By Jonathan Dahlstrom
My brother and I had put in for the draw in ‘08 and didn’t get the tags, so, we had an extra point sitting on the books, which I had been told we needed at least one to get drawn. However, in ‘09, they changed some of the rules and it turned out that everyone who applied drew their tag.
After 17 hrs. on the road, it was a cold snowy Saturday evening of November 19th when we arrived in El Dorado, Kansas, which was to be our home for the next two weeks. I had given my friend that lives in the area a call and lined things up for him to show us properties and give us a feel for the area.
We spent the next eight days hunting from ground blinds and stands, depending on the weather and wind direction. The weather switched from fog, snow, ice and highs in the 20’s to a heat wave of nearly 70 degree highs within a couple of days and it really slowed the number of deer that we were seeing. Toward the end of the week, the temps began to drop back down a bit and the deer started to get active again.
A couple days after a Thanksgiving meal of truck stop burritos and chicken strips, I was hunting on Saturday morning, the 28th of November from a Game Tamer stand, which is like sitting on a chair in the middle of a platform that swivels 360 degrees. I was overlooking a small food plot on the backside of a milo field, where a drainage canal flowed.
It was about 8 am when I heard a noise behind me and I slowly rotated around to see a nice buck approaching the edge of the canal behind me. I was startled and caught off guard, since there were no shooting lanes cut for that direction and I couldn’t figure out how I was going to sneak an arrow through the overhanging branches between me and the buck.
I decided my only option was to stand and stretch as much as I could over the top of some limbs, so I got into position and I made my move. The buck caught me moving as I stood and drew, which caused him to freeze in position, giving me a perfect opportunity to let my arrow fly.
The shot hit a little bit back, as the buck spun upon hearing the release of my bow, so, I made sure to give him some time before I went looking. I waited for three hours to be sure the buck had plenty of time to expire because I did not want to repeat the events of my previous trip.
By the time I decided to climb down out of the tree, my brother had showed up to help me trail the deer. We crossed the drainage canal and began to look for blood, which was great since we immediately found a good trail. As we blood-trailed the deer, he led us straight into the thickest milo I had ever seen. We were trailing through 4 – 5 ft. tall mature milo and the blood trail seemed to keep getting more and more sporadic and then out of nowhere, within 10 feet of me, the buck jumped up and started leaping through the field. I drew on him, but I couldn’t get another arrow off because I only had very quick glimpses of the buck every time he leaped.
Eventually, he stopped and hunkered down in the milo. I put a stalk on the last location I saw him and got to within 15 yards, but still couldn’t see him to get another arrow off. He then jumped up again and headed toward the edge of the field and some bordering CRP land.
We managed to find the trail and followed it another hundred yards to the edge of the field. We found he had turned along the edge and we then figured the buck was heading for a hedge row to get some cover. We lost the blood trail on the edge of the milo several times and had to keep doubling back to where we last had the sign. After doing this a few times, I finally noticed that the reason we kept losing the trail was because the buck had headed directly into the CRP and as I looked in the direction of the trail, I saw the buck bedded and hunkered in the tall grass, only about 20 feet away from me, watching me walk back and forth searching for his trail.
I drew back and crept to where I had a good shooting lane and put another arrow into him to finalize the deal with the first ever whitetail I had been able to put in my freezer. After evaluating the situation, my arrow from the first shot had only clipped part of the lung and partially exited near the hind quarter.
This is an experience I will always remember and I feel very lucky to forever have this memory of a successful Kansas whitetail hunt. My brother and I were also able to fill a couple doe tags on our trip in addition to my buck and we brought home a freezer full of the best deer meat I have ever eaten. It was certainly a change from the mule deer we are so used to eating!