Why travel to Kansas during the whitetail rut packing an arsenal of deer calls? Upon your return your next call just might be to your favorite taxidermist.
Headed to Kansas to hunt the whitetail rut? Don’t forget a good grunt call. Or doe bleat. Or rattling system. After bowhunting this whitetail mecca for the past 10 years or so I’ve found Kansas bucks to be some of the most call-friendly beasts on the planet, and I’m not talking just the little guys.
Aggressive calling techniques during the month of November—using all three calls mentioned above—have consistently helped me lure-in top-end-class bucks, thick-necked brutes scoring from 140- to 180 inches, and I’ve been fortunate enough to arrow a few of them. Bring the right aggressive mindset, and you can taste Sunflower State success as well.
In November 2014, some extreme conditions, a last-minute stand move, and some untimely absentmindedness very nearly cost me a chance at another Kansas brute of a buck. After spending the bone-chilling 4-degree morning in a ladder stand overlooking an expansive cut soybean field, haunted only briefly by a single, mature doe some 300 yards distant, I knew it was time for a new plan. By 9:45 a.m. I was enjoying the warmth generated by the half-mile hike back to my truck, and by 11 I’d hung my handy portable in a secluded, wooded draw that held great promise.
I’d hurried to hang the stand, figuring the morning’s brutal conditions would set up perfectly for a time-honored “10 to 2” rut movement pattern. But shortly after I climbed aboard my stand and settled in, I experienced a panic attack: Where was my grunt call? In the confusion of unpacking my morning gear, and repacking to hang the portable stand, had I left my new call back at the truck?
And then it hit me. I recalled that I’d removed the dangling call from my neck and stashed it in a side pant pocket, in the interest of increased safety while hanging the portable stand. The call had been out of sight, and apparently, out of mind. Whew. In seconds, I’d liberated the sleek, ultra-realistic-sounding call from its zippered hideaway and once again had it hanging reassuringly from my neck—tucked neatly behind my binos as per usual—for quick and easy access. Panic attack averted. With all my gear now ready for action, things just seemed to fall in place. At 12:30 p.m. I had a wide little six-point stroll up the brushy draw—and then right under my stand—helping me feel good about my decision to relocate.
Time For Some Midday Magic
At 1:45 p.m. I heard a twig snap behind me and turned slowly to see a beautiful, lone buck at about 80 yards, in no particular hurry but picking its way slowly through the brush, away from me. Time for action. Instantly I grabbed the grunt and gave a good loud BLAT. Nothing. In seconds I grunted again, a bit louder. This time the buck perked up and trained its ears toward me, yet still feigned indifference. It moved no closer…then turned and looked away! Hmmm.
BLAT! I grunted at him once again. Then 30 seconds later, again. Unbelievably, it took six- to eight grunts—with the buck nonchalantly standing there in place—before I could coax a meaningful reaction. And then, just like that, the buck committed. I’ll never forget its loud-and-clear body language: “Yeah, I really wasn’t planning on heading that way, but it sounds like a buck is grunting at something over there and chances are it’s a doe…”
As it turned my way, the buck had to cross a steep, dry creekbed; as it dropped down it mostly disappeared but then popped back into view—on a steady mission toward me! It was then I knew the shot would happen. As the buck passed a large deadfall I slowly drew my bow—undetected—and waited. On he came, and with each step his thick rack and blocky, linebacker body grew still larger. When he reached 27 yards—broadside—I released and watched the mechanical-tipped Carbon Express arrow hit the moving buck solidly.
Later, some 200 yards from the shot site, I knelt beside a true Kansas monarch. Despite the fact the thick-necked battler had broken off two points and part of a third, my first glimpse of the tall, massive, basic 10-point rack still managed to steal every bit of my anxious breath. Glimpsing that gorgeous deer confirmed—yet again—what I’d known for several years running: Big rutty Kansas bucks are suckers for aggressive calling techniques.
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