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Countdown to Kansas

Countdown to Kansas

If you travel that far to hunt, you might as well make every second count.

By Carlo Longobardo

I’m a NYC fireman, and I’ve hunted since I was a kid. I’ve made a lot of memories with my father and family members. Now I’m proudly passing on the tradition to my son and daughter.

This past fall was the second time I headed to Kansas to bowhunt the rut, and I’d literally been in a countdown for a year.

On my first trip the previous fall, I sat in my stand a lot and tried to learn as much as I could. I’d been blown away by how many bucks I saw in one week. In New York where I’m from, we’re lucky to see more than one buck during the whole season.

My cousin Tommy and I hunted with Pocket Holler Haven Outfitters, owned and operated by Dave Chism. He’s a great guy who instantly became like a family member. Tommy and I couldn’t wait to get back to see Dave — and some giant Kansas bucks.

It felt like it took forever for the season to arrive, but once it did, it lived up to my hopes.

Things didn’t seem to go well at first. I had several encounters with shooter bucks during the first four days of the hunt, but I wasn’t able to close the deal.

Then, on Wednesday Nov. 13, I saw a nice buck and another smaller buck around 10 a.m. I did some rattling and grunting to get the bigger buck to come closer, but the small 6-pointer came running instead, while the 14-pointer walked away.

Dave texted me to ask how it was going, and I told him about the big buck. He told me to sit tight, and he’d come to get me at noon.

At 11:50, I saw Dave and my cousin drive by, headed to check on some feeders he had in another spot about 500 yards away. I got all my stuff ready and lowered my bow down to the ground.

At the last second, I decided I’d stay in the stand and wait until they came back, thinking maybe they’d kick up a buck. It wasn’t long before I saw movement about 100 yards away. I knew instantly it was a shooter buck.

As quickly and quietly as I could, I grabbed the rope, pulled up my bow. Next, I quickly nocked an arrow and clipped on the release.

When I looked up, I didn’t see him for a second. My nerves went crazy until he stepped out about 30 yards away. He was sneaking through the woods on a trail I had seen three does use early that morning, but it looked like he was smelling something fresh. He was definitely looking for love.

The trail came to within 15 yards of the stand, and that’s the point I anticipated taking the shot. As the buck stepped behind a tree, I pulled back.

When he entered the opening I was watching, I grunted and the buck skidded to a halt. I immediately let the arrow fly, and he dropped right there.

Telling myself not to count points until he was down for good, I almost lost my composure when I noticed he had a double main beam on his left side. He has 14 scorable points and has a gross score of 185 5/8.

I am thankful to Tommy for inviting me to join him on the Kansas hunt, and to Dave for allowing me on his property. His quiet confidence was what kept me in that stand, alert and ready for that buck-of-a-lifetime opportunity.

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