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Kansas elk 2023

Not the end of the story, just a chapter change. Keep at it Kansasdad! And thanks again for taking the time to write it up for all of us!
 
I saw an elk outside of Atchison about 7 years ago. A friend of a friend had a bull eating with his cattle in West Leavenworth County 2 years ago. I think the Ft. Riley herd is slowly migrating.
 
I saw an elk outside of Atchison about 7 years ago. A friend of a friend had a bull eating with his cattle in West Leavenworth County 2 years ago. I think the Ft. Riley herd is slowly migrating.
The state record elk was taken in Leavenworth County IIRC. Sprinkles of elk here and there.

I have concerns about inbreeding on the post as the original stockings and subsequent ones all trace back from the same locale.
 
What a story so far, read the entire thing. Following now. Hope you can make it happen!
 
Beautifully written story, hope you can close out the season with an elk, keep us updated. As a Kansas resident it was cool to come across your story and read it through. I have thought about applying for bonus points, and I think this post has given me the motivation to begin to do so.
 
A very happy detour regarding elk hunting off post. @kansasson and wife had their baby today (first grandchild for us!) so my priority of time and effort are going to be redirected for awhile.

Still hoping to find favor with private land folks, and then be there when the elk are there, but little Charlotte is now a higher calling.

Very thankful for modern medicine. 5+ weeks early, and doing well, her mom is great as well after an urgent C-section
 
A very happy detour regarding elk hunting off post. @kansasson and wife had their baby today (first grandchild for us!) so my priority of time and effort are going to be redirected for awhile.

Still hoping to find favor with private land folks, and then be there when the elk are there, but little Charlotte is now a higher calling.

Very thankful for modern medicine. 5+ weeks early, and doing well, her mom is great as well after an urgent C-section
Congratulations on the grandbaby, you might try calling in to grain elevators in the area, see who is having problems with elk, and see if maybe you could get their number. I have a buddy who hunts mulies in Nebraska and that is his strategy for getting permission to hunt private.
 
My elk tag for off post hunting expired yesterday with me giving it one more long shot attempt. There are fairly large tracts of Corp of Engineers controlled lands adjacent to the post, along with KDWP lands that border the upper reaches of Milford lake.

I left home quite early for my last trek northward in hopes of catching sight of an elk in my scope one more time. I checked in to the wildlife area through my app and headed up and over the hill towards the post boundary. There were private land winter wheat fields nearby, so my hope was that I might catch some elk heading back to sanctuary after a morning green breakfast.

Crossing a creek bottom I found myself looking for elk sign in the now dry soil. Lots of deer sign, but no elk prints seen, I carried on towards my hoped for ambush lookout.

I saw no elk coming up out of the crop lands, so I headed towards the pond I had found on OnX. Posting up on a vantage spot to catch any thirsty elk coming in for a drink, I sat on that waterhole enjoying the gadwalls, scaup, and one lone coot doing ducky things, hoping against hope that the breezy 59 degree day might make a cow decide that getting some water sounded good.

Around 4 pm I decided that I had hung around the pond long enough, and made my way further north and along the post boundary. I was now west of an area that back in September @kansasson and I had found elk beds on the post. I had a decent view onto post lands, and hoped that elk might start filtering out of the woods headed my way.

A few moments before I reached my next vantage spot, I busted a flock of turkeys, who putted and took off running deeper into the post.

The steady cool NNE breezes were slowing down, and becoming more variable. I still hadn’t seen any elk sign, but I was determined to stick it out to the very end of legal hunting time.

After sunset I saw 6 deer about 300 yards away coming into the open bottom. They kept looking back towards where they had just come from, so I was hoping for a soon appearance of a Kansas elk. Alas, it was more deer. My alarm set to the end of legal sounded and my season was over.
 
I will try to summarize my Kansas elk adventure in a couple of paragraphs. Hopeful as ever, on the day that applications period started, I paid my $12 application fee hoping to catch lightning on a bottle. Those hopes rose, and amidst a @nhenry thread about applying for Kansas tags, I shot my shot and even told the story about my mom praying that I’d draw this tag. When the results were finally known and my points were showing I had gained yet another elk point, I resigned myself to be happy about waterfowl and deer hunting.

And then came the call from Pratt saying that I was drawn as first alternate and a tag was being turned in…..so did I want it? Resoundingly yes! And as a bonus Mrs kansasdad was there to hear that phone call. As you might imagine, my next phone call was to my praying mom, to tell her that I indeed have an elk tag for Kansas after all.

My August scouting trip included getting my firearms registered with the post, and that evening I was able to see and hear my first Kansas elk.

September hunting was extreme in heat and the amount of post land that was off limits for recreation. I saw elk the first weekend hunting briefly before legal shooting time. We got lots of exploring done and enjoyed success with deer and turkey sightings, and I had a an amazing low level Apache helicopter overflight. Two times I had elk in my muzzleloader scope in September. A spike the first close call, and two shoulder to shoulder cows running close by and not a good shooting situation.

October was almost completely non hunting related except for a couple of archery deer mornings.

November came, and I was excited to get back into the area that had been most successful for elk sign and sightings. The soybeans that were green to yellowing in early September had all been harvested, and the drought was continuing. Crossing the creek was easy enough as to not be a impediment

Hunting with kansasson I decided to not pull the trigger on a young cow at 35 yards, and have come to regret that pass. A couple of weeks later I pulled up to “my” parking spot to find a dozen elk on the soybean field. By the end of that evening there were 4 times that amount slowly feeding away. I chose to not shot a slowly walking cow at 185 yards thinking that I’d catch up to this herd sometime later that weekend. I regret that choice almost as much as the 35 yard no shoot choice.

Thanksgiving weekend came and I left extended family to hunt that Saturday and Sunday as my “last chance” option. A weather front came through with rain turning to snow, and quite a big snow at that. In the pre-dawn hours I heard the big herd leave the ag field, gathering just below me, and then they left the bottoms and got up onto the tops of the Flint Hills. I could see heads and tops of backs as they climbed the hill, but was always screened by underbrush and hillside, thus no shot.

I cleared my schedule for one last attempt at an Fort Riley elk and tried to use the snow to track an elk to its bed. Great idea that didn’t turn into any elk in my scope as the warmer temps were quickly melting the snow, and the rising creek with the snowmelt meant that I couldn’t cross the creek to follow where they went downstream. I ended up driving off post and all the way around to the county highway, more than 45 miles driving, to end up a couple of miles from where I found those tracks. My hiked for intercept never occurred and my hunting on the Post was over without a shot fired.

In late December off post elk sighting were reported on Facebook groups, and I made plans to work for private land permission access. And then kansasson and wife had their 6 week early childbirth and elk hunting fell to the wayside. An easy choice to make.

Lots of friends and patients knew of my good fortune of drawing the Fort Riley tag. When asked, I tell them of the times I had elk in my scope, and of my Monday morning quarterbacking thoughts about woulda coulda shoulda and for sure feel wistful about those choices. But I tell them I had an amazing fall full of adventure. Moments of exhilaration and sheer awe of nature, combined with sore legs, and pangs of failure as the tag is unfilled. But it is just pangs of failing to fill a tag, as I’ve had an amazing elk adventure in Kansas.
 
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