Petzal's Brief Visit to Whitetail Heaven

And so, having hunted in Maine for a week without seeing a deer, I went to western Kansas where I could see 20 deer at a time, or 60 in a morning. The Kansas whitetail herd, or what I saw of it, is unreal. It combines the numbers and the superior antler genetics of Texas deer with the whopping body size of the deer you find in Saskatchewan.

The buck above--still comparatively young--scored 143 1/8 gross B and C points, and 140 1/8 net, making him a very good deer but by no means the top of the heap. Bucks that scored in the 160s and 170 had been killed right where I shot him. His antlers look smaller than they are because his head is as big as a bucket. Bodyweight was guessed at 255. As I said, they grow them big here.

Deer of this size don't wander into the fields and invite you to shoot them. They hang back in the woods bordering the fields and you have to develop the knack of looking into the brush to see them. Sometimes you have to risk a shot through the brush, which is what I did with this fellow--a 150-grain .270 Swift A-Frame through the shoulders at about 120 yards. The photo is not carefully posed because it had already turned dark and because it was 2 below zero and we had to get his guts out before he started to stiffen up.

One peculiarity of these deer is their coats. Rather than go into winter-phase gray they seem to stay the same reddish blond color all year around. One afternoon a doe ran across the road in front of me so that the sun caught her just right and she shone like molten gold.

Oh mommy, can I go back?