I’ve been here a day and a half now, get things prepped for Mike Strandlund’s arrival. We’re hunting with my friend Jeff Louderback of LL Outfitters. This will be my third consecutive bow season hunting with Jeff on his ranch near Liberal, Kansas, in the extreme southwest corner of the state. I keep coming back because this place has a gaggle of really good bucks. My first year hunting here I arrowed a gross 164 12-point, and the only reason I didn’t shoot last year was because I kept passing 140’s in the hopes of shooting one of the 170’s I kept seeing cruising by just out of range. That never happened and so I ate tag soup, but that was by choice, not because the hunting sucked!
Bowhunting World magazine editor Mike Strandlund, left, and outfitter Jeff Louderback take a quick scouting trip the morning before the hunt began.
Mike is the long-time editor of Bowhunting World magazine and a most serious whitetailer. After his 15-hour drive from Minnesota we slept in the first morning, then took a spin of the 8000-acre cottonwood-lined riverbottom we would be hunting. Jeff showed him the stands, I told him what I knew about the usual deer movement patterns, and all that jazz.
Right after lunch we shot our bows and checked equipment. I am hunting with a 70 lb. Mathews Drenalin, 28-inch Carbon Express Maxima Hunter 350 shafts, and 100-grain Slick Trick broadheads and will be continuing my field testing of the new prototype Sitka Gear garments in the yet-to-be-released Gore Optifade Concealment Big Game Forest pattern, something that has really worked well for me so far this deer season. Mike is using a 70 lb. Mathews DXT, Easton Full Metal Jacket shafts, and a 100-grain Grim Reaper broadhead. Satisfied our bows were dialed in, that evening we were both in stands and rarin’ to go.
We were hunting travel routes to and from known feeding areas. Fresh deer hair and tracks crossing fences heading toward food sources are always great places to hang a stand!
For the next couple of days the hunting was a bit slow. Traditionally here during the late season morning hunting is pretty lethargic, with the most action occurring in the afternoons and evenings. The weather was a tad warm, in the low 40’s in the mornings and 60’s during the afternoons, slowing daytime deer movement. Still, one afternoon while walking to my stand I saw a dandy buck feeding right in front of my tree. (OK, I was late getting to the stand but it was 70 degrees out and who knew a big buck would be moving three hours before dark?) There was no wind to muffle any sound so I forgot about trying a stalk, and instead waited for him to move through before climbing aboard. That hurt, but I was hoping maybe he’d stroll by Mike, who was set up about a half-mile away. Of course that didn’t happen, and for three days we passed on small bucks, did some scouting, moved a couple of stands and re-set some others, shot a few arrows at targets, and generally enjoyed ourselves.
By day four the weather had turned colder, heating up the hunting. Come back tomorrow and I’ll tell just how hot it got!
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