Western Kansas with a Stick Bow

dallas.kc

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Missouri
Am I going to be completely out of my mind if I try to put in for the Kansas Mule Deer tag and try to hunt the archery season with a stick bow? I'm sure crazier things have been done, but I'm fairly new to the stick bow game, and I don't know much about western Kansas as far as terrain.
 

cmankingsley

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U ever been out there? It’s possible but the grass is pretty loud. Tough even with a compound.


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dallas.kc

dallas.kc

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I live on the western side of Missouri. It’s a close by state with mule deer. I don’t honestly have any better reasons than that. It would be easier for me to get over there and Scout than other states. But if it’s not going to be worth my time then I totally get it


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maxp

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We use to live between Lakin and Ulysses. My dad has a deadhead mule that grosses 205, a whitetail shed that scores at 97 and he hunted a whitetail there over 200. His friend has a stack of mule deer all taken with a stick bow with multiple in the 180-190 range. Thats from a few years ago but with some time to put in its one of the hidden gems imo.
 

AirborneEScouter

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I hunt that way a lot. I hunt family ground and have hunted them with bow, muzzleloader and rifle. Have seen a lot of failed attempts with a bow - you need cover to get close to them and there is not much around. Early season with a bow is your best bet because the crops will still be in. Once harvest is over, the deer head for the hills and big draws where your only cover is really yucca plants and utilizing terrain to your advantage. While you can sneak in CRP, good crp is hard to find and they're harder to find in it, let alone get within ~50 yards.

All things equal, your odds of successfully killing a good deer are limited out there because most of the good hunting is private, the good public spots are overhunted (trust me, we have wiha near us that is a laughing stock) and with a bow you have the odds stacked against you - the rut is also during rifle season. Your odds of success are quintupled with a rifle. I have bow hunted deer in CO several times and the deer hunting in the mountains is so much better in my opinion because good genetics and numbers aren't a factor of being on the right piece of private. From a time standpoint, you have at least a 5 hour drive to get into mules - that's far enough in my opinion that getting a little further west isn't that big of a deal.

All that said, I wouldn't wish to deter you - I love chasing them and it's an amazing part of the country. But from a time, money and success standpoint (if you're only hunting public land), there are certainly better places to go with archery tackle
 
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dallas.kc

dallas.kc

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We use to live between Lakin and Ulysses. My dad has a deadhead mule that grosses 205, a whitetail shed that scores at 97 and he hunted a whitetail there over 200. His friend has a stack of mule deer all taken with a stick bow with multiple in the 180-190 range. Thats from a few years ago but with some time to put in its one of the hidden gems imo.
Did you all hunt mostly private ground? I know Kansas has those walk in areas, but I haven't done enough research yet to see if there is much on the Western side of the state to take advantage of. I really just want somewhere that is relatively close where I can put some time in each year and start to get some areas figured out.
 
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dallas.kc

dallas.kc

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I hunt that way a lot. I hunt family ground and have hunted them with bow, muzzleloader and rifle. Have seen a lot of failed attempts with a bow - you need cover to get close to them and there is not much around. Early season with a bow is your best bet because the crops will still be in. Once harvest is over, the deer head for the hills and big draws where your only cover is really yucca plants and utilizing terrain to your advantage. While you can sneak in CRP, good crp is hard to find and they're harder to find in it, let alone get within ~50 yards.

All things equal, your odds of successfully killing a good deer are limited out there because most of the good hunting is private, the good public spots are overhunted (trust me, we have wiha near us that is a laughing stock) and with a bow you have the odds stacked against you - the rut is also during rifle season. Your odds of success are quintupled with a rifle. I have bow hunted deer in CO several times and the deer hunting in the mountains is so much better in my opinion because good genetics and numbers aren't a factor of being on the right piece of private. From a time standpoint, you have at least a 5 hour drive to get into mules - that's far enough in my opinion that getting a little further west isn't that big of a deal.

All that said, I wouldn't wish to deter you - I love chasing them and it's an amazing part of the country. But from a time, money and success standpoint (if you're only hunting public land), there are certainly better places to go with archery tackle
I totally get what you are saying, and you're right, colorado isn't that much farther, but honestly I'm already going to be doing some of that as well haha. I was hoping Kansas could be a spot where I'm maybe a little bit closer and get to experience some different terrain and put in a bit more time to learn the area. At the end of the day, I will probably use Kansas more so for whitetail, but the thought of going after Mule deer in a state right next to me gets my blood pumping a bit. The chances of me even drawing the mule deer tag seem slim anyway, so at the end of the day I may just focus on the whitetail portion of it.
 

marktole

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I think you'll find that drawing the permit may be quite challenging as well.
X2 on this.

I am a Kansas resident and have some friends who have tried to get that tag the last couple years. Drawing it is tough, especially with how popular the western game is getting. You’re not the only guy with the Kansas idea in mind.
 
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dallas.kc

dallas.kc

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X2 on this.

I am a Kansas resident and have some friends who have tried to get that tag the last couple years. Drawing it is tough, especially with how popular the western game is getting. You’re not the only guy with the Kansas idea in mind.

That’s what I assumed but figured it may be worth a shot. I may just save my extra dollars then and focus on whitetail in Kansas


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AirborneEScouter

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A good start would be applying for points which don't cost all that much. Maybe spend half a day driving around walk in areas when you're between CO and MO on your way out there or coming home. I would have never considered the public land game out there and it's a PITA to get there to start, all about how much you're willing to grind. I've just seen upwards of two guys per 100 acres on some of that wiha during rifle season and nothing would deflate me more than competing at that level - those deer go for miles when they get spooked and they'll see you from 500+ yards walking around and just jet. On top of that, the caliber of the people you'll bump into can get questionable, there are lots of folks who don't care as much about killing trophy animals as just getting out there and walking around - good way to have a stalk ruined (nothing wrong with that I guess?). But that's more rifle season than anything. When I've hunted the mountains (even during rifle season), I've been a lot less impacted by others and seems like I can close distance a lot easier with more cover/bigger terrain to utilize. Maybe get those points up and call some on some of the farmers when you find some promising areas - I see a lot of deer in ag fields early season and a lot of farmers don't care about bow hunters
 

coyotecreek

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Mule deer are getting more scarce all the time out here. Actually deer numbers in western Kansas are down as a whole. You can hunt however you want, but I think you’d be wasting your time, unless you just want a trip out of state and don’t plan on filling a tag. I live here, and hunt with a stickbow, but spot and stalk on public ground for mulies, good luck! I’m not saying it can’t happen, but I think driving further west would increase your odds.
 
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dallas.kc

dallas.kc

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A good start would be applying for points which don't cost all that much. Maybe spend half a day driving around walk in areas when you're between CO and MO on your way out there or coming home. I would have never considered the public land game out there and it's a PITA to get there to start, all about how much you're willing to grind. I've just seen upwards of two guys per 100 acres on some of that wiha during rifle season and nothing would deflate me more than competing at that level - those deer go for miles when they get spooked and they'll see you from 500+ yards walking around and just jet. On top of that, the caliber of the people you'll bump into can get questionable, there are lots of folks who don't care as much about killing trophy animals as just getting out there and walking around - good way to have a stalk ruined (nothing wrong with that I guess?). But that's more rifle season than anything. When I've hunted the mountains (even during rifle season), I've been a lot less impacted by others and seems like I can close distance a lot easier with more cover/bigger terrain to utilize. Maybe get those points up and call some on some of the farmers when you find some promising areas - I see a lot of deer in ag fields early season and a lot of farmers don't care about bow hunters
Yeah I like your approach there. I'm giong to put some points into Colorado to try and get away from the OTC crowd as best as I can, and then I think doing a bit of cold calling on some farmers as I'm passing through is a good idea. Hell I think even just driving through there and getting an idea for the terrain would be just as helpful in telling me whether or not it would be worth it with a stick bow or not. And maybe I just need some more experience under my belt in general before I tackle that kind of challenge.
 
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dallas.kc

dallas.kc

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Mule deer are getting more scarce all the time out here. Actually deer numbers in western Kansas are down as a whole. You can hunt however you want, but I think you’d be wasting your time, unless you just want a trip out of state and don’t plan on filling a tag. I live here, and hunt with a stickbow, but spot and stalk on public ground for mulies, good luck! I’m not saying it can’t happen, but I think driving further west would increase your odds.
Do you tend to hunt more of the eastern side of the state when you do hunt in Kansas then? I may just say to hell with western Kansas and hunt the eastern side for whitetails. It would be much closer anyway, I'm just trying to find some close mule deer spots and put some feelers out there. It sounds like it wouldn't be worth the effort at the end of the day, which is totally fine.
 

coyotecreek

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Do you tend to hunt more of the eastern side of the state when you do hunt in Kansas then? I may just say to hell with western Kansas and hunt the eastern side for whitetails. It would be much closer anyway, I'm just trying to find some close mule deer spots and put some feelers out there. It sounds like it wouldn't be worth the effort at the end of the day, which is totally fine.
I hunt whitetails in the western half. If I’m chasing mulies it’s with a compound. Picture rolling hills with shin high grass, an occasional yucca thicket, or tumbleweed in a fenceline for cover. I’ve hunted 20+ days this year and seen very few mulies and only 1 mature buck. Whitetails are more common.
 

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dallas.kc

dallas.kc

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I hunt whitetails in the western half. If I’m chasing mulies it’s with a compound. Picture rolling hills with shin high grass, an occasional yucca thicket, or tumbleweed in a fenceline for cover. I’ve hunted 20+ days this year and seen very few mulies and only 1 mature buck. Whitetails are more common.
So I was curious about hunting whitetails out that way as well but didn't want to ask about it in the mule deer forum. I'm going to PM you
 

AirborneEScouter

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I hunt whitetails in the western half. If I’m chasing mulies it’s with a compound. Picture rolling hills with shin high grass, an occasional yucca thicket, or tumbleweed in a fenceline for cover. I’ve hunted 20+ days this year and seen very few mulies and only 1 mature buck. Whitetails are more common.
That draw is much thicker than what we have! The pasture up top is very common for out there - it's just flat hard to get close and that's part of the reason why the closest deer I've killed out that way was at 250 yards.

My observation on mule deer isn't so much that numbers are way down (the deer are sort of scarce but tend to stick to CRP or heavy terrain once crops are gone), but considering the average mule deer tag holder has a single tag for either sex, they're going to shoot a buck. I am not a wildlife biologist by any stretch of the imagination, but the buck to doe ratios are terrible and for every 10-15 deer I see, one of them is a buck. For every 30+ I see, one is maybe a shooter. And I don't spend much time around the wiha - like I said, they can squirt out of those wiha pockets in a new york minute and be gone for weeks. It's definitely tough. If you want to do it just to say you did it, your best use of resources would be to avoid wiha.

Now whitetail, there are a lot more opportunities to shoot a good deer on public land and do so a lot closer to home. And hunt whitetails during their rut (seems whitetail are good to go the first week or two of november vs mulies in late Nov/early Dec).

Hope that helps you. There are definitely mule deer out west, but it is not an easy game and especially so for nonresidents
 

coyotecreek

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That draw is much thicker than what we have! The pasture up top is very common for out there - it's just flat hard to get close and that's part of the reason why the closest deer I've killed out that way was at 250 yards.

My observation on mule deer isn't so much that numbers are way down (the deer are sort of scarce but tend to stick to CRP or heavy terrain once crops are gone), but considering the average mule deer tag holder has a single tag for either sex, they're going to shoot a buck. I am not a wildlife biologist by any stretch of the imagination, but the buck to doe ratios are terrible and for every 10-15 deer I see, one of them is a buck. For every 30+ I see, one is maybe a shooter. And I don't spend much time around the wiha - like I said, they can squirt out of those wiha pockets in a new york minute and be gone for weeks. It's definitely tough. If you want to do it just to say you did it, your best use of resources would be to avoid wiha.

Now whitetail, there are a lot more opportunities to shoot a good deer on public land and do so a lot closer to home. And hunt whitetails during their rut (seems whitetail are good to go the first week or two of november vs mulies in late Nov/early Dec).

Hope that helps you. There are definitely mule deer out west, but it is not an easy game and especially so for nonresidents
That picture was taken 50 yards from the Saline, so a little more cover along the river. You are right about the buck to doe ratio. I will say that far west mulies might still be hanging in, but 100-150 miles east of the state line they are disappearing. 20 years ago I would always see mulies near Russell and shot my first mule deer with a bow by Smith Center. I don’t see them there anymore.
 

wildwilderness

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There are NO points for the mule deer stamp in Kansas. The points are to draw a Whitetail tag, then its a random lottery for only those NR that have already drawn a Buck tag who pre-selected to go into the MD Stamp lottery.

I would not worry too much about OTC elk in CO affecting Deer. You hunt them differently, and though there is some overlap, the prime areas for each are not the same. There are many units in CO with Leftover Archery deer tags, and many more you can draw with 0 points.
 
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