The 2017 archery deer season in this part of Kansas for myself and for many that I have talked with has been uneventful. Most everyone is discussing the low deer numbers and how CWD is becoming more of a problem. I am thankful to not have witnessed sick deer where I hunt but I know that it is a problem and it's a matter of time before the problem gets worse. I hope that over time the herd develops an immunity to this disease but this could take many years.
I was finally able to harvest a buck on the morning of November 25 with my compound bow. I was able to take a doe back in October with my Bobcat recurve and would have really liked to shot this buck with one of my CCA bows but because rifle season was approaching, and I was trying to get my oldest son in position for his first archery kill, and because we really needed meat in the freezer I decided that the Mathews was the way to go. I still had a blast and was able to share the hunt with my son, the story unfolds below.
Thanksgiving break is a great time to be chasing whitetail deer in Kansas. As a teacher I get a 5 day weekend and have time to fit in an extra hunt or two. It's also when the bigger bucks have bred does and begin searching for the last few does in estrous. Any time of the day a mature buck could appear out of thin air and you have to be ready. My oldest son Austin has worked hard to become proficient with his bow and has been able to come along with me on several hunts this year in pursuit of his first archery kill. On Friday the 24th we sat in a ground blind along a heavily used trial in the middle of the timber. It wasn't long before we saw our first deer. It was a 1.5 year old buck with a doe. They were milling around to our left and eventually the young buck left the doe and headed in our direction. Austin prepared for a shot and I watched the deer and readied him for the shot. The buck stepped into the shooting lane but was a little farther away than what is ideal and had some weeds blocking his vitals. He got a pass as he headed away from us not knowing of our presence.
As sundown neared a 2.5 year old buck appeared 100 yards to our right and was headed down the same trail as the previous buck. This buck would cross in front of our blind at 15 yards if he continued on his current course. As he got near I instructed Austin to draw his bow but I was a little late and the buck caught his movement. Austin did a great job of holding steady as the buck relaxed and began to walk again. I grunted and Austin let an arrow fly which sailed over the buck's back. The buck was startled but gently moved away from our position. Austin was not disappointed with the miss but rather elated for the opportunity.
The next morning we were back at it but this time in our favorite treestands as the wind was more favorable for this location. The stands are set up so that Austin is on the main trail while I have a shot to a secondary trail as well as the CRP behind me. We are about 40 yards apart and can see each other from our positions. The morning was slow until about 8:30 when two deer appeared in the CRP. It was two young bucks out cruising. At about 8:45 I noticed a mature buck crossing the dry creek bed to my right. I grunted and he turned and came my way out into the CRP. I would have to turn around in the stand and draw before he got close. I noticed that his antlers were wide with not much tine length but my mind was made up that I was going to take a shot if one was presented. I attempted to draw as the buck passed behind a tree limb but there wasn't much to hide my movement and he caught me. I held still at full draw for about 30 seconds before he continued on his path. He then stopped broadside at about 32 yards from my stand as I touched the release and my arrow flew hitting him in the lower part of the chest cavity. I knew that my shot was good, likely a heart shot as I watched the deer bound away and saw my arrow pass through the deer.
The view from my treestand where I shot the buck.
I decided that it was plenty early and Austin might get a shot at something so I held tight until around 11:00. I never saw another deer that morning but Austin had seen a few that I never noticed. We climbed down and went to look for the arrow. It should have been fairly easy to find in the short CRP grass but we never did find it. When we picked up blood I taught Austin what all you can learn from a blood trail. Such as what organs were hit, and which direction the deer was headed. He looked at the blood and then looked ahead and said "dad we don't need to follow the blood trail, your deer is right there!" He was right but I made him follow it anyway for good practice. When we approached the deer we gave thanks to the Lord for the harvest and for the time that Austin and I have been able to spend together. He is not the biggest buck that I have ever shot but one of the best hunting memories I have because of sharing it with him!
The blood trail was easy to follow
What a memorable hunt!