Sandhill cranes, great off-limits mule deer buck, make for a great day

In terms of deer taken, day #2 of my trip to western Kansas to hunt with a friend was unsuccessful.

As far as enjoyment, and memories made and things seen, it was  a great success.

A great western Kansas mule deer follows his does Wednesday morning. Think he’ll go 30″ across his antlers?

We saw three or four very good mule deer, including what I thought was a rare buck with a 30-inch antler spread. ..a few minutes after he and his herd jumped to the wrong side of the property line. An even better buck somehow gave us the slip and disappeared amid knee-high cover with a harem of nine does. My friend, one of  Kansas’ top mule deer bowhunters, has been trying to get him for two or three years. They don’t get that big, or that old, by making a lot of mistakes.

Kind of ironic that back around Stafford and St. John some friends cancelled their annual opening day sandhill crane hunt because there aren’t many birds in the area. About 130 miles to the west we watched several thousand descend on a remote wheat field. The morning air was so still we could honestly hear the trilling of the birds from about three miles away.

The air was so still Wednesday morning the sounds of these sandhill cranes could be heard three miles away…even by an old, somewhat deaf outdoors writer.

We’ve seen a lot of coyotes and all have had good fur, which is good to see after years of severe mange. We’ve also flushed some prairie chickens that were probably lessers. This particular ranch is one of the first where lessers and greaters were documented sharing a common breeding lek, and hybirds between the two species found.

Oh, for all of you pheasant fanatics…we’ve driven 420 miles the past few days, through what had been some of the state’s top pheasant counties in 2010…and we’ve yet to see a hen or a rooster.

Good luck to you guys…. you’re going to need it to find many birds