Ah, November — time in western Kansas

A big mule deer buck appears to be posing for the camera, last week in Western Kansas. – Photos by Michael Pearce

No question, November is my favorite month of the year. It’s a time of several weeks or so of vacation, with times taken out for covering the opening weekend of pheasant season and whatever other outdoors event that’s both fun and worthy of an outdoors page feature.

From time to time this November I’ll be blogging on how the month is going.

So far, so great.

For the third year I’ve been able to head to western Kansas for a few days of spot-and-stalk hunting for mule deer in some gorgeous canyon country. Nope, I haven’t shot one on those trips, but I’ve missed a couple of times, spooked several more and always had a fantastic time.

Compared to sitting in a treestand, surrounded by lots of other trees,  I love the freedom of being able to sit on a high hill and use a spotting scope and binoculars to search the surrounding countryside for miles. Seeing big mule deer bucks hasn’t been hard, sneaking to within my 40 yard shooting maximum range has been.

A big-bodied mule deer buck takes off after a doe that was spooked from a patch of Walk-In Hunting Area ground near a county road.

This year’s first day of hunting found us watching a dandy buck with antlers about 25 inches wide, and seven points on one antler and six on the other. He was in a pretty good place for us to make a sneak…unfortunately there wasn’t enough wind to hide the sounds of an approach so we couldn’t even try. Those over-sized ears are on their heads for a reason, you know, and their eyes seem better than those on a whitetail, too.

Stalks or no stalks, kill or no kill, I always seem to enjoy some good photography when I’m out in those hills and canyons in the Smoky Hill River Valley. I’ll be honest, and tell you that most of the best photos I get are shot out the window of a truck or over the hood. Many of the best deer photos are of bucks on lands where we don’t have permission to hunt, so I take the photos from the road.

A mule deer buck seems to know it is safe on a piece of posted property.

This trip we happened across a wide, non-typical mule deer barely 100 yards off the road, directly across from where we could hunt. We stayed on the road for close to 20 minutes, taking photos and waiting for something special. It finally happened when the buck, which no doubt had a bedded doe nearby, moved to a small knoll with a nice sunrise in the background.

Another buck was politely positioned right behind a “No Trespassing” sign, too.

And to be honest, sometimes when I get a really great photo, it’s almost as satisfying as tagging a really great buck….almost.