On target: Rose Hill archer both hunts and competes
Leon Hutton of Rose Hill has seen a lot from behind his bow and arrow in the last 52 years — rare animals, trophy bucks and an armless archer. Hutton competes in archery, and he hunts regularly.
The biggest thrill, he says, is taking a trophy buck. That's a bigger thrill than winning the 2017 Kansas Archery Associaton Championship, or an invite to the National Outdoor Archery Championships in 2016. His favorite prey is whitetail deer — and you can see some of his best deer if you walk into the right Cabella's. The outdoor equipment chain purchased four mounted heads from Hutton a few years ago.
"They were the highest scoring deer that I have shot," Hutton said.
The Boone and Crockett Club stipulates that deer have 107 inches of horn. Hutton has qualified under that system four times.
And while he does not know where all of the trophies he sold to Cabella's are, he has located one. Fittingly, it was at the archery counter at a new store in Rogers, Minnesota Hutton chose to check out.
"There was one of my heads," Hutton said. "It was 900 miles away. [My wife] asked 'how do you know that is one of your heads?' If you look real close at one side of the head, it had some unique little points."
He showed her a picture of the head when they got home.
Hutton grew up in a hunting family, and he gravitated to archery.
"I grew up in a hunting family and really transitioned to archery for a bigger challenge," Hutton said.
These days he spends time at place he calls "Area 51," hunting ground he purchased near Fredonia.
"I call it Area 51 because I tell everyone that I am going to kill something out of this world there," Hutton said.
Some of the rarest wildlife he has see while on his secret spot were not hunted — Hutton simply enjoyed. He's spotted turkeys, bobcats, coyotes, racoons and and other interesting finds.
"I've seen a black-faced racoon and a black-faced cokatiel rabbit, which is very rare," Hutton said. "A couple weeks ago I got to see what they call a pileated woodpecker. You don't see a lot of those. That was the woodpecker that Woody Woodpecker was modeled after — the pileated woodpecker. They a a big woodpecker. They are about the same size as a crow."
The secret to succcess, he said, is patience.
"It is enjoying being in the outdoors," Hutton said.
At one time he ran his own archery shop, in the [Garden} City area. He retired, heading to Minnesota for a couple of years before moving back to Kansas and Rose Hill.
He spends about half his bow time in competition, heading to competitions across the country with other archers from Diamond Archery of Wichita.
"I hve been to Las Vegas, the world's largest indoor archery tournament where there will e 2,500 or more shooters, before COVID, of course, from all over the world," Hutton said. "Competition has definitely changed. ... They are having what they call virtual shoots where we shoot at Diamond Archery and send in the scores. That is how they are doing a lot of the shoots now instead of a central location."