Wrenches in the Plan

Exploring Kansas Outdoors

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This year’s 2023 deer firearms season opened bright and clear Wednesday beneath a beautiful full moon, and was as calm a morning as you will ever find here in Kansas, USA. That may be great stuff for the pages of a calendar, but not so much for deer hunting. And to top it off, from the time I stepped out of the pickup onto the ground, every step I took in the frozen, crusty, leftover snow, sounded as though I was walking in a giant vat of Rice Crispies. There was no way around it and nothing to do but navigate the couple-hundred yards to the blind as fast as possible. I plopped down into the chair in the blind, thinking that after all that racket, plus the magnificent calendar-worthy full moon making me gleam like an angel to a pair of deer eyes (probably my only chance at that) no self-respecting deer would now be left in the entire township. And then, because the next couple days were supposed to be well above freezing and possibly rainy, melting the crusty snow and thawing the ground beneath, making it impossible to get in to collect a downed deer, I wasn’t enjoying the beautiful morning as I should. My prayer was to harvest a deer this first day so I could relax and enjoy the rest of the week.

In the field behind the blind, terraces were being reshaped by a grader and a big scraper, but my sister estimated the guy didn’t begin each day till about 8 AM. Thinking back over the years, I felt OK with that, remembering that morning deer will probably have shown themselves by then, so the noise and presence of the big equipment shouldn’t spook them. I opened the front window of the blind and sat back to listen to Creations sounds as the day slowly unfolded. It was barely 7 AM, with just enough morning light to identify features on the ground, when a pickup pulled into the field behind and the big diesel motors of the excavation equipment fired up. They were a few hundred yards behind and to the right of the blind, but I still worried the commotion would deter the deer from taking their morning stroll past the blind. Add that to the grand entrance I made getting to the blind, and my confidence for a successful morning hunt fell into my boots.

As I sat and stewed over all the apparent wrenches being thrown into my morning deer hunt, movement to my left caught my eye, and into view nonchalantly strolled, and I do mean strolled, two bucks. One was young with about a four-point rack, the other was a little bigger with a nicer, taller rack of 6 or 8 points. As

they grazed their way across in front of the blind, movement again caught my eye to my left, and a much bigger deer with a good heavy rack came into view. He moseyed along, rubbing his forehead on some tree branches and eventually joined the other two; none of them were at all concerned about the heavy equipment. I clicked off the rifle safety, and after a 15-minute wait for the big guy to give me a good, safe broadside shot, I harvested him. I drove around to about where I figured I’d shot him, but couldn’t see him amidst the tall milo stalks. I found and followed a good blood trail for 40 yards until it ended abruptly. As I stood there scratching my head, I turned to look around me and nearly fell backwards over the big buck laying in the milo stalks behind me. My sister and I have loaded many of my deer by ourselves, but we had to get the guy running the equipment to help load this one. He is the heaviest and probably oldest deer I have ever shot.

This experience gives credence to the belief that deer here in farm and ranch country are not as leary of farm equipment and vehicles as we would think. I remember my dad telling us about a deer that once stood nearby and watched him as he ran a chainsaw. So, rather than warming my seat in the deer blind on this frosty, foggy Saturday morning, stressing about things I can’t control, here I sit in my office tapping away at the computer while my deer hangs at the processor’s; it doesn’t get any better than that! Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors!

Steve can be contacted by email at [email protected]

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