Hunting whitetails on on public land in Kansas is about as good as it gets for the chance at a legitimate trophy buck. My hunt in 2020 didn’t result in a buck with a mega score, but I did manage to put down a mature buck utilizing what I had learned on my previous two trips to Kansas in 2018 and 2016.
Believe Your Eyes!
Kansas greeted me with a half-inch of rain, which made many of the section roads nearly impassable. After a day of drying, I decided to drive some roads looking for fresh tracks.
One of the spots I investigated looked REALLY dumb. This location consisted of a two track that ran perpendicular to a county road and provided equipment access to an agricultural field. Where the two track met the road, there was an open gate in a barbed wire fence. I would have never thought about hunting this spot, literally right next to the road, if I had not observed a minimum of 3 different bucks crossing the road during daylight in 2018 (last time I hunted Kansas). Checking the road for tracks revealed a group of doe tracks and at least one set of 3.5 year old+ buck tracks. I decided to give it a sit the next morning, game on!
Have Confidence in the Plan - No Matter How Ridiculous
The morning of the November 12th, I setup just off the county road adjacent a small wooded draw (20-30yds across) and the two track that provide access for farm equipment. It was around 6:05 a.m. when I completed the “hang” part of my hang and hunt. Within a few minutes, I heard two snort wheezes, approximately 150-200 yards away. Legal shooting light began at 6:40 a.m. “They’re too close,” I thought.
Around 6:35 a.m., I heard the unmistakable sound of several deer approaching to my left, with at least one buck making a “clicking” grunt. I could tell the deer were very close (inside of 50 yards), but I couldn’t yet make any of them out. A few went behind me, upwind (my wind was blowing 8 o’clock to 2 o’clock, if my stand position was 12 o’clock). Finally, I could make out a deer in the small draw to my left. It was 15 yards away and headed right for me tree…and then it grunted. At this point, I still can’t make out the headgear, and I was trying to will the hands of the clock towards legal shooting light. The buck walked to within 3 yards of my tree, and then caught a good whiff of my scent. He looked up at me in the tree, and that’s when I made out the frame… Definitely a shooter!
After about 30 seconds, he very nervously kept walking, and then stopped again (now directly downwind) at 12 yards. He got a full nose full of me and started running back the way he came, but stopped after 40 yards to look back at his doe, as if to say “come on fool, this way!” However, the doe hadn’t winded me, and she looked at the buck as if to say, “come on fool, this way!” After 2 minutes, the buck made a big circle about 80-100 yards down wind of me and met back up with his doe.
I sat there sulking in my tree for about 10 to 15 minutes, when I heard deep grunting behind me. I looked behind my stand, across the county road, and caught sight of two bucks now chasing this doe, 80 yards from my location. Sufficient daylight now illuminated the buck that that stood three yards from my tree 15 to 20 minutes earlier. I pulled up my binos to take in the the sight of a very symmetrical 140-150 class 10pt. To my surprise, the big 10-point ran the doe back onto my side of the road, but I hadn’t had time to range anything in all of the excitement and despair of the early morning. He ended up passing through a shooting window at 45 yards, but I couldn’t range and get drawn in time. A moment later, the buck and doe disappeared forever into a cedar thicket.
On the evening of November 12th, I relayed the mornings events to my hunting buddy, Joel. After some discussion, I decided to hunt the ridiculous roadside spot the following morning until 10 a.m., but in a different tree because the wind direction had changed. At 10 a.m., I planned to move to a different location on the same piece of property that looked better for all day cruising activity.
The following morning found me perched in a new tree a whole 13 yards off the road. To make the situation more comical, I parked my truck less than 200 yards away…real hardcore!
Around 7 a.m. a doe and two fawns came right down the two-track, crossed the county road and jumped the fence. I didn’t have much hope of that doe attracting any bucks, since she still had her fawns. However, about 1/2 hour later, a real weird 2-year old buck came sniffing down the trail. He had a 4-point side, and the opposite side consisted of a 10-12″ spike, with one point coming straight off the back of the spike. I didn’t get a great look at first, so I decided to come to full draw in case he looked better as he got closer. At 25 yards, he came to a complete stop. I held full draw for 1.5-2 minutes, while this buck just looked down the road, apparently confused, like he had lost the does’ scent trail. Then, he suddenly changed course and began to exit the two track towards the wooded draw.
I let my bow down and looked behind me and saw a huge bodied buck with the goofiest rack. I actually recognized the buck right away. I had seen him while driving around the night of the 11th. Just a big, ugly main frame 6 point. The big 6 started posturing at the 2-year old buck. I decided “what the heck, I’m going to arrow this freak!”, so I drew back and touched off a shot at 23 yds.
CRACK!…”Oh crap!” I hit him square in the shoulder and maybe got 8″ of arrow penetration. By some miracle, he didn’t bolt after the arrow hit him. Instead, he looked at the other buck like “How’d you do that?” Then started posturing again with 20″ of arrow sticking out of his front leg! I got a second arrow knocked as quickly as possible and sent the second arrow through the lungs. He bounded off and crashed 40 yards away in the draw.
He won’t score for anything, but was definitely a mature deer. That concluded a fun hunt, which resulted in my first mature buck in Kansas. Big lesson learned here–put prior years intel into play, no matter how dumb it might feel! Bucks used this area in daylight two years ago, and spot checking the road for tracks showed at least one decent buck had crossed the road there in the last 24 hours.