The Kansas regular firearm deer season began with a wintry backdrop Wednesday following blizzard-like conditions Monday that dropped between 3 1/2 and up to 14 inches of snow across northeast Kansas, with areas to the north such as Marysville, Hiawatha and Seneca among the hardest hit.
More snow was forecast to fall Sunday and into Monday, with the heavier snowfall coming later, according to weather forecasters. Cold temperatures can be a good thing for hunters in stands or blinds, as deer will take advantage of the warmer daytime temperatures to move around during shooting hours rather than at night.
If the deer decide to stay bedded down because of heavy wind, however, still-hunting is the way to go. This method involves moving at a very slow pace through the woods — nearly at a standstill, which is why it’s named what it is — and walking into the wind to keep deer ahead of you from picking up your scent. Fresh, powdery snow underfoot can muffle your foot steps and make you silent as you slowly seek out bedding bucks. Wind can also help mute your footsteps.
Super cold, packed-down snow, however, will have the opposite effect, as you will be giving away your location with every crunchy step.
Not only does fresh powder keep you in stealth mode when still-hunting, but it puts a spotlight on deer movements as their tracks will stand out like sore thumbs. The fresher the snowfall, the more recent the tracks are, which means you have a better idea of how fresh the tracks are, as well. This also helps when following blood trails after the shot, as the red will stand out brilliantly in snow.
Hunters will need to take care to stick to the shadows or near trees or other cover to keep from being seen while still-hunting, especially against the white backdrop of snow on the ground. Still-hunting in wide-open fields isn’t advised.
The downside to this method is that it can be more dangerous than stand or blind hunting, particularly on public ground where you could be mistaken for a deer by another hunter, and you could also risk interfering with their hunt by walking through their area.
For those sticking to the trees, be careful. Slick boots can cause hunters to slip off as they climb to their stands, perhaps one of the biggest dangers in deer hunting if proper precautions aren’t taken. Always wear a properly fitting safety harness when climbing or sitting in tree stands. Some hunters like to take the harness off after sitting down, but you never know when something might happen that could make you fall. Better to be safe than sorry and keep the harness on.
The statewide regular firearm season will continue until Dec. 9, while the regular archery season will continue until Dec. 31. There are extended antlerless-only firearms seasons on Jan. 1 on Units 6, 8, 9, 10, 16 and 17 only; Jan. 1-6 on Units 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 11, 13 and 14 only; Jan. 1-13 on Units 10A (Fort Leavenworth, active and retired military staff only), 12, 15 and 19 only; and an extended archery season Jan. 14-31 on DMU 19 and 10A.
Shawnee County is divided by three deer units — Unit 9 to the north of Interstate 70 and west of US-75 highway, Unit 10 east of US-75 and Unit 14 to the south of I-70 and west of US-75. A large portion of Shawnee County also resides in DMU 19, which only applies for Antler-less White-Tailed Only permits.
And finally, if you do get a nice bruiser, be sure to send me a photo by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @RouseOutdoorsKS!