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.
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.