For local hunters, especially those just starting out, it can be difficult knowing where to go and what to use when planning a hunt.
This guide will help you figure out where to buy gear, where to hunt, where to get your meat processed and where to take your trophy to get it mounted after the hunt.
Topeka hunters may remember going to sporting goods stores like Rusty’s Outdoors Sports and Asay’s Sportsman’s Store to pick up hunting gear and supplies. Older generations may remember names like Scrinopskies Gun Shop, Wild Willie’s and Polka Dot Bait Shop.
While many of the older, locally owned shops have closed to give way to regional and national chains like Dick’s Sporting Goods or the new Academy Sports+Outdoors store — which opened Oct. 24, 2014, at the Crosswinds Commons District, S.W. 11th and Wanamaker — several locally owned stores remain.
A main “draw” for bow hunters in particular is B Squared Outdoor Sports, 4700 S.W. Topeka Blvd.
The store, which also sells fishing and trapping supplies and a selection of knives, offers a wide array of archery supplies and has a 20-yard range to test out bows or other products. Owner Dennis Brown, who himself is an avid bowhunter, says the difference between his store and other sporting goods stores is experience.
“Like in my shop, I’ve been shooting archery for almost 40 years,” Brown said. “All of my guys are fanatic bow hunters. It’s what we do.”
He said the landscape of archery has changed from a “guys-only” hobby into a family sport, which has led to a demand for archery products.
“It’s always been interesting to folks, but I think the demographic that has grown the most has been women and particularly children,” Brown said. “The equipment availability for children — what we can get now as opposed to what we could get 10 years ago — is worlds apart. It just makes it easier for them to start shooting younger.”
Brown said the most important thing for young or inexperienced archers is to meet with dealers who are experienced and are looking to help the customer, rather than make a sale.
“In my shop, if you come in here and we can’t get you what you need, then I’m not going to try to sell you something else,” Brown said. “That’s not how you create a long-term customer. I ask a lot of questions and we lay out choices and we talk about the pros and cons. We try to do a thorough job of understanding what you need, so you only have to buy things once.”
The Topeka area also has several places to purchase guns, ammunition, field gear and knives, including:
■ Holsters and More, 3030 N.W. Topeka Blvd.
■ High Plains Guns, 11110 US-40 highway
■ Einstein’s Outdoor Outfitters, 1820 S.W. 10th
■ Meriden Gun Shop, 7272 K-4 highway in Meriden
■ Kaw Valley Gun Club, 3043 N.W. Button Road
Where to hunt
Finding a place to hunt in Kansas isn’t as easy as it used to be. Many areas that used to be prime hunting ground are now developed for residential or commercial use. But for businesses like Ravenwood Lodge, 10147 S.W. 61st in Topeka, a lack of public hunting ground is only helping business.
“I think it’s been kind of picking up for years,” owner Ken Corbet said. “I think Kansas is 97 percent privately owned, so you’ve got to have a place to go.”
Corbet, who also is a Republican state representative in the 54th district, offers an array of services to local and out-of-state hunters at Ravenwood, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary in July 2015.
Ravenwood hosts hunts for pheasant, quail, turkey, chukar, deer, prairie chicken and waterfowl, and offers lodging, meals and a business retreat area. The lodge also does sporting clays year-round.
Corbet said his business typically attracts about 80 percent of its hunters from out-of-state, though many local hunters will come up for the day, as well. He requests a couple days’ notice to set up a hunt, and an array of hunt packages means hunters can either choose to stay at the lodge or come up for a quick hunt and then leave.
“Some of them do (stay in the lodging), some of them just come over and hunt and leave and take their wives out for dinner,” said Corbet. “Depends how it goes. Some bring their wives, so it works both ways.”
On top of hosting private hunts, Ravenwood also hosts a variety of events and fundraisers. A schedule containing Ravenwood’s events can be found in the Outdoors calendar every Sunday in The Topeka Capital-Journal.
“We had a TV crew here called Wingshooters USA and they did a hunt here with the governor and that’s on my website,” Corbet said. “We also did a European hunt last year that’ll be on TV nationally for the Wounded Warriors. We do a lot of stuff like that. Then in June we do youth day where all the kids get to come out and fish and shoot and bow and arrow and stuff for free.”
For more information, go to http://www.ravenwoodlodge.com or call Ravenwood Lodge at 1-800-656-2454 to set up a hunt.
Other hunting lodges in the state include:
■ Cokeley Farms, 7230 126th Rd, Delia
■ Muddy Creek Whitetails, 8721 N.E. Brown Road, Meriden
■ C and S Whitetails, 1235 S.E. Grant Road, El Dorado
■ Tallgrass Lodge, 1604 2350 Ave., Enterprise
■ Thunder Valley Trophy Hunts, 906 240th St., Hiawatha
■ Ashcreek Upland Game Hunting Ltd., 269 Pawnee Road, Windom
Drew Forster, of Farview Farms Meat Company, 6325 N.W. Topeka Blvd., has made a name for himself processing wild game in Topeka for the past 13 years.
“I worked here when I was in high school for the previous owner when it used to be under a different name, and then got my degree at Kansas State working in the meat lab up there and bought the business,” Forster said. “The first couple of years we tried to get the plant back up to code so that we could go under inspection. I just did the deer until we got enough money raised up to fix things up, so that’s kind of what got us our start was the deer and wild game.”
During that time, Forster and his wife, Trenna, have processed a bit of everything, from deer, elk and antelope to moose, wild hogs and even bear. Farview Farms also processes waterfowl, including goose bratwurst.
“Our most popular item is the jalapeno and cheese summer sausage; that’s kind of our known-for item we do,” Forster said. “We do all kinds of different snack sticks and we do imitation bacon.”
The imitation bacon, which can be made from any wild game animal, has been a hit with his customer base.
“We mix it with some pork and we have seasoning that when it’s smoked it tastes just like bacon and we form it either in a round piece or we can form it in pans so it looks just like a slab of bacon. It’s pretty good,” Forster said.
He said the reason Farview Farms is such a popular spot for many hunters is they are willing to go above and beyond for the customer.
“As far as wild game goes, we kind of try to cater to the hunter’s needs,” he said. “During rifle season is when we’re busiest and we’re open extra hours for that. We can shape orders if somebody wants something a little bit different. We’re willing to work with them on different seasonings or something like that if they want something different. We just try to customize to what customers want.”
For more information, call Farview Farms at 246-1154.
Other wild game processing plants in the area include:
■ Bowser Meat Processing, 513 S. Palmberg St., Meriden
■ Onaga Meat Processing, 100 Prospect St., Onaga
■ Holton Meat Processing, 701 Arizona Ave., Holton
■ Winchester Meat Processing, 203 Winchester St., Winchester
At 26, Topekan Joe Wayner may be young, but he already is an award-winning taxidermist. Wayner took the third-place prize in the professional division of the Kansas Association of Taxidermists last March in Manhattan, and his business, Misty Waters Taxidermy, has gone from a part-time hobby to a full-time career.
“I’m gearing up for the deer wave,” Wayner said. “You know I’m always doing some sort of taxidermy, whether it’s skull dipping to bear to deer. Business is just starting to pick up. I get most of my deer in November and December. It’s been good though.”
Wayner said he wants hunters to come by and check out some of his mounts to get an idea of the kind of work he does.
“I’m looking forward to meeting with you and hearing the stories from the hunt,” Wayner said. “I truly love what I do and take great pride in my work. I look forward to providing a piece of quality for you that will help make a memory last a lifetime.”
For more information about Misty Waters Taxidermy, visit Wayner’s website at www.mistywaterstaxidermy.com or contact him at 215-9500.
Topeka has a wide range of taxidermy services, including:
■ Artzer Taxidermy, 8805 N.W. Topeka Blvd.
■ R&K Taxidermy, 3301 N.W. Rochester Road
■ Sevenswest Taxidermy, 548 E. 150th Road, Overbrook
■ Larson Taxidermy Studio, 12723 N.W. 62nd, Rossville