When you enter the woods in search of prey, whether it’s a rutting buck or a strutting tom, something magical happens.
The cares and distractions of our daily lives seem to melt away, and in the silence and stillness of nature, you begin to notice the little things that you never thought of before — the rustling of leaves, the groaning of trees as the wind causes their branches to sway, the direction of the wind.
It is perhaps ironic that, with the nearly constant stimulation caused by the daily hustle and bustle of life, we become oblivious to things that are right in front of us. The sudden clarity when you enter the still of the woods is one of the reasons hunting stories are always so detailed — you notice everything, you’re focused on the moment. That’s also what makes for such great memories, especially with family and friends along for the hunt.
One of the great stories to come out of the deer woods this fall is from the Barnett family, and it illustrates exactly what makes hunting so great.
Jeff Barnett had an opportunity to hunt this fall with both his son and his father, and all three generations took down a nice buck.
His 9-year-old boy, Henry, shot his first deer on Dec. 1 on their family farm in Franklin County. Jeff, proud as can be, said Henry made a perfect shot at 100 yards to take down the buck.
“This is truly a day neither of us will ever forget,” Jeff said. “The look on his face was priceless!”
Henry’s deer was an eight-point management buck with a tall rack that scored 109 on the Boone and Crockett scale. Jeff got a nice, mature buck of his own, a wide eight-pointer with a gross score of 142.
Jeff’s father, Tom Barnett, also bagged the first buck of his life, and boy, was it a nice one. The beautiful buck had a big, nine-point frame and a big body — a true bruiser. It had a gross score of 138.
The reason it was Tom’s first buck, Jeff said, was because he had focused on his son’s enjoyment during their years of hunting, rather than his own — another detail that really came into focus during Jeff’s time in the woods with his dad.
“He took a backseat on hunting when I was young to let me enjoy the outdoors,” Jeff said. “I can’t thank him enough for making that sacrifice.”
Another great year in the field for this family of Kansas deer hunters.
“This has truly been a ‘Dream Season’ for us,” Jeff said.
In Osage County, another family headed out to the woods in search of a youngster’s first deer.
Thirteen-year-old Jack Carey, who attends Washburn Rural Middle School, shot an eight-point buck on opening day while hunting with his grandfather and mother in the northwestern section of the Kansas county.
“It was almost time to stop hunting and I thought we weren’t going to see anything when all of a sudden the deer walked out into the field,” Jack said. “I knew the moment I saw him that I was going to shoot him.”
The deer was shot on land owned by his grandfather since 2004, an area that has been the location of several special memories for the family — including his first turkey, his sister’s first turkey, his mom’s first deer and now his first deer.
“This was my first year deer hunting, so it was exciting to have a chance to shoot such a nice deer,” Jack said. “I can’t wait for next deer season!”
Cheryl Zibell also submitted a photograph of 9-year-old Jack Etzel, of Jackson County, who shot his first deer Nov. 30 before school. Jack is the son of Chris and Audrey Etzel.
“Arrived a little late at school, but makes for a great day,” Zibell wrote.
I’m wondering how he made it through the day with all of the adrenaline he must’ve had pumping from that hunt. He was probably day dreaming about venison the whole day.
I’m so glad to see more young people out there in the woods, seeing what hunting is all about. It’s a great experience, and even if I don’t get to go much these days, some of my favorite memories took place in the woods and cornfields of northeast Kansas. It’s a beautiful place to live and hunt.
SHUNGA CREEK CLEANUP: A group of volunteers from Sharp Honda, Daniels Family Values Appliance and Raintree Apartments, among others, went to work on Dec. 7 to clean up trash from a section of the Shunga Creek. I want to take the time to say thank you to those who gave their time and effort to make the world a better place. I’ve enjoyed several fishing trips to the creek this year, and it really is a little piece of paradise here in the capital city. Always be sure to clean up after yourself when you visit these areas, and if you can, “Leave it a little nicer than you found it,” as my grandpa Sonny Swader always says.
CATFISH TOURNAMENT ANNOUNCED: All-American Catfish Tournaments will host its 2018 Ice Breaker tournament at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 18, 2018, at Kaw Point Park in Kansas City, Kan.
Cost will be $160 per boat, with two-angler teams and a five-fish weigh-in at 4:30 p.m. For more information, go to https://tinyurl.com/y89ryms8/.
‘CHUPACABRA’ SPOTTED ON TRAIL CAM: Topeka‘s favorite critter was spotted again Nov. 28, this time on a trail camera near S.W. 33rd and Wanamaker owned by Jim Branch.
“As you recall we had a similar looking creature last year spotted several places and discussed in the TCJ sports section,” Branch wrote in an email. “I don’t know if it’s the same animal but it sure is a disgusting looking thing. I assume it’s a mange coyote even though people are fans of it being a Chupacabra.”
Thanks for the email, Jim!