The application deadline came and went almost three weeks ago. I called last week and was told successful applicants would be notified soon by mail, so I waited. Monday, nothing, yesterday, nothing and again today nothing and I had used up what little patience I had, so I called again. The gal on the other end of the line said “I can look up your name and see,” and lo-and-behold, another item on my bucket list is in my sights; WAHOO, I drew a Kansas Antelope tag for this year!
Kansas Antelope tags are awarded through a lottery process, and there are MANY more applicants each year than there are tags. If you apply and are unsuccessful you are awarded one preference point, and each unsuccessful application gets you another preference point. This means that when they apply again the following year, your preference point puts you one small step above every new applicant with no preference points, and will be awarded a tag before someone who has no preference points. Preference points can be purchased as such, and that was what I was advised to do for the first few years rather than apply in the lottery. In summary, each year for the past four years I have purchased a preference point toward an antelope tag, and this year, with four preference points to my account, I finally applied for the tag and was successful. That was the easy part, now comes updating my hunting equipment, and hardest of all, finding a place in western Kansas to hunt.
My deer rifle has always been an older model .270 caliber with a 4-power scope that has harvested many Kansas deer, but considering that many shots at antelope are upwards of 200 yards, I want to upgrade to something a bit more dependable at that distance. I also want to buy a range finder, something I’ve looked at for years but just haven’t felt the need to have. When purchasing any expensive piece of gear for the first time, I recommend going to area outdoor stores where you can physically see and touch the rifle, etc. then go home and get on the internet and look at reviews of the gear, as there are more websites offering reviews of outdoor equipment today than Bruce Jenner has identities. I went to a couple local reputable outdoor stores, and both let me take range finders out into their parking lot and try them out.
The area open to antelope hunting in Kansas is bordered by Interstate 70 on the north and runs south to the Oklahoma border. It stretches eastward to just past WaKeeney and westward to the Colorado border. It encompasses three big game hunting units, numbers 2, 17 and 18. Tags are designated for a specific unit, and my tag is for unit 2, the northern most unit containing the towns of Sharon Springs, Oakley, Trego Center, Scott City and Tribune. I feel fortunate to have a possible connection that may help me find landowners who will let me hunt; my niece graduated from Colby Community College last spring, and through her and her friends from there, I was given a list of landowner names and phone numbers from that area. I’ll begin calling this weekend and see how that pans out. Other ways to find land on which to hunt that far away are to call out there and talk to the conservation officers from the unit you’ll be hunting or to the extension agents in the counties of that unit. Either of those folks should know landowners that might allow you to hunt. I have also heard of guys going out there a few days ahead of season, and buying plat map books of a couple counties to get land owner names and contact information, or just simply driving the countryside and knocking on doors.
Anyway, I have a 2016 Kansas Antelope tag. Opening day of Kansas Antelope season is October 7, and it runs for only 4 days, through October 10. I’ll work at getting land to hunt and probably take a trip out there in August or September to meet landowners and get the lay of the land. I’ll update my rifle and get it sighted-in for 200 yards, and buy a range finder. Anyway you look at it, win, lose or draw, it will be another adventure in Exploring Kansas Outdoors!
Steve can be contacted by email at [email protected]