Here's a video from early November, 2008. It starts in my treestand over the new food plot I planted this September. The wheat/clover would have come up nicely but it was being grazed heavily by a few family groups, and it wasn't big enough to support very many deer. Before first light I noticed something in the plot. As it grew lighter I realized it was a young bobcat. While I was watching the bobcat I spotted a nice buck....well just watch the video.
I wasn't able to shoot any deer in 2008, but I passed on more bucks than ever. It was a fun season, but disappointing because I couldn't drop the string on a bruiser. I'll post some more video from the rest of the season on here whenever I get around to it. Stay tuned...
I was fortunate enough to beat the odds and draw a cow elk tag for ft. riley during the month of December in 2006. We had been watching elk on the fort for the last few years and always dreamed of drawing a tag. A letter came in the mail in August of that year from the KDWP saying that I had drawn a cow tag! I soon found out that my friends dad Bob had also drawn a tag- a bull tag. A group of us gathered at my house for the season opener (first four days of October). Bob's tag was valid the whole season so we focused on getting him a bull. The first morning I set us up in a spot overlooking an opening where I thought we had a shot at seeing some elk. Ten minutes into first shooting light, Ryan's uncle Charlie says "There's an elk.....a bull....a big bull"! The bull walked into the clearing about 120 yards from us. Bob wasn't sure at first if he wanted to shoot it or not, but when the bull started walking he decided it was a good bull. The elk went over a small rise and we lost sight of him for about 100 yards, and when he appeared again a gun shot shattered the morning silence. We could hear the bullet's impact, but the elk didn't budge. Bob shot again, this time we didn't hear the bullet hit. The elk walked a few yards and stopped again as Bob shot a third time. Another hit! We were sure this bull was about to fall over as he walked over another rise into the trees. High fives and congratulations were exchanged, but after an hour when we walked up to where we last saw the elk, we were surprised to see the bull jump up and run away. We spent all afternoon searching for that elk, but we never saw him again. By December I had been whitetail hunting the fort for a few months, and hadn't seen any elk. I wasn't very confident that I would have an opportunity to fill my tag but I went out hunting a few times anyway. I was waiting for some snow to cover the ground so I could cut a track and follow it to the animal. On New Year's Eve we got that snow! It was the last day of the season as the snow ended early in the afternoon. I had a hunch there were some elk using a heavily timbered area adjacent to a crop field not a mile from our house. I asked Bayes if he wanted to walk the timber with me and he agreed. We spread out about 200 yards and stepped off the bean field into the timber. When we entered the hardwood bottom I was amazed at the scenery. There was no wind and the powdery snow was weighing down the branches of every tree around. After walking about 30o yards, the timber thickened up and I lost sight of Bayes. I looked up ahead and noticed an elk looking right at me about 45 yards away! I couldn't believe it! It was a smaller calf so I put my scope on it to reassure myself that it was indeed an elk and not a whitetail doe. It was obviously an elk, and I was afraid that it was about to bolt, so I quickly centered the cross hairs on its shoulder and pulled the trigger. The elk didn't budge, so I quickly fired off two more rounds as quickly as I could work the bolt action. The elk was still standing there looking at me, and I saw nothing to convince me that I had hit it! I only brought three bullets and was standing there with an empty gun looking at an elk staring at me at 45 yards. Finally the animal took a few wobbly steps towards me and layed down. I heard Bayes yelling "What are you shooting at?". "I got one", I replied. "Got what?" I heard coming from the trees. "An elk, a calf, come check it out!" After going to the house to get a knife, we came back and field dressed the "small" elk. We drug it over the snow out to the field where Bayes pulled his jeep down to pick it up. Somehow we managed to get that roughly 400 lb. animal into the jeep after taking out the passenger seat. What a day. It was New Year's Eve, time to party!
This guy was in the wrong place at the wrong time on the evening of Christmas day 2007. I had hunted hard all season and encountered two big bucks, I'm guessing over 160", but neither one was quite close enough. I had a good season, passing many bucks, some larger than this one, but time was running out. This night was to be my last hunt of the year, so when this guy came walking in around 5 p.m. I decided I'd take him if I could get it all on video. I positioned the camera arm over the corn feeder and the deer cooperated. I made a perfect heart shot, and the deer left an amazing blood trail over the snow before piling up just out of sight.
This is my biggest buck to date. He was taken on November 3rd, 2003. 2003 was the first year Bayes and I looked into hunting the public land on Ft. Riley. We scouted hard the summer before, walking miles and miles of excellent whitetail habitat all suddenly accessible to us. We printed off a series of aerial photographs and taped them together on our wall to create one big map of the area we would be hunting. That summer we found over 20 treestand locations which we trimmed the shooting lanes for. We would carry in our climbing tresstands to any of these 20+ spots marked on our map. Part of our plan was to limit the pressure on our best spots until the big boys were more likely to be on their feet during the daylight. We divided the stand locations into 3 categories: burnout stands, pre-rut stands, and rut stands. While all of our stand locations looked "good", we knew some would be better than others due to the fact that it was a public area and a lot of our spots were along field edges allowing easy access for the public. These we called burnout stands. Those early October afternoons when we just had to get out and try a hunt, these were the places we could go. The next category was pre-rut stands. We allowed ourselves into these stands starting October 20th I believe. These stands were in places we felt like we were a little more likely to get a shot at a big buck. This took care of our remaining locations, except for our two favorites. We each picked a favorite stand that the other guy would stay away from. And neither of us would sit our "rut" stands until November. I saw very few deer that year during October. Our burnout stands were just that, burned out. I couldn't wait until November to sneak into my favorite stand. I finally got my chance the morning of November 3rd. I had class that morning, but a cold front had just moved in and I was going deer hunting. I strapped my climber on my back and walked in the mile and a half to where I thought my stand was. It was dark and I realized I was lost. I didn't recognize anything and was just walking around aimlessly scaring off every deer in the country. As dawn broke I could finally see enough to find my stand, I really wasn't that far off. I climbed up my tree and waited. It was a beautiful overcast morning with a slight drizzle every now and then. It wasn't long until I saw a small buck bird-doggin' a doe around the CRP about 100 yards away from me. As I was watching the action, I heard the leaves crunching to my right as a doe was trotting along the ridge towards me with a big buck in tow. I don't know if they caught my wind or what, but the doe froze and looked right at me before turning down another path out of my shooting range. About fifteen minutes later I was standing up looking around when I looked back into the thick trees to my left and caught the right side of an antler. I could count five points and knew it was bigger than anything I had shot before, so I nocked an arrow and got ready for a shot. When the deer finally stepped out of the trees it was further off than I anticipated and it was quartering away, getting further by the second. I had to wait for it to clear a big tree before I had an open shot. I guessed it to be over forty yards away by the time I could finally shoot, and I thought it was too far and nearly let down my draw. But then a "what have you got to lose" attitude came over me and I put the buck's back rib right between my forty and fifty yard pin and let fly. To my amazement I watched the arrow bury ino the buck's side. The fletching looked pretty far back and I watched the deer run up a hill with its tail down. As it neared the top of the hill I thought I saw it starting to wobble then I saw it's rack disappear. Either it went over the hill or fell down, I couldn't tell. I waited until I stopped shaking before climbing down and walking back to the truck. I wasn't going to push this deer, plus I was gonna need some help getting this thing back to the truck over a mile away. When I got home I got ahold of a few naive buddy's and they came back on the search with me. Double-wide spotted the deer's white belly fur on the side of the hill before we even got back to the place of impact. The three of us walked up to the buck and were all amazed. I knew it was bigger than my first buck, but had no idea it was this big! After I field dressed it, Ben and I each grabbed an antler and started pulling. This thing was heavy! We all rotated on drag duty until we got the buck to the end of a long cut bean field. I decided I could drive my truck in that far so I did. For their efforts Ben and Double-wide were treated to a delicious Sirloin Stockade buffet on me. I got a deal.
For an extended weekend every November, a group of friends have been taking off work or school to get together and head out to western Kansas to drink beer and chase whitetails. This has turned into a tradition that I hope to keep going for years to come. This picture was from the trip that started it all: Saturday November 18, 2006. Goodman and Bayes had taken off work Thursday and Friday and had already been hunting for two days when I arrived Friday night. We discussed strategy for the next morning's hunt. Bayes and Goodman would travel to a piece of land they had permission on about 20 minutes away while I would stay close, then we would all meet up for lunch. I don't recall what I saw that next morning, but I didn't shoot any deer, so I crawled down from my treestand around 11:30 a.m. and headed to the truck. No phone messages yet, they must still be sitting. Finally around 12:30 pm I got a phone call saying they had two bucks hit! Bayes had hit a nice 10 pointer, but was afraid the shot was a little high and noticed he didn't get much arrow penetration. He went over to tell Goodman the news and noticed Goodman was smiling ear to ear. He had just arrowed a deer himself! They quickly found goodman's deer then called me to come help look for Bayes' deer. We spent midday searching for sign but found no blood. I left them two to go back to another treestand for an evening hunt. As I climbed down the hill towards my stand, I noticed other hunters were on the property crawling under the fence and stalking a deer near my stand. I assumed they had permission and didn't want to disturb them ,so I snuck down the hill a ways and set up on the hillside behind a cedar tree. As evening approached I heard a deer coming out of the big draw to the south of me. It passed about 40 yards through some trees as I studied it's rack debating whether or not to take a shot. By the time I made up my mind to try a shot, the deer was past me. I quickly reached for my grunt call to attempt to turn the deer back. A few short grunts caused the buck to make a 90 degree left turn, sending him on a path along the fenceline that would put him about 35 yards straight north of me when he cleared a big cedar tree. I was already at full draw as the buck's rack cleared the cedar, and when his vitals were visible I released the arrow. It was a perfect shot, and I watched the buck fall not 80 yards away! It was an unbelievable Saturday, and we all agreed we'd try to repeat the feat again the following year.
I took this doe on the morning of November 3rd, 2008. Bayes was sitting in the stand with me behind the video camera. It was early November so the rut was just getting started, and we were both anticipating a big buck encounter. However, only small bucks showed themselves that morning; fortunately, this big doe walked under us late in the morning providing an excellent shot opportunity that was all caught on video!
I'm trying to gather up all photos of deer I've shot in the past. I'm not sure if I still have pictures of them or not, so if anyone (Staab) has pics of my deer that I don't have let me know. After each picture there will be a narrative of the details of the hunt that I can remember.