On a whim, my daughter and I decided to go on stand-by at the Kickapoo Cavern State Park youth hunt. We bought a new tent, filled a cooler full of groceries and headed out.... 360 miles on a gamble!!!
When we got there, there were two unclaimed spots, and only she and a girl from Smithville were on stand-by!! She was in!
The ranger had everyone except the 2 standbys draw for spots. Then those people had the option of changing spots if they didn't like their draw. Then my daughter and the other stand-by girl drew to see who drew first between them, and we got last pick. Everyone had passed over compartment 12 in favor of larger compartments, compartments with known axis, etc... so we wound up in the leftover little compartment 12 on the edge of the park (with a road running through it to another hunting area.)
The ranger had told the group in orientation that there was ONE Nilgai on the place, and where it had been seen, and sure enough, a little girl from Schulenberg killed it. It was a monster- probably around 500#.
Anyway, compartment 12 was small and the brush was super dense. Friday afternoon, we walked in off of the road and found a tiny clearing, set up, immediately regretted it, and tore down and moved across the road to a little better clearing in a "lane." by Saturday morning, we hated it too, so we took off on a walkabout. We were seeing good, fresh deer sign everywhere- tracks, rubs, scat, fresh trails, so we knew they were there, it was just a matter of finding the right spot where two loud, smelly people could get a decent shot.
We finally found it- a lane nearly 400 yards long, I'd guess, and 60 foot wide. trails crisscrossed it, sign everywhere- it was perfect. We saw a doe and a fawn running Saturday morning, and Saturday evening, we saw a half-dozen does and 2 young bucks. She missed a good doe, but 20 minutes later some more does came in, then 2 bucks- a good yearling 6 point and and a 4 point cull with one unbranched antler. She took the cull in hopes of getting a big buck on Sunday, but on Sunday morning, the wind was nuts and we didn't see anything before it was time to go and make the long drive home.
It was incredibly lucky to drive that far and get a spot. It was a great hunt and we had tons of fun... and I had a good excuse to NOT go to the inlaws for 3 days! It was also the first time I had EVER tent camped with my daughter! win-win-win!!!