Public Land Whitetails



No private land? No problem!

As soon as I heard the words Kansas City come out of my wife’s mouth I started to think about the upcoming hunting season which was only four months away. Knowing we would be living in a large metro area I felt as if the world was collapsing around me.  How was I going to hunt in the city? How was I going to find private land in 4 months where thousands of other hunters had already asked? After pouting for a few days I realized that if I was to hunt the area I would have to do what I promised myself I would never do, and that was hunt public land.  I had conjured up this idea of public land being a dangerous baron wasteland full of moronic hunters and lack of game.  “Why waste your time and risk your safety!” I thought to myself as I started digging into the state of Missouri’s website reviewing the options of public land near me.  I began seeing that the Show Me States’s Conservation Department was on to something.  They appeared to have certain pieces of land dedicated to bow hunting only methods.  I found a public tract of land approximately 6000 acres in size not more than 45 minutes from Kansas City with this same restriction.  I figured land that close to the big city will be absolutely pounded with weekend warriors.  I decided to try and get permission to hunt private land with little success.  It was now mid October and I still didn’t have a game plan on what I was going to do.

Keeping an open mind

After doing some research on Google Maps I found a decent funnel on the dreaded public land.  I spoke with a hunting buddy of mine from work who stated that he had been down on this tract of land for waterfowl before and said it was worth a try.  I finally was pushed over the edge.  What did I have to lose other than a weekend?  I headed down to the land with a heavy heart.  How many people would be at the landings? How many guys will I have to deal with out here? I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived.  I found myself alone with my thoughts.  After a short walk I found that all my worries and doubts would be washed away.  I found a soy bean field around 100 acres in size surrounded by woods with deer tracks all over the road that I was walking.  “Did I walk into an outfitters land?” I thought as I continued the long walk through this deer mecca.  I found a small strip of trees that separated a thin strip of corn from the larger part of the field that looked like a perfect funnel so I hung a stand. In the mile and a half of walking to this location, I saw one other deer stand that appeared to have been there for quite some time.  “How was this possible?” I thought to myself. I started wondering if I would have just kept an open mind earlier in the year what opportunities I could have had on more patternable deer.

Spotting and stocking works

One day in early November I decided to take a walk to where my deer stand was located  on this same public land to check for scrapes before making the 9 1/2 hour drive back to MN for the rifle opener.  I decided I better grab my bow because there were turkeys in the area and figured I may get lucky and find the group.  I headed off in my blue jeans and camo shirt to check out the area.  After finding some scrapes on the edge of the field where my stand was, I decided I would do some exploring.  I saw a trail that crossed a creek and decided I better go and see where the trail led.  I felt the wind in my face and figured I better knock an arrow in case I get lucky and surprise a deer.  I continued up the trail until I reached another landing area for hunters to park.  I put my arrow back in the quiver and continued down the trail back from where I came.  I just happened to see a small sapling off of the trail that appeared to have just been torn to shreds as it was still green and wet.  I decided I better continue down the deer trail and see what I find.  “It was like follow bread crumbs” I thought as I looked down the trail and saw rub after rub, fresher than the next.  I continued following the trail with the wind in my face.  I saw something brown in some brush off of the trail which appeared to be some old farm equipment left by the previous owners of the property.  I took one more step and that piece of equipment picked its head up and looked right at me.  It was a mature 10 point that was responsible for the destruction of the many young saplings I had followed and it was no more than 40 yards from me. I was toast. I was caught with my legs crossed over each other and no arrow knocked, wearing blue jeans and a camo shirt.  I figured I would be busted in a matter of seconds but the deer continued staring.  I agonizingly reached for my arrow in the quiver and was somehow able to knock the arrow with this monarch staring at me.  I could see him moving his head up and down and licking his nose trying to wind me and figure out what I was.  He was unsuccessful as I felt that breeze right in my face.  The staring competition lasted around 5 minutes and when I thought I couldn’t hold the position I was in any longer he twitched his tail and started walking forward.  I was able to draw and found an opening through some saplings that separated him and I from each other.  That was my only shot.  He entered the foot gap and I let the arrow fly.  I watched the fletchings disappear behind his shoulder and watched him run off.

Easy dragging

I figured there was no way that what just happened was real.  I raised my hands up and looked around to see if anyone else just saw what took place.  I just took the biggest buck of my life by stocking.  I looked to see where I was in relation to the landing area and looked up the hill to see it less than 70 yards away. I found my arrow and looked into the brush where the deer ran. He was dead no more than 20 yards away.   Use your head and play the wind and you will be successful.



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