Kansas, 2008, DIY, Private Land
It was the day before rifle season when my brother called and told me he had just spotted a big mule deer. I told him I would be there as soon as possible as I gathered up my gear and met up with him. The moment I saw him, I became obsessed and knew I wouldn’t hunt any other deer. He was a big 5x7 with deep forks, great mass, and great width. I watched the deer until the last bit of light was gone and then went home to make plans for the morning hunt with my dad and brother. This was the biggest deer I had ever seen or had the opportunity to hunt. The problem was that rifle season opened the next day and I was hunting with my bow. In Kansas, you can hunt with a bow through rifle season, but in the flat open area we hunt it makes things much more difficult.
The next day my dad and I anxiously sat in the dark and waited for the sun to rise. Within the first hour, we spotted the big mulie with six does in the middle of a large field and started to make our stalk. We spent over an hour crawling on our bellies to find ourselves within 30 yards of the deer. The buck was bedded but his does were restless. One doe in particular, a doe that would be the source of many failed stalk attempts in my future quests, would not settle down and eventually walked around enough to spot me. I lay motionless on the ground as she crept within five yards of me, snorted and started to run off. I knew it was now or never so I drew as the buck stood but a doe stood up in between us as they turned and ran.
What an exciting morning it was to get that close to what we simply called “the big one,” but it was now time to go to work. Sitting on a tractor was almost unbearable thinking about the morning hunt and hoping nobody would spot him and shoot him with a rifle or scare him out of the area. Our area is open farm ground where deer can be easily spotted, and I knew he would probably not make it if a rifle hunter found him.
For a full account of Clayton's adventure, go to page 38 in the November/December 2009 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.