Out of State Destinations: Kansas deer

Casey Eckhardt and her first Kansas whitetail.

There’s no place like home, unless you’re after a big Sunflower state buck

In the movie, “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy was convinced that there was no place like home. But going to Kansas is pretty close to getting an audience  with the Wizard for those that make a visit to the Sunflower State in search of one of its many huge trophy whitetail deer.

“My husband and I have always dreamed of beginning to do one out of state hunt per year in addition to hunting in Louisiana,” said Physical Therapist Dr. Casey Eckhardt of NELA Rehab in northeast Louisiana. “We had some friends who were also wanting to hunt in Kansas, so we decided to all put in for tags in the same year.”

Casey and her husband, Tyler, put in for tags last season and she drew a tag, but he did not. He took it in stride and helped guide her to a hunt of a lifetime, firsts in Kansas for both of them.

“Since we did not have any preference points, we were not likely to all draw tags, but my husband and I made a pact that whoever drew tags would get a new Matthew’s bow,” she said. “Long story short, I was the only person in our group to draw a tag.”

She didn’t have a lease, but her friends did, she said. Since they didn’t draw tags, they gave her a great price on their lease near Pittsburg, Kansas. Basically she was left with 500 acres of Kansas to hunt all alone. Tyler, also a Physical Therapist, put in most of the leg work and got a good stand and feeder set up and planned the trip while she finished working and was taking care of two young children.

Successful hunt

Dr. Eckhardt’s first hunt in Kansas was a successful one. She harvested a big 11-point that weighed 200 pounds. The big deer is now mounted and on display on her office wall.  Here’s a quick overview of how the hunt went.

“Despite planning for a colder hunt all pre-season, it was a warm early November in Kansas with every day hitting over 70 degrees,” she said. “That day there were clear skies and it was a bit windy so we decided to tuck ourselves into a ground blind in the woods to escape the winds. We had a friend tell us of a deer trail to hunt in this area and we wanted to see if we could get lucky. After hearing something a bit far off, the rattle brought him out very quickly and he was looking for a fight. As we heard him walking, I drew my bow and left my entire focus on my small target on the deer and was waiting on Tyler to tell me if he was a shooter. I never even glanced at the horns after Tyler told me that we were going to take him.”

They had the video going and a short grunt by Tyler stopped the buck for a second.

“As soon as he was still, I released my arrow,” she said. “I thankfully made a good shot at just under 20 yards and as I saw him run off, I still didn’t get a good look at his horns due to trying to track where he was running. I was praying that he didn’t go far because his body looked huge and I knew we would have to drag him out of the woods.”

The Miners Hall Museum in Franklin, Kansas.

They found the deer 30 yards away. That’s when she saw the rack and was in awe. But she had been worried.

“I am a smaller woman and was shooting a smaller diameter arrow and pulling only 38 pounds,” Eckhardt said. “I was concerned that I would not get good penetration on bigger deer and this was the biggest bodied deer that I had ever seen. To see my arrow go all the way through was impressive and I was immediately thankful for my husband and bow tech for problem solving this issue and adding a small weight to the head of my arrows.”

Celebration ensues

They took pictures, celebrated and loaded the brute on the back of a 4-wheeler. The next step was figuring out how to cape him properly, but the first was to find a taxidermist. They called the one in town that was actually very close to where they were hunting, but he was closing. After telling him they were from out of state and it was her first compound bow buck to take, he said to come on in.

Kansas uses a lottery system, but you can buy preference points as well to help increase your chances of a draw.

“My husband and I now have an every-other-year draw plan,” Eckhardt said. ”We will buy a preference point one year in order to draw the next.”

While the season is over this year, it’s time to start that procedure if you want to hunt Kansas. Normally online applications are accepted through the month of April with draw results reported in early June.

This area also has a ton of history related to mining businesses, including the Miners Hall Museum and the Weir-Pittsburg coal field area. Mining left The Mined Land Wildlife Area with a harsh mark on the land, but is being converted into ponds, lakes and recovering flora and fauna. Two “world famous” chicken spots, Chicken Annie’s and Chicken Mary’s operate on the same block and both have lines for good food.

Editor’s Note: If you have an out-of-state destination story you’d like to share, please email editor@lasmag.com.

About Kinny Haddox 592 Articles
Kinny Haddox has been writing magazine and newspaper articles about the outdoors in Louisiana for 45 years. He publishes a daily website, lakedarbonnelife.com and is a member of the Louisiana Chapter of the Outdoor Legends Hall of Fame. He and his wife, DiAnne, live in West Monroe.