HomeOutdoorsNewsKansas Deer Hunter Tags Huge Buck That Had His Trail Cam Tangled in Its Antlers

Kansas Deer Hunter Tags Huge Buck That Had His Trail Cam Tangled in Its Antlers

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by EEI_Tony via Getty Images)

A farmer and rancher in southwest Kansas, deer hunter Jake Mitchell has to get creative with his trail cameras. Without a single tree anywhere near his wide-open property (nor any blinds or feeders), Mitchell opted to hang his four cameras on fence posts to keep an eye on the neighboring wildlife.

“I had four cameras up this season,” the farmer explained to Outdoor Life. “And they were strung along a mile stretch on the northern edge of one of our fields. The deer come out of the sandhills into us because of the farm ground. They like to feed out there on the milo stalks and the wheat. So, I try to catch them when they’re coming through to feed.”

One day, in early November, Jake Mitchell ventured out to his trail cams to retrieve the SD cards and watch the footage. He plucked three cards from their cameras, but when it came to the fourth, he found the entire device was missing. Though an irritating discovery, the 22-year-old Kansas resident chalked it up to theft and moved on with his day.

As he would later discover, while you could say the trail cam was stolen, it’s not an entirely accurate description. The camera was taken accidentally by a deer.

The days went by and before he knew it a full month had passed, the missing trail cam long-forgotten. That is until December 3, when his cousin arrived for a day of pheasant hunting. The pair packed up their shotguns and rifles in case of a buck encounter and left for a day in the great outdoors.

Kansas Deer Hunter Discovers Stolen Trail Cam on Buck’s Antlers

As they stopped at a vantage point, they saw something strange in the distance. It was clearly a buck, but his antlers looked abnormal, possibly even tangled with the crown of another male pulled off in battle.

“He was just sitting out there in the CRP field on the neighbor’s land. I didn’t really think anything of it,” Mitchell recalled. “He was so far out that you couldn’t really tell what was on his antlers. I thought maybe it was a deadhead or another antler that he caught from a fight.”

The strange sight forgotten, the pair began the pheasant hunt. Following a successful afternoon, they returned to the vantage point from earlier around 4:30 pm. To their disbelief, the same deer was standing nearby, this time far closer to the Kansas huntsmen.

Pulling out his spotting scope, Mitchell got a closer look at the deer and saw that the strange antler growth wasn’t bone at all but his missing trail camera. “I gave my spotting scope to my cousin and he’s like, ‘By God, that’s the camera!'” Mitchell said. “So it was on from there.”

Inching within 80 yards of the buck, Mitchell pulled the trigger, the bullet connecting and bringing the buck down. After retrieving his camera, the hunter was disappointed to learn that the memory card was gone, meaning he had no evidence of the little trail cam’s unbelievable adventure.

After calling his neighbor, however, Mitchell learned that his fellow hunter had been well aware of the unexpected thief the entire time, having captured photo evidence with his own trail cams. “The neighbor was giggling about it. He said, ‘We just saw him on camera with a camera, and we were like: Whose is that and where the hell did he pick it up?‘”