Outdoors

Hunting provides quality time for married couple

Some deer hunters go afield hoping to get a buck with huge antlers.

Diane Herian heads into firearms deer season mostly wanting to spend time with her husband, Pat, and to experience nature.

That doesn't mean she won't shoot a big whitetail when it comes by.

On Dec. 2, the opening day of deer season, she shot a typical 12-pointer that should score about 170 inches.

"I shoot what my guide tells me to shoot," she said, "I just want to make sure I make a good shot. It's not just killing a deer for me, though. I really enjoy everything else — seeing all of the other deer, bald eagles, swans. I really like it all."

Pat Herian is a serious deer hunter. He started as a child in his native Wisconsin. His passion for whitetails has increased since he moved to Kansas more than 20 years ago.

Bowhunting is his main passion. This year he shot a 170-class buck in October. Every year he picks the best of his hunting spots scattered amid south-central Kansas to take his wife and a few friends.

Through the years, their hunts have provided Diane Herian with some great memories. She's seen most kinds of wildlife that call central Kansas home.

She once had an opossum step over her leg as she sat on the ground. Another time she had a big buck come running to the sounds of her breaking branches from a tree where she planned to sit.

The buck probably mistook the sounds for those of a rival buck making a scrape or a rub. It ran to within a few yards of Herian and was showing a threatening posture until she shot it.

"That was kind of scary," she said. "That wasn't Bambi looking at me. He was mad."

The Herians started this firearms season in a ground blind in a rolling prairie pasture about an hour from their Augusta home, hoping to catch a buck coming up a deep canyon.

Shortly after daylight, they saw several bucks moving through the area. Diane Herian enjoyed the show.

"Some people go to church in a building. We go to church in the outdoors together," she said. "I just want to be out there seeing everything that I can."

Eventually, Pat Herian spotted a very good buck following a doe across a prairie flat. The deer walked in and out of sight as they moved along.

He saw enough to know the buck would rank as a trophy to even the most avid horn-hunter. The buck was wide with a rare rack of six typical points per side.

At one point the buck sped into a trot to keep up with the doe that had gotten about 60 yards from him.

"I was kind of afraid he was going to get away, so I figured I'd better shoot," Diane Herian said.

The shot was about 170 yards at a moving target, but Pat Herian wasn't too worried.

"She's never missed anything. She's 7 for 7 on bucks and shot a doe with one shot," he said. "She's never missed a turkey, either."

The buck made it just a few yards and collapsed after Diane Herian fired her .243. The Herians sat in the blind for a while longer before they went to the buck, got it tagged, field-dressed and loaded on to their four-wheeler.

Since then, Pat Herian's taken friends on hunts. By spring turkey season or next deer season, his wife will be more than ready to go again.

"I'm anxious to get out and sit, to see everything that I can and watch nature," she said. "If I get something, that's just a big bonus."

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