Traveling Deer Hunters
Jon & All MAHA Staff,
I want to start off by thanking the entire staff at MAHA. As first year members, my dad and I have been treated to first class service. Everyone on your team has done everything possible to accommodate our deer hunting needs.
My dad and I have hunted together for over 30 years in Vermont our home state. As you may know, Vermont does not produce many deer, and even fewer deer that would be considered trophy class by most standards. With that said, we have been successful by Vermont standards harvesting at least one buck between us every year and many times multiple bucks. I mention these facts not to tell you how many bucks we taken over the years, rather to give you an idea of where we were in our hunting journey. In the 2004 hunting season it became clear to my dad and I, that we were losing a little of that spark all hunters have during the magical month of November. We read in countless hunting magazine articles about the rut and what a special time of the year it is. Where we hunt, because of the hunting pressure and age class of the deer population we find few rubs and even fewer scrapes. We wanted to experience what the rest of the hunting world was, real "Big Buck" sign and the opportunity to harvest a true trophy whitetail. We knew we had to change many techniques we developed over the years and more importantly, we needed to hunt where "Big Bucks" live. I went online to begin my search and the first web site my search brought up was MAHA. I read through your extensive web site and realized, this was exactly what we were looking for. A place where we could hunt on our own, in different locations, with an organization that had been around for years. It's one thing to read about all the opportunities an organization can claim to provide, but more often than not your disappointed once you join. MAHA is the real deal. All the information on your web site is up to date, accurate and very complete. We were fortunate to draw in Kansas on our first try thanks to the advice of Jon to try the "Buddy System" which means either both applicants get drawn or none do. Using Aerial Photos and Topo Maps, we picked our spot and then once we arrived, scouted the property and found more buck sign in two days than we have in 30 plus years of scouting in Vermont. We set up our stands, my dads by a pond with great cover and food source and myself on a creek bottom that was a buck vortex, strewn with scrapes and rubs. My dad harvested a great 130 class buck on the first day on stand and I harvested a nice six point buck on day five, yes, my dad can still out hunt me.
We are once again excited about hunting and feel like we are learning all over again and that's exciting. We can't thank MAHA enough for providing us with a place to hunt, because bottom line, that was the missing link in our hunting journey. Attached are a few pictures of my dad's 2005 Kansas buck.
Our best regards, Mike & Gary
Thank you Mike for such a great letter. Best of all possible luck this season.
Youth Deer Hunter
Jon and John,
September 23, 2006. What a memorable day! This letter gets a little lengthy, but who could blame me!!
We just opened up our second retail store in Wichita on Monday 9/18, so I had no scouting time this summer. By Thursday (9/21), I was down to my last 2 days to fill my Any Deer Muzzleloader Tag for the September season. On Thursday afternoon, I headed out west to [location deleted]. I saw good numbers of deer and Friday morning passed on a small 6pt muley. At mid-day Friday (9/22), I drove back to Wichita to pick-up my oldest son Clayton, who is 9, to hunt the special youth season weekend. We got back in the field in time to hunt the last evening of muzzleloader season, but my tag remains unfilled.
Saturday morning was cloudy, damp and cool, with a strong wind blowing from the northwest. At 7am we were set up along a creek bed in some timber where I thought deer might be bedding down out of the wind. We started seeing deer at first light but they were all coming from the south and had winded us. At 8:30am, this doe and a fawn showed up 40 yards from our setup. Clayton said he wanted to take her, and he made a nice clean shot. She dropped within 50 yards. Clayton had his first deer!
Although Clayton was satisfied with his hunt, I suggested we stay through the evening to see if he could get a shot at a buck. As a side note here, and a suggestion if you are taking someone on a youth hunt, spend the extra $12 on a Whitetail Antlerless Only Tag so your young hunter can harvest a doe and still have a chance at a buck later on. That $12 may end up buying a once-in-lifetime memory as it did for Clayton and me.
We were back in the field around 4pm. With the wind still strong out of the northwest, we swung around to the south to approach a draw that was a few hundred yards from our morning hunt. We set up on the southeast side of the draw next to a small cedar tree. Around 4:30pm, a doe got up out of a plum thicket 125 yards across from us on the north slope, a perfect bedding place to get out of the wind. After a few minutes she laid back down. I carefully scoped the 3 or 4 additional plum thickets also on the north slope. I could make out the doe's outline, but could see nothing else. At 5:15, Clayton was getting a little impatient and wanted to move to a back-up spot we had picked out that was closer to the truck. The skies had clouded up again and I told Clayton we needed to wait another 15-30 minutes as I thought the deer may start moving a little earlier than normal. I told him we needed to keep a close eye on the doe as a gauge of when the deer would start moving. At 5:30, Clayton whispered that the doe was up again. She had moved out of the right side of the thicket. What Clayton didn't see was the really nice buck moving out to the left side. I took one look though the binoculars and immediately knew he was a shooter. I told Calyton to look to the left side of the thicket and get his gun up, as I adjusted his shooting sticks. The buck turned in our direction, stood still and squatted to do his business. He was directly facing us in that posture for what seemed like an eternity, but I'm sure now was less than a minute. The buck never had a clue about our presence. I quietly informed Clayton what the buck was doing and told him when he was finished, he would either turn left or right, and that was his shot. Sure enough, the buck took 2-3 steps, turned to his left and stretched out broadside to nibble a leaf. Looking through my binoculars, I whispered, "take'm". I heard the boom and saw the buck drop right in his tracks. Clayton's shot was high and left, but entered the bucks neck and exited through the left shoulder for an instantly lethal kill.
After some whoopin', hollerin' and several high fives, we made our was across the draw to check out Clayton's first buck. And what a fine specimen he is: 200+ pounds, a non-typical 7x4, 11 total points. He's got nice width and height, and the mass that comes with a mature buck. I'm guessing he will score in the 140-160's, but we're talking my son's first buck here, so my enthusiasm is no doubt biased. He's definitely going on the wall for Clayton to someday tell the story to his children about his first successful hunt with their grandpa.
Thank you for providing a great hunting association where members have the opportunity to make hunting memories of a lifetime.
Thank you Gerald, congratulations to Clayton on a fine deer hunt. We can only say, WOW!
Comments about the 29 September deer tag update. Perhaps the most important aspect for the member/hunter of our knowing how many deer hunters have unit/zone specific tags is that information impacts land contracting decisions.
One aspect of not contracting all land by one point each year has benefit to the member through selecting where to lease by refined information of where to spend money that is always limited. In terms of deer tags, if we have a surge of tag holders specific to one unit where land may not be as abundant as we would prefer we have the ability to flex our leasing effort to that unit/zone.
The same process applies to pheasant leases involving CRP acreage that occurred this year. Our holdback on those contracts this year paid off as with the drought haying release allowed CRP grass to be cut and baled for farm consumption. Our waiting to sign those contracts saved us from spending money on what is now in some areas clean cut fields.
Overall, most would agree that any self employed business [owner] is efficient with the information it uses and how it spends money. Any requirement will have the purpose of saving or making money and in our case of this deer lease example ensuring the best hunt possible to ensure members renew their memberships.
This picture is one Iowa lease under consideration. About 400 acres with about half in woods. The decision point on the contract will be the number of tag holders for the zone.