The 2012 Firearms deer season
For me the 2012 deer was a fun one. I spent more days a field this year than I have in the last three combined. I guess as I look back my thoughts turn to why that was, why so few days. Was it to much waterfowl hunting, NO WAY! I guess the last few years I have had limited time and land to rifle hunt in Kansas. It seems like every year more and more land gets leased up and it becomes harder for the average guy to hunt. Through friendships that I have made over the last few years people have been nice enough to drag me along. So when a friend offered me a spot on opening day I jumped at it.
This year I spent a grand total of three days in the stand. Now that might seem like a low number of days but when you relying on the generosity of other for a spot to hunt that’s an exciting number.
Nov 28th 2012
Opening morning found me in a deer stand in Eastern KS looking out on a river bottom just south of Paola KS. This being the first time I had hunted that area it was as much of an exploration process as it was a hunting trip. The deer in this area where plentiful and there where some nice shooters running around so my excitement was high. Since I had no time to scout, the key for this morning was to see where the deer where moving. The owner offered me a few stand that he would not be hunting that mornings so I chose a stand that over looked as much of the grass on the property as possible.
I made it into the tree stand about 20 minutes before legal shooting time, a little later than I like but still more than enough time to get situated and let the area calm down from my walk in. That morning it didn’t take long for the first activity. Right at legal shooting time a small little buck wondered to within 60 years. Normally I like to get some meet on the ground fast so I can try for something bigger but there was no point in using my buck tag a little guy who needed a few more years under his belt 3 minutes into the season, so he kept on walking. But how exciting, a deer in range within minutes of the opener. About 45 minutes later a large group of does and yearling stepped out in the neighbor’s bean field just on the other side of the tree line. It was fun watching about a dozen deer feed there way up to the CRP grass and go bed down out in the middle of the field. As far it goes, that was all in the way of deer that I saw that morning, a good start to the season.
After coffee and cinnamon rolls with the farmer we decided to get back in the stand around 130. I had decided to move down the property about ¼ mile to a big clearing under a set of power lines that run though the middle of this area for my evening hunt. The thought was any deer moving from north to south to feed in the beans I saw them in this morning would have to cross this open patch giving me anywhere from a 50 to 200 yard shot.
Shortly after I got in the stand I just happened to turn my head behind me in time to see a doe cross the 10 ft wide creek behind me at 60 yards. That means in the middle of the day she was doing the exact opposite of what I thought they would do! Your kidding me, 2 15 in the afternoon and large doe comes out behind me walking directly to my right. I moved around in the stand hoping she wouldn’t catch me and as luck would have it she only stopped for a brief second. Now, in all my years the plan has always been to try and shoot a good doe early in the season and then I can look for a shooter buck, could this really happen? It did, she kept on her path for about another 30 yards giving me an easy broad side shot at her about 50 yards out. She took 10 steps and crumpled up in a pile. Meat in the freezer! I was very excited knowing I had gotten my doe down in the middle of the day and not even messed up my evening set. As the rest of the story goes I did get to watch several does work out in different parts of the field and another small buck walked out and started grazing at 120 yards. No big bucks tonight but my season was a success, it could only get better. Oh and did I mention that big boy stepped out into the bean 5 minutes after legal at about 400 yards…
Dec 5th 2012
My next time I was able to hunt was one week later on the same farm. We decided to hit a stand about 100 yards east of the one I shot the doe in. I felt like it gave me a better chance of catching a few more deer traveling as this was where the main crossing path was. This morning I was in the stand early and almost right away I had deer around me. I started out with another small buck feeding directly behind me at about 175 yards. He was quickly followed by 2 does and a small spike; this had me really fired up. Next about 10 does and fawns stepped out of the trees at about 90 yards walked to within 30 yards to cross the three row I was sitting in, that was just a blast to watch! Having filled my doe tag I was more then content to just watch them walk by.
Just as I sat down from watching them, I notice three more deer in the bean field on the other side of some thick trees. I couldn’t tell what they where but one had a very large body. I watched them feed and play out there for about 20 minutes until the disappeared heading over on to my property. I kept and eye out for them but after 10 minutes I figure they had worked back down the tree row to the west out of site. That’s when a tall 160 class 8 point stepped out behind and to my left at 150 yards walking slightly away. At that moment I slowly stood in the stand and turned around. He caught me… 160 yards through trees half cover up by the tree trunk I was in and he caught my movement. He flagged and bounded out to the middle of the power line clearing and stopped and gazed directly at me for 5 minutes at 209 yards. I was able to get my gun up and get the scope on him but directly between me and where he had stopped was a branch hanging down. 200 yards though a branch on a big deer. Now, may people will think differently, and I guess this is the decision we all have to make but I just couldn’t take the risk of getting a bad hit on a big deer like this. I lowed my gun a few inches and that was enough for him, he bolted for the trees. I don’t know how he did it or what I did differently that the15 other times I turned around to scope a deer behind me but he got me. After that I had another group of does and fawns come out to play. Here is a distant picture of him walking back into the woods.
Thursday Dec 6th
The next morning was my last morning to hunt. The owner suggested I go set on the top of the ridge at the very south end of his property in a nice little pinch. They had been seeing nice deer there all year. Now my story of why this is my last day of the season is simple. My wife and I are leaving the following day on a family trip. That means only a shooter buck will do for this guy since I will have very limited time to clean and process this deer.
The wind this morning was a gusty and out of the south, ok for this stand but not great in that it blew my sent over a small section of the ridge that deer might work along. My first spotting of the morning was about an hour in and it was a nice eight point at about 150 yards on the neighbor property. If he would have been on the right side of the fence I would have had a hard decision to make. He was tall and thick and looked to be a little smaller than the one from the day before but not by to much. As the morning wore on I had a nice doe surprise me at 15 yards coming down the fence I was setting on. She walked right under me and she didn’t spook, that made me feel really good. A short time later an ok buck with a really jacked up rack walked out at 50 yards. Now if this was the last day of most seasons I would of cleaned out of the gene pool, but with my travel plans and limited time he got lucky. He crossed the fence and walked by at 30 yards, giving me a great bow shot.
Then It happened, no not a big buck a big snort from a deer! As true outdoorsman luck would have it, the one spot I could get busted by the wind there was a scrape and something came over to check it out. I did see a very large deer body and big white tail but I couldn’t see the head. Thinking nothing of it I head back down to the truck to meet the owner for the trip home. He had been hunting the bottom area I hunted the day before and he asked if I saw the big buck that walked up the ridge to check out that big scrape! Uhg, nope but I think I heard him. So that’s how my 2012 deer season ended. I am sure as the years go on that buck will only get bigger in my dreams but as we all know, it’s a lot of fun just getting out in the woods.