Kansas Paydirt

Kansas WhitetailI just got home from a week of muzzleloader hunting in Southeast Kansas and as usual, it did not disappoint.  My wife was nice enough to let me leave to go hunting on our first wedding anniversary too so I feel confident in saying that I’ve found myself a keeper.

The early muzzleloader season in Kansas is a unique hunt.  Bucks are still coming out in the crops every evening to feed before the cold weather sets in and there is a good opportunity to kill a good deer out in the open.  The bucks are still in their bachelor groups for the most part, and it is very cool to get to see a bunch of deer filter out into the bean fields.  Weather is the deciding factor of this hunt and if it is hot, as Kansas sometimes is this time of year, the good bucks will stay bedded and will not come to feed until it gets dark.  This was one of the big issues on this trip.  One evening when we went to our stand, it was 94 degrees.

My buddy Rob Stone did me a solid and came with me to run a camera to document the trip.  I’m working on getting the footage together now and will post the final edit as soon as I get it finished.

We hunted a bean field that I’ve killed 2 bucks out of before and sat in a box blind overlooking the east edge with a half section of bedding area behind us.  I’m not much on playing musical stands if I know there’s good deer around, so we made the decision to sit tight all week and see how it played out.

Our view to the north.

Our view to the north.

The weather was hotter than normal and the deer movement was definitely impacted somewhat negatively but we dutifully stood our post seeing a few small bucks and several does.  The second evening right before dark, two big bucks (150 inches or bigger) appeared on the south end of the bean field.  At 250 yards with the shooting light quickly disappearing, they were beyond my comfortable range with the Encore .50 so we watched darkness swallow them up, hoping they would reappear later in the week.

As the week progressed, we faced several challenges from 100 degree box blinds, ravenous mosquitos, and shifting unfavorable wind.   Worst of all, the two giants we saw early in the week never appeared and the biggest buck we encountered was a 60 inch 8 point.  But we were having fun and that’s why we were there.

With darkness coming fast on the final evening of the hunt I had come to the realization that I might be eating a tag sandwich, but around 7:30 Rob said the words I’d waited to hear all week.  “A deer just walked out.  Good buck.”  Standing where the two big bucks were a few evenings before, we swapped seats giving me a better shooting position.  Knowing I had about 20 minutes of shooting light left, I opted to wait and see if he ventured our way.  If he got to 200 yards and wouldn’t come any closer, I was going to send one at him, but for once in the week, luck was on our side.  We had the wind in our face and after a few minutes, the buck started working his way toward us.  It soon became apparent, that he was coming quick and would be on top us in minutes.

When he got to 100 yards, I went to cock the rifle when disaster struck.  The hammer would not move.  At all.  Panic stuck.  Here I am with my gun out the window of a box blind with a buck facing me and closing fast and I can’t shoot him.  I tried everything.  I had adrenaline enhanced strength and still couldn’t budge the hammer.  All those hours of getting toasted in that oven of a box blind and getting devoured by mosquitos only to have a shooter buck walk within feet of us with a gun that wouldn’t work conjured up one of the sickest feelings I’ve ever felt.  Calm as could be, Rob told me to slide the rifle back through the window.  He fiddled with it for a little bit and after opening it and slamming it shut a couple times, he got the hammer cocked.  I got the gun back out the window somehow without being spotted.  I found the deer in the scope at 40 yards, and Rob got the camera back on him.  “Kill him,” he said.  The Encore roared, and the buck dropped stone dead at 33 yards.

I’ve been on some exciting hunts over the years, but I’ve never had something like this happen.  The feeling of utter despair being replaced by absolute elation was almost too much to handle.  I got extremely lucky that night and it’s a hunting memory I won’t soon forget.  We were patient that week and while it almost got screwed up by my rifle, we got rewarded.  I’ve already got the Encore receiver stripped and I’m going to tear into it this week to make sure this won’t happen again.  Check back later in the week to see the video of how it all went down.  I don’t have a whole lot of editing to do, but it’s safe to say I have a lot of four letter words to bleep out.