Contributors to this thread:
A season to be thankful for..
The Sandhills of Nebraska is where I call home..
The Sandhills of Nebraska is where I call home..
I love reading the season recaps and thought I would throw mine out there as well. I can't do my story justice as well as most of the bowsite studs...but will try anyway :) I learned a lot of new things this year and changed my attitude on a few things along the way. I will try and get most of this done tonight but might get a little long winded...
Beav and I with two other buddies, Beav is shooting
Beav and I with two other buddies, Beav is shooting
The end of summer had me running around crazy, trying to get work done, bought a boat for bighead bowfishing, 3D shoots and golfing with family and friends, checking cows, haying, keeping fence up, and running a few cams.
looking forward to the read!
Drove clear to Kentucky when I found the right boat! Luckily my youngest son Hunter and his girlfriend rode with me!
Then came the process of welding a platform for shooting off of..
Finished product! Ready to fish!
One of our 1st trips to the river got us into some bigheads, bit of a learning curve to hunting them, feast or famine some days! This is both of my boys, Hunter, Nick and his wife Ashley.
So far your doing good, You should have done a live hunt of taking down the road signs!
Off to a great start, Marty! Looks like a blast!
And Grubby is spot on! Awesome looking shop there... Drool, drool!
Now while I love all hunting and big game hunting, bowfishing and hunting small game give me the same feeling otcwill gets when he is headed to the mountains to hunt elk! I get giddy for days on end and can hardly sleep leading up to my trip to bowfish or for bunny hunting after all the other seasons have closed. Maybe it is because as a bowhunter we are always training for that one high pressure shot we MIGHT get at a big game animal. While bowfishing and bunny hunting is laid back with the opportunity for lots of shooting usually with the added bonus of family and friends getting in on the action too...
Gotta go check and tag a few new baby calves, will get after it again this evening. Thanks guys! Grubby it’s good to know people who know people that let me dig those out of the dump, saved me some $$
Make Nick go do the checking and you get back to the story! This is going to be a good one!
I was just hoping someone would have a hunt to post up. Fall can't get here soon enough.
Keep it coming
Thanks guys! If any of you remember I did a story a couple years ago, I got bit by a farm cat and messed up my hand a bit. Well things were going great, my hand was slightly messed up in the joint, but life goes on. I had to switch from shooting my fishing bow with fingers to my release. My wife had left town to visit our son Hunter who was staying in his college town to work out with his college basketball coach and my older son and I were hurrying to get our last day of mowing hay done. We decided we had time before dark to bust out our fishing bows and try a local creek for some common carp...
I sent my son out of the hayfield ahead of me and I was gonna pick him up after I finished the last round and since it had been really dry lately hopped on the 4-wheeler which I had driven the two miles over on. We have a lightly used paved road that turns into gravel just past our driveway. I drove out of the pasture at about 4 pm that 96 degree late July day and it felt really good with the breeze blowing on my balding scalp. I put the hammer down on the flat smooth surface for the quick mile ride to our other place. That’s when the $h!? hit the fan...
Uh oh, hate when fan its that! Keep it coming man, good or bad.
Selfie on way to emergency room...
Selfie on way to emergency room...
One minute I’m flying down the road, next I see a big whitetail doe at full speed at two feet...trouble was, she was two feet right in front of me, and I was going way too fast and thinking of making more memories with my son shooting fish! For sure over 50mph. I went head 1st over the handle bars and bounced down the asphalt. As I slid on my back and felt the skin ripping off my arm, I flipped to my back and yanked my arm off the ground only to see my 4-wheeler going end over end and it was gonna land right on my head. Lucky for me, it missed by less than a foot...
I got up, knew I broke something in my hand, figured I had broke my pelvis or hip, killed at the small of my back. Lucky for me I had cell service and called my son to come get me. 4-wheeler was totaled. I went down in a heap almost as quick as I got up. Ironically right by the doe who was breathing her last.
Lucky I was never that handsome!
I did break a bone in my hand and had to have a splint put on and maybe surgery to screw the bone together, couldn't even sit up without help and had to have a walker and help to get up. Good news, nothing else broke, just tore all the muscles I had in my stomach, back, hamstrings, and groin. Stupid thing is....All I could think of...will I be able to get out by the season opener for antelope or even deer only a little over a month away...Geez, can't even hardly move and I am worried about that....Now I can't even get out with the boat again...Goals people....
Man oh man, heal up. looking forward to more major adventures.
To make a long story a little bit shorter, after a little over a month, I was off the walker and looking like a 100 year old guy shuffling along. Missed the beginning of antelope season but was already shooting a few arrows a day. I have quite a few stories I can tell about the rehab, especially about where all the blood drained from my tore muscles and just sitting around for weeks on end, but they are better left for a campfire...Beav wanted pictures but they were for sure not g rated! I decided I was good enough to take the boat out with some help and try for some fish with the kids, wife hated the idea... I think she was just worried I would hurt myself more and she would have to keep being a nurse! My best relief came after a few trips to the chiro and he got everything back in order...
It also didn't help that it was our 25th wedding anniversary and we had plans to go to Texas, so she could go to Waco and see the Silos and Chip & Joanna Gaines store and do some shopping in Round Top, antiques and flea market stuff. We never really vacation away from the ranch and hadn't really taken a trip in forever, so she was really excited. Ever since I was small I had dreamed of shooting a caribou and a blackbuck antelope. I did one caribou trip in early 2000 and crossed that off the list. I'd love to do it again but probably will never happen. She was nice enough to let me try my luck in Texas on the Blackbuck, so I was hoping I would be able to pull that off. I had no idea what to expect since I have never really did a guided hunt or a high fence hunt. Out here it is so wide open but I really wanted to try it.
My buddy Aaron and Hunter with a couple bigheads
My buddy Aaron and Hunter with a couple bigheads
I finally just said the boys can help and hooked up the boat and we headed for the river!
We had a good day and I was pretty sore but shot a couple. A week or so later I was able to make another quick day run up with just Hunter and we really hammered them! These are just a few but we saw thousands and were being pretty picky in the ones we shot.
Last picture of that day! Another group we got.
Now, I was off to Texas with the wife! We had a great trip and I was slowly getting to walk around a bit better, good enough that I wanted to try and do my Blackbuck hunt. I really didn't know what to expect, the owner/guide I talked to said that he had stands, but doesnt feed this time of year or we could try spot and stalk. It was a 1,000 acre place and was semi hilly with some pretty thick trees in areas, it was pretty neat to see all the animals. Maybe I would do it again, they were extremely wired little animals, but really was not what I would call a tough hunt...maybe a tough shoot...for sure tough little critters with the bow! They were hard to get close too and always seemed to be on the move..
My wife really enjoyed riding around safari style and looking at all the animals. I finally got it done with a 52 yard shot. It looked perfect but we couldn’t find him til the next day and then he was fighting with another buck! Took most of the day and almost got shots several times, then I finally did at 49 and hit him high but was able to finish him off a couple long hours later hiding in some really thick trees with tall weeds. I wasn't really worried about getting one with the biggest horns, I always wanted one that had a dark cape and this one had that! He was really good flavored, really tough meat tho, not sure if that was because of the hunt or if he was older?
Ohh ya, that is the 1st shot, that found him fighting bucks the next day...
Now it was back home to the rolling Sandhills to see if I could get around enough to chase antelope and deer at home!
Short walks were still pretty hard on me but I was bound and determined to start getting back in shape, and what better way than with a bow in my hand. Now I've always been a little bit of a trophy hunter that loves to eat wild game, sometimes that doesn't go hand in hand :) Like I said at the beginning of the story, my priorities had shifted a bit, we aren't always going to have tomorrow, I vowed to enjoy the hunt, friends, and family more! My goal was to kill a buck in velvet, any buck in velvet...
Looks like a hell of a wreck you had! Glad you are still with us and that you had a fast recovery to be able to get some hunting time in.
We had one more 3D shoot and Beav, Aaron, and Nick walked extra slow so I could keep up. (I think they were just enjoying kicking my butt!) I really was hoping to see a mulie like this shortly!
Hunt number one came when Nick called and had spotted a few antelope out in the hills and told me to grab my bow and meet him to try a sneak. This was a blessing as the hardest part of hunting out here is the miles it takes on foot to glass up something to put a sneak on. I hurried and changed clothes and made the couple mile drive in light rain to meet him. I'm not gonna lie, I was breathing hard and had sweaty hands and I wasn't even out of the pickup yet. I hopped out in the light mist and headed toward the windmill I was supposed to meet Nick at. I hustled along and had to cross a couple fences to get where I was going, probably only a little under a mile away. It was extremely difficult to lift my legs to get over the fence but I got it done. I finally found Nick and we snuck in and watched the antelope feeding from about 250 yards. No way to get close enough to where they were. We just sat and watched, hoping they would make a mistake....
Finally after an hour or so, they got on their feet and started to feed towards the hills away from us, still totally unaware that we were watching from the hills across the way. Nick and I made a plan to swing clear around and try and get a crosswind to maybe get a shot if they got into the hills. We had to crawl back over a hill and then crouch low and sneak thru a valley and then make a 1/2 mile plus loop to get where we needed to be. Nick was very patient waiting for the gimp following him, I was really struggling to keep up, but I made it. We kept tabs on them as we were sneaking along and got into position. If they kept going, we had a great shot at getting on them, and there was a smoker buck in there to boot!
I was starting to think this just might work, just as they turned from 100 yards away and started back the way they had just come. Nick and I decided that they were more than likely going to head south (the way they were headed) so we decided to high tail it back to where we just were! I realized half way back that this wasn't going to work for me and I didn't want to spoil the chance for Nick, so I told him to go ahead of me and I would just keep coming. I finally made it back to my previous position and of course the goats had did a 180 and were headed back into the hills north again! I just sat and watched in the light mist as Nick took off back to the west on his loop to the north. I was soaked in sweat and in quite a bit of discomfort, but dang I had to smile. I was hunting again!
Finally I crawled back up on a knob and hid behind some yucca plants and watched as Nick made his swing around. About that time I saw my youngest son who was home for a couple days walking the hills about 1/2 mile west of Nick. He hurried up and caught up to Nick and I saw them talk for a bit and then both head on to the goats. It was a good time for me to just sit and reflect, I had a lot to be thankful for, I might not play pickup basketball or run a 1/2 marathon again, but I was alive and kicking, doing most of the things I loved! The boys played cat and mouse for awhile with the goats before a doe busted them peeking over a yucca from about 60 yards and they all blew out of there like their butts were on fire. I barely made the walk back to the fence and the boys went and got my pickup and came and got me. I would pay for this hunt for more than a few days. I could barely walk I was so sore. The good thing was that it was just soreness, I just had to keep reminding myself that I was lucky to be feeling sore and not really crippled up!
I stayed home for the next week or so as I tried to heal some more before deer season opened. Nick hung a trail cam on a water tank about 4 miles from the house in one of our most remote and rugged pastures. We thought maybe we could catch a goat watering there. We only had one doe antelope picture all season there. They are pretty few and far between out here. But one series of three pictures did catch our eye. It would be the only pictures we would ever get of either of these bucks all year.
Dang man! Glad you’re on the mend! Great read so far!
That is a old cattle rub that sits by the tank behind him, this is the little guy!
Date and time are off here
To say we were excited would be an understatement. We are not in a area known for big deer in general. We have some pretty nice deer but this was next level for us!
I was taking longer and longer walks with my wife every night trying to get back into hunting shape and earn a few brownie points too. I really tried to not get too crazy tho, as the 1st antelope hunt had set me back a bit. Closing in on 50 and it sure seems to take a bit longer to recoup after getting hurt or drinking with Beav, Aaron, and the boys on a weekend! Busch Light only made it better for so long. :)
Opening day rolled around and I was still not up to really "getting after" it like I like to do and have in the past. Nick and I covered quite a few miles in the hills in the general area that we had got the picture but didn't even turn up a single doe. We glassed and moved to the next hill and glassed some more, no luck. We decided before dark we would move to an area farther south and check out some more rough hills. We hiked back to the side by side and drove on.
I love big mule deer and that is a dandy for sure!
Glad you got to spend quality time with your boys doing what you love. Worth every minute even if your a little slowed up.
Hope the pics foretell more good things to come!
Thanks Treeline. My goals still hadn't changed, I had two tags in my pocket that allowed for me to shoot 2 bucks and my land owner tag allowed a bonus whitetail doe. I wanted a velvet mulie and would get one in the freeezer if I could and my 2nd tag would probably be holding out for something special. We hit a few more big hills and glassed a lot of square miles of country, no luck, nothing, I was in shock, this was our honey hole, we always saw deer here early on. I was beat, done, I didn't think I should even try another hill. After all it was a long season. Nick wanted to push on, I didn't blame him, the 1st few times we get out is sometimes the best time to catch these bucks still in the area and pretty calm. We decided to drive over to a new range of hills and he would make a few mile loop while checking all the pockets along the way. I stayed put. After he was gone for 10 minutes, I thought, maybe I should climb the closest hill and glass a few pockets until he gets back, maybe something would be up and moving while I just stayed put and glassed. I struggled to make it up the semi-steep hill, once on top, I couldn't see very good, so after another break on my butt, I went to the next range and found a good spot to tuck into. Less than 30 seconds into glassing I had a full velvet spike spotted less than 150 yards away!
I crawled back off the hill and swung around to get the wind better and made the short stalk. I needed to calm down, less than a month earlier, I thought this might never happen again and the blood rush in my head was drowning out rational thoughts, I thought my heart was going to pound out of my chest, geez what kind of seasoned bow hunter was I, this was just a spike. Looking at him laying there sleeping, I took a few deep breaths and got a solid range, 60 yards even. Would love to have a shot half that distance but there was no way to get closer and my blood lust was at a all time high, I don't know what came over me, not proud to admit it but this was going down now! I nocked an arrow and started to get my head straight. I finally calmed down and thought "he's probably not laying out here all alone" I peeked over the hill and saw 3 more bucks, two smaller 3x3's rubbed out and one nicer buck still in full velvet! Good news, it was a little steeper shot, but was 10 yards closer, right in my wheelhouse out here in the hills. I pulled back and settled the pin and he stood broadside and looked my way, I squeezed the release slowly and it felt great. It was slow mo and he took off before my arrow was even there. I watched my goldtip tipped with a new 100 grain 3 blade montec blow thru his hams with a sickening thud and stick in the yucca behind him. Fear, that is the 1st thing I felt, way to blow it, I can't even hardly walk and I need to cover 150 yards to get to the next hill and try and get an eye on him. Down the hill I went and I went right past where my arrow was and the the blood trail leading away was crazy..I topped the hill finally and plopped down to glass, I couldn't find him anywhere, now I was getting that sick feeling in my gut, I hate to see animals suffer cause of my need to prove something to myself and doubt that I would ever see him again and actual physical pain in my body from trying to hustle over the hill to see. I struggled to my feet to maybe move a bit father and get a different vantage point and looked down and he was dead right there not 20 yards away! I'm not usually too emotional after kills but had to just sit down and thank the Lord and take in a great view for a few minutes. It was unbelievable, I almost started crying, geez I was really losing it...
No giant but he will do!
No giant but he will do!
It was getting late by the time Nick returned and I don’t think he really believed me! He hadn’t seen a single deer and I had killed one right by where he left me? All I got was a not very good cell phone picture in the dying light. It was rather warm and we had him broke down and in a cooler in less than an hour after we got home! Life is good! This is just the start of this crazy season!
After my opening day luck, I had a chance to set new goals for the season. I was gonna just enjoy the season, no pressure. I was gonna hold out for the cam buck or something really big and just enjoy my time out and about. This was Nick's 1st year back at the ranch (he and his wife moved back) and he was enjoying being home working and being able to hunt and just be around the wildlife all the time. It was killing Hunter to be away at college and with basketball practice and school work didn't have time to drive the 3 hours home much. He was planning on maybe getting two weekends to come home and hunt for the entire season. One of those weekends was the next weekend. Nick and I meanwhile finished work as early as possible most days and spent our evenings glassing for that gagger mulie. Nick took a night and crawled in one of our whitetail stands over north and sent me a text saying he had shot a p&y class 5x5 whitetail 1/2 hour before dark. He headed over and we watched the video (his wife sat with him and ran the camera) It was not good.... For a guy with a new lease on life and a commitment to being a better person, husband, friend, and dad, I kind of blew it. In their excitement to see, video, and shoot this buck on video, Nick's bottom limb had hit his wife's leg at the shot and he hit him really low thru the guts.. We decided to leave him for the night after the butt chewing I gave him for blowing a 20 yard slam dunk shot...leaving the deer to suffer and maybe be lost. Long story short, we spent 3 days looking and didn't find the deer... He felt bad enough, I didn't need to lecture him, especially after I had just got lucky on a slam dunk for me shot.. We hoped he lived but we both knew better..
Big fork with a couple little points
Big fork with a couple little points
We covered a lot of ground with our feet and glass, even seeing a few decent bucks along the way the rest of the week. We had both decided to hold out on our last buck tags tho. Nick had punched his tag because he felt like he killed that buck, his choice not mine. I was impressed tho and told him so. I’m not always a jerk!
Hunter came home for the weekend and took Ashley out while Nick and I finished up some work on a Saturday. They were able to sneak right in on a nice mulie and Ashley made a iffy shot on him, it looked fatal and they followed him for a bit and then Ashley put a finishing shot in him. Both shots were less than 25 yards and she is pretty solid out to 40. Nick was starting to feel the heat, as his brother has helped his wife kill two nice spot and stalk mulies two years in a row! But we had another buck on the ground and we were all super excited! I love having all my kids loving to hunt!
Ashley’s 1st buck
Ashley’s 1st buck
After they got that one taken care of, Hunter and his girlfriend who was home with him, checked another range of hills, right behind our house. He reported almost killing a big 160 inch typical 4x4! He got on him 3 times and just couldn't quite close the deal. Nick and I were skeptical.. we hadn't seen anything close to that almost ever around here, 145-155 is a huge typical for here. What's the odds of having TWO giant bucks running around in our area? He swore that it not only was 160 but was net 160. We kind of had to believe him tho, he is a hunting fool and has looked over a lot of nice mule deer, even if he is still a young man..He called dibs and we laughed at him..if that caliber of buck showed his rack around Nick and I we were going to hunt him hard!
We made many many trips out over the next few weeks and just didn't see the deer we usually see, let alone either of the two big mulies. We had caught a real heavy old 5x5 whitetail on camera tho over by where Nick had lost his other buck and Nick made more than a few sits trying to get him. The only pictures we were getting were in the middle of the night tho and Nick never did see him. He was passing on some pretty decent bucks tho. We also spotted a nice mulie one day working his way thru a tree covered low spot that looked pretty good, could it be the buck Hunter saw? We geared up and slowly still hunted thru the thick stuff until we spotted 2 does and then picked up some horn tucked in behind them about 25 yards in even thicker stuff. The wind was really howling that day, 20 mph plus, as we dropped to our knees and made the final approach. Once we crawled within 30 yards of the buck, we could tell he was very nice, border p&y class, 145 gross maybe. I was passing but Nick couldn't decide, he decided to try and crawl closer and if he got a slam dunk in the wind he would take it. We crawled to 18 yards and Nick stood behind a tree and drew his bow and then leaned around the corner...
This isn’t that same buck
This isn’t that same buck
Then let him walk away... maybe next year he said.
I was getting around better and better with less discomfort all the time and was enjoying spending time working and hunting with Nick. Beav and I were talking quite a bit as he and Zach had already tagged really good bucks, in fact Zach his son had already shot two nice bucks. We were having the time of our lives hunting and making plans on how to make the most of the rest of the year! Hunter was due to return home shortly and still no sign of his buck or the non-typical.. Nick and I had planted a little fall rye plot about 100 yards behind the house and it was doing well, we even saw a few does on it and thought maybe, just maybe when the rut rolled around...
Thanks for posting! Keep it coming!!
That is a crazy wreck ya had!!
Heal up well
Thanks for sharing your thread with us
Loving the recap. Can’t wait for the rest:)! Hope we can catch up when I am down there next week. At least have a blue yummy or two At the store one night! Hunt
I have two days before I head your way, Nebraska, to turkey hunt, so please finish the story. my best, Paul
Thanks guys! I will try and get back at it this afternoon or this evening. My boys are both playing in a alumni basketball tournament, wife is going to watch, and my brother-in-law is throwing up sick. I just got up at 10:30 from the night watch, went to bed a little after 3am, and have a bunch of new calves, some calving, and some haying to do. Gonna be a busy morning! Love that I have the chance to be busy, life is good! Kevin
With everyone, it takes almost losing life to realize how great we can make what God has given us. You were blessed with a second chance and taking advantage of it! Awesome story.
looking forward to the rest!
Great so far....keep it rolling!
The week prior we had moved a group of bulls into a new grassy lot over north by our big grove and as Nick was over checking waters and calves he noticed horns laying out in the shorter grass in the bull pen. Shortly we had some closure on his whitetail buck. Happy to find him, sad, and a little disappointed that only nature got to enjoy his tasty backstraps. We are thinking that he must have lived a few days? Was only scattered bones, even a tine had been chewed off. Nick tagged him and took him home, a consolation prize and grim reminder of what sometimes happens when things don't go as planned. Good news, his mind was eased and he still had another tag in his pocket, although he was second guessing his decision to pass on the chip shot on the mulie....
Soon enough the weekend rolled around and Hunter was home and quickly changed and calling to see if I could go with him to do some glassing. I told him to head out and I would finish up what I was doing and catch up. It was only about 15 minutes later, he called and said he was leaving the house and spotted horns in some trees not even 100 yards from the front door and IT WAS the big typical with a nice buck beside him. I couldn't believe it! He said to get my butt in gear and get home and we would try and get on him. Being the boss, (don't tell my wife) I told Nick, he could finish up what we were doing, I was headed over to hunt with Hunter!
I pulled in and Hunter was super pumped, he only had 3/4 day to hunt and then had to head back as he had practice on Sunday night. It was perfect stalking weather but terrible shooting weather, the wind was blowing 35mph+, with gusts over 50mph! I quickly changed my clothes and grabbed my bino's and rangefinder and headed out the door. Hunter was surprised I didn't grab my bow, I told him, if we didn't get him right off, or if he was actually as big as he said, I had laid it by the door. He had found him, I would at least give him the 1st crack. Off we went..
We walked south to get the wind right and then slowly headed down the small tree row stopping to glass every few steps to see if we could spot horns before they saw us. Shortly I glanced back and saw Nick sneaking along in his work clothes trying to catch up to us. We motioned him forward and then continued on. It soon became apparent that they were not bedded there anymore. Now we went into super slow mode and started glassing all over to try and find them. Ten minutes later we were standing in their still warm beds...
We slowly scanned around and then Nick spotted them, straight north of us in our rye plot with a bunch of does. We crawled over to the edge of the trees and up to the fence and watched them run around checking a few does. Then for whatever reason, they all started jumping the fence and heading north into the next lot over the hill. It is a fairly tall fence in our calving lot and for whatever reason, only the big buck wouldn't jump over it. He seemed to go into panic mode that all the other deer left him and headed south at a trot, right towards us, 200, 150, 100, 75, 50, 40, if he turned and went east, which is what we figured he would do because west went towards the house, Hunter would have a 35 yard shot or closer... We all were wide eyed and ready...
He went west... and jumped over an even higher fence and ran into the trees directly behind my house! A quick huddle and the boys said he is going to run clear thru those trees and catch up with the rest of them, we need to move and move now. I said go, I will only slow you down, as I still couldn't jog, let alone run. They were off in a sprint to try to beat him to the other end to set up. Which at the time I didn't know what was going on but they did beat him there and saw all the rest of the deer and smaller buck bedded about 70 yards off the end of those trees. They snuck as far as they could and set up so that if the big typical came out and tried to join the other deer Hunter would have a short shot.
I slowly headed towards the house and grabbed my bow..hey you never know and then swung back around and figured I could still hunt up the trees and either get a shot or bump him up to Hunter. I took a few steps into the trees and started glassing, this went on for a few minutes, a few steps, glass. Then I saw legs, then horns, then the deafening roar of blood running in my head again, he didn't see me and was looking the other way... I dropped to my belly and lined up a tree with his head and did the snake into 22 yards. I slowly sat up and nocked an arrow and pulled back and started to lean around the tree...It was so windy that I was literally worried about a tree blowing over on me. Just as I settled my pin a big gust of wind hit and he bolted north.. wow, so close, yet so far.. I couldn't help but smile, this is what it's all about and maybe Hunter would get a crack at him. That would even be better!
As my heart rate dropped back into the "normal" range, I slowly straightened up and took a few steps north. The thought came to me that he didn't really spook at me, so maybe I should go back into snail mode. Plus it wouldn't help Hunter if I just blew him out the other end. So back to glass, step, repeat. Not even a few minutes later, I caught movement thru the bino's of a deer trotting towards me. It was HIM and he was coming BACK! maybe he had winded or spotted the boys, I wasn't sure, but I was on my knees and ready. He stopped in the thickest deadfall there was and just stood motionless at about 35 yards or so. Now mind you, I am less than 50 yards in a straight line from the back of my house, although I couldn't even see the house! I had no shot thru the branches, so slowly dropped to my belly among the swaying branches and swirling leaves and slid over until I had another tree blocking his view and started my crawl again, maybe it would work this time, if only I could find a hole to shoot thru...
I slowly repeated the same process as last time, slowly sit up, nock an arrow, pull back slowly and lean around the tree. It took me a little bit of shifting around to find a hole to shoot thru, this was top pin only distance and I didn't want a deflection to end this poorly for me. I finally found a softball sized hole and slowly pulled the trigger. I was holding low right in the arm pit and my arrow zipped right thru! It looked perfect but it was so thick, I couldn't see the rest of his body very well, just bits and pieces. He blew out of there and over the fence headed back south and I didn't see which way he went. I hustled to the fence and saw no sign of him anywhere, not heading out across the open prairie or jumping into the next little row of trees.. I slipped back out and sat down for a second to gather my thoughts and say a little thank you, even tho I knew it could be a long ways from over. I was 99% sure I had put it right on the hair I aimed at tho. Time to go get the boys. I must say, I was really shook up, this was probably gonna be my best buck, both boys were with me, and I got him not 50 yards from my house. How cool is that?
A couple things changed quickly after I got to the boys and told my story, they both were pumped and wanted to head down and track him down. I figured no need to wait, it had probably been 10 minutes already and I had 12 ringed him. But now I felt guilty, Hunter only had a short amount of time to hunt and this was kinda "his" buck as he had a history with him, at least a lot more than i did and I could see just a tad bit of disappointment behind his smile.. Then we got to the arrow and it was covered it greenish blood and smelled like guts...
We decided to try and see which way he went and at least get an eye on him, maybe he bedded in a spot I could try and finish him off? We followed mostly his running tracks in the sand with an occasional spot of blood here or there and he ran towards some hay bales and our little fishing pond about 150 yards from the house. We finally tracked him to the hay bales and I peeked around the corner and he was bedded right there, not 30 yards away, I nocked another arrow and stepped around the corner, he stood and with the wind really howling I pulled a rookie move and had thrown on my big work sweatshirt, the string hit my sleeve and the arrow cork screwed off into the grass well under him..
He ran out of there and looked really hurt. He ran maybe 100 yards around the pond and laid down, we backed up and snuck around and decided to just keep an eye on him. He rolled his head around and then laid flat on the ground. We thought he was done and decided to slip in and get another in him if we needed to. We got to 30 yards and peeked around a cedar tree and I leaned out and he went from laying flat out to full sprint in the blink of an eye. We lost sight of him and panic set in, maybe we should have just left him, man I didn't want to lose him or have him suffer needlessly. We finally got calmed down and Hunter explained that he had been watching from a different hill and saw where he went and thought he bedded down right on the edge of the pond in some cedars. We snuck around and sure as shooting, there he was bedded, but looking as alert as any non-hit deer would look. We snuck into 25 yards and I could only see his head and neck thru the grass but he looked to be hard quartering away. I decided to just put one in his neck. I pulled back and slowly stepped out and as his muscles tensed and he looked my way, I didn't waste any time and put one in his neck. He did a death run down the edge of the pond and painted the bare sand and grass with a two foot wide swath of red. He only made it 30 yards and kicked twice!
After a few high fives and a bunch of phone calls and pictures we got him rinsed out and hung up and I headed for a stand to sit with Hunter as he wanted some company and he really wanted to see if he could get a crack at "Shorty". That is what we called the heavy old buck that we couldn't catch in the daylight and only had some nighttime photos of. Deer movement was really slow and time was ticking down on Hunter's maybe last sit of the year? He was hoping maybe at Thanksgiving or Christmas he might get a short break to come home but you never know with holiday tournaments and practices.
We had a few hushed conversations but otherwise just enjoyed hanging out like we used to. That's one reason I really like some of the double ladder stands in our most productive areas. Shortly before dark, we had a really nice 5x5 come cruising thru, it was a 125 inch gross young whitetail that we were having a hard time not shooting. Nick had passed him numerous times and Hunter had passed him on his last trip home. We usually don't do that but for this young buck the stars aligned and he lived to see another year. Hunter confessed that he was a tiny bit disappointed that I had shot the big typical and said he was sorry. I said nothing to be sorry about, I felt a little guilty too. We both chuckled and he said you owe me a big one, with a big grin. RIght after he came thru, Hunter hissed "here comes a big boy" I still didn't see anything and Hunter said he's 50 yards back and coming down the same trail. I finally picked up movement and couldn't believe it, it was Shorty! If he followed the same path as the other buck Hunter should have a under 30 yard shot. He followed the script perfect and like some sort of divine intervention stopped on the trail at 27 yards almost perfectly broadside. He was a brute and a old warrior, as he tested the air he looked very majestic. Like most old bucks, he almost seemed to sense something was wrong and glanced our way, but the arrow was gone in a flash and zipped right thru both front shoulders. Just like the arrow, the buck turned and disappeared into the thick old growth cedars with much crashing and then all was silent.
We sat until it got almost completely dark and then slipped down to look for the arrow and blood. We couldn't find the arrow but a really heavy blood trail led away, with us quietly following. We went maybe 20 yards and found part of his arrow and continued on. The blood trail took us 30 more yards thru the thick stuff and out the other side and turned 90 degrees left. We decided at this point to back out and go meet Nick and then take up the trail in a half hour or so, it looked great, but after our earlier experiences this year, time wouldn't hurt!
After meeting up with Nick and getting some better lights, we were back on the trail. We didn't make it another 20 yards and there he laid!
That is one awesome day of hunting! Congratulations on two great bucks! Great to be hunting with your boys for sure!
Now that’s a good day of hunting !! Keep it coming!! Hunt
After some more high fives and hugs, we loaded him up and hauled him home for some pictures. Then we even went back and got mine to get some together. You can really see this bucks body size in this picture!
Thanks guys! We went straight to work caping and deboning. It didn't take long to have them both in a cooler for the work ahead. We finished trimming, cutting, and packaging Hunter's before we crawled into bed that evening! Then loaded the cooler with some ice and would finish mine in the morning before Hunter had to head back to college.
That is a stud of a white tail! Huge!
While we finished cutting up mine in the morning, part of Hunter’s backstraps were soaking in some zesty Italian and honey bbq sauce. We then wrapped them in bacon and threw them on the grill at noon. We even sautéed some onions and had a feast for lunch!
Our season was far from over! We all still had antelope tags and Nick, Ashley, and Hunter all had a buck tag left. I still had a doe tag too but really wanted a antelope buck. Nick and I continued to hunt hard, mainly by walking and glassing, we even found a couple small groups of goats, but they gave us the slip with no shots fired... Still no sign of the big non-typical mulie, and believe you me, we beat the hills to death, both with boot leather and glass.
Nick was busy checking cams and moving stands and trying to help a couple of his friends who were new to bowhunting get on the board with a doe or even a buck at his house. He lives about 8 miles north of our ranch on 63 acres right off the highway. He and one of his best friends put in food plots and have about 5 stands and numerous cameras out there. He had been getting a big double main beamed on one side, and really nice 4 on the other side on camera almost nightly, trouble was it was middle of the night and we were pretty sure he was coming from across the highway and heading back well before light. Like most big bucks, he was smart! He finally screwed up and we had him on camera at 9:30am one morning, trouble was, he got smoked on the highway at 9:45 that day. Of course someone took his horns but a buddy had seen them before we got there and they were gone.
Well about this time, one of my best buddies from nearby had been driving me crazy calling and wanting to go coyote calling. We usually shoot about 30-50 a year and make some pretty good money. It's about the only thing I put my bow down to hunt. So I gave him a call one day when the wind wasn't blowing very hard and told Nick to finish up with the list of chores I gave him and we headed out to do some calling. Nick gave me a dirty look as I headed out the door, I told him, in 25 years, he could maybe do it to his son!!
1st set was a dry set, didn't see a thing, so we headed out for the next set of hills. We had to cut thru a semi-tree covered pasture to hit the next spot we wanted to go. As we drove around a batch of trees my buddy said look at the size of that buck with those does! I stopped and threw the glass on him, it was a really wide and nice 3x4 mulie, one I hadn't seen before, but right to the left of him about 40 yards was the big non-typical. I think I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. I finally got my buddy to quit looking at the "nice" buck and look at the big boy...He couldn't believe his eyes, said he had never seen a deer like that except on tv! I hurried and threw the pickup in gear and drove clear out of there while keeping an eye on them to see if they spooked into the next county or not. Then I called Nick!
This is really getting good:)
That is one stud of a whitetail. What a brute bodied deer.
Now mind you, Nick would have to change, get his gear, and drive 20 minutes to get to where I had last seen him, but it was worth a shot! If I was alone and my buddy hadn't gotten out of work to go calling, I would have circled back and kept an eye on him for Nick. As it was, we continued on and made another dry set and were well into our 3rd set when my phone started vibrating in my pocket. Usually that just gets ignored until we finish the set but today I answered! It was Nick and he wanted me to head that way and help him. He was a couple miles from where he had parked the 4-wheeler and just said to meet him on the trail by some fenced out trees that I knew. He sounded out of breath and I said did you see him? He said long story just come pick me up please...
It took quite a while to get over there, as my buddy and I had drove several miles away and walked in quite a ways to make the set. As soon as I saw Nick, he had the biggest grin on his face and blood on his hands!
He then proceeded to tell me HIS story! He had parked quite a ways back and hiked in to where I had last seen the brute and he was only about 75 yards from there! He marked where he was at and had to make a small loop around a pretty good line of big cedars to get the wind and cover right to get close. They were so thick that he had to find a spot to crawl thru them to even see on the other side. He picked a old deer trail and dropped to his knees and started crawling, about 3/4 of the way thru he spotted a doe and she was looking his way from only 35 yards! He froze in place and prayed that she would just go about her business. After a very few tense minutes she turned and started grazing away. Nick finished crawling out to the edge and checked all around, no sign of the big buck. He needed to get a few more feet to see over a slight rise in the ground and got them covered and looked around again. Not 35 yards away out of the tree row walked the big buck and he had not a clue that Nick was sitting tucked in the edge of the cedars!
Trouble was, it was so thick crawling through the trees that Nick's bow was laying on the ground and all his arrows were in the quiver! He said there was no way I could grab my bow and nock an arrow without him seeing me, so I just had to sit there and watch him walk over the rise...
When he was finally out of sight, Nick grabbed his bow and nocked an arrow and crawled up the small rise in front of him. Trouble again, the buck was still just walking straight away. 50, 60, 70 and now broadside grazing at 80 yards. Nick is a very good shot, even out to 80 and has the pin for it, now I was starting to get nervous about the story, he was at full draw and with his head spinning, heart racing, and a million thoughts running thru his head, he let down and watched the buck of his dreams follow that doe all of 250 yards across that open pasture to some thick trees and plum bushes on a hilly side hill! I thought "way to go", would I have made the same decision on that giant?
Unlike his old man tho, Nick is in very good shape. He quickly crawled back thru the tree row and ran probably a mile and 1/2 clear around and snuck into the last spot he had seen the buck headed. Nothing.. there is lots of big trees and deep pockets here, so he slowly worked his way down the hill along side of some giant ponderosa pines and peered into the next pocket. A doe!! He nocked an arrow and poked his head a little more around the corner and spotted horns! He quickly got a range of 45 yards and stepped around a tree and started to settle his pin. A sudden realization came over him, it's not the same buck, it was the wide 3x4! He slowly let down and slipped back behind the hill the deer none the wiser.
He started slowly checking every pocket and glassing all over but the buck had vanished...dejected he started trudging back to the 4-wheeler with thoughts of what if dancing thru his head..
He said he hadn't even got 100 yards into his walk when he started to top a small rise with a little grassy depression and he saw a deer butt! He quickly crouched down and nocked an arrow and grabbed his rangefinder. He peeked back up and saw HORNS, giant horns! The bucks head went back down to graze and Nick got two quick shaky readings of 31 and 32 yards. He quickly pulled back while the bucks head was still down and settled his 30 pin as he walked forward up the hill to clear it, as soon as he saw body he punched his release and the buck crumpled straight to the ground! He had hit him high and now he remembered me telling stories of bucks that get stunned and get back up and run off. He quickly put another in him and then ran up closer and put a third arrow in him that ended it in seconds!
The smile says it all!
The smile says it all!
We argued about his age, he wasn't very heavy and I teased Nick that he was probably pretty young and he should have left him a year! :) Nick had won the bowsite age guessing game, so he had the free kit that Pat had sent him in the mail, so off went the front teeth. It just came back not long ago and the buck was aged at 6.5 years! On a side note, Hunter and I sent both of our deer teeth in also but not until recently.
3 days later was a Sunday and Nicks wife, Ashley still had a buck tag and with rifle season looming, Nick wondered what I thought about trying to get her on the big 3x4? I said go for it, it was similar to Hunter's in that it was a huge bodied deer with a very good but not great rack. It would be her best and she hadn't killed very many deer yet. They headed out the door stoked as heck! Ashley was skeptical as they had not had much success spot and stalking together and Nick had something to prove, that he could be as good a guide as his brother!
Now that is a gagger mule deer anywhere! Wow! Congratulations to Nick on a job well done!
Unbelievably they hadn't been over there much over an hour when they spotted the very buck they were looking for. Nick said the stalk was pretty straight forward and soon they were out of cover and looking at the buck broadside at 45 yards. That is pretty much the end of her effective range but she had been shooting with us pretty regular, even out to 60 yards and was feeling pretty confident that she could make the shot. Nick calmly talked her thru it and with her heart racing, she sent an arrow straight thru his boiler room! He ran about 30 yards, stopped, looked back, and tipped over!
Another big smile!
Another big smile!
She sure showed us how to do it quick and clean!
She was pretty excited and rightfully so, more hugs and high fives! Our taxidermist probably will be able to take a vacation just on our bill this year! Now we were down to just one buck tag (Hunter) and a few doe tags. I was hopeful he would make it home to hangout and hunt some more.
Rifle season rolled in and we heard that the neighbors shot the 5x5 whitetail that we had passed up multiple times. :( We sure don't own them and we like when the neighbors kill nice deer, it gives them incentive to let the little ones grow! Another lesson learned from my crash, live and let live, be happy, and let others do what makes them happy! Plus it doesn't help to worry about things you can't control.
A few nice mulies we had never seen were pushed on the place also.
This neat buck was one of the newbies, pretty heavy and straight up!
He hung around for a couple days and laid here almost all day. A couple hours after I took this picture he chased a doe across the fence a mile away and the same neighbors shot him! They are getting him mounted, so that was pretty cool. I wished that Hunter was home, where he laid in this picture was a perfect spot for a stalk!
Gun season came and went. We had pretty much hung up trying to get a goat, had even seen one that had already shed his sheaths in late November. Mean while my buddy and I were putting a dent in the coyote population calling them in.
This was over a couple week period, all rifle kills.
Hunter finally could sneak home for a day again and had the itch to go coyote hunting. He was gonna deer hunt unless I could get permission to hunt a piece of ground a 1/2 hour away that I used to hunt. I made a call and the landowner said they trapped the place really hard the last two years but I had one day to try calling if I wanted. He had cows out there on some of the pastures and didn't let anybody hunt there but since I ranched here and knew to shut gates and stay clear of the cows I could give it a try. I gave Hunter the news and we were pumped and made plans. I had to get all my feeding done 1st thing in the morning but then the two of us had the rest of the day! We were both jacked up!
The day dawned cold and cloudy with light snow. Light wind from the north made this perfect, we were both giddy as we headed out about 10am, the plan was to start on the south end and hunt all day making sets to the north. We were just using a couple of rabbit in distress hand calls. 1st 2 sets nothing, then it got real! We ended up making 14 sets and saw 8 coyotes and called 7 in, killing six. I will post a few pictures and then move on since they are rifle kills. We had a great day and one we won't soon forget or maybe ever top!
But wait.. it was the end of November and it had warmed up to 50 and was supposed to be in the mid 50’s the next day, come on kids let’s load up the boat and see if any fish are up!
It was supposed to be pretty cold in the morning but warm up by the afternoon. I guess! It was 30 degrees out as we were putting the boat on the river at 8am after the 3 hour drive. We found one pod of bigheads up early and killed a couple little ones, then the rest of the day was pretty tough going. The rest of the fish were deep and not many of them. We bow fished until early afternoon and then called it a season on the fish!
The funny thing was, we had the river all to ourselves, not another boat to be seen!
Hunter was able to make it home and hunt a little over Thanksgiving and Christmas but just didn't find a buck he wanted to shoot. He passed on quite a few small bucks and on the day before he had to return to college, used his last tag on a doe and doubled up with Nick, who also filled his last anterless tag on the same day..
We never really officially call it a season but if I had to say, the end of the year is always our annual bunny blunters invite and this was our 20th year of having it. So my family and Beav's always end on a bang with the majority of our best buddies shooting a bunch of rabbits and reliving our seasons together around the old wood stove in Meadville Ne!
One of the biggest things I learned this season is, I have it good! Great friends, great family, and a paradise to live and hunt on, and the chance to really live! I hope everyone on here takes the time to really enjoy life and be thankful for what we have. I hope you enjoyed the read and I didn't ramble on too much. Thank you for letting me re-live this season. Until next season....................
Great story and some awesome deer! Thanks for sharing it.
Really enjoyed this Marty. Heck of a season. Congrats and thanks for taking the time!
Awesome season man. You've got a great family and are a blessed man. Just an awesome story.
Marty great story. Thanks for sharing and congrats on a heck of a season.
You have been truly blessed and have so much to be thankful for! Certainly an incredible season for yourself and your family and friends. Great recap!
Make sure to be careful blazing around on those four wheelers! Those wreaks are tough on a guy!
Congrats...to you and your crew!!!
Thanks for taking us along!
That’s a hell of a year and some really nice bucks. Thanks for taking the time for write it all up for us.
Thanks so much for posting!! What a year you guys had!! Hunter
Heck of a year! Great family memories!
Hey Marty, IS THAT ALL YOU GOT!
No really, you got me all excited now to head out tomorrow and kill a couple of turkey in your State. Great recap and with family-- Super nice.
my best, Paul
Thanks guys! Kinda forgot how much time it takes to write those things up but great to go thru it all again. Makes me really appreciate all the write ups on bowsite!
What a great thread, Marty! Thanks for sharing it with us! Agreed. We need to stop often and reflect on how truly blessed we are.
What’s the story behind the stocking-footed gal holding the bighead carp!?! I sense there’s a chuckle or two about that!
Congrats to all! Thanks for sharing!
Awesome story Marty! So glad you weren't hurt worse in your accident and were able to make these memories with your family. Thanks for sharing it with us and best of luck to all of you in 2018! God bless!
This was great! Congrats on a great year and thanks for sharing.
Thanks again guys! t-roy that is my daugher-in-law and she is a go getter, she had jumped down to help me get the boat hooked up when we were loading out and slipped in the water. Only one boot actually filled up with water, so she dumped that boot and took off her socks, she was wearing two on each foot, then took one dry one off the other foot and put it on her wet foot! Smart gal! Brotsky, thanks, my mom lives in SF, I believe that's where you are? I grew up in Salem. Sometime I can get you a beer when I am up there, maybe even get you and half-pint out for some bighead! Scoot, don't blink or your kids will be as big as mine shortly! I like following their exploits on here as well!
Do you eat those bigheads? Just wondering because on one of the pictures from the summer it looked like you were fileting a fish.
I have never even seen one of those bighead carp. Might be fun on a rod & reel, too...
Yep, we clean the bighead, very white firm meat and awesome eating!
They feed on plankton, so I think the only chance with a rod and reel would be snagging them.
Dang, looks like I need to make a trip to Nebraska! That looks like the makings for several blow-out fish frys!
We have more than a few every year!
Marty, shoot me a PM the next time you guys are visiting your mom in Sioux Falls. We'd love to buy you guys dinner or a beer or two or both! That bighead looks dynamite!
Thanks for sharing. Great story.
Best fish I have ever eaten. It’s just incredible!!!
Wow, what a season. Don't know how I missed it earlier - great read, outstanding critters and love to see those yotes laying flat.