As I have been reflecting on past hunts and applying the lessons I learned this year, I was reminded of this hunt from 2010 where I missed a great 150 class buck. While this isn’t highlight in my bowhunting career, it’s a great memory that is fun to relive. Fortunately, I shot an even bigger buck a few days later…
Here’s “The Miss”
This story begins a few days ago when I climbed a tree on a a property I hadn’t hunted yet this year. The wind was perfect and there had been a couple of nice bucks visiting a scrape over the past few days during early daylight hours, and I was there to take advantage of it! It was warmer than I had anticipated and I managed to work up quite a lather getting in this stand. As I sat there trying to cool off, I noticed a deer working the ridge upwind of my set. Upon further inspection I could see it was a nice buck, in fact it was one of the decent bucks that was consistently visiting the scrape that was a mere 20 yards from my tree.
As frustration was building and time off was growing short, and since that particular day was my son’s 5th birthday, I decided to take this buck if he would present a shot. I gave him a couple grunts and he turned my way and began his descent from the ridge down into the bottom where I was sitting. He came to a fork in the trail and chose the one that would put him in a shooting lane at 30 yards. I came to full draw and didn’t even have to ‘murp’ to stop him–he paused, I settled the pin and squeezed the trigger. The arrow flew true, but it was so quiet he jumped the sound of my bow releasing the arrow and I struck him high. I thought I had the angle I needed for that broadhead to hit some vitals, but unfortunately as he squatted he also began to turn away taking away the angle I needed.
I chose to let him lay for six to seven hours and came back hoping to pick up the trail, but only found blood for 30-40 yards, which was extremely thin anyways. We spread out and gridded the timber in every direction looking for any sign, but came up empty handed. I was pretty disappointed…
I hunted the next day without seeing another shooter, but getting back in the tree was the right choice and I was back in predator mode. I had made a plan for the morning of November 16th to get in a freshly hung stand I called the Krippler Korner Extension. Essentially, it is located about 75 yards to the south of Krippler’s Korner where Droppy was wounded by a friend last year along with a bunch of other stories I won’t go into. I picked this new spot based on a very busy fence crossing where I have seen deer cross daily nearly every time I hunt the area. I love this particular part of the farm, I have killed does and one other exceptional buck just 50 yards to the west. And I also missed a great buck a couple years ago, which still remains etched in my memory. This new stand is great, and is the ideal spot-on-the-spot.
I made sure I was out at the tree with plenty of time because I had to cross a food source in order to access the set, which usually resulted in a few spooked deer.
But with the wind in my face and it being well in advance of dawn I knew I could make it happen without any substantial damage to the deer in the immediate vicinity. I only heard one snort, so I felt good about things.
After about 10 minutes in the stand and getting everything hung up and the Ozonics turned on, I heard antlers in a tree close by. I looked towards the pond and saw a dark figure working a scrape, but couldn’t adequately gauge his rack size. I kept trying to look through my binocs, but with the cold and flat calm conditions I was steaming up the lenses and wasn’t able to see anything. He broke away from the scrape and headed right towards me. He paused to look at the fence crossing before continuing to the base of my tree. I could tell he wasn’t quite a shooter so I let him walk.
Five minutes later another similar buck did the same thing except he crossed the fence to head out into the soybean field. There were a few other deer in the field now and one stood out to me. It had a very dark coat and seemed bigger than the other deer. I grunted at him and tried to look through my binocs to get a better look at him. He threw his head up at the sound of the grunt and I really liked what I saw.
I gave him another grunt and he started running right to me. I decided that if he would offer a shot I would take it even though he was far from my biggest. What he would mean to me was the basis of my trophy perspective.
At this point in my season and last year’s season also very difficult, I needed to make a decision that would positively impact my 2012 season– this buck more than fit the bill. I felt like he would more than fairly represent the efforts I put in over the last two years–it was time for blood.
This buck continued in my direction and then committed to the fence crossing that was 20 yards in front of my set. Interestingly, this buck approached from the downwind side of where I was and I fully expected him to catch a nose-full at some point, but he never did. I have had a few negative reactions to the Ozonics, but lately I have had a bunch of positive encounters where the deer should have smelled me, but didn’t adjust their path of travel.
The buck approached my shooting lane and I came to full draw. As they usually do, he stopped just prior to where I would have a shot and I had to hold draw for what seemed like forever, but was likely only a minute and a half or so. As soon as he indicated movement forward, I looked through my peep and grunted to stop him perfectly broadside at 20 yards. I concentrated as hard as I ever have and squeezed the release.
At that very moment I knew I had just delivered a slam dunk. The arrow passed completely through him and he donkey-kicked as he leaped across the fence, ran about 40 yards where he began to empty out. Steam was shooting out of his nostrils and also out of either side of his chest where the arrow had changed his life. Blood was pouring out of both sides and he began loose his composure. He rounded a corner of the pond and began the death throes where he expired only a few seconds after taking an arrow through the lungs. I was elated…
Immediately following this event, I could see steam rising from the ground along the epic blood trail. It only lasted a few more seconds as the blood quickly froze to the alf-alfa stems, but seeing that last bit if life rise from the field in the pre-sunrise frosty air concluded the hunt for me in a paramount way. It was 6:54 AM.
This buck is not one I know or have any pictures of, but he means more to me than about any other trophy I have taken as he represents the ups and many downs of the last two seasons. He will proudly hang among my greatest whitetail accomplishments. He will never be scored as scores are hardly fair to eight-pointers and will serve as a reminder of what we as whitetail fanatics go through year in and year out. There is no guarantee of success, rather a guarantee of humility as God’s creation continues to educate and amaze me.
This is living!
Over the weekend, my good friend, Jeff and I hung a new set not too far from “The Bank” where I found a lot of big buck activity. I needed a Southeast wind to make this spot work, but the best I could do was South today–I took what I could get! this spot is also between two primary bedding areas and I really expected things to go off. Well, today was amazing! I literally saw active deer from dawn until dark, even with a few shot opportunities at does and younger bucks.
I had active chasing activity until about 11, then most of the deer bedded down in the area, some within eye-shot. I just waited.
Nothing really piqued my interest until about 45 minutes before dark when a giant showed up with a hot doe. He actually got to about 75 yards at one point as he was violently chasing a small buck out of his area. I know this buck from last year and this year as The Pilot. He has interesting sets of flyers coming off of both G2s, in fact it appears he has three on each side. I have one picture of this buck from a couple weeks ago, but after tonight I really believe this buck will gross easily in the 160s, if not higher. I would absolutely love a chance to deflate him, but as we know that won’t do much.
He ended up bedding down within 25 yards of another stand that I plan on hunting in a day or so. I think Lockdown has officially started…
Finally, after a few rough sits, today made up for it and I intend to sit all-dayers until further notice. I do however, have an issue that I hope to have rectified ASAP though. My bowsting is fraying and I need to get it replaced, perfect timing, eh? I have it on order and it should be in by tomorrow, but it will likely require me to sacrifice a hunt. Not fun, but it has to be done.
I’ll be back at it in the morning!
Believe it or not, things have been slow. This weekend was to be more like a hunt camp than hitting it really hard. I had two great friends joining me to hunt and eat lots of good food. Nate just started bowhunting last year, and Jeff is a great friend from college who hunted with me and we shared many successful turk and deer hunts. He has been coming up for one weekend during the rut for a few years and running the camera. This year, no filming as my camera situation is not to friendly. So, we have been just hunting and loving it. Hunting doesn’t get any better when you get to share the stories and hunts with good friends! This is why I love to hunt, period!
The short of it is the deer have not been moving that much for any of us, even though its the time of year to be in the stand. I have seen several very nice bucks that would be considered borderline shooter, likely grossing under 150 which is my personal minimum. One would have tempted me really hard, but I made the personal decision to stick to my guns. There was some mild chasing, but not anything hardcore that would lead me to believe “it’s on”. I still think we are on the cusp of things busting loose, but I’m not going to stay out of the woods.
Tonight we needed a change because there is some interesting farming practices that seem to be threatening consistent movement. Hopefully I won’t have to elaborate on that too much more, but we’ll just say I wasn’t happy when I found out about it. It is what it is and I won’t blame the landowner. We set up the Double Bull along a cut cornfield that has a lot of spilled corn, which is very attractive to hungry deer. Because it was the first night with the blind up, I took the deke along to help maintain their attention and keeping it from the blind. In theory it’s perfect, but the deer have to show up and work the scenario. Tonight only a doe fawn gave us a look, but not something that we wanted. This spot should produce, and I have every bit of confidence in it, so we’ll keep it on the “sit list”.
Tomorrow we will be hitting a stand I haven’t hunted in over a year, and then hanging a new set for a later date and a surprise buck I’m excited to show you. Then we might go try a spot set in a big chunk of timber that I have always wanted to hunt. We’ll see what the morning brings. Jeff is leaving tomorrow night, so we will try and get him a shot at something in the process.
Lots of great hunting is on the horizon and I am excited to keep at it. I’m ready!!!
Ozonics Update- So, I have been field testing this machine and have had some interesting results thus far. I was skeptical at the beginning BUT, I am learning the science behind this things CAN improve your downwind encounters. I have not had enough downwind encounters yet to determine the total effectiveness, but I can attest to there being a much higher percentage of deer approaching downwind and NOT smelling me than otherwise. I will continue to run the Ozonics, but I do think its safe to say that I’m becoming a believer!
I managed to get a bonus day in the tree yesterday. I spent all of last week at the 2012 FLW Walleye Tour Championship on the Mississippi River out of the Quad Cities. I hunted yesterday morning, but as always, there was drama. I had a spot that I wanted to sit that I call “The Toothpick Set”, but when I got to the tree with plenty of time I was greeted with a surprise. Last week we had a substantial cold front move through the state, which was accompanied with a day of strong winds! Well, this tree is pretty small, hence its name, and thus more affected by the wind. Well, my ladder stand had come apart about half way up and was unusable, but to make matters worse, I was about a 10 minute walk from the nearest, wind-friendly stand and I was already hot.
I have a bad habit of putting stands in small trees. More or less, I typically find spots that I like and want to hunt, but with an available tree, yet I find a way to make it work. This approach has paid off in the past and I won’t say that I won’t ever do it again, but I need to be more willing to find bigger trees. The stand I went to after I found my ladderstand in pieces was also one of these smaller trees. I got picked off by an approaching buck and I knew it was time to change the strategy. That morning ended with a few sightings, numerous deer passing by within ear-shot, but no shots. After this cold front, I can say with confidence that things are getting very exciting!
I went back out later that afternoon and moved the stand that was in pieces to a much larger oak that will hide my outline much better. Its a bit farther in the woods, but its along a pinch point that will work well if I have a SE-SW wind. I’ll be in that set next week for sure. I have a two week solid vacation beginning this weekend and will be in the tree until I get one shot or through November 18th. I’m excited and with the way the weather seems to be shaping up, things should be rockin!
For years, I have kept records on big buck harvests during the final three days of October. It is my personal belief that those three days, year in and year out, really signify the official kick-off of the best deer hunting of the year. Over the last few days I have been getting a significant increase in daytime scrape activity and through emails and text messages I can assure you, big deer are getting shot. If you have time to get out over the next three days, I highly suggest it! I won’t have much time to get out as our children are planning on participating in Trick or Treating. I may be able to sneak out to an easily accessible spot once or twice, but I won’t be hitting it hard until this weekend.
Stay tuned for lots of pictures and updates coming up soon!
To cut to the chase, I’m very disappointed with the outcome of this past weekend. It just seems like we can’t get a deer in front of Kathryn, no matter what we do. We saw a few does, a couple small bucks, but nothing cooperated enough to where she could have shot any thing. I would give all my tags this year to have seen her kill a big buck. She is way over due! She will get out again during the rut, but with Early Muzzleloader in the books, that tag is not void and null.
I have never been a huge advocate of the “October Lull”, in fact I have had a theory that the food preference change currently taking place was the primary culprit. However, by my records, this has been the harshest “Lull” I have experienced in my 19 consecutive fall bowhunting pursuits. The buck movement is absolutely suppressed to a point where even my cameras have dried up. I have feared that EHD has impacted things, but I haven’t found any deer and not many have been reported in the area, but I can’t be sure. I expect things to pick up in a week for sure!
She was frustrated too and with the near 80 degrees on Sunday she chose to sit the last hunt out and cut her losses. I wasn’t about to let the day go to waste–so I packed up and headed to the stand knowing that I would likely be covered up in deer with Kathryn at home, which is precisely what happened. I had a doe tag and chose to whack a doe if presented with the opportunity. Sure enough I had half a dozen fawns messing around the area and finally a big ‘ol nanny showed up and I got ready.
She worked her way into 18 yards and when I settled the pin and touched off the release, I instantly knew I pulled the shot. I hit her high and back, but initially felt like it would do the job. After waiting a few hours, we took up the trial to only find a few small drops of watery blood which is often synonymous with a wound in “No-Man’s-Land”. We followed the short blood trail and tracks for a few hundred yards, fanned out and tried to cover ground and ended up calling it with no more blood. It’s too bad and I HATE loosing deer, especially on the first arrow of the season.
Next time the results will be vastly different. I have to be gone on business this week, which kinda sucks because there is a major cold front pushing through making Friday-Sunday perfect for the chasing phase to begin. I might get to hunt Sunday, but that’s up in the air still. We’ll see, I’m ready for November!!
Well to say I was excited about this morning’s sit would be an understatement. I have sat in this spot numerous times and encountered many deer, including some nice bucks. This stand site is called the PlayPen as its primary security cover and bedding area. I was really hoping it would be a slam dunk for Kathryn this morning, but it didn’t quite pan out. I brought her bow also in the event a doe showed up that she could zap and maybe double up on another passing buck. A doe showed up and we didn’t into position fast enough and she picked us off.
Then a spike showed up and Kathryn chose to let him walk even though he offered a simple 45 yard shot. We got down and headed for home empty handed, but with plans to sit on a hot food source later that afternoon.
We picked a spot just off of a crick bottom along a harvested beanfield that was full of soybeans that the combine missed. There was several fresh rubs on the opposite side of the field and this really felt like a great possibility. We sat until dark without seeing a deer. It was nothing short of frustrating and I really wish this bad luck streak will end for Kathryn–she really deserves a big buck and I want to make that happen. We’ll keep plugging away.
Tomorrow we are headed to the Sling Shot set in the AM and if that doesn’t produce, we’ll do out best to find a doe spot. Stay tuned for an update from the stand tomorrow morning
Well, my time has been scarce to say the least, but time in the tree is upon us. My wife, Kathryn has been hunting Iowa’s Early Muzzleloader season, which is a 9 day season in the middle of the month of October. The first weekend was a wash as windy, rainy weather dominated the atmosphere, but Kathryn made it out twice without much action. We didn’t get a weekday night available to get out either, so it comes down to this weekend.
We dropped the kids off on my parents and I plan on sitting with her running the camera and to serve as another set of eyes. The weather is perfect for the best morning stand I have and I really believe we are going to get it done, hopefully Saturday morning. Also, since I’m coming along I will be bringing her bow so that if a chance arrives to kill a doe, or even her bow tag buck, we will be prepared. Perhaps its wishful thinking, but the possibility to kill two bucks and a doe is there and we are ready for it!
Stay tuned for live video updates and and regular blog posts as things progress.
A couple of other things I wanted to talk about. First is I am trying a few new products out this year. One of which I was very skeptical of initially, but agreed to give it an honest shot. Ozonics and will be providing an honest look at the results. But, interestingly after one time in the tree I actually believe it worked. I’ll go into the science later on. My first sit of the year I had three does directly downwind of me for 15 minutes and never lifted their nose. There was a distinct, but light breeze blowing directly at them and I really feel the Ozonics had something to do with the results. However, more encounters are necessary to prove its effectiveness. The selling point is something important that I need to mention. Its not 100%–in fact, based on tens of thousands of hours of data collection, Ozonics feels comfortable guaranteeing that 85% of my downwind encounters will not result in blown hunts. The science is accurate and I am becoming a believer after one hunt–more to come!
Also, it was time to buy a new pair of warmer weather boots. I chose to go with Danner Pronghorns. They came highly recommended and seem very durable. I’ll be testing them out for cooler conditions this weekend, but it needs to be noted that they are not my medium-weather choice, rather warm conditions down to about 30-35 degrees. They have super thick rubber and aggressive soles with heavy duty stitched leather. They are uber-comfy and I am excited to get them broken in as well.
Things are about to get very busy in the whitetail woods for me and this weekend is kind of a kick off for that. I have buddies getting out for the first time and I know something will be dying, praying its by my wife’s hand! Stay tuned and watch for updates!
Thanks for following along!!!!
Kathryn had dibs on the first sit of the year as I am keeping as many sets fresh for her as long as possible. There are quite a few 130-140 class bucks that are working these spots and with tonight’s wind we really thought she would get a chance to at least see one of these five to six different bucks. The wind was weird–nearly nothing–but what wind there was seemed to be perfect for a spot that had a bunch of activity.
She walked passed two scrapes that had been recently worked and climbed up into the stand, but couldn’t get set without a few does busting her and blowing like crazy. Just bad timing, but they eventually calmed down and worked their way back towards her set up, but without offering a good shot. She then told me a couple of bucks showed up back in the timber, but they never came close enough for her to determine what kind of bucks they were.
The night ended in utter silence as the wind was completely flat and she didn’t hear anything. But, the first hunt of the year is in her books and she is looking forward to the next chance to get int he stand. Kathryn also has an early muzzleloader tag, which begins October 13th and ends the 21st. So, she will be hunting every available minute until she tags a buck with the front stuffer, and/or her bow. I’m excited! Things are shaping up well for her this year, I’m praying she can get the monkey off her back, its been 4 years since she killed a deer, so she’s due!
Maybe next time!
This will be the third time this week I have mentioned this, but once more won’t hurt. This has been the slowest year of running trail cameras that I have ever had. I HOPE its just a fluke and many of my big target bucks didn’t succumb to EHD that is running rampart across Iowa right now. I won’t know until I either begin getting pix of them or I lay eyes on them once in the woods.
Fortunately one of my target bucks from last year has shown up. Hammer Handle first appeared last year in velvet sporting a cool 5- to 6-inch droptine, and I had numerous encounters with him. I could have waxed him twice with a m’loader but fortunately for him it was bowseason. I’m glad I didn’t get a chance because based on this year’s photos he was 3.5 years old last year. He has returned but short a droptine this year. I have seen this kind of thing happen with other bucks I have had a chance to hunt for consecutive years, but he has some very recognizable features that are a dead give-away for me.
The primary aspect to his rack that indicates its him is his strong left side. Last year he carried a relatively tight rack with a strong 5-by side on his left. He carries that exact same feature this year. He didn’t grow as much as I would have figured, but he is at the top of my hitlist so far this year–and that’s because the other bucks are not showing up.
I have a few hard-horn pix of him that clearly indicate his lack of growth from last year. I am really surprised by this as I expected the mild winter to really give the bucks a boost ths year, but perhaps the drought-like conditions took it’s toll. Regardless, this buck will easily score in the mid-150s and I will put an arrow into him without a second thought if given the opportunity. I’m just glad he’s around…