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Hunting is my passion, as I can imagine it is the passion for most everyone here. I was born with this drive to pursue wild game, to harvest an animal and bring to my table the meat provided. Ever since I was old enough to remember I have been hunting. Growing up in Dallas, Texas with a father who has a passion for the outdoors I can remember long sits in the deer blind, the pre-dawn hours nestled into the tall milo fields waiting on the first signs of doves and of course the great fishing that the lakes around our house provided.

The Bucket List Buck

MuleDeerWatchingThe wait can sometimes be as stressful as the hunt itself. The not knowing if you were drawn, attempting to make plans that may or may not come into play. But when we get the good news that our name has been drawn everything comes together and the plans that were put onto the “maybe” pile are suddenly drawn back into play. I was fortunate enough to experience this during the summer of 2013. I had put my name into the Kansas Mule Deer draw in late winter/early spring, and had been patiently awaiting the news on who would be fortunate enough to draw a tag. I was more than ecstatic when I received news that I had drawn a tag for the units that I had wanted.
Then began the process of research. With my undergraduate degree in Wildlife Management and Ecology and my graduate degree in Biology, I contacted the states leading wildlife biologist to ask for mule deer population statistics, harvest data results for each county that I had been drawn to hunt and finally was put into contact with several rancher and farm owners who were having a problem with mule deer destroying their crops. After the careful planning and research I chose a county within Kansas that bordered Nebraska. This held the largest concentration of mule deer and a local landowner had been more than pleased to allow me the chance to harvest my first mule deer.
MuleDeerHerdI had two days, the opening weekend of rifle season, two days of nothing but long walks,, of glassing fields, of driving to public lands and then private to harvest my mule deer. I wanted a buck, but I would settle for a doe if it came down to the final hours. We saw many white-tailed deer in the 150″-160″ class range, and my tag was good for either species of deer. But I had my sights set high. Our first day I saw a single mule deer doe, on private land where I had no permission to hunt. My second day was spent driving the back roads finding public land, until I got the call from the landowner telling me to head to his place. Unsure on what I would find when I arrived I pulled into his drive-way to see a herd of 30-40 deer, all bedded down 30-100 yards from his front porch. They seemed to not care that we were there as the snow fell around them.
Introductions were made brief as I grabbed my rifle and jumped into his truck. He informed me that I could harvest an animal right there, but I wanted a fair chase and before we had time to make a final decision the deer decided that the hill and the ridge beyond looked more appealing to get away fro the snow. We watched them bound away ad leaving the truck I was greeted by the chill of calf deer snow. Slinging my rifle over my shoulder we began the mile long walk through the drifting snow, exchanging words on hunting deer, on family and friends and his land (which was measured in miles and not acres!). And then there they were, huddled on the side of the hill, out of the wind. My buck was in the middle of them and I got into a comfortable sitting position.
Mule DeerResting my gun on my tripod it seemed like I had forever to aim. My crosshairs found their mark and with a deep breath I pulled the trigger. To my surprise I had missed! My rifle, sighted in at 100 yards had missed at 200yards. I took a deep, shaky breath, surprised that the buck was still there. But these were mule deer, not the spooky white-tailed deer that I was used to back in Missouri. I took my time, carefully aiming my rifle a little higher than before. My ears were ringing, but I was so nervous that I heard nothing. The silence was blissful and I took a deep, calculating breath and gently squeezed the trigger. The second time my bullet found its mark and I watched as my deer fell backwards to the ground. The herd seemed to not notice, walking past him slowly and up and over the next hill. Approaching him I got onto my knees, thanking him for the harvest, staring down at his sheer grace and the power that he held. He measured out to 165 7/8 green and 160 5/8 dry. I’ll take that as my first mule deer! I left western Kansas with so much more than an animal. I left with memories of the hunt, of amazing pictures of the animals that I had stalked for almost 48 hours straight and I had left with a respect for hunting in the wide open plains and prairies of the west.

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