Two hours into Wednesday’s opening of firearms deer season, Larry Galvan’s hunt was over. His permit was on a big-bodied mule deer buck, with the kind of 27-inch wide antlers most hunters never hold.
More importantly, the buck completed a goal Galvan had set years ago, and put him in a minuscule club of hunters who have killed all five species of big game in Kansas: white-tailed and mule deer, antelope, elk and wild turkeys.
While records aren’t kept of such accomplishments, elk biologist Matt Peek of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism said there can’t be more than a small number of people who’ve done it.
Hunting has been an important part of Galvan’s 76 years. He grew up near Mulvane at a time when the biggest of game was a goose on the Arkansas River. It was a time when things like rabbits, squirrels and ducks were valued additions to the dinner table of a family with nine kids.
A permit for Kansas’ first deer season in 1965 began his big-game hunting career.
“I don’t think that first season was five minutes old and I got one,” he said. “It was a doe, but I was so happy. Back then I just wanted to get a deer.”
In 1999, he completed possibly the biggest of Kansas hunting accomplishments, beating better than 100-to-1 odds to draw a Fort Riley elk permit.
That’s what got him thinking about the specialness of shooting all five species of big game.
Wild turkeys and whitetails were annual successes at a Chautauqua County ranch where he ran cattle after retiring from Boeing. He shot a western Kansas antelope in 1995, then another in 2003.
Galvan’s Fort Riley hunt for elk involved hundreds of hours of scouting and hunting.
“I went up and hunted whenever the areas were open. I was up there a lot,” Galvan said. “I was really lucky that I run a cow/calf operation, so I had a lot of time off during the season.”
The ordeal that began in September ended on Dec. 28, 1999, when he shot a big bull with seven points on one antler and six on the other.
Getting a chance to hunt mule deer was almost as tough as getting his elk.
An anticipated part of life on the ranch was hosting family and friends during the firearms deer season. Drawing a permit to hunt mule deer with a rifle has never been easy because applicants normally outnumber permits.
Things also got complicated in Galvan’s life. The years of hunting whitetails had withered his desire to shoot a deer. Heart problems left him with two bypasses and 12 stints.
Then about a year ago, the Galvans sold the ranch and moved to Wichita, his health got a bit better and he again thought about the grand slam concept.
“It had been about nine months since I’d been in a hospital, so I went ahead and put in for a permit,” Galvan said. Luck granted him a permit to shoot a mule deer. A friend lined him up with Lee and Jarrod Fink, of Oakley. They helped him find the buck he shot opening day to fill his big game grand slam, and more.
The adventure began with two days of scouting last weekend.
“I told Lee, when I was out there, it was the first time I’d really been excited about hunting in years,” Galvan said. “I came home worn-out, but it was a lot of fun.”
So opening morning, Lee Fink guided Galvan to within easy rifle range of his favorite of bucks seen while scouting. After soaking up the thrill of the hunt and joy of completing the long-awaited grand slam, Galvan excitedly watched his new friend shoot a mule deer that afternoon.
Though his eyes showed fatigue at his home Friday morning, Galvan’s voice still showed enthusiasm as he talked of the hunt.
When asked if he’d hunt again, Galvan smiled wide, and simply said, “No, I’m done.”
And there’s certainly nothing wrong with going out while you’re on top.