck with my Hoyt Katera. 

As the Milky Way begrudgingly faded overhead, all was quite on a deliciously chilly dawn that makes a hunter’s heart glad.

As shooting time arrived on the watch, it wasn’t long before civilization began to awaken.

As the early morning noise intruded upon the quiet dawn, a band of coyotes suddenly lit up scant yards away and seemingly in my hip pocket.

What started as a single Wile E. Coyote testing his vocal chords quickly turned into a melodious song dog serenade that brought a wry smile to my face.

On a morning when it seemed otherwise, this autumn music announced that I wasn’t the only hunter in the woods, a fact that was confirmed a few minutes later as two ‘yotes quietly padded past the darkened hide.  

A couple of hours later, with deer activity at a standstill and morning worship services calling me back to my family, it became apparent that the coyote music was going to be the gift of the day from the hand of God.

And that was fine with me as I trudged through brush and mud to begin my getaway.

As I walked back to the truck, I must confess that I don’t know whether or not the four-legged hunters found the sustenance they were looking for.

But what I can say with absolute clarity is that despite failing to punch a tag on this spectacular autumn morn, this hunter got what he was searching for, tag soup or not.

A chance to see another day beautifully awaken as the globe starts another turn.

The quickening of my pulse as darkness faded into light and the opportunity to hunt arrived.

A time to communicate quietly, eagerly, and expectantly with the Creator by way of humble and repentant prayer emanating from within.

A good hunting spot shared with a pair of scruffy four-legged hunters.

And a chance to once again scratch the DNA itch  in my hunter’s soul that makes me feel more alive on such a fall day than perhaps at any other time of the year.

All of this accompanied, of course, by the morning’s mournful song dog serenade.