Boss Of The Farm
Hunting Kansas Whitetails
By: Wesley Speake
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of AVID Hunting and Outdoors Magazine. Wesley tells a great story about his experience hunting big Kansas whitetails! Subscribe to AVID at the bottom of the page to get stories like this delivered right to your inbox!
Sitting on top of the kitchen counter, drinking coffee, I somehow knew this morning it would all come together. But, then again, I think that before any sit in the deer woods of Linn County, Kansas. This was our third day hunting Kansas whitetails, and I had seen some decent deer. I had driven eight hours to get here so I was looking for a special buck. My friends, who made the drive from East Texas with me, had already enjoyed encounters with shooter bucks. No shot opportunities, but encounters, nonetheless.
This morning, I was climbing into a new set, with five known shooters on the farm. Three ten points, ranging from 155”-175”, and two “really big eight points” that I never saw pictures of. The temperatures were in the low 40s, overcast, and the northwest wind was about 10 mph right in my face. How could this NOT be the day?
My guide, JP, walked me into the set that morning. As he walked away, he asked me to text when I need to bring the mule. These are the same words he says every time he drops me off in the woods. He has hunted the area since he was young and he too, knew its potential for producing the whitetail buck of a lifetime. Between JP, his brother, Pat, and their dad, they have arrowed 25 Kansas whitetails that measured 200”+ in Linn County. Knowing this is one of the most exciting things about hunting Kansas whitetails; literally any moment you may encounter one of these monarchs.
There was a small, eight acre soybean field behind my stand which was affixed snugly to the tallest tree on the hedgerow. To my left were very thick bedding areas, and a “two ruts in the grass” road that ran in front of my stand tree. This was the corridor the deer were using to travel to the large soybean field to my right which was probably 40-50 acres or so. This area had recently been mowed and held scattered locust trees.
As I settled into my tree, going through the rituals of putting an arrow on the string, etc., I glanced ahead and saw two deer browsing their way through the grey morning light into the bean field to my right. About the time they hit the field, three more does came off the road and followed suit of the ones that came through before them. Keeping an eye on the road, I saw the nose of a deer rounding the bend toward me. Then, I saw heavy, white beams, coming all the way to the tip of his nose. Following that, a massive, testosterone filled neck. At that point, I had seen all I needed to see, and slowly reached for my bow.
With my bow in my left hand and binoculars in my right, I watched the buck coming toward me on the almost non-existent road. Trying to stifle my jitters from an increase in heart rate, I could see his left eye was swollen shut. With a busted right beam, and a face covered in scars, he just looked tough. He was “the ringer”, “the man,” the one that decided which bucks got to stay on the property and which ones needed to find a new home ground. And yet here he was, slowly browsing his way toward me.
My concern now was that I could hardly see my pins in the still grey light. I even had an opportunity, broadside, with his swollen-shut eye to me, at 21 yards, but in fear i wouldn’t be able to see through my peep sight, or see my pins well, I rolled the dice, in hopes for another opportunity in a few minutes. He was happily browsing, and the wind was hitting me in the face at 10 mph. He had no clue I was there. No sense of rushing anything at this time. Plus, a little time to control my heart rate and Buck Fever didn’t hurt, either.
After a few minutes passed, a smaller buck tried to slip past him and get to the soybean field. The bully that he was, he wouldn’t just let that slide. He pushed the smaller buck into the field, letting him know that he’s not allowed anywhere close to where he is browsing at the time. Little did the old buck realize, this show of dominance and aggression had just put him at fifteen yards from my stand, in the open, and even slightly quartered away. His good eye was peering my way, so I moved very, very slowly. All I needed was for him to look out into that bean field, and check out the other deer. Just one look away, and I’d have closed the chapter on this Kansas hunt…
I don’t know about you guys, but I have a bit of a blackout moment at the moment of truth, it all happens so fast! Emotions soar, the heart races, and all the hours of practice, preparations, scouting come to that one exact moment in time. The primal, inborn instincts to hunt, all crammed into a 3-5 second period. It’s hard to describe, but I really don’t remember small details until several minutes after the shot.
After getting my anchor point, settling my pin on its spot, and touching the arrow off, I heard the oh so familiar cracking of ribs, and the slam of the arrow back into the earth on the pass through. He gave a small kick, dropped his tail, and made a break for the soybeans. After about 40 yards, he decided to cut up the road instead of continuing toward the field. Then, slowing stopping, and shortly after tipping over to his death.
All the emotions REALLY come to full effect at this moment, at least for me, especially knowing that not only did I just take the oldest buck on the farm, but, I gave him the honor of a fast, clean death. My Kansas giant is down, and I can’t wait to get my hands on him. After a few minutes of self-celebration and appreciation, I was finally able to text my friends, family and of course, finally getting to text JP, “Bring the mule, he’s down in the road”. That was possibly the most satisfying text of my hunting career.
Getting out of the stand and walking past the most perfect, blood red, arrow I’ve ever seen, I got to finally lay my hands on my Kansas brawler. Coming from East Texas, a mature buck weighs around 160ish pounds. Walking up on this buck was quite an experience. This deer weighed 270 pounds! The mass in the neck, shoulders, and hind quarters was so impressive, but standard for these Kansas whitetails. What can you say about sitting behind a six-and-a-half year old animal? The satisfaction of a hunt that finally came together with a well-placed arrow on a high caliber animal is the reason I drive eight hours every year to hunt with Wicked Outfitters.
I celebrated with JP, Clint, and Whitney, for about an hour, and then took a bunch of photos. After the celebration, we loaded him up and got back to the lodge. His headgear only carried 140” of antler due to breaking the beam, and some symmetry issues, but I couldn’t be happier with my buck. Its not often you get an opportunity at the oldest buck on the farm, and even more rare to have him at fifteen yards and to be able to get him with archery tackle. This Kansas whitetail hunt provided memories that will truly last a lifetime…I can’t wait to go back!
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