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Practice makes perfect!

How many of you hunters practice hunting? I’m betting not many of us practice hunting. We practice shooting our bows and rifles. We (some of us) train and work out so our bodies don’t let us down. Some of us have metal and plastic body parts that make us learn to accommodate the different ways those parts work or don’t work. Sometimes the terrain or weather will make us think about new or alternate ways to walk, climb, sit, shoot – or just skip the day because the weather, temperature, or the nice warm bed just won’t give it up.

All that is part of what I’m talking about. The guys that routinely kill big deer train all year. They are out in their hunting area all year in every season. They practice watching the wind around the bedding areas. They search out and locate the routes these deer take (they are unwavering in their paths and methods if left to their own devices) to and from feeding, watering, and bedding areas. They look all year for the perfect spot to place a tree stand or pop-up. If you make a mistake and get scent-caught or visually seen – those big bucks will travel to another safe spot and become nocturnal for entire hunting seasons. Lots of huge deer disappear under these circumstances. Lots of big deer just decide to move for some unrecognizable reason.

The guys that hunt only big deer or elk are a special breed. I admire them a LOT. I’m not one of them. I did it for a few years and got some nice deer mostly because I was durable and lucky. Maybe I just wasn’t that mad at those big deer. My hat is off to you dedicated monster hunters. I can see the haunt in your eyes and the urgency in your life when the season ends. Another is just beginning. You have already started correcting the mistakes that kept you awake at night during this season. Yikes! Take a two-week break and drink some whiskey.

The one thing that takes all bets off the table is the rut. Those big guys get killed with much more frequency chasing the does. They essentially go blind and deaf for a period of time when the does come in season. They run in front of cars, across freeways, race into yards and houses, and run in front of a lot of guys and gals that have a big gun and two permits. Google up “big deer in Kansas” and look at that 220-plus monster that a lady shot here in Kansas just recently. We can only shake our heads and send her heartfelt congratulations on that accomplishment. That is extremely rare!

I have seen a lot more ladies and kids getting nice deer this year. That is so good! I didn’t draw my elk tag in Wyoming so I went out and practiced my geriatric sneaking skills and got a nice doe out at our duck club. She is in the freezer. I am hoping to get another one for sausage and jerky.

Gene Manweiler got a beautiful buck with a drop tine out there – he is a diligent, careful hunter and always shows us something terrific that he harvested. Let me say also that he is one of the few guys I know that applies at Fort Riley and understands the application process, which seems formidable to me. He is a very special hunter in our community and we celebrate his success. It is well-earned.

Enjoy your holidays. We are so lucky to live in a land where we can be free to be as successful as we choose. Thanks to everyone who reads this little column. I am grateful to Dale Hogg and the Great Bend Tribune for giving me this opportunity to celebrate the sung and unsung heroes in our midst. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to the best people I know! Doc.

Doctor Dan Witt is a retired physician and nature enthusiast. He can be reached at