From Forrest the Guide:
Gods hands were all over this! I met Tyler on the front porch of the small hunting cabin at the break of dawn this morning. He was a tall handsome young man of fourteen. I liked him imeadiatly, he had a nice short hair that old guys like me appreciate.
There were turkeys gobbling in the darkness all around the cabin. That is a good sign, it also puts a little pressure on a first time outfitter. If you can’t flop a long beard on a morning like this, you may wish to hang up your box call. (a booger bottom, Michael Waddel signature series box call I might add.)
I was introduced to the boys father, we loaded Tyler and his shooting iron into big red and headed out to the stubble field…there is 335,000 miles on red and I hold my breath wherever she takes me, even if it is only to the back forty looking for a turkey.
Daylight is well on its way as I checked the box blind for possums, snakes and wasp nests. At more than 6 feet this young man didn’t need my help climbing into the blind so I set out a couple of hens and a single jake decoy. They looked well used but lonely, they should work.
I was happy to see that Tyler had waited for me to get in the blind with him before loading his shotgun. He had been taught well. I had mentioned to his father that I would assuredly bark at his son if he wasn’t safe, it appeared that our conversation would not need to head in that direction.
We had been in the blind about half an hour, shared a pre game pep talk, ate some leftover Easter cookies and waited for the woods around us to settle in. The cardinal, the owls and Canada goose were all present. There was some sort of critter gnawing on the underside of the blind. I was glad Luke the wonder dog was not in the blind as he would surely have tried to dig through the flooring to get at it.
Two strutters and four of their girlfriends were taking a walk along the far tree line. Not sure where they had come from, where they were headed, but the boys were doing the best to impress the ladies, the ladies were having none of it, my box call was making sounds of desperation, and the whole parade just kept on strutting southward. Maybe south, I’m an Alaskan, McKinley is south, the brooks Range is North, there are only a couple of roads and they mostly went south from where I lived. I knew one thing for certain, when those hens tired of the show this morning, the boys would come looking for me, even if I sounded old and desperate.
Tyler and I share a bit of conversation as we wait for the gobblers to come back our way, I had assured him they would. He wrestled, played baseball, was articulate as they come at 14, said please and thank you as we shared a couple more Easter treats. There were no funny colors in his hair, he left his phone in his pocket and was unashamed of his faith as I prayed for the success of our day in the darkness earlier. You can tell a lot about a man during a hunt, I’m pretty comfortable this young man is pointed the right direction.
Along about eight thirty a gobble came from a different direction, kinda from the direction the other birds had strolled towards. Again and again we heard gobbles and this bird was getting closer.
I could tell this was gonna happen, Gods favor was with us. I saw a little blue head break the horizon, the the tail fanned out, this bird was about 100 yds and coming closer. My young friend’s breathing escalated to a point I thought best to calm him a bit, relax I said.
I remember those days, I love the Adrenalin surge, I couldn’t help but smile behind my face covering. It could only have been better if it had been my son, or in a few years my grandson, but this was close.
I watched this bird strut a little, take about ten little turkey steps and then repeat again and again till he came in range, it was time. “Tyler, you can shoot any time you are read…BOOM” apparently he was ready!
There was a lot of backslaps and handshakes. Took some pictures and called his dad to come out to field. More backslaps and handshakes…and lots of smiles for a boys first turkey.
Now you may wonder how Gods hands were all over this. I met a Godly father and son, the father shared his son with me on this day. I prayed aloud, in a pasture with a young man I had barely met. Something not that many years ago I may have declined. God will show up when and where he is needed. It can be in a turkey blind just as easy as he did months ago in a hospital, on a gurney when I needed it most.
Today he shared a young man, showed me that all is not bad with our youth. He shared his father with me, showed me that there is Godly men raising their children in the right way.
I’m sure there were many people that met God yesterday, Easter Sunday on the most important day of my life, but today he found me in a turkey blind, in a pasture, in the dark. How awesome is that.
Some fools will hunt anytime, anywhere! Wind Dancing from Tom A., 2015:
I was sitting by 2:30. Shot him about 4:30. I figured that side of the woods would be as calm as any with the WSW wind. Might have been, but it was not very calm. Was a few minutes away from seriously contemplating about getting down. Heard two large trees back to SW that crashed to the ground, I swear I could feel the ground shake. The gusts were so crazy, I was analyzing which saplings I would grab on the way down to help cushion my fall, then I saw him, “Gusty” walking down the racetrack towards my buck decoy. He bristled up and freshened two scrapes on the way. Then peeled off into the saplings to the north, weaved into the woods to the south and came right on the trail by my stand. Shot him in the exact same spot as the bionic doe. He went maybe 30-40 yards and gave it up. Gusty doesn’t score very well, but he was a big heavy buck with good mass. Just short tine length. Technically I guess he’s a 10 point with the split brows but had a broken off p4 on his right side so would have been an 11.
Tape Tales from Mike Handley, Rack Magazine, Buckmasters, Winter 2012/2013: Miss Kansas? Perish the Thought!
For me a deer season without traveling to Kansas would be like eating grits without butter, macaroni without cheese or toast without jelly. I might leave there with no more than i carried, but maybe not.
I’ve been making that trip for nearly a decade, thanks to my friend Mike Nickels, who runs Old School guide Service out of McLouth. I’ve burned only one tag in all that time, but it was my best buck to date. Not shooting a gazillion others was my choice, yet some of those animals gave me wonderful stories to tell………
It you want to book a hunt, Mike can walk you through the current permitting process.
You might even see me wearing my ruby slippers. Mike Handley
Mike Handley, Buckmasters, October 2015: Looking for Bone? Kansas #1, for Top 10 Whitetail States with Jefferson County the #1 county in Kansas.