My favorite week of the year just ended. The 5th annual get together of a couple of friends to go chase whitetails out in West-Central Kansas. This year had a few twists. Aron Goodman, one of the three patrons of Deer Camp, went off and got a real job and didn't think he would be able to attend this year. We needed a third. So we called up hard-core-stand-sittin' Phil Hewins. Phil has become known around the Riley County area for putting in many long hours in pursuit of elusive game, but hardly ever bringing himself to drop the string on anything. The plastic beverage cup glued to his hand around the house all weekend was labeled "No Shoot Phil".
Fortunately enough, Goodman's job mysteriously required him to be in Hays on the Friday of our trip. That made four. The other twist was that the trip was scheduled earlier in November than usual. The usual 15th through 18th of November was now the 4th through the 7th with the hope of getting a pre-rut, cold-front to trigger insane, whitetail chaos all four days.
A weak cold-front did move in Wednesday night, but by Friday afternoon it was gone, replaced by a hot and windy weekend. The usual lunch-time stories about all the action of the morning were much shorter than usual.
Around Noon on Saturday, it was decided that arrows needed to fly. There were plenty of eager hunters around the table, all claiming they'd come through. But it wasn't until I dropped him off on the ridge that afternoon. Not until I watched him move like a prairie ghost across the rolling horizon, that I saw the hunger in his eyes. The hungry eyes of "No Shoot Phil."
I never knew it when I picked him up after the evening hunt. He didn't let on until the rest of us admitted to empty-handed failure that night, that a beast walked out of the forest in front of his stand that night. And the beast went back into that forest holding an arrow.
Phil didn't mention too many details, but under the cover of darkness the story was revealed....
Friday afternoon I finally got the South wind I needed to hang a stand in the West Canyon. This was the canyon I had been getting the biggest bucks on trail camera over the last two weeks. Roll that beautiful bean footage.