November 11, 2018: I set out for Kansas. The objective: Harvest my first archery buck.
It was my 5th trip to Kansas in 6 years. And would’ve been my 6th had I not missed the deadline for putting in for a non-resident tag in 2017. I’ll never make that mistake again!
I arrived in St Paul on Sunday night. The 13 hour drive was exhausting, yet I was anxious to get started hunting. Clint had been sending me photos in the weeks prior of several nice bucks that had been showing up on the trail cameras. I knew my chances of harvesting a mature whitetail were much higher than in previous years and I was confident it was going to happen.
My first morning hunt provided conditions that I’m not use to. Having been born and raised in Alabama, seeing snow on the ground is a little uncommon. Regardless, I was so excited to hunt in the snow that I didn’t realize how cold it was. I saw a lot of deer activity my first morning but no shooters. Still, the scenery was worth it and I was loving every minute of it.
Over the next couple days, I saw a lot of deer. Encounters with multiple shooters in my first two days had me feeling even more confident in my chances of taking a mature whitetail. It was peak of the rut and the chase was on. Rarely did I go 15 minutes without seeing some sort of deer activity. Yet, I still hadn’t had the opportunity that I was looking for.
A few days passed. Temperatures had risen, the snow had melted, and the weekend was here. Clint was off work and still had a tag of his own to fill. We decided to both hunt Saturday morning and self-film. Weather conditions seemed perfect and felt right. I had a feeling one of us would have an opportunity.
7:28 AM: I received the text from Clint, “BBD baby!!!!”
It was still early so I hunted for another hour before I got down to head over and see Clint’s deer.
Clint had been hunting a deer he called Elvis for the past couple years. He had had several encounters with Elvis but was never presented an opportunity. Like most mature bucks, Elvis was unpredictable and didn’t make mistakes.
In 2016, I had my own encounter with Elvis. It was my second to last morning and Clint was filming me. “Here comes a shooter… It’s Elvis.” Immediately every inch of me began to shake. With barely enough shooting light, Elvis was approaching us from downwind. At 30 yards over my left shoulder and only 10 steps away from offering a clear shot, he winded us and was gone.
Although Clint had it out for Elvis, he couldn’t pass on this deer. “I knew if I didn’t take the shot, I might not have another opportunity this season.”
Clint’s deer was the perfect ending to an unforgettable season for him and his family. With his son harvesting his biggest buck ever and his wife taking her first buck with a crossbow earlier in the season, Clint finished it all up with the harvest of a beautiful mature 9 pt.
And as for me, I’m still waiting for my first archery buck. Even though I didn’t fill my tag, I was happy to be in town to take photos and experience the joy from Clint’s harvest.
The harvest is great, but the memories from the adventure and friendships are what keep me going back.
I have the 2019 Kansas spring turkey season to look forward to now!