Brandon Wikman

There aren’t many hunting locations around the country that consistently produce world record whitetail and tubby gobblers that trip over their beards year-in-and-year-out. Spots like that are few and far between. They are considered top secret to the general public and hoarded like it’s the last place to hunt on earth. Or they are simply in the confinements of a sky-scraping high fence that harbor strict rules and regulations.

However, every now and again there’s a place that blossoms from the roots of all common doubt and speculation; let me have the privilege of introducing you to Blue River Whitetails; a free range hunting experience of a lifetime.

I’ve had the great opportunity to hunt at a place that has not only proved successful for me the last four years, but currently maintains a 100% turkey slaying record and racked-whitetail rank very near. The birds are plentiful, landscape’s spectacular, and the privilege to hunt side-by-side with a hunting guru is absolutely incredible. Let me introduce you my good friend David Schotte, owner of a cherished family business called Blue River Whitetails in Hanover, Kansas.

My most recent excursion down to north central Kansas was last September. I found myself among some of the best-kept secret whitetail property in the country. I’ve been blessed to hunt all across North America, but the rolling hills, tight pockets of woodlands, and river bottoms of Kansas proved unique in a way that’s truly indescribable. The ability to hunt with a muzzleloader during early season makes Kansas a huge draw.

During my first whitetail hunt with Schotte, only minutes of daylight passed until deer began funneling back to their bedding area. I heard a slight noise of movement and probed my field producer with a gentle poke as he turned on the camera. I buried my face into the scope and steadied my surefire tripod made by the one and only, BOGear until I saw brown. On cue, a doe walked out into the opening. She posed for the trail camera for a brief moment before tossing her head back. Another doe followed. As both doe crossed my shooting window I spotted antler in my scope. Massive brown tines balled-up into my scope and nearly struck me in the face as the doe left my field of view. My heart sunk into the bottom of my stomach as my thumb cranked back the hammer. Success.

The sweet memories of the hunting experience are what we all thrive for. Last spring was no different. My mission was to lay down some serious turkey footage and bust a couple of mature gobblers. Traveling ten hours for turkey is my testament of how exceptional the hunting really is. Sweeping emerald green hills, vast meadows, and winding creeks that dissect pastures and hardwood forests sculpt North central Kansas.

Hunters who are pursuing the grand slam for turkey can tag-out on three-fourths of the feat within a single trip. Kansas is home to both Rio and Eastern bird species. A simple jog north lands you in spectacular Merriam country. During this trip I focused my efforts into hopefully tagging both species. My cousin, who ran camera hid behind a tree, while David and I nestled into some nearby shrubbery. We were all concealed very well. By mid-May the foliage is thick, grass is high, and bushes are full of leaves. This time of the year is ideal for sinking into the natural environment unnoticed. The darkness of morning soon illuminated like emerging headlights on a backcountry road. The glint of sunlight sparked the army of gobblers roosted nearby. The crew of rednecks cracked silence in the crisp morning air and made their presence known across the vast countryside.

Clattering wings, popping limbs, and a symphony of staccato cackles and yelps proved that gobblers weren’t the only gender roosted. Three hens graciously pitched down into the field. The hens were soon to be escorted by a handful of toms. A handful of gobblers tumbled into the tilled-field and instantly inflated into full strut. The males followed the hens in a line like a 4th of July parade. Each tom made an attempt to show-off and declared dominance.

The large flock of feathers waddled into range. I punched the safety-off and waited for the okay to shoot. My cousin adjusted his video camera, while I zeroed-in on the flashy beat red head to deliver a lethal kill. I got the whispering go-ahead and squeezed a 3-½ inch shot shell full of Winchester bb’s into the vitals.

There truly is no greater feeling than the gift of accomplishment coupled with the fruitful passion of the outdoors. Together, they are a winning combination that defines the pinnacle of a hunter’s success. The fond memories of staying with great company at a family-owned lodge in Marysville, KS called the Thunderbird Motel and waking to a buffet of wild game is a dream come true.

If you are in search of a place to hunt spring turkey or fall deer; look no further than