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Kansas elk 2023

Lifted from the Fort Riley hunting and fishing Facebook page:

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Micheal Pearce, the last Outdoors Editor of the Wichita Eagle wrote:
"Perfect example of a Fort Riley bull…extra points, a sticker or drop, lots of mass, not much width".

As I was crawling through some of the dog-hair growth along the river bottoms, I was wondering if there is an adaptation of antler growth to allow these bulls to travel easier with narrow antler growth. It seemed that at low overhanging branches over the main trail there would be a sidestep trail around a low hanging object that might be easier for bulls (and humans) to get under.

It seems that there must be some amount of inbreeding issues due to the small number of original brood stocks from Maxwell game reserve, to the Cimarron Grasslands to Fort Riley. I know that Roosevelt antlers are typically smaller than Rocky Mountain elk subspecies, living in the "temperate rain forests" of NW USA.

Already dreaming of next weekend where hopefully I can squeeze off a lethal round.
 
Lifted from the Fort Riley hunting and fishing Facebook page:

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Micheal Pearce, the last Outdoors Editor of the Wichita Eagle wrote:
"Perfect example of a Fort Riley bull…extra points, a sticker or drop, lots of mass, not much width".

As I was crawling through some of the dog-hair growth along the river bottoms, I was wondering if there is an adaptation of antler growth to allow these bulls to travel easier with narrow antler growth. It seemed that at low overhanging branches over the main trail there would be a sidestep trail around a low hanging object that might be easier for bulls (and humans) to get under.

It seems that there must be some amount of inbreeding issues due to the small number of original brood stocks from Maxwell game reserve, to the Cimarron Grasslands to Fort Riley. I know that Roosevelt antlers are typically smaller than Rocky Mountain elk subspecies, living in the "temperate rain forests" of NW USA.

Already dreaming of next weekend where hopefully I can squeeze off a lethal round.
I’ve noticed that with the Ft. Riley bulls ive seen pics of. Usually non typical, short beams and narrow.
 
I’ve noticed that with the Ft. Riley bulls ive seen pics of. Usually non typical, short beams and narrow.
I’m curious if that has anything to do with brainworm. They’re seeing a lot of that in Missouri causing antler deformities if it doesn’t kill them outright.
 
Fleeting glimpses of elk through the thick leafless forest last night and this morning. I didn’t have to duck when the quail flushed west and I was south across the creek when the two hunters and their dog came through around 11. Sadly my hopes that they might cause some bedded elk to get on a well traveled trail that I was watching over failed to materialize.

Rain chances start to build before daybreak, with 50-75% throughout the day. Probably going to wear breathable waders and for sure will keep a close eye on the creek flow levels, as it doesn't take much sustained rain to get decent runoff in the Flint Hills. I don’t want to get stranded on the wrong side of the creek, as there are no bridges between Manhattan and Riley (a stretch of just under 20 miles)
 
In the last 10ish minutes of legal time, a small spike deer came up one of the trails I was watching over. He came to 14 yards when he froze, looking directly at me. Stare down that became a eat and stare, followed by one snort and a couple of jumps sideways, and then a very short amble to a rub tree. My vision was blocked by a large tree trunk, but I could see the cedar sapling’s top shaking for a good five minutes.

He showed that tree who was boss!
 
In the last 10ish minutes of legal time, a small spike deer came up one of the trails I was watching over. He came to 14 yards when he froze, looking directly at me. Stare down that became a eat and stare, followed by one snort and a couple of jumps sideways, and then a very short amble to a rub tree. My vision was blocked by a large tree trunk, but I could see the cedar sapling’s top shaking for a good five minutes.

He showed that tree who was boss!
I was watching one thrash a little aspen last week for quite a while, when he finally stepped out and was visible, he had about 3" spikes, but he was a tough guy.
 
Welp, that’s a good test of my rain gear.

Started at 7 am, and kept up until 12:30, then started again at 2:30 until end of legal. Crossing the creek and getting up the steep muddy bank might have been comical had it been taped for your viewing amusement

Leaving the woods a bit early hoping to catch some elk out on the cut soybean (parking area) field, my heart rate picked up when I saw distant four footed animals eating. Obviously a whitetail doe being carefully escorted by a nice buck, and out in the middle a dark necked critter picking over the soybeans. Raising the binoculars and struggling with the near darkness (20 minutes of legal shooting light by the clock) and the steady rain, I watched this hoped for cow morph into a decent buck. Gleaming antlers, body size and ears all confirm.

Nice little adrenaline surge for the end of the weekend. I actually made it to car suv just as my phone alarm went off. Thankfully I was parked so that the nose was into the wind and the hatch created a fine awning for changing out my clothes.

Thanksgiving is up next. No patients Wednesday Thursday and Friday. And a houseful of guests. Hope to get out after the actual holiday, with below freezing temps and snow predicted for Friday.
 
I should have listened to that “still small voice” that encouraged me to log in to the iSportsman check in page before I actually arrived at my jumping off spot, as the one bar of cellular connection was super slow.

Someone was parked in “my spot”, so I went in the opposite direction of where I’ve been concentrating my efforts the last two weeks. Walking along there was plenty of good elk hoof prints and poop.

While hunting tonight, I only saw deer, with this three day weekend being Ft Riley antlerless whitetail weekend. The zone that I’m in is archery, muzzleloader or shotgun only. The western zones also allow centerfire weapons. There is a system where they allow 250 hunters in each zone daily, trying to regulate to a degree the pumpkin army.

As I got back to my SUV, I dawdled a bit as I hoped I could make contact with the hunter in “my” spot. Mark B is hunting a specific buck further downstream, and had decided to take a breather from him tonight. He was happy to share where his cellular cameras have been popping elk throughout his bucks core area.

Driving back to town I saw elk next to the road in the glare of my headlights. Adjacent to where the tipster told me they were hanging out!

I plan on beating the sleet, snow and mid afternoon freezing rain by ninja-ing my way into their feeding/bedding zone early in the day.
 
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There was a fun cow party (@MHMT !) in the creek bottom woodlands before legal shooting time. Just after legal arrived the party crescendoed and then they all seemed to head up and out to the flats above. They were using a fold in the hillside, so that I could see the tops of their backs filtering thru the trees. Several cows in my scope with no vital structures visible. Couple that with intermediate underbrush and I never even took my safety off.

The snow has arrived with 3-7 inches forecasted for north central Kansas. Mrs kansasdad will say that this guarantees with one or nine inches of snow by the time it’s all over after midnight tonight.
 
There was a fun cow party (@MHMT !) in the creek bottom woodlands before legal shooting time. Just after legal arrived the party crescendoed and then they all seemed to head up and out to the flats above. They were using a fold in the hillside, so that I could see the tops of their backs filtering thru the trees. Several cows in my scope with no vital structures visible. Couple that with intermediate underbrush and I never even took my safety off.

The snow has arrived with 3-7 inches forecasted for north central Kansas. Mrs kansasdad will say that this guarantees with one or nine inches of snow by the time it’s all over after midnight tonight.
Damn so close! Elk love to travel any little folds or dips that keep them hidden. Everytime I open this thread I expect to have a dead elk picture lol.
 
There was a fun cow party (@MHMT !) in the creek bottom woodlands before legal shooting time. Just after legal arrived the party crescendoed and then they all seemed to head up and out to the flats above. They were using a fold in the hillside, so that I could see the tops of their backs filtering thru the trees. Several cows in my scope with no vital structures visible. Couple that with intermediate underbrush and I never even took my safety off.

The snow has arrived with 3-7 inches forecasted for north central Kansas. Mrs kansasdad will say that this guarantees with one or nine inches of snow by the time it’s all over after midnight tonight.
We say the same thing here. They call for a dusting we get a foot, they put out a blizzard warning we get a dusting.

Supposed to get an inch or 2 last night up hunting my wife’s cow tag, we had that by the time we walked out last night, then it snowed all night. IMG_3798.jpeg
 
There was a fun cow party (@MHMT !) in the creek bottom woodlands before legal shooting time. Just after legal arrived the party crescendoed and then they all seemed to head up and out to the flats above. They were using a fold in the hillside, so that I could see the tops of their backs filtering thru the trees. Several cows in my scope with no vital structures visible. Couple that with intermediate underbrush and I never even took my safety off.

The snow has arrived with 3-7 inches forecasted for north central Kansas. Mrs kansasdad will say that this guarantees with one or nine inches of snow by the time it’s all over after midnight tonight.
Found this thread this AM and read from start to finish. Thanks kansasdad for documenting your hunt from application to draw to now. I am so cheering for you that I moved from lurker to member of HuntTalk so I could encourage you to keep hunting and keep writing. Grace to you!
 
Last post on Saturday? He either got an elk or an elk got him.

Kansas deer opened today. Probably busy trying to fill his “other” tag!
 
After the "cow party" Saturday morning, with the snow beginning to accumulate, I started to have concerns about getting out as I knew that there is never any snowplow work on any of the post's training ground roads. I stayed on top of the bedding grounds that were just vacated by the herd of elk, hoping that a couple of stragglers might still be around, and not followed the crowd. Never finding a bedded cow, I made it back to the SUV, shook off the accumulated snow and took stock of my situation.

The cow party gang had left before much snow had fallen, so there were no tracks to follow. It didn't seem like there more elk below me, but might they come back after feeding? Or were they on the move to different feed grounds. With the snow levels rising, the cut soybeans that they had been occasionally using were going to be a no-go for a food source for some time. I'd been told that the elk often come out to bed on the sunny slopes and hayfields when it gets really cold, but today was not a day that was going to have any sunshine at all. And a real consideration for me was the road conditions deteriorating with increasing snowfall.

I decided that the thing to do would be do some good ol' fashioned road hunting, cruising to see if I could find where any elk had left evidence of their recent activity. Taking some tank trails at a slow speed, I felt safe driving at first, until I could start to hear the skid plate hitting some drifting snow ridges on the gravel road. I decided to be safe and leave the training zone, heading for a county highway on the other side of the creek, which in good weather is at least a 45 minute drive. With the degrading driving conditions, this drive took me nearly 2 hours, to end up less than 2 miles away from the cow party flats.
 
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