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If you had a 200-plus-inch whitetail sauntering around on your land, would you keep that buck to yourself, or would you let a buddy hunt him instead? Well, no one would blame you if you chose the former. But at the end of last month, Kansas hunter Jeffrey Crawford arrowed a monster nontypical whitetail—his first bow buck ever—largely because his buddy, Jerald Creed, chose the latter.

Although Crawford had done his share of bowhunting in the past and had taken several does, he’d yet to arrow a buck. “I while back, I lost access to some of my best bowhunting ground, so I kind of turned my attention to waterfowl,” he told F&S. “While duck hunting remains my passion, I still run trail cams on a small farm I can hunt, and I always get my bow out and make sure it’s tuned up and ready to hunt with.”

trail cam photo of buck
A close-up of a trail-camera photo showing the buck’s huge rack. Jerald Creed

Still, as the 2022 season progressed, and the rut came and went, Crawford hadn’t done much bowhunting. But that changed on November 30, when he was helping Creed fill some feeders and check trail cameras. “We got done with the cameras and had stopped to go through cards. It was like ‘doe, doe, doe, young buck, and then…wow!’” he recalled. “Here was this giant buck with stuff sticking out of his rack everywhere. We were checking out these amazing pics, and Jerald turned to me and said, ‘Is your bow tuned up?’” When Crawford answered yes, Creed told him he should try for the buck. “I said, ‘You’re crazy, I’m not hunting that deer. This is your farm, and those are your pics. You go get him.’” But Creed told his friend that he’d been chasing a different big typical for the last three years, and that was the only buck he would shoot. “He told me to get my gear and hop in one of his stands.”

photo of hunter and big buck
Crawford poses with the huge buck after a quick recovery. Jerald Creed

Crawford didn’t waste any time. He hustled home, slipped on his camo, grabbed his bow, and zipped back to the farm in time for the afternoon hunt. “I left my house at 3:15 and didn’t get in the stand until 3:50,” he said. “I had about 90 minutes until sunset.” Crawford watched a doe appear, then three more antlerless deer followed her down the trail, with a small forkhorn bringing up the rear. Then, at 5:25, a larger deer appeared, and Crawford recognized the buck’s distinctive drop tine immediately.

The buck closed the distance and offered Crawford a 15-yard shot. “I let the arrow fly but didn’t hear that distinctive thump that you know means a fatally hit deer,” he said. “I actually thought I might have missed. I got down and looked around where the buck was standing and couldn’t find my arrow. I called my wife and said ‘I think I might have got one.’ She laughed and said, ‘What the hell does that mean….you think you got one?’ Then I called Jerald.”

photo of hunters with buck
Creed and Crawford celebrate. It pays to have good friends. Jeffrey Crawford

Creed brought mutual friend, Matt Swanson, and the trio took up a short blood trail that led to one amazing buck. “I mean, I’ve shot some 150- and 160-class bucks with a rifle, so I knew it was big,” Crawford said. “But I was thinking maybe 180. Then after we had some time to look at it, Jerald said to me ‘I don’t think you realize what you’ve got here.’” Crawford’s buck was well beyond his original estimate. Although the buck only had a 17⅜-inch spread, there were 21 scorable points, mass measurements over 8 inches, a third beam, and a 7-inch sticker. Crawford notes that the amount of junk on the rack makes it difficult to score, but two different measurers have put the green gross tally in the neighborhood of 212 inches B&C.

Crawford remains appropriately awed by the buck, but mostly appreciative of the friendship that resulted in a once-in-a-lifetime whitetail. “It’s pretty humbling to think about,” he said. “I mean, it’s really reinforced that deer hunting is about way more than simply killing a great buck; it’s about the friendships that get and keep you out there. I’ve tried to live by the creed You are who you surround yourself with, and this whole experience has shown me that I’ve been blessed to surround myself with some pretty incredible people.”

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