Fast forward three weeks to September 20th and I found myself rolling west again, for what I've stated on the blog before as my favorite weekend of the entire year, Kansas antelope season. This year was extremely special as my uncle Keith accepted my invitation to join me. Keith is the very reason I am a bowhunter and has allowed me some opportunities not many kids get growing up as aspiring hunters. For that I am incredibly grateful and I hoped this hunt was somewhat of a repayment, however small it might be compared to what I owe.
We met the evening before opening day to do a quick scouting session and set up a ground blind. The plan was for Keith to sit water for the good part of three days while I employed my usual attack, whatever in the heck seems like it will work at any given time! For those who aren't aware, Kansas pronghorn are few and far between. Thus success rates are quite low. Couple that with increased hunting pressure and unusually heavy rains in August/September for parts of western Kansas, it didn't take long to figure out that water probably wasn't our best bet.
I spent much of the first day and a half dogging a big buck I'd been after for three consecutive seasons now. This year it was apparent "Spyro", as we came to call him due to a broken horn that healed and regrew in a spiral pointing straight up, had passed his prime and had little interest in the ongoing rut or any other antelope whatsoever. I would split time when Spyro wasn't hanging in an ideal location with a couple other nearby groups that had mature herd bucks and sizable harems of does.
I returned to my uncle's blind to find him ready for something a little more action packed. We took a tour of the surrounding area and made it back to our primary location after a few hours. Just as I had expected the does from the same group I was on earlier had moseyed back towards the corn in the midst of a hot windy September afternoon. The buck was standing guard nearby. In no time the two of us were within 200 yards of the group and my uncle was hanging the Heads Up out of the edge of the corn. Some of the herd picked up the intruder after a couple minutes and the buck was soon to spot us as well. He went into a stiff legged walk with his head held high and hair standing straight. Instantly he broke into a dead sprint and in no time stood broadside at 60 yards. I had come to full draw as he hit top speed and settled my pin on him while he decided whether to continue his charge or replay his escape from a few hours earlier. As he was deciding on the safe choice I let my arrow fly. In the stiff south Kansas breeze it caught the buck solid, and allowed for closing arrow in the corn a short while after his final charge.
Calling this hunt special would be an understatement. It will be one of those few moments in life I can replay in my mind as clearly as it happened for years and years to come. Having my uncle running the decoy and seeing the enjoyment he expressed only adds to that memory. I know it may seem like it gets overplayed, but taking a kid hunting may be the greatest gift a hunter could ever give. It has been for me.