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This was a good year for hunting NW Kansas for Life in Camo. We were excited to make the draw in this limited non-resident draw unit and even more excited when Richard drew a mule deer tag. Only fifty nonresident mule deer tags were awarded in this unit so he felt that he had won the lottery. We took a trip to the property over the Labor Day weekend to scout ideal stand locations and put up some SpyPoint Wireless Cameras, so we had a pretty good idea of what deer were on the property before we ever left on this trip.

Our first trip was November 3rd through the 12th, which is the time Richard had predicted the rut from research. This year we decided to change-up a few things. We took three Guide Gear 13′ tripods to use instead of taking ladder stands, lock-ons, and climbers. Anyone who has hunted NW Kansas will totally understand our decision for this; finding a straight tree is nearly impossible and when you do find one, having that tree in a spot you need to be hunting is slim to none.

Of course, rut will always bring a myriad of bucks that you haven’t captured on game camera; this is what we found on the first trip. We spent

On Sunday morning, our first hunt, Richard harvested a beautiful 9-point within the first hour of daylight. We actually did have this buck on camera the very next day after we put the cameras up during our September trip. This 9-point weighed 238 pounds on the scale and the taxidermist aged the deer at 6.5 years old by its jawbone. Richard had hoped to hold out for a mule deer but felt he could not pass up on this caliber of whitetail. I surely could not blame him.

Richard’s buck harvested the first morning of our hunt. It weighed 238 pounds and was estimated by his jaw bone to be 6.5 years old.

With Richard filling his tag and being done with his hunting, he had plenty of time to scout and to visit in town with locals. Mojo’s Espresso & Bistro is one of my favorite places for lunch and they make the best Caramel Macchiato I have ever consumed. Richard kept posting photos on his Facebook of his breakfast paninis and steak and cheese sandwiches and of course, I was seeing those as I sat in the stand 10+ hours each day eating tree stand snacks–it was pure torture.

There was more deer traffic at the stand where Richard had killed his buck so I hunted out of that stand. Many of the bucks I saw over the next seven days were more than likely transient bucks and a few that we had game camera pictures of; some of the bucks I saw were phenomenal bucks pushing 160 and better. However, the closest this caliber of buck got to me was 64-yards on the other side of some branches. The bucks were seeking hot does and they had no interest in my buck decoy so I quit putting the decoy up.

Tuesday morning, I actually felt as if I would have an anxiety attack while in the stand. I had bucks in four different directions of varying distances chasing does. I could only explain it to Richard as a bag of popcorn coming apart at the seams in the microwave, I didn’t know which way to look, or set up. The does carried the bucks off into adjacent fields, woods, creek lines and out of sight on pretty much a chaotic run.

Wednesday morning when I reached my stand, the tripod was placed over a half bale of rolled hay, so I laid my crossbow on top of the bale and was tieing it off when I heard a critter of some sort rustling in the tall grass on the other side of the bale. I peeked around and to my surprise it was an adult skunk. I quickly backed up from the bail but now I was in a predicament. Do I hustle up the stand steps or do I back off and give this skunk its time to move on? What if it is about to curl up and take a nap? I didn’t really know what to do but I knew I had about 25 minutes until the sun started to lighten the horizon. Finally, I braved it and I crept up the steps. The skunk eventually moved along and I was able to pull my crossbow up. Whew! That was an intense morning. 

There were a couple really cold mornings that resulted in a lot of deer movement. On one of those mornings, I had ice particles covering my crossbow. I remember thinking how cool that was because we don’t experience this type of weather much in the south. I absolutely loved the cold weather and hunting in it. This was my season wearing Sitka Gear and the new Women’s Whitetail Line offered me a complete system from base layers to a warm, windproof outer layer complete with neck gaiter and toboggan. I was comfortable in the stand from 13 to 72 degrees. Not to mention that the system took less space in my gear bag and it kept me from having to take additional pieces and layers. 

On one of those cold mornings, I watched a solid black domesticated tom cat rolling in the warm sand, dusting itself on the edge of the alfalfa field. I originally thought the black object moving around in the tall grass was another skunk, I was surprised when a huge cat walked out unto the field. It never ceases to amaze me at what I will see in the woods. 

Mid-day Wednesday, I had a situation that I learned a lot from. It was not that comical in the heat of the moment, but afterwards I couldn’t stop giggling. I shared it on Facebook, but for those that don’t have Facebook, I will share that post here:

“This is my first season ever where I have worn bibs to hunt in. I have to admit that I am loving the Sitka Gear Fanatic Bibs and everything about them. But MY STARS, there is absolutely no grace in getting out of bibs when you really, really, REALLY have to go see a man about a dog. Forty yards before I got to my destination I was losing gloves, 2 pairs…then I struggled getting my jacket off for about ten quick-stepping yards, throwing it down in the weeds, about 10 yards from the spot I became delirious for a moment when my right hand and left hand couldn’t figure out if I wanted to zip down the front zipper of my bibs or pull the straps over my shoulders first. As I started to break a cold sweat, it hit me that I still had to finagle some base layers and a HECS suit to be in the clear. A brief panic came over me when I thought, “GUD LAWD, where’s the toilet paper?” And it dawned on me that the small roll was clenched tightly between my teeth. Meticulously gathering up my bib straps in a panic as not to soil them, I glanced out across the field, and I had to giggle, what was staged in front of me was the perfect scene from a movie where a couple comes into an apartment in a hot fit, stripping shoes and clothes on their way to a flat surface… a high-heeled shoe here, a skirt two steps away, a blouse a couple more feet. As I looked out across the field, I saw a glove here, another one there, a mix-match pair close together, fingers blowing in the wind as if waving at me, my jacket sprawled wildly across the unlevel weeds, and somewhere in all that manic chaos, I even lost my toboggan which was laying 10 feet away from me in a briar bush, but hey….I held onto the toilet paper!! Note to self: Give yourself a little more time the next time this issue comes up and you are wearing bibs! Whew!

img_4347-1Later that afternoon, I noticed movement to the right of me and as I looked up a beautiful mule deer was walking by. My heart sank. This buck would have been an amazing mule deer for Richard to have harvested. All I could do is watch it walk by. I took a few photos and as soon as I took the last one I received a text from Richard asking me if I had seen any more deer since he last checked with me. I text back, “You are going to be sick!” and I sent him the photo. He sent a text back that read, “I am happy with what I got.” I knew he really was hoping for a mule deer and I hate that this buck had not visited him in the place of the whitetail but at least he settled for a beautiful mature buck that I sure would have been happy with.

Thursday afternoon I swapped to another stand we had set up on the alfalfa field where I had seen a lot of traffic. Right before sundown, I saw a massive heavy-racked buck walk around a  fence post onto the edge of the alfalfa field in my direction at about 100-yards. I did not have to pick my Hawke binoculars up to see this buck was massive with tall tines and a wide rack. I have to admit I have never experienced buck fever before. Even after shooting some really good bucks from the stand, I just have never experienced the shakes and heart palpitations. I have always felt that I was missing out on something.

Well, that all changed. When I saw that buck and my “OH SHIT!” factor went on high alert, I immediately felt my heartbeat in my neck as I reached for my crossbow. The buck walked down the edge of the alfalfa field and I felt I was going to relieve my bladder, then I felt sweat beads start to form on my upper lip. The buck turned into the woods that led to a dried creek bank behind me. I grunted at him and he didn’t slow up, he was on a mission. I strained to see if he would turn my direction but he didn’t. As I sat my crossbow down I instantly started shaking uncontrollably. I had to plant my feet on the platform solid and put weight on them to keep my legs from shaking, but it didn’t do anything for my upper body. I only had about 10 minutes of daylight left and I was worried about having to descend the ladder shaking like I was. I managed and I was still shaking when I met up with Richard at the creek crossing. I was out of breath telling him what I had just experienced. He asked me if I was going to be alright.

The last two days that I sat in the stand were extremely slow. I spent a total of 57-hours in the stand on this first trip and I passed up on a few decent bucks. I came to Kansas with a personal goal to harvest a 150+ class buck. The buck would need to be unique for me to harvest one less than what I set out. We didn’t necessarily need the additional meat in the freezer and I have been blessed with a couple good Kansas bucks that I enjoy the memories and mounts on the wall, so this was a personal goal I wanted to stick to. I left Kansas that first trip with a tag in my pocket.

Having personally witnessed the incredible bucks that were in this area, and since I still had a tag, we decided that we would come back during the Thanksgiving holidays.

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Teresa McCullough, the owner of Lady Bowhunters on Facebook, shares her experience from this past September’s ladies hunt. Teresa and I have spent all six of the annual hunts at Double Deuce Ranch in Powersville, Missouri owned by the Helbing Family. We have shared some really great times, as well as some lows. Teresa is always encouraging the ladies who join us at the ranch to make the hunt their own and enjoy themselves. Here is Teresa’s

Ladies, if you ever have a chance to hunt at the Double Deuce Ranch, DO IT! This is an annual all ladies bow hunt. This place is absolutely AMAZING! It’s a five-star lodge with comfortable accommodations and delicious meals served family style. The Helbing family make you feel like friends from the moment you arrive. The deer are plentiful and land is breathtaking! The properties have several lakes to fish in on your downtime. We always have a fish fry with the fish that we catch on the ponds. One of the favorites is pizza night at their home that is decorated in African Safari; it’s simply beautiful!

I’ve been hunting at the ranch for six years now and I will never miss a chance of going back. I love this place and often tell people if I run away, you can find me there. Upon arrival at the Double Deuce Ranch, you will be greeted by the Helbing family, who will help you unpack your vehicle and will set you up in a room at the lodge. You can shoot your bows at the range to make sure everything is sighted in for your hunt. They take the time to show each hunter around and to show us our stands and the layout of the land and lakes. Again, it’s beautiful!

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As we all arrive and get to know each other we sit down for a home-cooked meal. The next morning, we begin our hunt. My first morning started out to be a good one. I walked to my stand that first morning in the dark, with all ten flashlights in my pack. Yes, I’m a bit chicken of the dark; but this year felt different. I wasn’t as scared. Now, mind you, I’ve been bow hunting for over 35 years and I still hate the pitch dark, but I am getting better.

As I made my way to my stand, climbed it, and got all set up waiting for first light, I began thinking back at all my hunts here. It sure put a smile on my face. As the sun peeked out, I began ranging my shots. The typical this tree, that leaf…I do this all morning because I forget my yardages. Does anyone else do this? As I sat there I saw deer legs through the trees. I watched them make their way to the food plot. I noticed three deer, one being a fawn, which now left me figuring which doe went with the fawn. As I ranged them again, and again, they made their way closer. By this time I had the big doe at forty yards, and I thought to myself, “that is close enough.” As I settled in and placed the pin on her, I squeezed my release and I let an arrow fly. She ran less than forty yards and dropped in the CRP. I knew she was down and the other two deer assured me she was where I last saw her.

I text Ben and told him I shot a doe. Ben asked, “was it a good hit?” I replied, “yes!” He said he would be there at 9:00. I got my crossbow ready to shoot again, just in case a buck stepped out, but a buck never did. Shortly, I saw the guys coming and as I sat in my stand I explained to Ben and Mike where the doe was the last I saw her. I climbed down to help in the retrieval. They found my arrow right where she stood. The arrow wasn’t covered in blood, in fact, there was very little blood, but from my past shots with a crossbow, it was the same. We began to look for blood and found a lot on the ground. We walked about five more yards and there she was. It is always nice to get your first deer of the season!

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I have been hunting over 35 years, always shooting a compound bow, but when Missouri made crossbow legal last year I decided to buy one. At first, I hated it, because I could not pull it back to cock it, my groupings were awful. After getting a new scope, custom blots and a crank to cock it, I am much more comfortable with it now. A love for hunting doesn’t mean that you or I have to shoot a compound, a recurve, a long bow, a crossbow, or a gun. It is your choice of the weapon you choose. That is not what makes us a hunter, it is YOU! All the time spent on practice, food plots, hanging stands, the list goes on. So ladies, don’t get discouraged, we all miss and sometimes wound an animal. That’s not what we want, but it happens. Get back out there and keep at it. Never let anyone say you can’t do something because YOU CAN! We are all hunters and proud!


Next year’s hunt is already on the calendar, the dates are September 13-19, 2018, the hunt is $1,100 and includes lodging, meals, and all the pond fishing your heart desires. The license is $225 and includes a buck, a doe, and two turkeys. A 50% deposit is all it takes to hold your spot. There are eight women signed up for this hunt with a few spots available. If you are interested or need additional information, please contact Nancy Jo Adams at turkeygypsy@gmail.com. Come join us for an amazing hunt and a lifetime of memories.


I have had the opportunity to share hunting camp several times with Christy Turner. We share memories of two hog hunts in Mississippi at Bubba Ledbetter’s hunting camp; the first annual and second annual ladies hog hunt.  We shared turkey hunting camp in Oklahoma hosted by Carlee Smith. Tommie Lee Clanton hosted a deer hunt in Mississippi that I snuck in on; what great memories we have. This hunt was not any different. Here is Christy’s story.


Dear Diary…

It all started Wednesday morning, right after I had dropped my kids off at school. I made a mad dash home trying to do a hundred things at once so I could get on the road. I was sweeping floors, washing dishes, putting up clean laundry, bought extra toilet paper, bread, milk, cereal, dog food, and cat food. There! The husband, kids, and pets should have the essentials for the week that I will be gone. Finally, over packing the truck with all the hunting gear I own. I cranked the engine, plug the address into the GPS, and in eight hundred and four miles I should reach my destination. I turned the air-conditioning on full blast as I start down my driveway; because now I am a hot mess. Henderson County Texas was in the mid 90’s already before noon. I’m ready to travel north, and to hunt a Monster Missouri Buck!

My cell phones GPS got me all the way to Powervilles Missouri and informed me I had arrived at my destination, 140th street. I knew I must have a little further to go down 140th. I took a left on what looked like a hidden driveway. I wasn’t sure if I was pulling up to someone’s house or driving down a caliche road. Since I didn’t pull up to a residence, I just followed the road around corners, up and down hills, across bridges and railroad tracks. At the top of one of the hills to the left was a black pipe entrance that read, “Double Deuce Ranch come as guests and leave as friends.” I finally made it!” I pulled down the long driveway with rolling pastures and fields on either side.

I was greeted as soon as I stepped out of the truck by Ben and his brother Jacob. Then by their father and owner Mike. They were super friendly and polite and insisted on grabbing all those bags I packed and had me follow them into the lodge. Inside was Mike’s wife, Karen, and the other six ladies that I would be sharing camp with. We all introduced ourselves and gave each other hugs. This was the beginning of our lifelong memories being made on our new adventure together.

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My alarm clock went off that next morning, and I jumped straight up as if it were Christmas morning and I was five years old. Everyone was already in the kitchen sipping coffee, and we were all ready to head out for our first hunt. The excitement and positive energy in the room were contagious and so refreshing to absorb. Ben dropped me off at the gate that leads down to the tree stand I would be sitting in. I didn’t even need to turn on my flashlight I could see the freshly mowed path with the moonlight. I walked straight to my stand and climbed up and got all situated. I had taken my binoculars and rangefinder out of my backpack and had them sitting on the seat next to me. The sun was just starting to come up, but it was still too dark for my rangefinder to pick up any distance or for me to even read the range.

 

As I looked up from my rangefinder, a buck appeared looking right at me. I was straining so hard in the darkness to make out if he was a mature and legal buck. As I was squinting and straining my eyes, he began to walk straight to me! I was frozen in place as he walked all the way to the bottom of my ladder trainbridge (2)stand and looked right up at me! I was able to go, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight and possibly a nine pointer and definitely a legal buck to shoot. As I sat there still frozen in place, he walked maybe ten yards away and turned broadside. Oh my gosh, could this get any better for the most perfect shot ever.

My mind was running a hundred miles an hour. What should I do? This was a nice buck, my very first hunt in Missouri; I had the whole week left to hunt. Don’t pass up a buck on the first hunt that you would shoot on the last, ran through my mind. I decided to make a decision, and I did not shoot. I just sat there staring back at him and thinking how amazing this hunt was already. It seemed like 15 minutes of us staring at each other motionless, he turned his head and walked off into the woods. I could finally move and take a deep breath. I text Ben telling him how excited I was, and that I had just seen a great buck. The sun finally appeared big and bright, and I had several doe and fawns walk in front of me. It was a great first hunt at the Double Deuce!

filmbuckEach time I went out to a stand, there was a lot of action going on. I had seen a monster buck through my binoculars, but he ranged in at a hundred and fifty-seven yards. I did not doubt in my mind he was a shooter buck! My heart started pounding, even though he was that far away. I was hoping and praying he would make an entrance and walk past me in the bottom of the creek that I was hunting. He never did, but the image of him plays over and over in my mind. I passed up several nice eight pointers within twenty yards of me because I was hopeful to see that monster buck again. I kept thinking to myself, I can shoot a nice eight pointer back in Texas. This was Missouri I was hunting, and I wanted a monster Missouri buck!

My last evening hunt, that phrase came back to me; Don’t pass up a deer on the first morning that you would shoot on your last hunt. Maybe I should have shot that nice eight on the first morning hunt. But you know if I would have that monster buck would have walked out in front of me at twenty yards and stood for fifteen minutes broadside, and I would have probably cried. Nothing had come out in front of me, and I could hear several Turkey going to roost for the evening. I thought man, my last hunt and I’m not even going to see a deer; I had so much action all week.

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Then all of a sudden through the window of the trees I see two, yes two monster bucks walk out of the tree line. My heart is already pounding before I even get my binoculars up. I can just tell they are shooter bucks without a doubt! My face mask was getting in the way, and I thought I just need to range them instead of taking my time to look at them through the binoculars. Seventy-six yards, the biggest of the two is in front at a steady walk up the hill. The second one stopped to graze for a few minutes. I was getting all prepared, hoping they would make their way to me or even come in behind me, I was ready. Finally, the second buck walked up the hill out of my view, and neither of them made their way to me.

I got down from my stand as it had gotten dark while I was waiting on those bucks to turn and make their way to me. I guess they kept going straight. My knees felt weak, and my heart was still full of excitement of just seeing those monster bucks. Ben picked me up and I learned that Rebecca shot a good eight pointer! We were on our way to pick her and her buck up! Rebecca made a perfect shot, and it was an easy recovery of her deer. I was so happy to be there to share in her success and excitement.

selfieMy last night in the Double Deuce lodge made me sad that I was going to have to leave in the morning. Mike, Karen, Ben, Jacob and the staff were so amazing. I felt so thankful that I got to meet this wonderful family. Everyone was so kind and hardworking. They were so respectful to us ladies and made sure we were well taken care of. I think I gained ten pounds from the delicious homemade food we ate all week. I am so grateful that Nancy Jo told me about this opportunity, it has been several years since I shared hunting camp with her and it was so nice to visit with her and catch up. Meeting the other ladies in camp, I know I have made lifelong friends. Getting to know each of the ladies on this hunt was very profound. I feel like God gave me this opportunity to meet some really amazing people and each one of them have truly inspired me. This wasn’t just a deer hunt; this was a rejuvenating, inspiring, blessed week that I will have with me for the rest of my life.

With a very grateful and full heart,
Christy Turner

 


Our trip started off with a low tire when we left home this morning. Cletus had evidentially picked up a bolt on a job site the previous day and we were not going to be able to make the one-hour commute into work without adding some air until we could get Cletus by Don Duncan’s All-American Tire. Nathan Woodring quickly assessed the situation, located and removed the bolt, patched the Cooper S/T Maxx-Armor-Tek3 tire, put it back on Cletus in record time. It was a relief that Mister found the bolt and the computer on Cletus told us we had an issue before we started out on this trip.

I can’t say that the workday crept…it was 3:30 p.m. when I finally was able to take a minute to evaluate the amount of work I had left to do versus the amount of time I had left in the “concrete jungle.” The last 1.5 hours flew by! As Cletus’ diesel motor turned over and started purring, we found ourselves strategically placing the last few items we had left to load in the cab of the truck. Snacks directly behind the console, bag of ice in the cooler behind my seat, a roll of paper towels behind the driver seat headrest, my computer bad at my feet…it all becomes second nature when you have shared over 450,000 miles on the road hunting together over the last 10 years.

The fancy box in the dash where the crazy lady lives!

I plugged in our destination into the square box mounted in the dash, Big T Motel in Tarkio, Missouri, and the “crazy lady that lives in that box” politely told us that we would reach our destination 14 hours from the current time. We were on our way!

One of our favorite authors, James Patterson.

 

 

 
I have spent many hours in the passenger seat typing, editing, uploading photos and even paying bills, shopping on Amazon. Some time in this 14 hour stretch, I have some typing for a women’s boot article that needed to be completed. But first, i was responsible for the entertainment of the evening. I put an audiobook on, James Patterson’s 11th Hour, and cranked up the sound and we were settled in for the long haul.

 

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One of our favorite snacks on the road; Club Crackers, squeeze cheese, & Wisconsin Beef snack sticks. 

After a stop for fuel at the Love’s truck stop, it was time for a snack. We have eaten many meals in the cab or on the tailgate of our truck–I have to admit, we have shared some of our favorite meals together there. Tonight, captain wafers, cheddar can cheese and jerky snack sticks. Okay, maybe not the healthiest of all snacks but surely much better than some of the alternatives while on the road.

Catching up with friends on social media is probing that this unseasonably warm weather is putting a damper on deer movement. We can only pray that we made the right decisions on the dates we picked and have chosen some good ground to hunt. This is what makes Do-it-Yourself hunts exciting; you never know what will unfold on the trip. As we made our way through Nashville, I can feel my shift at the wheel coming up in a few hours so I better catch me a nap. If you are hunting this weekend/week, good luck to you, safe travels and remember to ALWAYS wear a safety harness.

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I figured the new snow was deserving of a homemade hot chocolate with real milk, Hershey Chocolate, canned Whip Cream, and a few marshmallows! Meetu thinks it might be something for him. Let the sugar coma begin. #Meetu It's chronic.... #LifeinCamo doesn't hunt without @ozonicshunting! #OzonicsHunting Good Morning & Happy Black Friday to all those brave enough to go shopping today! It's a brisk 40 degrees here in Kansas and the wind is supposed to pick up and get pretty brutal, but I will be hanging tough like a Black Friday Shopper! #SitkaGear #LifeinCamo Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!! #lifeincamo
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