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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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Labor Day Weekend, a weekend where most people are headed to the beaches for the last HOORAH, or planning backyard barbecues; NOT US! I am pretty sure our Labor Day feast will be consumed sitting on the tailgate of Cletus, swinging our muddy boots back and forth, while popping another Pringle potato chip in my mouth all the while awkwardly balancing a ham and cheese sandwich on my knee. We will share taking in the view of a Kansas Ag field off in the distance. This is the life!

We were excited to both get drawn for the Kansas Whitetail Lottery; Mister even got lucky enough to draw a coveted Mule Deer Tag. The day the results were released our room was booked at the hotel and Mister started combing the maps, marking waypoints, researching land topography, creek meanderings, funnels, pinch points, everything important for stand placement.

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Northwest Kansas, one of our favorite places to hunt. This will be our 8th DIY hunt in this little tucked away town where we have grown quite fond of many locals that were born and raised there. A 1,268-mile one-way trip that takes 20.5 hours of straight through driving, a trip that would make most folks squirm in thought but one that builds excitement every state we pass through as we get closer to our destination. It is similar to scratching off a lottery ticket, you never

img_2999A lot of hard work goes into a do-it-yourself hunt and the hunt starts long before the engine ever started on Cletus. This D-I-Y hunt is only 75% the work since we have established land to hunt and are familiar with the area. There is still plenty work to do. We have one farm that we will place some SpyPoint Cameras on that will make scouting from home possible from many miles away. The Spypoint Link-Evo and Link-S use the same cellular coverage as our cell phones and we had pretty good reception when we turkey hunted this property this past spring; so we are hoping for good cellular coverage.

 

There are other properties we plan to scout and glass some in the late afternoons. I want to revisit a spot on public land that I hunted two years ago because I really liked the area; a stand we placed tucked away on the end of an Ag field where deer crossed between the two fields separated by an abandoned railroad track.

img_2995So much land to cover and just one three-day weekend to get it done in. We started this journey at 2:30 p.m. today and will arrive at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow morning. We are one state down and have four more to pass through before we cross the state line into Kansas. A quick stop at the motel to unload Cletus, change into some field clothes, spray down, grab the backpacks, binoculars, cameras, cables, locks, and a few bottles of water and we will lace up our boots and hit the ground scouting.

Wishing everyone a fantastic Labor Day.


FullSizeRenderFor me, this hasn’t been a very successful turkey season. With spending the least amount of time ever spent spring turkey hunting in the woods, my lack of success was to be expected. As I scroll through social media and see all the successful harvests at each of the outfitters that we are traveling more than 15 hours to hunt with, I have high hopes that my luck will change at the two Ladies in Camo turkey hunts we are about to spend the next seven days hunting. Six ladies from four different states are converging upon Misty Morning Outfitters in Kansas to hunt Rio Grand turkey, and four are traveling on to The Roost in Nebraska to hunt Merriam’s turkey.

 

Rebecca

Rebecca’s 1st turkey harvest! Photo Credit: Rebecca Gicewicz

 

Rebecca, from Florida, is traveling with us…asleep in the back seat of Cletus as I type this entry. Kim and Marla are traveling together from Illinois. Sherry and Connie are traveling together from Michigan. None of us “NEW” to turkey hunting, however, this is Connie’s first guided outfitter hunt; this will be Rebecca’s 2nd and 3rd bird and species as she recently harvested her first turkey, an Eastern in Alabama; and Kim and Marla were just in the woods turkey hunting this past weekend.

 

I have been fortunate enough to have hunted some place at a point in time with each of these women, except Connie. I am looking forward to gaining a new hunting friend. It has been nearly eight years since I have hunted with Sherry, who attended my very first hunt I organized. It has been nearly four years since I have hunted with Marla and just last September that I hunted with Rebecca and Kim. I feel blessed to be able to call these ladies friends.

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Kim’s opening day harvest! Photo Credit: Kim Hessing

My plan is to share as much of this hunt with all of my blog followers and subscribers, as well as my social media friends and followers. I will post some contributed blog entries and photos from the ladies attending this hunt if they wish to contribute. Look for stories of our travels, our good times at the lodge, photos and tales from the hunt, and of course, all the shenanigans. Check out the Ladies in Camo and Life in Camo Facebook page, search the hashtags #LICMMO16 and #LICTheRoost16 in social media to keep up with posts from the Ladies in Camo Kansas and Nebraska turkey hunts.

 

2015 Wilcox CountyAs we are rolling through north central Oklahoma, crossing over into Kansas, with just two more hours of travel, my mind is already on the turkey hunt…wishing these ladies the best of luck in the coming days.

I hope we ALL have the opportunity to “dance with a fist full of feathers!”


As our annual hunting pilgrimage to the West comes to a close we can be thankful for the time we spent in the woods enjoying nature. It is always bittersweet when we head back South; thankful to be headed home for a little rest but sad to be ending our adventure.

Unfortunately we are on our way home without a harvest this year, however you can not measure the great memories made. How can one not be thoroughly satisfied sitting 20 feet closer to Heaven with a front row seat to the Show? That is what this journey is all about.

Our 9-day trip started off rifle hunting in Kentucky. After pulling our camera cards we didn’t have anything new so we decided to stay in the stand we had hunted on our earlier trip. We seen 3 young bucks and 6 does during our Saturday hunt. On Sunday, a wind advisory was issued four our area and the wind was absolutely terrible; it was so windy it was a struggle for Richard to pull the cameraman stand we were taking to Kansas with us. We decided to head to Kansas half a day early to bow hunt; leaving Kentucky at noon.

We were excited to be in Kansas—one of our favorite states to hunt. It was really looking good for us since on day one of our Kansas trip, we no longer had Hank unloaded and was on our way to the field to pull camera cards when our first sight was a nice big buck chasing a doe across the field in front of us. Later in the week, I sat in awe as I watched a young 8-point come into our set up looking for a fight after a rattling sequence; not only once but 4 times. On one of our last few days, we watched as a young 6-point approached our decoy in a submissive manner trying everything he could do, short of touching it of course, to get the decoy to acknowledge him.

A nice buck did come up behind us at 60 yards following a doe. I caught a glimpse of a doe over my left shoulder that was on a trail going straight to the field in front of us. I giggle about that buck sighting because of what happened to Richard.

When I spotted the doe, I whispered to Richard letting him know the location of the doe. His cameraman stand was on the right side of me facing opposite of the doe’s location. As soon as Richard seen the doe, we both stood up hoping a buck would be following her. At this vantage point, I saw the buck and I immediately whispered, “Don’t move, buck!” I gave the location of the buck, but Richard never had the opportunity to see the buck; a huge tree with two trunks directly behind us blocked it.

The buck that snuck in behind us but moved on before Richard ever got a look at him.

I tried several times to tell him and to motion where the buck was located without getting busted. All of the sudden I heard Richard’s heavy breathing. Then I glanced slowly over at him and only caught glimpse of his legs…they were shaking. Then I heard the shake in his voice when he asked me if I could still see the buck. I was concentrating on the buck when out of the corner of my eye I saw a few smaller branches shaking on the tree. I could not help but to silently belly chuckle. I could physically feel Richard shaking the tree.

The buck never did produce himself for a shot and when the doe turned back and trotted into the woods parallel to the field, the buck followed walking out of sight. I looked at Richard and said, “He walked out with the doe.” Richard let out some air and sat down. I asked him with a giggle, “You going to be alright.” He laughed and said, “I don’t know why I started shaking and got so excited like that.” He said, “Buck fever, I guess.” I laughed about it a few more times while in that tree that afternoon. I could physically feel and hear his emotion—I don’t know why I didn’t catch it and start shaking myself. What is so odd is he was behind the camera not the weapon and ironically he doesn’t get buck fever behind a gun.

The winds started picking up as the week progressed in Kansas. The forecast was not looking good for the weekend and although our deer camera photos where showing a few promising bucks, we had not seen much deer activity on any of our hunts. With the 25-30 mile an hour wind and the fact we were not seeing much rut activity or deer sightings, we decided to leave Kansas several days early, returning to Kentucky to rifle hunt.

The main frame 8 with G2 kicker while in velvet on one of our cameras set up earlier this year.

Beautiful Kansas main frame 8 with a kicker on his G2 out of velvet a few days before our arrival. This was a photo from Allen's game camera.

A Kansas 10-point that Allen got on his deer cam. This buck had a huge body...

Kentucky proved to have more deer movement, just not the deer we were looking to harvest. Sunday’s rain and thunderstorms found us packing up early and driving home. But before we left, we put out 5 deer cams to do a little scouting for us in hopes of a successful trip during the 4-day Thanksgiving holiday. Yep, that’s right..3 days work at our full-time employment, a night of washing and drying hunting clothes, a 7-hour one-way trip and we will turn around and do this all over again. Some call us crazy. Some say we are obsessed. Others may say we are dedicated–we settle with simply “doing what we love and loving what we do.” Our Life in Camo is not about what we harvest. It is about enjoying the journey and making memories along the way.


What an exciting afternoon. The wind picked up during our afternoon hunt and we had not seen any movement at all. I was beginning to feel let down, unlucky or just plain bored. The afternoon light was quickly fading away and the temperature was dropping noticeably. I had already asked Richard a few seconds earlier if he was ready to call the hunt. He had replied, “Just a little longer.” So I patiently waited.

Just before we started packing up to come down out of the stand, Richard had decided to rattle a little. Shortly after he stopped and was waiting a few minutes to see if it had conjured up any interest, I heard something coming quickly through the woods just over my left shoulder. I whispered to Richard, “I hear something at 7 o’clock.” He nodded. Then I saw it. It was a nice 8 point buck, however, not what I came all the way to Kansas for. We watched as he came in looking for the fight. He walked a half circle around our stand set up. He lost interest and started to walk away, across the hay field.

I grunted and snort wheezed, more out of curiosity than for the dire need to have the buck return. The buck heard the grunt but moved on. The snort wheeze only stopped him for a split second. The buck kept walking away from us.

When the buck was a little over 100 yards away, Richard once again hit the rattling horns. The buck stopped so short, it was comical. It threw its head up, scanning in our immediate direction. It took off at a run back to our stand. The buck walked under our stand and circled it, returning to the hay field and once again started across it.

Richard rattled the horns in a short series and the buck came running in once again, this time to the left of the stand. It walked into the woods behind us and we could hear him rambling for a while before moving on.

I was absolutely amazed as to how the buck not only reacted to the rattling horns, but how it could precisely tell within 10 feet the exact area the sound came from. This was my first experience with rattling horns. This 2.5-year-old buck came in looking for a fight. Ironic, since I know he is not the biggest buck in the area.

Tomorrow we will have a decoy out and this should really be interesting if this young buck is in the area. The low tonight will be in the 20s with a high tomorrow around 46. The rest of the week will progressively get colder so we are looking forward to that. We have gotten several good deer on camera and have seen a few chasing so one can never tell what is going to happen this time of the season. Stay tuned for some updates. Good luck to those hunting this week.

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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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