Outdoors

Kansas legend set for another archery deer season

Chances are, Russell Hull's eyes will sparkle a little brighter Monday, the first day of archery deer season. It's a sparkle they've carried on every opening day since the state's first bow season in 1965.

Hull, who many consider Kansas' best-known bowhunter, remembers the challenge of that first season.

"Myself and a classmate were the only two bowhunters in the county that year," Hull recalled. "Man, nobody knew much about it back then. We just started hunting."

His bow was a recurve he'd purchased several years earlier at a Hays hardware store. An old set of brown coveralls was his attire.

After six weeks of "trial and error," Hull, of Hill City, found himself tagging a Pope & Young nine-pointer, one of the first killed in Kansas.

As the years passed, his knowledge and successes increased, as did bowhunting technology.

"I remember thinking there's no way I'd ever shoot a contraption like that," Hull said of the first time he saw a compound bow.

It wasn't long before he was using one.

Much of Hull's fame came when he started marketing Cover Up, a neutralizing liquid used to cover human scent.

It was one of the first of its kind on the market and came when the sport was growing by leaps and bounds.

He said he was trying to find a way to beat the sensitive noses of coyotes and deer when he came up with the secret mixture.

Ads carried pictures of Hull and recent trophies. Stories of hunters successfully using Cover Up helped fuel sales nationwide. It was made and bottled at his place at a time when he was also farming and working full-time at a local power plant.

Hull chuckles as he talks about the two decades when he was juggling three jobs, raising three daughters and was still able to kill big deer in Kansas and do successful trips in other states.

"When you love something enough, you can always find some way and some time to do it," he said.

Through those years, Hull's hunting prowess earned him a trophy room with 60-plus mounts, mostly whitetails but with mule deer and elk, too. His was mentioned in many magazine articles and chapters in books.

M.R. James, founder of Bowhunter magazine, once named Hull one of the top bowhunters of all-time. Yet Hull says his best bowhunting memory is the evening he bow-killed a big whitetail while his 7-year-old daughter was along.

He and his wife, Joan, sold Cover Up several years ago and Hull also gave up his other jobs.

He paints, performs music and writes music.

He still bowhunts, mostly for whitetails, antelope and wild turkeys.

Like most Kansans, he's lost a lot of hunting spots in the past 10 years as properties are leased or saved for family and friends. He no longer attacks the sport as he once did, either.

"I used to go no matter what," he said. "Now if it's nasty weather I don't have to go hunting like I used to. I know there'll be a better day."

With 45 years of experience Hull, knows enough to get the most from whatever day he spends afield.

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