Rack Magazine

Two Years in the Taking

Two Years in the Taking

By Travis Hogan

Bladed Norton County buck shatters 12-year-old Kansas record.

The taste of tag soup might be foreign to Wes Eagleburger, but notching his 2009 Kansas tag wasn’t nearly as appetizing as he’d hoped.

Wes always gets a deer. And more often than not, he winds up with a great buck, which doesn’t go unnoticed by his friends. They like to rag him about hoarding all the horseshoes in Norton County.

He laughs, though, and tells them all they have to do is work for it.

It isn’t like the 40-year-old junkyard manager owns or even pays to lease or hunt on prime ground. He spends most of his time in the stand on public land surrounding a lake, ground that has coughed up big bucks for Wes year after year.

So, yes, he got a deer in 2009. It’s just hard to settle for hamburger when you know prime rib is in the same kitchen.

He’d wanted a fabulous 10-pointer; hunted hard to get it. But the buck didn’t have a death wish. It gave him the slip throughout the bow and firearms seasons until Wes caved and settled for another.

The following spring, Wes’ buddy, Shawn Gosselin, and Shawn’s son, Dallas, went out to plink with their .22 rifles one afternoon south of the lake. While there, they found a shed they were certain must’ve belonged to the buck Wes had hunted so diligently.

The antler measured 84 4/8 inches, indicative of a nearly 190-inch buck if the other side was similar and the inside spread decent.

Wes felt a little better knowing the deer was probably still alive. And fall couldn’t arrive soon enough.

Wes enjoys scouting and hunting early with his bow. If he doesn’t fill his tag with a great buck then, he’ll take up his rifle later in the year. He’s not picky, at least when it comes to how he shoots his deer.

He saw the big 10-pointer several times during bow season, but he could never get a shot at it. His closest encounter came during the rut, when the buck was practically glued to a doe. Wes tried to stalk within range, but the animal disappeared before he could close the distance.

He and Shawn hunted together on Dec. 1, the rifle opener. While scouting for day one of bang week, Shawn had seen the giant 10-pointer just before sunset on several evenings.

Both men were hoping to find it in their sights.

After an uneventful morning, the two friends decided to spend the afternoon where Shawn and Dallas picked up the big shed. En route, they spotted the buck of the hour with some does.

When the whitetails ran into a brushy draw and never exited, the guys considered it an invitation and wasted no time in RSVPing. Shawn approached the draw from one side, while Wes veered around to the other.

Shawn saw the deer with the tall rack first, but he missed it. When the buck swapped ends and headed out the other side of the draw, behind the group of does, Wes didn’t miss.

There might be something to that horseshoe theory, but it sure helps if a guy puts in the hours and makes every shot count.

Shawn, who filled his tag the next day, was gracious enough to give Wes the shed.

Hunter: Wes Eagleburger
BTR Official Score: 170
BTR Composite Score: 188
Centerfire Rifle

— Photo Courtesy of Wes Eagleburger

This article was published in the September 2011 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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