OK, I know it is December and those of you much smarter than me are wrapping up the 2010 hunting seasons and home with the family for the holidays. I mean, this bowhunting is great stuff, but after several months of it, is it worth another week and the risk the certain wrath of The Woman Who Lets Me Live With Her?
Oh, yeah. Because December is when it gets cold and the bucks have to go to the food. This year I budgeted a bunch of time to hunt with a good buddy, Jeff Louderback of LL Outfitters. Coming along with me will be my friend Mike Strandlund, editor of Bowhunting World magazine, who will get his hunting in before gun season begins. Me? I’ll be here awhile, helping get Mike started and assisting Jeff a little with the rifle guys but also getting a little stand time in myself.
Tim Ellison shot this old, downhill monster buck on this hunt. It gross-scores just over 170 B&C points.
Here’s the deal — Jeff and his dad have owned this land since 1969. His family has owned and operated cattle ranches since 1940’s, and this property remains a working cattle ranch today. Together they own approximately 50,000 acres, with bowhunting only allowed on 8000 acres of prime river bottom from which all cattle are removed well before deer season opens. Also, no gun hunting is allowed in the bottoms, leaving it exclusively to us bowhunters. Jeff, who attended college on a rodeo scholarship, is a seasoned hunter and guide, with lots of elk and deer hunting and guiding experience under his belt to go along with the whitetail business. In short, he knows his land and how to offer his clients the best possible opportunity to shoot old, mature bucks.
The southwestern side of Kansas is kind of a hidden secret for big whitetails. Here there are fewer people and more open land than areas of central and eastern Kansas, and the deer quality continues to grow year after year. This area is mostly plains country with scattered river bottom cover featuring lots of agriculture up off the bottoms, including corn, winter wheat, alfalfa, etc. The deer that live in this area have both the genetics and the opportunity to get old enough to grow big antlers. That is most evident when you talk to local deer hunters who say a 150 buck is ‘a nice one,’ but do not really get excited until they see one over 180. They call a ‘shooter’ a 150 or better. Jeff’s goal is for all clients to get an opportunity at a buck at least 4 years old with a gross score of at least 140 P&Y or B&C.
After several fruitless encounters with ‘shooters’, Jaime Ellison shot this beautiful 9-pointer that gross-scores 167 B&C points the last morning of his hunt.
The gun season here runs the first week of December, and this year it was cold and windy. Yet Louderback was able to put a pair of Kentucky brothers, Tim and Jaime Ellison, on two ancient bucks with whopper antlers. After a couple of miscues, Tim killed a 9-year old downhill buck gross-scoring 171 B&C points. Jamie killed his buck the last morning after having several encounters with ‘shooters’ that didn’t pan out. His big 9-pointer grossed 167 B&C points. Those are monster deer! In addition, Arizona resident Gary ‘Goose’ Howell – one of the West’s top hunting guides and Louderback’s old elk guiding partner – hunted with a muzzleloader and shot a beautiful 5-year old 8-pointer that scores a tick over 140. The other rifle hunter Jeff had shot the wrong buck — a dink scoring in the 120’s – after admittedly blowing an opportunity at a monster opening morning.
Does it get any better than this?
This was my third consecutive season bowhunting here, and I keep coming back for one simple reason. Never, in decades of hunting big whitetails, have I seen a place where the opportunity to kill a 150-plus whitetail with bow or rifle is as good for all clients, not just a select few. When I left, Jeff already had my name on the 2010 hunting calendar.
Oh, how did Mike Strandlund and I do? Let’s just say it was most interesting! Come along and join us on our hunt. That story begins to unfold tomorrow.
For more go to: LL Outfitters