Kansas Woman Tags First Whitetail Deer 218 inches

With her first deer, Devyn Messenger tagged the buck of a lifetime. And on public lands under great pressure as well. On Nov. 5, while hunting with her husband at Fort Riley, Messenger ran into a 200-inch monster more than 25 yards before taking the buck with her bow.

Messenger grew up in a hunting family in Louisiana, but only the men in her family hunted. It was only recently that Messenger began hunting with her husband, Matthew Messenger, who is an avid outdoorsman and an active duty member of the Army. “My first deer season was last year at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. It was so difficult. I had no luck,” says Messenger F&S. “This February, we were stationed in Kansas at Fort Riley. I immediately got into the woods with my camera and trail cameras and started photographing deer and elk. In my mind, a big deer was an 8-pointer. Well, Kansas there’s another breed of deer. They’re just crazy. I was dead set on hunting one.”

Messenger went to great lengths to scout out public hunting areas on base and asked for as many hunting tips as he could find. “I was one of those annoying people on internet forums asking all the questions about things you’re already supposed to know,” she says. “I talked to everyone and heard advice about everything from the smell to the smell to the heights of the trees – everything. I got every bit of information I could.”

This fall, when deer season began, she put her newfound knowledge to use. Bow season opened Sept. 12, and since then Messenger has been in the woods twice a day five to six days a week. With her husband gone to practice, some days Messenger would bring one of her children, whom she homeschools, to sit with her in the tree stand. On other days, she would place all four of her children in a blind near her. Although her kids inevitably made some noise, Messenger got into deer in September and October, but by November, she still hadn’t gotten a single buck. “It never quite fit. I spent a lot of smaller money,” she said. “On one camera, I had two target bucks that I was holding on to. One was a big, tough 9-pointer. The other was a huge 13-pointer.”

The hunt comes along in November

woman hunter poses with deer with big rack
The deer ran for 100 yards after being shot before going down. Devyn Messenger

On Nov. 4, one of her target bucks ran to within 25 yards of her tree, but didn’t give her an opportunity to shoot. On the 5th, she returned to the forest with her husband, who had recently returned home from training. He had already taken his deer this year. The morning was quiet and they didn’t see the deer moving when they normally did. “I decided to knock and then shut up and see what we could pull up. We rocked for 30 seconds and then hung the crackling horns up,” says Messenger. “The deer ran out of a patch of forest in front of us and hit every tree branch on its way to me. He was just ready to fight. He came in about 25 yards and stopped with a snort in a perfect clear.”

The statement turned from the broadside and moved a little closer to the Messenger. She released a tipped bolt of a Wasp Jak X Mechanical Broadhead with her Barnett Whitetail Hunter II bow. She got a nice shot at the deer before she and her husband followed a trail of heavy blood for 100 yards. “I was completely calm and collected until after I shot,” she says. “Then the money fever definitely hit. I had a hard time getting down from the tree trunk because I was shaking. This was made even worse when we went up to the deer and saw how big it really was.”


She soon realized that the deer was not one of her target bucks as she thought. “We made it all the way back to the road after wearing it in the field before I realized it wasn’t the split-ear deer I first thought it was,” she says. “We took the rack to get a video of the horns and it was just crazy. That’s when it really hit me.”

Deer had 18 total points and 16 points scored. Derek Moon of the Fort Riley Green Office of the Environment tagged the deer. The rack boasts a massive 17-inch G2 on the right side. The deer was scored as a non-typical buck and 218 5/8 inches green and 203 7/8 net. Messenger plans to officially pick it up with points after the mandatory drying period. “I honestly didn’t know anything about scoring,” she says. “I didn’t know what Pope and Young was. I didn’t know what Boone & Crockett was. And I’m so glad I didn’t. I think I would be more nervous. I really didn’t quite understand what he was.”

the woman carries large antlers of a dead deer
The right G2 of the buck was 17 inches. Devyn Messenger

The whitetail deer will go down as one of the largest ever taken at Fort Riley and one of the largest bucks taken this year in North America. Messenger says tagging along on public land makes it even sweeter. “This adds to his pride. When you get something on public land, you have to work for it,” she explains. “I put in hours and hours photographing the forest and being out there and observing – figuring out what water sources the deer were using and where they were laying. We were there for seven solid months to find something we could be proud to put on the wall.”

Read more: Eight-year hunter tags Cactus Buck with weird-looking permanent velvet covering antlers and face

Messenger plans to get a mount on her shoulders. The following weekend, Messenger says her 12-year-old daughter followed in her footsteps and killed her first deer — an impressive 10-point buck. After taking such a big buck with her first deer, Messenger is already thinking about next year. “We just left the woods yesterday from scouting,” she says. “Of course, I won’t even try to get a bigger deer. I’m just going for something unique now. I want weird, beautiful or wild – the more kicks and stickers, the better.”

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