The nice 6 point buck “magically” appeared as deer often do in the CRP field to my left. Our hunting blind sits just above a drainage creek and overlooks that CRP patch on neighboring property to the left. Straight in front of the blind on the property we hunt is an overgrown waterway about 300 yards long in which our corn feeder sits, and to the right of it is a rolling, terraced soybean stubble field.
Farther to the left and beside the blind is a 40 some acre wooded pasture that contains several good bedding areas. Deer often follow the drainage creek west to that wooded pasture, or follow it east to another woodlot several hundred yards away, making this spot a natural crossing, although most of the deer travel through there seems to be at night.
Although we don’t have direct permission to hunt the neighboring property where the young buck stood, the owner would not care if we shot a deer there. But the property is hunted by a local guy and his son and daughter who I knew were there somewhere this first Saturday of the Kansas firearms deer season, so I opted to wait until the deer crossed onto where we hunted. As my luck would have it, when the buck was about to step into the waterway, putting himself into my freezer so-to-speak, he turned and walked directly away from me for another hundred yards, and then stopped and looked long and hard behind him. I craned my neck to see what had his attention, and coming diagonally across the CRP behind him was a beautiful 10 point buck we had pictures of on our trail camera. The bigger buck joined the smaller one and they crossed onto our side a good 200 yards away.
Two years ago I would have totally dismissed a shot that long. Even though very reasonable for the .270 rifle I shoot, I had never shot that long and had no confidence at that distance. However, before my western KS antelope hunt a year ago, I got some instruction shooting at 200 yards, and in fact harvested my antelope at that distance with a well-placed shot. So as the pair eased up out of the waterway and onto the stubble field, I grunted loudly at them to get their attention. They stopped and looked around, but 2 seconds later were on the move again. This scene repeated itself several times until both bucks were beyond what I considered a comfortable range for me. They weren’t really spooked but they weren’t really comfortable either, so their pace was rather brisk. If the distance had been one hundred yards or less, I could have been steady enough to shoot in the short time they were stopped, but at 200 yards there’s much less room for error. Add to that a mild case of “buck fever” which made me shake a little more than I already did, and a rushed shot could have been the recipe for a wounded buck that I couldn’t find.
Hunting the first weekend of deer firearms season is a mixed bag of pros and cons. There are many more hunters out meaning many more deer will be harvested, leaving fewer opportunities for unsuccessful hunters; that’s a downside. All those hunters however will also mean deer will be moving during the day more than usual, offering opportunities to harvest deer we otherwise might not see; that’s an upside. But those deer that are moving will quite possibly be a little spooky, having been pushed from their lairs; that’s another downside. Even though my argument here doesn’t show it, I’ve always felt opening Saturday was a good day to hunt.
I helped a friend load and haul a dandy older 12 point buck he and his son harvested Friday night at dusk, so my exuberance has jumped a few points on my excite-o-meter. I’m sorry I wasn’t given an acceptable shot at that buck Saturday morning, but I’m not sorry I didn’t take what I had. Saturday Dec 11 and Sunday the 12th are the final 2 days of Kansas deer firearms season for 2017 and both days look busy with family stuff for me, so the next five weekdays may be my last chance to harvest a deer this year with a rifle. Even though we are meat hunters, and are quite happy to harvest a nice plump doe, I kinda’ hope the big fella’ is still there and God sees fit to give me another chance to put him into my freezer. Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors!
Steve Gilliland, Inman, can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.