By Tanner Oliphant
-- It was Nov. 22, 2006, the day before Thanksgiving and the Kansas archery season began. I arrived into my home town of Dodge City, Kan., late the night before. I had a few days break for the holiday from guiding archery hunts in the state of Illinois.
As my alarm clock sounded that morning, I was still unsure of which stand I was going to use at my family's farm. I had hung several stands that spring, and after checking the weather and wind direction, I made my decision. I was going to sit in the stand that I had hung on the inside edge of a mile-long shelterbelt that ran parallel with a regularly traveled dirt road, which was no wider than a three-lane road.
The stand looked over a cut milo field and the surrounding trees provided good cover. Most people would think I am crazy to hunt a section of woods so close to a road, but I knew that it was a major hangout for does. There was always good buck sign along the edge of the field also.
I arrived to the property a little late, and it was a race with the sun to see who could get into the air first. As I climbed into the stand, I didn't bust any deer out of the field and did not hear anything blow, so I figured I was in good shape. I knocked an arrow and hung my bow on my hook. Just as I was hanging my pack and trying to get my rangefinder out, I heard something running fast through the field headed in my direction. I grabbed my bow and attached my release to my loop. As my eyes focused on a doe running full speed through the milo stocks, I figured a buck had to be not far behind!
Sure enough, trailing another 40 yards behind the doe was a nice 140-class 10-pointer. Certainly a buck any bowhunter would be proud to put their hands on.
I did not have time to range the buck, and trying to judge distance in an open field is tough for any hunter, especially in a low light situation. I drew my bow and figured the buck was about 35 yards away, so being unsure of the distance I placed my 30-yard pin on its heart. That way if the buck was closer than I thought I would get lung and if I was right on I would be in the heart.
I let out a loud grunt and the buck came to a dead stop broadside. I touched off the trigger and watched my lighted nock fly through the crisp, cool air dead-on with the buck's heart. At a heartbreaking last second, I watched the lighted nock fly right under the buck. At that moment, I knew the buck was farther than I had suspected. I walked out into the field and realized I had just missed taking a nice buck.
Disappointed and tired from the late night and early morning, I wanted nothing more than to go home and go to bed. However, I only had a few days to hunt Kansas, and with the rut being in full gear, I had to climb back in that stand and stick it out. As the morning passed and the sun started to get high, I had a few does pass in front of my stand. Around noon, a 115-class 8-pointer made a scrape in front of me just 15 yards away, but that was not the class of deer that I wanted to take. I just sat back and enjoyed the show. I rattled off and on throughout the early afternoon with no results. The only thing that passed my stand was the sound of farm trucks and tractors.
Suddenly, I caught movement from the corner of my eye. It was massive buck crossing the field toward the shelterbelt. I grunted at the buck and snorted at it, trying everything I could to get him into bow range. The buck stopped and grunted back at me but then entered the tree line about one 100 yards to my right.
I was disappointed again but excited know that a buck of that magnitude was in the area. It gave me hope. I hung my bow back up and sat down, it had been about two hours since I had seen the monster and figured that he had moved on in search of a hot doe. But I had been glancing over my shoulder frequently in the direction that the buck had entered the tree line. Then, to my amazement I looked over my shoulder once more and saw that same buck walking right along the tree line in my direction.
The tree that I was sitting in was wider than my body so I knew that when he was behind the tree. I had to stand up, grab my bow and draw it back in that short window that he would not be able to see me. The second that his head disappeared behind the tree, I went into action, making my move as quickly and as quietly as possible.
As I stood there at full draw, those few seconds seemed like an eternity, not knowing if I had spooked the giant. Finally, the buck's rack came into view. The buck took a few steps and was in my shooting lane.
I let the arrow fly. It connected right in the vitals of this 12-point non-typical Kansas brute. It ran down the tree line about 40 yards, and I heard it crash into the trees.
This hunt had some ups and downs, but it ended perfectly. If I would not have sat all day, I would have probably spooked this buck coming back into the stand that evening. I also use this hunt as the perfect example that you do not need to hunt big woods to hunt big whitetails.
Dodge City, Kansas