Member's Hunt: Kansas, The Land of Oz

posted on May 23, 2024
MH Kansas Land Of Oz Lead

By Mahlon (Bubba) Marhofer, Magnolia, Texas

The sun was rapidly retreating through the trees when I heard them: three muffled sounds milliseconds apart—puff, puff, puff—and that confused me. The southwest wind was slapping the left side of my face, and I was wondering if my old ears had heard anything at all.

Opening morning had come and gone with little activity. The afternoon brought the fast-setting sun and the distant three confusing puffs. My grandson Miles was hunting a draw on the back side of the ridge I was hunting, and less than five minutes earlier had sent me an excited text, “Buck, BIG buck,” then a few seconds later, “Headed my way.” Now I was wondering if I was projecting the scenario I hoped was occurring or if the three faint puffs were a figment of my imagination. The more I thought about it, I decided I was projecting. After all, I’d never seen Miles pull the trigger more than once on any game animal.

I waited for a follow-up text, but it never came, so I texted him and queried, “Did you shoot?” No response. I waited until dark and watched the faint beam of Miles’ headlamp emerge from the back side of the ridge more than a half-mile away. I made my way down to my truck, drove up the county road and pulled in behind his vehicle. I stepped out of my truck and his wide-eyed pacing back and forth told me I didn’t need to ask if he had pulled the trigger.

The three distant puffs I’d heard earlier were in fact his excited volley as the big 8-point approached then suddenly turned broadside at 120 yards and accelerated his departure. After an hour of headlamp searching, Miles was pretty amped up and still punishing himself for letting buck fever have its way with him, but we finally had the buck loaded up and were headed to camp. After mandatory pictures in low light and hearing Miles’ version of the afternoon’s excitement, we had his buck cleaned up and cooling out in the barn.

Day two, the truck thermometer read 18 degrees when Miles and I stepped out of the truck. He was tagged out and wanted to hunt with me, as he did when he was a kid. It took me all of three seconds to think about that and agree. As the sun broke over the ridge and spilled into the draw, we were sitting in knee-high grass watching two does and a buck feeding at the edge of the drainage in the bottom of the draw. Correction—one doe was feeding, the older, larger doe had sentry duty and the buck was paying very close attention to her. I looked at Miles and whispered that we were now hunting the doe. If we spooked her, the buck was gone. We backed out and climbed to the top of the rocky ridge. My knees were not happy about that decision!

After reaching the top and carefully making my way to the edge of the draw, I could see the sentry doe was on full alert, she just didn’t know what or where the danger was. The buck noticed she was antsy and was ready to rock if she made the decision to vacate the premises. Lucky for me, she decided on a slow retreat from the drainage with the buck in tow 30 yards behind her. Elbows on my knees at the ready, I caught him in the 3x9mm Gold Ring as he stepped out of the drainage quartering away and to the right of his sweetheart. He was 160 yards out, and every step put him 1 yard farther away. He turned left, broadside, and paused just long enough for me to apply pressure to the Kimber trigger. At the shot the buck crumbled where he stood. The doe turned, looked at him and continued calmly on her way.

There was no yellow brick road up the ridge, and we certainly didn’t meet the wizard, but Kansas is definitely the Land of Oz for these two grateful hunters.

Do you have an exciting, unusual or humorous hunting experience to share? 
Send your story (800 words or less) to [email protected] or to American Hunter, Dept. MH, 11250 Waples Mill Road, Fairfax, VA, 22030-9400. Please include your NRA ID number. Good quality photos are welcome. Make sure you have permission to use the material. Authors will not be paid, and manuscripts and photos will not be returned. All material becomes the property of NRA.


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