Sometimes extreme weather can work in your favor ... if you can stick it out.
By Greg Gates
For the last 18 years, my passion has been hunting deer in northwest Kansas’ Rooks County. And with access to about 8,000 acres of state-owned and managed hunting lands, plus about 2,000 acres of private property, I have plenty of choices.
For the previous 10 years, my hunting partner, Bob Martin, and I had set up camp in the public hunting area the day after Thanksgiving. But in 2005, we got hit hard by a winter storm that produced 10 inches of snow, with drifts to 4 feet — oh, and 50-60 mph winds. With the wind chill, it was about 20 below zero.
The storm hit Sunday night and lasted until Tuesday afternoon. There were four of us at the deer camp. We usually have 10-20 hunters, but the weather had them waiting for roads to open, so some didn’t even try to come. Eventually, five more hunters showed up, including my buddies who got me started deer hunting: Bob, Artie and Darrell Cornell.
My stepson, David Parrish, and I were in camp during the storm. We ate a bunch of small meals to help stay warm, and we stayed in an old 14-foot camper-trailer built in 1971. We drank plenty of scalding coffee and hot chocolate. All we had was an electric heater and the propane stove to keep us from getting too cold. The Coleman generator outside ran like a champ for two days solid during the storm. It was music just to hear it run.
Opening day was Wednesday, and it was 14 degrees that morning with all that snow. The Saturday before the storm, David and I had set up our stands deep in the timber, mainly because other hunters would normally push the deer to us. But not that year. Because of the snow, most of the deer traveled outside of the timber.
David took a doe early on opening day. It was his first deer! Knowing we had meat, I decided to make it count before I shot anything. I could have taken deer each of the first three mornings, but I was looking for something decent because I had downed three nice bucks over the previous four years.
That Thursday morning, another hunter shot a nice 11-pointer that was walking on the outside of the timber, right by my stand area. I helped him drag the deer out of the woods. My stand and David’s were on the public hunting area; I always set them up there. On the walk-in hunting and private land, I always go in on foot. That’s what happened that Friday night.
I was walking a friend’s private land with Bob Martin and Bob Cornell. The land had two nice creeks and plenty of food and cover. We were all walking the back half, which has a creek in a small canyon with timber all around, thicker in spots. We always run deer out of this place, plus Artie was blocking at the other end.
We started at about 4:20 p.m., and it took about an hour to walk. We started to see deer right away, but they were far ahead of us. We hoped Artie might shoot one, but they ran out the side on us. When the walk ended, I looked back to check the area before leaving. And there was a buck at the top of the ridge in front of some thick timber.
I could tell he was nice, even from 200 yards. My first shot was just barely too far to the right — a clean miss. But the buck didn’t move an inch, so I was able to rest a moment and get the result I wanted. Oh yeah, he was down! It was my best deer ever and scored 177 4/8.
This article was published in the August 2007 edition of Buckmasters Whitetail Magazine. Join today to have Buckmasters delivered to your home.