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Ron Barnett

          The secret is out! Kansas non-resident archery buck tags were a lot harder to come by last fall. They suddenly became real popular. Luckily, I was able to draw in one more time. My destination was again the holdings of Danny and Kay Rich, out near Ashland in western Kansas, where the big bucks roam freely! I had planned to spend every free moment I could in pursuit of MY trophy.

Doe tags were available over the counter at ten dollars each and, depending on the area, you could have up to four. What a deal! The ability to fill your freezer with grain-fed venison at such a low price doesnít come along often. I decided To start filling my freezer quick, if I could.

My first evening out, in early October, I was enjoying antics of two yearlings who jumped and rambled and played under my stand for almost an hour. I was hoping their mom or old auntie would come join them, but, didnít happen.

          Suddenly, the smaller of the two yearlings through her head up, looked north and left, very quickly. The other was right behind her, disappearing fast! I glanced to the north and saw a very nice 10 pointer coming in quick. He stopped at 18 yards and milled around for close to forty minutes. I had lots of time to study him and it was hard not to try a shot. He had both main back-tines broken off about two inches up from the main beam, the problem was that he would probably still score pretty good!

          He finally ambled off toward a creek and I got to study him going away. The second guessing started in real hard then. I mentally kicked myself for letting him walk, but what the HEY, it was early yet and I knew for a fact there were much bigger ones around.

          The next morning was uneventful, I played with some turkeys with no success and saw a few yearlings. That evening, I was back in the stand where I had seen the buck. I had my Mathews SQ2 set up with an Impact 3 sight, shooting Carbon Express X300 arrows tipped with my old reliable Sabertooth 100 grain broadhead. The Steiner 10X50 predators would allow me to pick apart the woods. My rig was ready as was I. Bring on the deer!

          A big doe and two yearling bucks came in and fed around for awhile. Since both her fawns were up-and-coming young bucks almost as big as her, body-wise, I decided I would pass on her. It wasnít too long before a single doe came in to join them that was in great shape, just rolling in fat. One pass-through shot at 17 yards and she ran about 30 yards and piled up. She was in great shape and dressed 140 plus. Ma would be proud of me now! I had a load of good venison to re-supply her stock. I COULD CONCENTRATE ON THE BUCKS NOW!

            My next trip to Kansas didnít happen until early November. I was in camp with several other guys who hadnít been seeing any big bucks. They were getting disappointed and losing hope. I talked with a fellow who was hunting from a stand where I had seen some very good bucks and he was ready to give it up. I told him the weather was supposed to change that night and to give the stand another chance.

          I decided to try a stand several miles from camp that no one had hunted. The evening was very uneventful with the exception of some yearlings until right at dark. The temperature started dropping and deer started coming out of the woodwork, literally. Does and small bucks were moving in just about any direction you wanted to look. Right at dark, HE came walking down a trail along the wood row. The STUD had decided to show up.

He was the boss of the woods, it was easy to tell from his demeanor. He was walking slowly, stiffly and with his head thrown back proudly showing off what he had to offer. The problem was it was getting too dark to see. He was only 40 yards away, but I could make out the outline and size. He was HUGE! The does, yearlings and smaller bucks were all giving him all the ground he wanted. It finally got slam-up dark and I waited for a half hour to come down and head out with a promise to be back in the morning!

          When I got back to camp, things had started looking up for everyone. I offered to swap stands with Joey, but he decided to give the old stand one more try (turned out to be a real good decision on his part). The others seemed anxious to give the weather change a try.

          The next morning was cold and clear with little wind, ideal conditions. I was in my stand an hour before daylight and had a doe under me less than three minutes after I got settled. Two others joined her before daylight. As the woods brightened enough to see good, a grunt came from off to my right and the BIG BOY was heading toward me from 30 yards out with no shot opportunity. He was grunting every time his foot touched the ground.

          The does whirled, left the timber and headed for the large expanse of CRP grass. It looked like I might have one shot opportunity. The big buck came in directly under me and stopped. He was watching the does, grunting and ready to follow. I drew, aimed and released. The buck whirled and left in a big circle around to my right. I thought I saw my arrow sticking in the ground right under my stand. I grabbed another arrow, grunted on my call and in less than 20 seconds here came the buck back the way he had left, grunting with each step. I didnít even look, when he entered a shooting lane, I put an arrow through both lungs at 19 yards. He dashed through the timber for about 40 yards and headed into the CRP grass. All was quiet. TOO QUIET!

          I looked down where my first arrow was and IT WASNĒT THERE. what I mistaken for my arrow was a small limb sticking up from the ground. I waited 30 minutes, climbed down and went to where I had taken my last shot and found a good blood trail and my arrow. I followed the trail into the CRP and had to go to my hands and knees to track through the high grass. Forty yards in I found my buck. A very nice nine point that dressed one hundred and ninety plus pounds. One entry wound, one exit wound. One arrow found. Good buck, BUT WRONG BUCK!

          I slowly worked my way back toward my stand, backtracking the blood trail to see if I had missed something. I found my other arrow where the buck had turned back to my right where the one I killed had come in. It was about 12 yards from my stand, laying flat on the ground with dried blood, fat and meat along the length. I found a very sparse blood trail and followed it out along the same trail the buck I had killed had come in on. The trail soon petered out completely and the best I can figure is I sent my arrow down along the outside of the bucks ribs and teaching him a lesson but not hurting him any. At least thatís what I hope. My friend Greg, and I went back and searched the woodlot, roads and CRP fields without any other sign or indication the buck was hurt.

The bucks had to have passed each other as quick as everything happened and I canít figure how the nine point wasnít spooked. I just assumed it was the same buck coming back after I hit my grunt call and never considered looking at his antlers or the difference in body size. I am truly pleased with the buck I shot but still have a hard time believing the one I missed.





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