Firearms season for deer hunting is Dec. 4-15 this year in Kansas, but preparation for hunting started back in spring.
Craig Dodd of Chisholm Trail Outfitters in Hillsboro said many hunters would have planted food plots near creeks in spring and summer.
“A deer needs three things,” Dodd said. “This is important. A deer needs food, water, and a place to sleep.”
Planting corn, soybeans, and turnips can help attract deer to an area.
“A lot of people won’t realize deer love turnips,” he said.
Some farmers who hunt leave a few rows of soybeans near creeks for the same reason, he said. If growing food at a hunting spot isn’t possible, a timed feeder filled with corn can provide the same benefit: feeding deer so they get used to coming to a location.
The next step is setting up deer stands in the trees near a food plot early enough that deer become accustomed to seeing them. A sudden change can make deer wary or scare them away completely.
Preparation also includes creating shooting lanes from deer stands. Trimming trees and limbs between a stand and a food plot gives hunters a clearer shot when the time comes, Dodd said.
Many hunters set up motion-activated trail cameras at food plots to learn more about the deer that feed at them. Some cameras now are sophisticated enough to send pictures directly to the hunter’s computer or phone, he said.
For most of the year, a deer stays within a 5-square-mile area, which needs to have food, water, and places to hide and sleep. During the rut — deer mating season — those barriers disappear, and bucks will go anywhere to find a doe in heat, Dodd said.
If a hunter finds a herd of does, they can count on finding a buck with them, he said.
In the past, Kansas has required deer hunters to use rifles with a minimum caliber of .243, but because of the increasing popularity of .223 rifles, starting this year Kansas will allow the use of all centerfire rifles, Dodd explained.
Despite the expanded options, Dodd thinks .243, .270, and .30-30 rifles are hunters’ best bets. He also recommends the use of hollowpoint or softpoint bullets, which expand when they hit their target, increasing the chance of quickly killing the deer. A jacketed bullet is much more likely to pass right through the deer leaving a minimal wound, resulting in the deer not leaving a blood trail to follow.
“The right way to kill a deer is with one shot,” Dodd said. “It’s unethical to shoot a deer you don’t think you can kill instantly.”
That isn’t to say .223 rounds are entirely unsuitable for deer hunting, he said. An accurate shooter who knows a deer’s anatomy can do just fine with a .223.
“It’s bullet placement that kills a deer,” he said.