He was a huge influence in my life, and still is. We hunted together from time to time, and all our conversations focused on the birds and animals I had the chance to hunt. But I have never hunted whitetails, and never hunted in Kansas since the "deer boom" of about fifteen years ago. Everyone knows that whitetail hunting in Kansas is about as good as it gets, and this year I finally got a chance to see what it was all about.
Day two passed with a few sightings and a close encounter with a yearling that has potential. Powder Burns will help him grow to be a stud one day. On Day three it was clear and cold. The morning was slow, but the afternoon had the promise of good weather and buck activity. The only problem was the wind. I did everything possible to kill my scent, and hit the tree on a very bad wind. It was risky – a south wind that took my scent right up the trail these bucks worked all fall. But I was committed to this spot and wanted to make it happen. At 4:30 I got a weird sense that the "witching hour" was upon me. A doe popped up, then a small buck.
And then from behind me, I saw a broken up buck with so much character that I knew I was in business. We had trail camera photos of this guy fighting, and he had the scars to prove it – his right eye guard and G2 were broken off and his back had a deep scar.
He wasn't a giant Kansas buck like you see in the magazines or on TV, but he was a brute. Like so many of those vets commemorated around town, he had battle scars to show what he had been through in his life. I didn't hesitate to draw my bow, and I kept my eyes focused on his shoulder instead of his antlers. He walked in on a trail, I stopped him, and double lunged him at 24 yards. He died about 30 yards away behind a cedar. My hunt was done, and I was a happy man.
I'll be back. I now see why people love to hunt whitetails so much. It isn't easy. It isn't physical. It is a mental fight that I enjoyed very much. Maybe next year I will cross paths with that little buck again, and let him walk. Maybe another bruiser will come out, or one of those giants we all see on the internet. Or maybe I will just quietly sit in a tree stand again and enjoy everything around me and remember to appreciate those before me that gave me so much.