Kick It In Son - Bittersweet 5 Year Quest Conclusion

With a -10 degree windchill on January 6th, my wife Jennifer and I decided we were done for the year. As we sat there with frostbite about to set in I knew it was time to do something, so I called her dad, Mark Weaver, and thankfully he drove up to our stand to pick us up with only 10 minutes of shooting light left. I was nervous we wouldn't be able to get out of the stand as we couldn't feel our hands or feet, so the sight of his truck was comparable to seeing an angel come from the sky above. We unwillingly accepted defeat as we hunted the buck Kick It In Son harder than any other buck we've hunted yet.  Up to that point, we had 8 encounters in a row with this buck and came into bow range almost every time while hunting over our Real World Wildlife Seed soybeans. Unfortunately, each time, we ran out of shooting light by the time he made it to us. Talk about frustrating! 

Rewind to the 2012 hunting season. Towards the end of the season we noticed a small 1 1/2 yr old buck that had a big notch out of his left ear. Typically we don't save pictures of bucks that young unless they have a unique characteristic, and in this bucks case, he had just that. With several pictures stored away we focused on the upcoming season. We were after a particular buck, Kick It In. If you haven't watched or read the story on that buck yet be sure to do so here. Jennifer was able to wrap her tag around Kick It In that year. At that time we didn't pay much attention to Kick It In Son. In fact, we didn't even have a name for the buck yet, but stored the pictures away once again as he was only a 2 1/2 yr old buck. In 2014 we focused on a buck we called OMAG, which I was fortunate enough to wrap my tag around in November. Meanwhile, Kick It In Son was all over our cameras and made an impressive jump in a years time. That's when we decided to call him Kick It In Son. Two years in a row the buck had a point on his inner main beam that shot in, similar to Kick It In's. What an original name hu? When 2015 season rolled around we had pictures of Kick It In Son quite often, and was traveling a small core area. Since the buck was only 4 1/2 yrs. old we elected to stay out of his main travel corridors and hunt elsewhere. We couldn't wait for 2016 season to see how big he would be at 5 1/2 yrs. old. It didn't take long to find him in velvet and knew he would be our primary target for 2016 season. Little did we know, the buck would send us on a wild goose chase all season long.

We were certain this buck would be in the same area he was at when 3 1/2 & 4 1/2 yrs. old, and claim dominance of that area. Boy were we wrong; well kind of. He was in the same area, but not near as often. I had pictures of this buck all over the place. At the time it didn't make sense to me. In the past, the bucks would claim dominance on one of two areas and each would patrol that area. In doing so, their core area would shrink significantly, and were more visible in daylight then ever. It didn't take long to realize Kick It In Son was claiming both areas and making a large loop on a regular basis, which would make it two times harder for us to get a shot at him.

Jennifer was dedicated to hunting more than ever this year and was determined to put an arrow in this buck. From food plot planting, hanging stands, hanging trail cameras, practicing with her bow, shooting 3D bow shoots, to checking trail cameras she did it all with me, and we enjoyed every bit of it.

@1 1/2 yrs old

@1 1/2 yrs old

@2 1/2 yrs old

@2 1/2 yrs old

@3 1/2 yrs old

@3 1/2 yrs old

@4 1/2 yrs old

@4 1/2 yrs old

@5 1/2 yrs old

@5 1/2 yrs old

Jennifer at a local bow shoot

Jennifer at a local bow shoot

Practice makes perfect.

Practice makes perfect.

1 of many sits for Jennifer and I. 

1 of many sits for Jennifer and I. 

The first encounter with Kick It In Son came at the end of October on a morning hunt at 70 yards when I hunted by myself. A week later we had another encounter near the same area and was the first time Jennifer was able to lay eyes on him even though it was near dark and out of range. I'm not sure on the exact number, but I believe we had either 11 or 12 different encounters with the buck throughout season. Something saved this bucks life every time, whether he was out of range, too dark, or chasing does past us too fast, he always managed to slip through our fingers. 

Jake Vancil, a Team Radical member, and good friend of mine, was in town for the weekend for the ATA show. We carpool to the ATA show every year, and Sunday January 8th we had time to kill. Jake asked if I'd be interested in going on a mission to shoot a doe that afternoon. Jennifer had prior plans and I didn't, so I jumped at the chance to go sit in our box blind with a heater. Jake and I haven't hunted whitetails together for about 5 years now. The last time we hunted together it was a morning to remember, as we rattled in 9 different bucks, so I was hoping that luck would pay off that afternoon.  We both threw our clothes in the Scent Crusher tub for a half hour, loaded our bows and cameras up, and headed for the woods. Little did we know what was going to happen that afternoon.

I parked the truck and slammed my door. Jake looked at me in disbelief as we were only a couple hundred yards from the blind. He couldn't believe I slammed the door, but I did it on purpose. In case there were any deer already in the plot this would most likely bump them from the plot and allow us to enter the blind without being seen. Sure enough we entered the blind and there wasn't a single deer in the plot. We cranked up the heater and waited for the deer to funnel out to the food. Being in the blind for less than a half hour I caught a scent that no one is a fan of; a fart. I looked at Jake who sat there with a grin on his face. I stuck my head out of the blind window to try and get some fresh air; it was awful. 

About an hour into the sit the first two deer arrived and were two small button bucks. Shortly after two antlered small bucks entered the field and started to feed as well. I thought the flood gates had opened, but didn't see the next deer until thirty minutes later. A big doe entered the field and the flood gate opened. Deer began pouring out into the plot. Jake spotted a buck and I turned my attention to him and started taking pictures of him. He was a nice 3 1/2 yr old 8 point buck. It wasn't seconds later Jake said "there's another buck". I turned my camera towards him and immediately knew it was him; Kick It In Son. Believe it or not he was making a scrape and thrashing tree limbs. He pushed a doe into the plot before he started feeding. Jake said "he's gonna come in and you're gonna get a shot". I looked at him and laughed saying "I highly doubt that". With all the previous encounters in this same plot I was certain he was going to do the same thing he always did. Previously, the buck would always feed in the middle of the plot until dark before moving past our stand. I thought for sure he was going to do the same thing again. He was approximately 120 yards out and slowly started making his way to us. We filmed him for forty minutes total. 

He made his way to 80 yards and Jake looked at me and said "are you going to get your bow or?". Still in disbelief, I lowered my photo camera and grabbed my bow. Slowly but sure he made his way to 60 yards and he was now all by himself. It was clear he was going to come right by us. At the edge of the plot he fed in my harvest salad for a bit, lifted his head and started walking at a steady pace. I knew he was on a mission as he was now out of the plot. Quickly I ranged a clump of grass he was walking in line with at 36 yards. He passed Jake's window and now was in my shooting lane. Quietly, I asked Jake if he was on him with the camera. With his confirmation I let out two "Mat, Mat" and he came to a stop. I settled the the pin and released the arrow. Immediately I knew it was a good hit, but wasn't sure on the penetration. 

We watched the buck run off and enter the timber. At this point I still wasn't nervous or worked up. After my "Muley Nightmare" story from this year I wasn't going to get overly excited until I put my hands on the buck. Another reason I wasn't going nuts like usual is because I knew I had to call my wife Jennifer and let her know that I just shot him. That was an interesting phone call you'll have to watch/hear in the video. Let's just say she wasn't overly excited like usual when I call her to give the news I had a buck down. After reviewing the shot we were certain it was a perfect shot and he shouldn't be too far. Just for precaution we went back to the truck and called for more help/lights to blood trail the buck. 

Honestly, the buck went further than we expected. In total he went approximately 200 yards, but the blood trail was nothing short of amazing. Finally, after 5 years of watching this buck there he was and I couldn't wait to finally put my hands on him. 

After reflecting on this hunt for a little while now I am certain of some things. 1) I am thankful for all the people involved in making this happen. My Uncle Phil Heuerman and Father-In-Law played a big part in making this hunt possible. All the previous encounters listed at the beginning of this story would've never happened consistently if it weren't for these two driving in the field to bump the deer off the plot, so we could exit our stand each sit undetected. 2)My wife Jennifer was a trooper this year and we had a blast hunting. I'm truly blessed to have a wife who also enjoys bow-hunting and willing to put in the time and effort in preparations for season. 3) Although my wife and I enjoyed the season we both realized we were taking it too seriously and was ruining the fun of the hunt. My mood was lightened significantly when Jake was in town, hunting for a doe, and look what happened. I think this just goes to show we need to lighten up sometimes and don't take a single hunt for granted. 4) Every buck or every deer for that matter, have their own personality. Just when you think you have it figured out a different buck or deer will throw you a curve ball as this deer did to us. 5) God is great and i'm just thankful for the opportunity. It's truly amazing watching a buck develop over 5 years. 

Kick It In Son- It's been a heck of a ride and a crazy chase. 

Muley Nightmare

It was 11 p.m. and we were only an hour away from our hunting destination. We stayed in a Days Inn to get a good nights rest in preparation for the days to follow. Jake Vancil, and Joel Eggers were sound asleep in the room, and I was still wide awake and needing something from the truck in the parking lot. On my way back into the room I went to shut the door and realized it was going to slam hard enough to wake them, so I ran to grab the door ending in a severe smashed middle finger. As bad as I wanted to yell, I held it in, biting my tongue, and headed to bed. When I laid down, I thought to myself, man I hope this isn't a sign on how the rest of the trip would go. 

The plan was simple; Joel would hunt elk in the morning/evenings and I would hunt Mule Deer during the midday. The elk didn't make much noise until the last two days of the trip. The final day is when we finally figured them out and it was too late, as we had to head home.

Day 3 Nightmare: After glassing the first two days of the hunt for a Mule Deer I wanted to chase we were pleased to find two great bucks. One had little splits but a huge frame, and the other was a wide and overall a great buck. Finally on day 3 the buck gave us an opportunity to put on a stalk. The wide buck was bedded in the middle of a handful of other smaller bucks. Joel was back at camp cooking, while Jake and I settled in to see what the bucks were going to do. The bucks were in a position that we couldn't go straight after them and we elected to wait and see which direction they went, knowing we could get in front of them no matter which direction they went. To our surprise, the bucks stood and bedded four different times over a three hour span in the aspen trees. 

Several of the smaller bucks stood, and for no apparent reason, started running across an open field to the north of us. We knew the big buck would follow, so we immediately stood up, dropped back and down on the ridge behind us and started running to the north. We visually marked where we needed to pop back up and to our surprise they weren't there. There was no way the bucks could have got in front of us without us seeing them. Scratching our heads, I could see the tops of little scrub oaks on the backside of where the bucks ran to. It was now 4:30 p.m. and a light bulb went off to me; The bucks were feeding on the small acorns from the scrub oaks. There was a group of aspens within 200 yards of the scrub oaks and we had to make it there quickly before the bucks finished eating and headed to bed. As stealthy as we could, we crawled to the aspens, looked through the binoculars, and could see one of the bucks that was in the same group as the big buck. We knew the other bucks had to be there, just out of sight.

The learning curve: 

To our surprise, there were actually a handful of scrub oak groves in the sage brush open country. The only problem we faced was the open country between ourselves and the bucks, which were approximately 200 yards away. Not wasting time, I knocked an arrow, took my quiver off, and both of us took our packs off, preparing to belly crawl towards the bucks. Three scrub oak groves were in front of us and they were in the furthest one away from us. Quietly and undetected, we crawled to the first set of scrub oaks and saw the remainder of bucks, including the one we were after. Again, we crawled to the next group of scrub oaks, putting us around 120 yards away. With the bucks on the back side of the third set of scrub oaks, we had to reach the scrub oaks to be within archery range. Miraculously, we made it, but one of the smaller bucks caught a glimpse of our movement. The buck we were after was 60 yards out, a shot i'm confident in making, and it was now or never as the buck was ready to head straight away from us. 

I whispered to Jake to go ahead and get in position to film it, even with the small buck watching or it wasn't going to happen. Jake quickly moved into position, the big buck started to walk broadside to our right, I grunted to stop him, settled my 60 yard pin on him, and pulled the trigger. The lighted noc showed the path and knew I'd hit him. Initially, I thought I was a couple inches back, and was certain of it being a liver shot. After running a short 50 yards, the buck bedded down. After 7 hours of waiting for this shot, both of our excitement let loose, and was certain the buck was down for good. The arrow had went completely though the buck with the arrow barely holding on by the fletchings on the exit hole. Through our binoculars, we could see the arrow sticking straight up and the Havoc broadhead gleaming in the sunlight. 

Entrance Hole

Entrance Hole

The celebration started, I called my wife, and let Joel know we had a buck down. The buck had no idea we were there and the strong wind was still in our favor. In disbelief, we turned around only to see the buck stand from his bed and walking directly towards us. The buck walked in the wide open 30 yards from us, heading towards our downwind side. Unarmed, I felt helpless as my quiver was back where we started the stalk. Once the buck was downwind he bolted directly away from us. In that same instance, a rain/hail storm came out of nowhere. It was raining and hailing so hard we couldn't see through our binoculars. Jake ran to the camera to protect it from the elements, while I (like an idiot) ran towards my quiver of arrows in hopes of getting off another shot. Neither of us had a clue on which direction the buck headed after a short distance, because we both took our eyes off him. 

After reviewing the footage/pictures, we were still confident it was a liver shot deer. Joel showed up in the truck and after further discussion we decided to give the buck overnight as it was supposed to get down to 30 degrees that night. To no surprise when we showed up the next morning, the blood had been washed away by all the rain. For the next 2 1/2 days we grid searched over 5 miles with no luck. I was and still am sick over this. There's no question in any of our minds that this buck is dead. How or where did this buck go? We thought of nearly everything and looked everywhere, still no luck. 

Lessons Learned: 1) Bring your entire quiver with you on EVERY stalk. 2) Like Whitetail hunting or any hunting for that matter, after a shot, watch where the animal goes until you can't see them anymore. 

It sickens me to write this now, but hopefully some of you can learn from my rookie mistakes. I can assure you, I will ALWAYS have my quiver within grabbing distance from here on out while hunting, no matter the style of hunting. 

Without question, the smashed finger was a clear indication of how our hunting trip would go. But we did enjoy our stay, the scenery of the rockies, the laughs, watching the critters, and a few cold ones. Colorado, we will be back and prepared! 

By: Kyle Heuerman

Left to Right: Joel Eggers, Jake Vancil, Kyle Heuerman

Left to Right: Joel Eggers, Jake Vancil, Kyle Heuerman