Sometimes the shot you want isn’t always the shot you get on a buck. Success hangs on whether or not you can adapt to the situation.

John was rifle hunting his northern Missouri property on the second day of the state’s firearms season. Armed with his Winchester Model 70 in .308, he sat in a shooting house in the midst of lush green fields of BioLogic Clover Plus.

In 2015, John’s grandson and DOD regular Zach Playle had an encounter with an old homeboy on this property that had come to know as “Potato Head.” No offense to potatoes, but one look at that mug and you’ll know why he got the name. John had years of Reconyx pictures on this guy and was very familiar with him. In that archery encounter, Potato Head walked away unscathed as Zach’s arrow skipped just beneath him.

His lucky streak would end during rifle season.

John spent the afternoon watching over the clover fields from his blind. As evening approached, he noticed a shooter buck standing in the clover directly behind them. That deer didn’t look like it was going to come around to the front of the blind, so John and his cameraman decided to do a 180 with their setup and coordinate a shot through one of the back windows.

It was a risky move. Not only did they have to reorient the camera gear, but swinging a back window open would cause movement that would likely alert the buck and allow their scent to spill out into the field. The deer wasn’t going to come around to the front, so John spun around and coordinated the kill.

As soon as the window opened, the buck noticed and began to walk away. John set his crosshairs on the deer’s pump house and squeezed off the shot. After bolting for just 20 yards, he fell over and died. It wasn’t until John got up on him during the recovery that he realized that this was the Potato Head that had called their farm home for so many years. A deer with lots of pictures and one that had reached it’s prime was finally tagged.

This kill didn’t happen the way John expected, but he took the situation as it came and adapted by taking the shot out of a back window. Buck’s don’t seem to care about our shooting lanes or our field of view, so we have to make our own success by adapting to the situation.


As told to Tim Kjellesvik.