I opened the letter and got a grand surprise! I had drawn a coveted either sex statewide archery tag for Kansas. What a deal! An opportunity to hunt a state not only known for big bucks, but also for having so many deer that one county district attorney publicly stated he would not prosecute anyone for illegally shooting deer. That part wasn’t in my plans, but I was hoping to arrow one of the nice bucks.
I was included in a group of five bowhunters with permission to hunt a large holding near Ashland, Kansas. We had access to a checkerboard of large tracks scattered along a flowing creek channel and around several large planted fields. Just right! Lots of food, cover and water to meet the needs of all the deer.
In my first conversation with the landowner, he informed me that I should pick up and fill the two available additional doe tags. His contention was that if we were going to hunt his bucks, we were going to help thin out the does as well. I took him at his word and planned to fill my doe tags as quick as I could.
I had put a new hunting package together that was based around one of the new Champion Attack One bows. The bow is very well constructed and easy to set up. Since most of the hunting would be from treestands, I opted for a Savage Systems Pendulum Sight. Of all the pendulum sights I have tried, this one was the easiest to set up and sight in. It also worked very well from the ground out to 35 yards. My set-up also included Game Tracker Carbon X Express 300 arrows pushing a 100 grain SteelForce Sabertooth broadhead. I had the system tuned in and shooting excellent!
There could be no excuses! HA! Bet me, there can always be excuses!
My first chance on stand offered several opportunities, but I was still trying to get a line on what was available. I saw loads of deer. Mostly small bucks and does with fawns. I was surprised to see the size of some of the deer of the year. One big doe came in with two button bucks that were almost as big as her.
The genetics in this area must be awesome! The next morning, I was again watching the big doe and button bucks when a large single doe came in. She offered a shot and I zipped an arrow through both lungs. She was down within 20 yards. The Sabertooth head does awesome work! This doe dressed at 127 pounds, very good for the area.
The next morning I was in a stand down on the creek bank when two large dry does came under me. My arrow penetrated the spine and lungs of the closest and she never moved. This doe dressed out at 135 pounds and was very fat.
I was only able to see one large buck on this trip and he was way too far out to even think about a shot. But, he was a dandy!
I unfortunately, had to get back to work for awhile. It was a good thing because the bucks were still hanging out in the CRP fields instead of hanging along the creek with the does.
A couple of weeks later I was able to squeeze in a day and ½ hunt. The morning hunt was cold, but uneventful for me. Ronda Thompson was in our camp with husband Kenny and she arrowed the first buck. We all gave her a hard time for shooting a dink and not waiting for one of the big boys. Her buck field dressed 178 pounds and was a twelve pointer. SOME DINK! Her husband later took a 10 point that weighed 208. Not bad for the pair.
That evening, I tried something a little new to me. A new product from Hot Trails Inc. is a scented candle that WORKS! Unfortunately for me, it worked after it was too dark to shoot, but I had the widest whitetail I have ever seen in my life at less than 10 yards.
He had come into the clearing I was hunting right at dark and skirted the outer fringe. As he passed directly down wind from the Hot Trails candle, it was like there was a rope tied to his neck and his head was jerked right into the scent stream. He followed it, nose up right up to the candle. He spooked, whirled in a circle and as soon as he hit the scent trail, he came right back to the candle. This happened five times before he finally left.
The candle had finally burned out or I might still be in the tree.
I told the others in camp about Hot Trails Scent Candles and Greg Pike wanted to try it out. The next morning, he had a six point come in and actually burn his nose on the container. He whirled, ran off about 20 yards, blew and snorted and stomped and came right back to it.
Greg was afraid he might knock the container over and in the dry conditions, start a fire so he slowly started to pull the candle up to his stand with his pull rope. The young buck followed the progress with his nose and was actually standing on his hind legs with his nose just inches from the candle when he made eye contact with Greg and spooked. Greg later in the hunt was able to arrow a nine point buck that dressed 218 pounds and final scored 137 4/8 inches for Pope & Young.
My only other opportunity at one of the large bucks came as I was again on stand down along a creek. I had my bow hanging on a limb directly behind me as I was turned around in my stand video taping a very large 12 point and 10 point fighting while numerous bucks of varying size watched. I was about 120 yards away with nothing but bare field between us.
My subconscious mind heard the tell tale crunch, crunch, crunch of the leaves behind me, but the idiot conscious part didn’t let it register until I caught movement in the corner of my eye. BIG BUCK! What to do with the camera, can’t throw it, can’t drop it, can’t shoot with it.
By the time I had figured this all out, the big 10 point was trotting by at 18 yards and my hurried shot went somewhere. Not in him. I never did find that arrow, but I had plenty of opportunity to study him and know it didn’t even touch him.
Now would be my time for excuses, but all I can say is I screwed up by not having my Hot Trails out and being ready at all times! I certainly hope to have another opportunity next year!