Parker Madl, a 17-year-old high school senior from Stilwell, Kan., didn't have long to wait or far to go to find the deer of a lifetime. On opening day of the Kansas archery season, the Blue Valley High School wrestling star--the reigning state champion in his weight division--shot this 20-point buck from a tree house on his family's property. The deer green scores 228.
Madl first saw the deer last year on a trail camera set up in a bean field nearby and got more photos as the months passed. He figured the buck for a 160-class, and set his sights on taking him down. “I never got a chance, never even saw him during the season last year,” Madl says. “But I guess it was for the best.”
His friend Jackson Van Lear (right) wounded the deer last November. After following a blood trail and searching nearby fields and woods for three days, they gave the buck up for dead.
Then this summer the buck turned up again on a trail cam, bigger and better than ever. “It was a relief, to know he was still out there and to think maybe I’d get another chance at him,” Madl says.
When opening day arrived Sept. 21, Madl came home from school planning to hunt his family’s 450-acre farm. “But it was raining, so I decided I’d just stay close to home and see if I could get this deer,” Madl says. “It worked out pretty good.”
That afternoon he set up on a clover food plot at the edge of some woods. An old tree house provided a sturdy stand. He passed on two 8-pointers, one a tempting 150-class. Remembering the trail cam shots he told himself, “No, wait, that big buck is out there.” Just before dark he spotted a doe, with the 20-pointer right behind.
But before they reached the food plot, the doe bolted away and the buck followed. “I thought he was a goner, then,” Madl says. “But five minutes later he and the doe were back.” A 15-yard shot, a 30-yard run and it was all over. Madl had his buck.
Madl began bow hunting at 15 and took a bear this spring. He started hunting at age 5, when his father, Perry, (right) took him and his brothers on safari in Africa. He shot only does with his bow before taking his first whitetail buck this year.
As a junior, Madl (right) won the state wrestling championship in the 140-lb. division, and college programs at Oklahoma, Arizona State and Nebraska are recruiting him. Of his impressive first buck he says, “It’s like winning the Olympics on my first try.”