Today is the last day of my 2018 Kansas deer hunt. It’s been a good year here, I’ve seen lots of deer and have had a few adrenaline surge highs but have not been able to put it all together on a big one. I try to keep track of what I see, and here are the results. I have hunted 10 days here in Kansas and have recorded seeing a total of 87 deer. I saw 38 bucks and 49 does. Of the 38 bucks I have seen, I estimate that 27 were either yearlings or of unidentifiable age. 8 were two or three year olds and 3 were four years old or older by my estimation. Of all the deer I saw about a third were in bow range for me. I usually carried a good camera and photographed many of them, but I always reached for my bow first on any deer that might be of the size or age that I was looking for. Two days ago I drew back on one, a very nice mature buck standing broadside at 25 yards, but there was a small tree in the way that made the shot too risky. When he left he walked straight away, no shot there either.
But my best chance came early on. A monster buck came past me from a totally unexpected place. He was a massive heavy body buck with a great rack on what looked like too small of a head and a neck that looked as big as his chest. Clearly a mature buck. I missed a standing 15 yard broadside shot at him when my lower bow limb hit a close branch in the tree that I was in. It was the best chance I’ve ever had at a big buck. The arrow landed at his feet and he didn’t seem to even care. That one will haunt me for a long time. I didn’t get him but the rush was well worth it. Am I disappointed? Of course, but less than you might expect. My real disappointment continues to be with the way the deer herd is managed in my home state of Minnesota.
A hunt like I’ve had this week here in Kansas is virtually unheard of back home unless you are lucky enough to manage hundreds of acres or more of land and are willing to rigidly control access in order to protect the younger bucks. I call it the ‘Wisconsin Plan”. The place I’m hunting here in Kansas is 240 acres. I share it with two other bowhunters. The lands around it are heavily hunted as well. And the deer hunting is great.
But the opening day of their gun season doesn’t start for a few weeks yet, unlike Minnesota’s peak-of-the-rut gun hunt that started November 3rd this year. Our two shotgun seasons and our muzzleloader seasons will continue until mid-December. This monumentally stupid Minnesota plan annually overshoots the bucks and undershoots the does. That is not an accident…it was designed to do exactly that! Farmers in my area suffer from an overpopulation of deer, mostly does, and hunters see too few mature bucks. Both of these things are a direct result of the way the Minnesota deer managers manage the deer in Minnesota and especially in the SE part of my state. Because of this, many hunters are losing access to hunting lands as those who own or control those lands try to protect “their bucks .” This method of private management, the Wisconsin Plan, has become very popular and common in our state. This is why so many hunters like myself take our Minnesota dollars and spend them in Kansas, Iowa or elsewhere. But enough of that for now. If you want to see a few of the deer I saw and photographed in Kansas check back in a couple days and I’ll post a few of them. And sorry about my rant about Minnesota’s deer management structure. Every time I hunt Kansas or Iowa I come back home mad as hell that deer hunting in Minnesota can’t reach its full potential, or even be better than it is. It’s called tradition.
Enjoy the photos.
November 18, 2018