Last year I set out to fill a Kansas Mule deer license in an area that I had never hunted before. I was uncertain of what to expect but I knew that it would be an adventure regardless of the outcome. I was looking forward to the challenge. None the less I wanted to harvest the most mature buck I could find. My game plan was to get familiar with this property, do some looking around, set up my trail camera, and possibly put the sneak on a nice buck.
It wasn’t’ long before I saw several does off in the distance only to look back and find several more deer walking right through where I had planned on camping. After watching both groups of deer for a while I moved down the valley a little ways and watched a couple bucks come into the fields where they would bed down. I decided to make a move on these bucks and I figured it would be a great opportunity to place my trail camera. Even though I was not able to get an arrow in either one of these bucks I had a great time and spent the rest of the weekend playing cat and mouse with these deer.
It was a couple of weeks before I could make it back out. I was anxious to see what was waiting for me on my trail camera. As I made my way a mature buck came walking out and I knew right then that this was the buck I was looking for. He made his way into the field and I watched his antlers disappear into the tall grass. Without question, I was going to put a stalk on this buck. After getting the wind in my favor I closed the distance. I saw his antlers just as he saw me and stood up out of his bed. As I came to full draw and prepared to settle my twenty-yard pin my string came off the cams. My stomach sank as I watched this beautiful deer run away. With my tail tucked between my legs, I headed home.
Another week or so went by before I was able to get back out to the farm. The buck had moved across the farm and was in a much better area for a spot and stalk hunt. After making my way through the breaks I was within a couple hundred yards of this old monarch but had no way of closing the distance any further so I backed out and came in a different way and positioned myself on a pinch point. I was going to wait this buck out. My plan was going perfectly. The does he had been chasing were going to bring him right in front of me. I saw a doe out of the corner of my eye, and she was only a few yards away. Pretty soon the second doe was on the other side of me just as close. I thought this was it, he was going to show himself any moment. But he never did. He had followed another doe and was chasing her around on the next hillside just teasing me.
I was chomping at the bit to get back and try again. This time I spent the morning getting into position on this bedded buck in hopes for an opportunity. I sat quietly for the remainder of the day waiting for them to stand up and move in on me. As the deer started to make their way to me a doe came around the corner and had me picked out right away. I held tight and sure enough here came the big buck that I had been waiting for just fifty yards away. Only presenting a frontal shot at first and a doe stomping the ground just to my left he turned broadside but I held tight. I knew if I drew back the doe would blow out of there and he would be gone. I sat there with my heart pounding as I watched him slip out of sight yet once again.
It was opening weekend for rifle season now and my license was good for any deer any season. I had been coming out to the farm on the weekends for nearly three months in pursuit of this buck. I spent the night in the Sawtooth for the last time. Because I had spent the last few months playing chess with this buck I had a pretty good idea of where I needed to be when the sun came up. Shortly after first light I had this deer in my crosshairs and squeezed the trigger. It only took one well-placed shot to put this buck on the ground. I had finally filled my tag and harvested this beautiful buck that I had been trying to close the deal on for months now and couldn’t have been happier. Happily I spent the next few hours quartering and packing out this deer.
I was super excited that I had finally put all the pieces of the puzzle together on this hunt. But at the same time, I was also a bit somber that the hunt was over. I almost felt a bit conflicted with my emotions. Because I had come to know this majestic old warrior and had spent so many days watching this buck. I was also extremely thankful to have a full freezer and be out hunting deer. Hunting a new area doesn’t come easy and definitely has its ups and downs. But in the end when it comes full circle one feels very accomplished.