Missouri Rifle Opener


This marks my second year hunting with longtime friend Rusty Willis at Stateline Trophy Hunters on the border of Kansas and Missouri, just north of Joplin.  For someone who doesn’t live in the midwest, outfitters are a necessary evil for me because a.) I don’t have access to good ground, and b.) even if I did, I don’t have the time to do the scouting, stand hanging, etc.  Rusty definitely deserves a huge thank you for making us successful every year.  The amount of time he spends pre season scouting pays big dividends.  The thing I like the most about his operation is I can trust what he tells me about the deer movement and I know he wouldn’t put me somewhere he wouldn’t stand himself.  Great job, Rustyguide.  Keep up the hard work.  20151113_084051_zpspxidp96o

As far as the actual hunting goes, it was a full of highs and lows.  I bow hunted the two days prior to the gun opener and the first morning, I watched a doe bring a giant 5×5 across a CRP field right to me.  It was pretty windy and after coming to full draw on him at 30 yards, I elected to let the bow down because I couldn’t keep the pin on him.  As he chased the doe around, he made it to 17 yards and I picked out a hole in the brush to try and thread one through.  The resulting shot hit him in the shoulder and even though I’m shooting a fixed blade head, penetration was pretty bad.  We tracked him for about 150 yards before the blood stopped.  I’m pretty confident the deer is not dead and will live to fight another day.  It doesn’t, however, make it any easier to take.  Bad shots happen, and like it or not, that’s bowhunting.  I saw another big buck out of that stand the following day but never got a shot.  The deer were chasing and it was a great primer for the upcoming gun opener.


As dawn broke on Saturday, the deer movement that had been so good the two previous days had slowed.  I was hunting a different area out of a box blind that covered a large area of cut corn with some wooded draws in between.  Around 1700, I saw a buck working his way to the north.  After confirming he was big enough to shoot, I waited for him to come through the hedgerow and into the open.  When he appeared, I took the shot and he ran probably 40 yards before piling up.  Although he wasn’t the once in a lifetime giant I stabbed a couple days before, he was a great buck that I was happy to put my tag on.  In the five years I’ve gun hunted Missouri, I’ve tagged out the first day 3 times.  It’s pretty easy to love this state.  We had 5 guys in camp the first week an all 5 were successful.  Pretty tough to beat those odds.

After eating a tag in Kansas, Ohio, and Missouri (archery), this season has been tough.  A lot of travel and time away from home has yielded less than stellar results, but if anything has strengthened my resolve and made me more determined.  This is hunting and sometimes a long streak of good luck can wane.  It’s also a good reminder of why we do what we do because there is so much more that goes with it than actual killing.  Spending time with good friends and getting to see different country is really what it’s about.  Again, a big thank you to Rusty Willis at Stateline Trophy Hunters for a top notch hunt and well run program.  I couldn’t do it without you.