By Bob Robb
Pre-season scouting, trail cameras, and food plots. These three elements play a large role in many modern-day whitetail hunters’ bags of tricks. But when the rut is rolling and the bucks start cruising, a Ouija board might be of more benefit when it comes to getting in bow range of a mature buck.
That’s why knowing where funnels between doe bedding areas and preferred food sources and/or water often become the key that unlocks the gate of success now.
The third week of November found my buddy Steve Sam of North Carolina and me together on our favorite southwest Kansas ranch hunting with Jeff Louderback of LL Outfitters in Liberal, Kansas (you can e-mail Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org). Much of our November hunting here focuses on funnels in areas where the deer traditionally come cruising between their bedding areas in the sagebrush foothills and neighboring agriculture, where the does like to hang out.
Steve has been hunting here for 10 years, and this year Lady Luck smiled on him early. The morning of day two he was in one of our favorite funnel stands when a pig of a 9-point—he would have been a big 10 if not broken up—came cruising past heading for the bedding thickets. A 20-yard chip shot put the 159-inch buck in the back of the truck.
A few days later I was in the same general area when I watched two whopper bucks converge from different directions, puff their necks up and do the face-off dance before moving off together about a hundred yards behind my tree. When one decided to move off the other direction—of course he was by far the biggest of the two, a giant 8-point I am sure would have pushed 160—the other caught a doe sliding along the edge of the cottonwoods as she slunk her way toward a water tank a half-mile to the east. The good news for me was that she circled 30 yards from my tree, using an old funnel we have hunted for years, with buck number two hot on her heels. Another chip shot. Despite a broken left G-2 and right G-1, he still green-scores 143 and small change.
My hunt, up until that moment, had been pretty boring. I’d seen a few deer and the occasional small buck, but nothing exciting. Past experience, however, has taught me that when the bucks are cruising, if you plunk your behind in a good funnel, play the wind, watch your scent, take care not to terrify the few deer you are seeing, and out in your time the odds are that sooner or later you’ll be happy you did.
Decoying and calling can be much more exciting. Hunting food sources will certainly produce more deer sightings. But for the chances at a good one, I like to go into a siege mentality and hunt funnels. Four out of the past five seasons here at Louderback’s I’ve done just that and killed bucks s coring between 143 and 165.
Hard to argue with that.
Below:Steve Sam traveled from North Carolina to his favorite spot in SW Kansas the third week of November and was rewarded with this pig.