This past weekend was the last few days of open deer season. During this time, it was legal to shoot bucks. The first week or so of January will be an extended firearms season but the catch is that it is only legal to shoot does. Kansas is known for it's big bucks and people come from all over to hunt trophy bucks.
When we lived at the old farm, our back yard was about 12000 acres of public hunting land. Sometimes, it was too public! Often there were so mant hunters that it wasn't safe for the locals to hunt there. We were fortunate enough to have a friend who offered to let us hunt in on his property. There was a "draw" or what I would call a "hollow" with a creek running through it and it is a wonderful place for deer. We have been hunting there for about 6 years now. The owner has been very generous and will not allow us to pay him. Many other hunters have tried to talk him into letting them in there but he has always reserved that spot for our family.
Here is a picture of the bottom. It doesn't do the actual place justice. This is in the "flat" at the bottom. The north and south sides rise steeply so that this is down in a valley.
Every year, my kids have taken deer here and we always have wonderful stories of our adventures hunting in this wonderful spot. Unfortunately, since we have moved, it takes about 45 minutes to drive over there. That means we have to get up somewhere around 4:30 am and be on the road before 5:30 am. It is a long lonely, dark drive over there. There is one gas station in between that is not open for business but the gas pumps are available. I am also getting old....
It used to be quite a hike to get in and out of this draw. I can remember having to excersize, diet and "get in shape" for deer hunting because it would just wear me out getting in and out of there with all the cold weather hunting gear on. I can remember reaching the top and breathing hard and sweating like a race horse. If we got a deer and had to drag it out, it took a couple of hours to get him to the truck. One year, Salena decided to take the truck down to get her deer. She nearly gave Charlie a heart attack getting in and out. The truck was never the same afterward.... Luckily for us, about 3 years ago he leased the mineral rights to a gas company. They planned to put a well in down on the flat in an open pasture. They promptly put in a wonderful gravel road and then ran out of money and never sunk the well. We have a gravel road to drive in and park on and it is almost too easy now!
Charlie got that nice buck the first night they went over. After that, Charlie had to work so I became Salena's hunting buddy. I bought tags and a liscense and even took my rifle with me but we all knew that Salena was really the one hunting. I have been hunting with my kids or someone elses for over 10 years now. SOme times we are successful and sometimes we eat "tag soup". This year, Salena and I got tag soup---no deer. We saw quite a few and have some wonderful stories. More than that, we jsut got to spend time together. I don't care or believe that nonsense about "quality time over quantity time". Raising kids and building strong relationships with them or anybody else requires TIME and lots of it.
This weekend was COLD. After two mornings of very early rising and late ( for me) evenings, I am exhausted. Sis and I didn't plan on hunting last night. I was very relieved. About 2 hours before dark, my Adam looked at me and asked if we could go hunting. We had put up a couple of stands near the house for him to "practice" hunting in. I just wanted to crash in the recliner. Chores still needed to be done, the kitchen was a wreck and we are planning a Christmas party for the folks that Neil works with. It is for next weekend but it will take me every minute to get the house and yard presentable. I just didn't want to hunt any more! I could think of a dozen excuses to just not go.
But he is my baby. He deserves his time in the woods with me just as much as the others. Seth doesn't like to hunt. He and I get our time in together working on this farm. He headed over to handle the chores on his own and I dragged on my hunting gear--- one more time. We didn't see any deer but we got our own story to share. Elsa, the German Shepherd, tracked us to the deer stand and sat under it waiting for us to come down. She ruined the deer hunting for us. Even so, it was amazing to watch her put her nose to the ground and follow our scent trail through the woods.
As I hunted this year, I thought about all the stories of our times together. Some adventure or interesting situation always happened. I have decided that I am going to begin putting them together. Not to publish but to keep as part of our family history. It is, frankly, too hard and expensive for us to travel back and forth to our favorite hunting spot and I am pretty sure that we will not be going there very often--- if ever again-- to hunt.
Our neighbor has offered to let us hunt of a place just across the road from us for the extended doe season. We are planning to begin developing our own place to attract wildlife. An end and a new begining.