Continuing subscribers know the trophy-rich state of Kansas had to be almost forced to open its doors to non-resident hunting four years ago. And, since then, the non-resident trophy kill has been inconsistent at best. Now, finally, it appears non-resident hunting is about to take off. The new development is the arrival in Kansas of George Taulman's New Mexico-based outfitting company, United States Outfitters. USO, as it is known, is a goliath in the world of Western outfitting, with hunts on offer from New Mexico to Montana and with a permit application service second to none. What Taulman has done in Kansas is gain hunting rights to several ranches in the trophy-intensive western part of the state. In all, he's locked up around 100,000 acres. He chose which ranches to approach after a careful study of Kansas's deer populations and its non-resident permitting process. A politician as well as an outfitter, Taulman made sure the deals he made with ranchers added up to a partnership that didn't just work for USO, but for the ranchers too, as well as local businessmen and visiting sportsmen.
This past September I had the opportunity to be on hand at the launch of this partnership, unfortunately not as a hunter but as an observer. The occasion was a muzzleloader-only hunt in western Kansas mostly for huge whitetail deer but also for a couple of mule deer. The hunting area consisted of creek bottoms, high plains pastures, canyons, maize, wheat and alfalfa fields. The ranchers themselves were on hand to assist with scouting and guiding duties. A veteran of many such hunts, I figured Taulman and crew would do fairly well, but I never expected the success the hunt eventually yielded. To be sure, opening day was somewhat a "Comedy of Errors" as hunters unfamiliar with their muzzleloaders experienced three misfires and missed a couple of easy shots. Still, one New Jersey hunter collected a fine 160-class (gross) 10-point whitetail on a drive that first day. The next morning a trigger-happy hunter filled his tag with a 140-class mule deer buck. After seeing what came to camp later, he........(continued)