I’ll use a collection of tools during the hunt, some common and some strange - which we’ll get into later. A few at which you’ll laugh until you see how well they work. This is not the classic prairie spot-and-stalk bachelor buck hunting of September and October we see on TV. Rather, it is the attempt to kill a mature muley buck among the does and cycling small bucks, with marginal cover, when an error or bad luck may result in a chain-reaction which sends the whole herd streaking for miles, possibly never to be seen again. It’s surgical hunting. Many of the best bowhunters believe the challenge of killing a mature muley buck right now is among the trickiest in North America. I’m in my camp now, and it is warm for November - 70 degrees in the shade. I glassed a couple of drainages early this morning before work, and will glass again tonight to get a better idea of what’s going on before plunging out into the hinterlands.
Tomorrow morning we’ll fire-up this hunt. Last time we did this, I truly appreciated the encouragement and positive thoughts offered by Bowsiters. It gets lonely and demanding out here sometimes, fighting the elements, frustration and fatigue, especially knowing I’m likely the only human on foot as far as the eye can see. I’m happy to take constructive ideas, and welcome them from those who have done this before and done it well. Whether a buck goes down or not, I’ll give it my best effort, and will guarantee only one thing – we’ll have one hell of a hunt before it’s over.
I glassed around today and found plenty of does, but only found one good buck that was too far away for a photo. He's a shooter, though. Tall and heavy and symmetrical.
This little guy is the best buck I saw while glassing yesterday, though I wasn't bummed because the big boys are about to start showing up. It's that time when they've split from the bachelor groups and are doing recon. I saw two different doe groups tonight with no buck, another with a teeny forkie.
I'm headed out next weekend to have a go at them. I even made a hat with ears to fool those wiley bucks :) It seems I saw one of those on your threads before.
I'll have to get creative to hunt a big buck if one shows up in this drainage. Will have to hunt the edges and decoy him in. It will be a challenge...
Caddis, I have a feeling the doe hat will get a lot of use on the sorghum edges this year. That, the "doctored" Montana decoy, and the "doctored" Slip System doe and blind.
I'm going to glass another drainage at first light, then work my way down into the creek bottom to try to figure out where the shooter buck and his does are bedding. Back at you tomorrow afternoon unless I get pinned-down.
Good luck to you guys hunting rutting muleys. It's a hunt like nothing else. Stickflicker, I feel for you. That would kill me, too. I'll try to keep your juices flowing vicariously.
I'm about to enjoy a delicious Marie Callender Beef and Broccoli dinner with carrot cake dessert here in the trailer, while reading David Petersen's excellent collection of essays, "A Hunter's Heart - Honest Essays on Blood Sport". I'm in the hunt now.
As soon as I whack a whitetail in KS, I'll be back out, with you, chasing the critter that inspired my handle.
I always enjoy your hunt recaps...perhaps because I can truly relate to the difficulties of the hunt you are on.
Best of luck, my friend.
Learned tonight from a rancher friend that a 14 year old newbie hunter killed a 34", 20 point nontyp with a rifle last week in the sorghum drainage I posted in the pic above. Sooo, that one's gone, but maybe his older brother...
I know how much you like going native but a prarie wildfire in the grain valley like the Indians use to do would for sure might not sit well with your landowner....
Go get em...
Here's a few mule deer photos just so you know what they look like Ha Ha.
Best wishes on a great hunt and thanks for the ride.
Your friend. BB
Have a great bowhunt. BB
Thanks for bringing us along. Sounds like it's going to be a real challenge. Hard to glass in that stuff. When they're in the cane grass here and no wind the bucks can hardly resist raking something in the rut. Sometimes you see a tall clump go crazy by itself in the middle of a field. You know where they are but....
A matter of being in the right place at the right time. The "time" thing can be a real pain sometimes though...
Here's to a hunter's wind. Good luck!
This morning I worked down a shallow washout and tried to insert myself into the edge of the creek bottom. The wash dumps in right between two primary bedding areas, and I hoped to find the shooter buck from last night and try to rattle him in. Just as I rounded a bend at the edge of the trees, this doe walks right into me and starts eating. I'm in the open, leaning against a lone cottonwood. No chance to rattle with a doe that close.
Great. I watched the shooter buck wander back and forth, out of range but well within calling range, along with a couple of smaller bucks. Nothing I could do until she gets up. She could see me but I had the doe hat and gray balaclava on, so she paid little attention.
The temperature went quickly from cool to hot. I was dressed for sitting in cool, but the sun hit me and I started to roast. I figured I needed to get out of there since she showed no inclination to move herself. Meanwhile the rest of the herd scattered across about eighty yards and bedded in onesey-twosies. So doing my best imitation of a feeding doe, I managed to creep back around the corner and out of there without blowing everything up.
And that was that for the morning.
This is okay, because if they get into a semi- habit of coming to this area after leaving the big winter wheat field on the bluff above, it is a very huntable place where I can insert and extract myself fairly safely unless one decides to bed right there. Twenty yards to either side and I'm fine.
Against the steep dirt creek bank, I can put in a Double Bull and have an escape route out the back side. This is all good. If I can figure out this little bunch, sooner or later a doe will lead a big buck to me, as has happened the past couple of years. I just need to be patient and learn these does so I can use them as bait..
So a herd of twenty two can be laced out across a hundred yards or more, but when it is time to feed in the evening, they will all loosely convene and eventually all meet up in the chosen field.
This is why it is virtually impossible to stillhunt these creekbottoms. Sooner or later, one silly doe will see you, stand up nervously, trot a little, the next one will trot further even if it hasn't seen you, on and on until the whole bunch is running with their pants on fire, over the hills and through the woods.
BB, you're killing me!!!! When I get home I'm going to print those out and carry them like those little 3-D target cards, just so I know what I'm looking for.
Not getting any cooler and the flies keep weasling their way into my trailer somehow, so I'm going to go out and search a ravine for petrified wood and sheds. Some nice specimens out here sometimes.
Back at you tonight.
As to the number of deer and encounters, what we've learned is that 99% of the deer out here occupy about 1% of the overall habitat. The trick to having lots of encounters is to first figure out the 1%, then hunt very carefully and precisely to keep the deer where they are huntable until a shot opportunty happens.
Every time I try a setup or even a glassing foray, I plan ahead, planning escape routes and factoring their noses and eyes into the escape equation. that's a big part of keeping the deer around and not spooking them. There are tons of spots where I could put up a treestand or ground blind along feeding-bedding travel routes, and while I can get in there safely, I may not be able to get out. So figuring-out both sides of the ambush is key to keeping the deer in a killable place.
Sorry for the late post - I drove into the nearest little town for dinner at a little Mom & Pop.
Tonight I decided to try to get a good visual of what's happening around the area, so I hiked a little over a mile to the top of the highest point around for a 360 degree glassing session. What I saw was striking. On the far side of the creek bottom where I hunted this morning, I watched four different herds head out and up into the big winter wheat field, which is nearly 1 1/2 miles long and 3/4 mile across. I also saw several smaller bunches on the edges of the sorghum drainage, which I'm starting to hate because I can't figure out any good way to hunt it effectively. Even the coyotes are struggling to decipher it.
Because of my low vantage point previously, I couldn't see all of that going on across the valley in the winter wheat. The four herds totaled somewhere around sixty deer in all, but there were no big bucks around anywhere - only little guys and a couple of herd buck wannabees. With that many does in that section, there is plenty of good perfume around in the creek bottom, so this week I fully expect each bunch to be adopted by a mature buck. Next weekend and the entire following week should be rocking, and I'll be here for about 12 days straight through the best of it.
Tomorrow morning I plan to sneak in behind the black moo cow decoy to a mid-point between bedding areas to watch where everybody goes when they drift out of the field up top. I'll be about a third of a mile upstream from this morning's ambush spot. There are a few black Angus's around, and the moo cow has proven to be an awesome tool for moving in and out where cover is lacking.
At this stage of the pre-rut, things change every night, so a very good chance that at least one big buck will be there tomorrow. But if not, I'll at least have a good idea of where these bunches are bedding to plan for the next go-around.
I'll check in after tomorrow morning's hunt. You all have a nice Saturday night!
I made it down into the creek bottom undetected and nestled into a fallen tree where I had a good view up and down the creek. My intent was to simply watch the deer coming out of the winter wheat field above and in front to figure out where the different groups are bedding. I picked a spot where I could crawl away and back out if something came in downwind too close.
Just before sunup I watched a string of deer move across the hillside and down into the trees surrounding a long-abandoned farmstead about 500 yards away. Just for fun, I decided to rattle as the sun rose above the hill in front of me. I did a strong 45 second rattling sequence, stomping my feet loudly and grunting.
THIS ENTIRE TIME, THE WHOLE BUNCH WAS DIRECTLY IN MY WIND, INCLUDING THE PAIR AT 15 FEET!
Once they were in there, the shooter buck decided to go exploring, and walked across a big grass field, up a bluff, across a plowed dirt field, across a county road, and over into the big sorghum basin over a mile away. That’s what the big bucks do right now – they are shopping for the does.
This was one of the most unbelievable mornings I’ve ever had deer hunting. The fact that they paid no attention to my (obviously ripe) smell is puzzling, for which I have no explanation. I’m headed home for a week to ponder this, then will be back out next Friday for 12 days if needed. By then, things should be getting hot.
Oh, and if anyone wants to buy a sweaty t-shirts or a bottle of my bottled perspiration, the price just went up….
Nobody ever spooked, nobody every gave any indication that they smelled me. How strange.
Forget the wind - just hunt!
What an unbelievable morning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
For a shot at one of this big mulies, I'd cut a deal too.
Climb back up in the tree and keep after it.
"Global Warming" is about to end here - serious cold front moving in this week which should really kick the rut into gear.
Outdoordan, one bottle of "Crazy Jaq's Magic Pit Juice" on the way.
Best of Luck, Jeff (Bowsite Sponsor)
By the time I get back out there, it should be much cooler and more hunting-friendly. The way things change from day to day right now, we may very well see an entirely different set of bucks next weekend.
Steadman! Good to hear from you! Hope all is well.
Hopefully you don't kill one until the last day so the rest of us get to follow another great thread for weeks....
Good stuff, my friend, as usual.
I hear you got a little of the white stuff last night. Nothing like following mulie tracks across a prairie in fresh snow....ahhhh. ;-)
Great pics. What are you using for a camera?
Dave, good luck out there and give us a report. I'd like to request that BB post some photos of SMALL bucks so whatever I hopefully kill will look bigger!
Dougie burritos.. Yummm! but they make me poot... Although the way these things reacted to my sweaty stench, Eau de Dougie Burrito might bring them in faster than a quart of Tink's #69 goat pee.
Have enjoyed your mobile hunt as well! thought you'd gone to sleep and fallen out of the tree since you didn't post anything after 2:30 yesterday. Wha' happened?
I'm in WI right now on a business trip, will be back out on the plains late Friday, hopefully in time to glass before dark.
My camera is just an older little pocket-sized Sony DSC-3. I have to get the deer close to get good photos, but luckily they have been cooperating so far. I won't/can't really carry my big DSLR with a lens, since I'm also lugging around a bow, rattling antlers, rattling bag, calls, food and drink, the doe hat and gray balaclava, extra clothes, moo cow decoy, Montana doe decoy doctored to be a "muley", spotting scope, binocs, survival kit, and often the Elk Mtn Slip System for a quick blind. Sometimes my hunting pack feels like it's packed for a three-day bivy hunt.
Many of the photos taken Sunday morning were done one-handed, as I had my left hand on the bow handle much of the time........
Really I did post some small buck photos in comparison to the kind of bucks you usually shoot.
These next few days are my very favorite time to hunt mule deer in the rut. I hope to get down south and take a few mule deer photos in the next few days.
Best wishes on a great bowhunt. BB
Geez.....I'm losin' track of the days....
Happy Friday, and I'm back on the hunt. If needed, I can stay until the day before Thanksgiving. Much cooler now, more like real deer hunting weather. 27 outside now but will drop into the teens tonight, high in the upper 30s tomorrow. Supposed to be chilly though the middle of next week. Bucks should be on the move.
No new photos from tonight because I only arrived in time for long-distance glassing. Apparently the shooter buck didn't like the girls he visited in the sorghum basin last Sunday, because he's right back with his big gang of girlfriends in the big winter wheat field.
The promising news is that I saw two other very nice bucks I'd have to seriously consider if they walk by in range. One was wandering by himself along the edge of the sorghum field; a very symmetrical 24" type buck with nice forks and good length, though not really heavy. Another really tall one that looks to be only about 22" wide, but way tall. Will need to get a better look at him.
I also saw two other groups of does with no bucks, and two other small groups on a place where I can't hunt, with medium-sized bucks tagging along, acting like one of the does. No real sign of "rutting" activity from any of the bucks I watched. We're still a few days away from things cranking-up, though this should be good rattling time if I don't get charged by a big gang of women again.
Tomorrow morning I'm headed back down into the creek bottom below the big wheat field. I plan to get in very early, before anything comes out, so I can get an idea of where the shooter buck's herd feeds and loafs before heading to one of the bedding areas.
Back at you tomorrow at lunch with the morning report. You fellers have a nice Friday night.
This morning I trudged down through the dry wash to the ambush spot where I was pinned down by the does last Saturday. As soon as I arrived I felt like it was the wrong place to be - not sure why, but my gut kept nagging that I needed to head south. By sunup I had not seen anything, and decided to cut my losses and relocate a half mile south to the end of the red willow draw, where the rattling adventure took place.
I quickly spotted a group of deer near the old farmstead, milling and chasing around. I didn't rattle, but rather wanted to see where they traveled when they left the loafing area to bed. They eventually wandered across the creek bottom and into the middle bedding area. Looked like the group with the shooter buck, but he was not with them. Instead, they were trailing a very interesting buck, with a dropper off his right main beam and a couple other stickers. Not heavy at all, but good length and interesting.
After they drifted out of sight downstream, I still-hunted upstream in the depression of the dry creek bottom for about another third of a mile, glassing slowly. The only deer I spotted were two does and a fawn. I'm not sure where the other big group that was feeding at that end of the wheat field ended up, but it must be way upstream. They have no problem traveling long distances from feeding to bedding, bypassing perfectly good bedding spots along the way, even places where they bedded the day before. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to what they do right now.
I sat, glassed and rattled until 9:30, but saw nothing. Nada.
I dropped down and fished out my camera, but by then most were out of sight in the trees. I thought I was going to be pinned there by the rest and debated whether to go ahead and haze them away and hope they didn't blow through the others.
About 300 yards downstream, a small bunch of black Angus hurried out of the creek bottom and into a stubble field as if something had spooked them. Not sure what sent them out there, but the deer wanted to know as well, so they trotted over to the edge of the field, craning their necks to watch what was going on. When the cows got into the middle of the field, they all stopped, looked around at each other, everybody asked everyone else why the heck they ran out there in the first place, and they turned around and trooped back single-file into the creek bottom.
Satisfied, the deer continued on downstream toward the middle bedding area, and that was that.
Tomorrow morning I'm going to cross over to the abandoned farmstead early, in the dark, and try for an ambush when they get in there after leaving the wheat field above. I'm not sure what they are doing over there, maybe digging some mushrooms, but all three mornings there have been deer staging around the trees and dilapidated buildings before they head to bed.
I'm not sure if I would shoot the sticker point buck at this stage of the hunt, but the way the bucks are cycling, there might be a completely different buck with the does tomorrow, or maybe the shooter buck will be back. The sticker point buck looks interesting enough that I'd like a closer look.
I won't have a post tonight. I'm going to glass until dark, then head to a dinner party to honor a local friend who recently won a big award. So I will check back tomorrow after the farmstead ambush attempt.
Today was an all-day hunt, as the big bucks have arrived. So much happened that I’ll need to abbreviate, and I apologize in advance for not having any close-up deer photos today, but when they were close, I was trying to kill one and it almost happened.
That was that for the farmhouse setup, as the other herd leaving the field went way south. I waited another hour and a half inside the rotting old place, which seems like a hantavirus incubator and an asbestos repository. Here’s a photo of the front of my “blind”.
By 8:30 I was back across the bottom at the red willow draw, watching deer milling around in the loose bedding area way south. For no apparent reason, a small group of does broke from the group and trotted across the big grass field to the old locust thicket, followed by the shooter buck, who now has a slight limp. The rest of the herd followed eventually, with a couple of small bucks in tow. I wanted to let them settle down and bed before deciding if a stalk was possible, so I left to glass the sorghum basin.
I’d seen this same group last night in the same place and could get in there without being seen from the yucca basins, so I raced back to camp, ate a quick lunch, got my Double Bull and gear together and made it back over just in time to see one of the herds drifting back into the winter wheat. Would have been a great setup, with the blind tucked into the 6 foot tall sorghum.
Here's the view when I returned with the Double Bull at 1:00. Not much I could do. The bigger buck had his head down on the ground, asleep.
After about an hour, a string of does broke from the bottom again and ran back into the locust thicket, which is a good 400 yards from the edge of the trees. When they got there, they started chasing each other around wildly, chasing through the thicket, playing King of the Hill on a berm in there.
Crazy stuff, and it went on for a good 15 minutes while the shooter buck and another good 4 point sat down in the creek bottom and watched this go on. Lucky one of them didn’t poke an eye out chasing and racing through the prickly locust thicket.
They eventually went back to the creek bottom to join the bucks.
Elmer, "when in Rome".....
I decided my best bet was to try to intercept them later as they hiked upstream to hit the winter wheat field in the evening. So I found a good ambush point and hung out in a deep wash near one of the fence crossings.
To shorten the story, right before sundown they came in a long broken string. A GREAT nontypical was with the first bunch but he passed out of range. Awesome buck, with flag points, droppers, stuff sticking out everywhere. I didn't take any photos because I was trying to get a shot and not spook anyone. The next bunch had the shooter buck, plus several smaller bucks, including one very nice 4 point that I’d probably shoot too, but they were just out of range and I couldn’t move.
This guy had a couple of stickers and is a pretty nice buck. I've not seen him before and not sure if I'd shoot him now, after what else I saw tonight. It's like the buck truck stopped by in the night and open the gate.
Finally, after everyone else made it up except the wide 3x4, who was limping badly by that time (he stayed alone in the creek bottom, so I suspect that at sometime during the day a battle occurred, and he lost).
Then a straggler came along. A really nice buck with a couple of extra forks, good mass, and about 28” wide. He wouldn’t score very well because of the abnormalities, but he is a beauty. I “showed” myself with the doe hat, and he marched right over, wary, but coming.
He kept trying to circle downwind, so I had to keep dropping down and scooting down the gully. Finally he worked his way into range and stopped broadside, but as I started to draw he took a couple of nervous bounds and never gave me a shot angle.
It was a great rush, and I had a buzz all the way back to the truck. After a morning and mid-day of disappointing events, it very nearly happened.
I now suspect they are bedding way south of the winter wheat field because there is a pasture fence keeping the cattle out of there. The other normal bedding areas for this field all have cattle wandering in and out, and while the deer will tolerate a few cows, they don’t like being crowded. I’m narrowing down the options and figuring-out the program. ONe of these good bucks is going to be in trouble when the rut kicks-in.
Not sure of the attraction of the locust thicket, since the deer have to cross a big open grass field to reach it and there isn’t much food there, but it seems like they go there to play. All I know is that twice today they went there and I watched the shooter buck go there last Sunday as well, so I’m going to sit in there and wait tomorrow, and will hide behind the Slip System open country blind cover among some rotting shed panels from when it used to be inhabited, long ago.
Back at you tomorrow..
I know that a number of guys out here shoot 100 yards and beyond. To me, and again this is a personal thing, stretching the range is not in the spirit of what I want to achieve with the craft of bowhunting. Since switching to a compound, my longest shot has been about 30 yards, I think, maybe less. I still hunt the same way I hunted with the longbow, except now with a little green dot hovering around the kill zone.
Good luck to you. This is your week!
Have a great bowhunt. BB
Strange morning. Snowy and wind out of the wrong direction. Nothing in the winter wheat field so I went with the original plan to hide in the locust thicket. I believe they are eating the fresh fallen locust leaves, it appears.
When I reached the thicket, it started snowing harder, and the wind veered even worse, right toward where they were coming from. Several does had started moving my direction in the creek bottom, but no bucks in sight. So I bailed out and ran across the grass field, staying in a low swale so they couldn't see me.
Hard to see from this photo, but this buck has stuff all over. A little dropper above his eye, side droppers and flag stickers on both sides. Really an excellent buck.
He was in lockdown mode on a doe. (He isn't looking at me, but rather at a doe in the foreground that isn't in view). Things were going well, but then the wind veered again, and a couple of does got a direct shot of my scent. They zoomed right through the rest of the herd, which then reluctantly followed them toward the yucca hills across the creek bottom. I never saw them again, but don't think they fled the country since only two of the 15 or so knew what was happening. They see deer running all the time right now.
With the wind being so hinky I decided to back out and let things settle down. I have a lot of time.
This is a really good buck. I hope to get another crack at him. If the wind keeps doing what it's doing right now, I can't hunt the field approach tonight. Not sure what I'm going to do - will play it by ear.
I hope you can get the drop on that guy!
Best of Luck, Jeff (Bowsite Sponsor)
This is getting frustrating. Prairie muleys are terribly unpredictable as it is, but usually we can figure out a couple of doe groups, hang around them, and eventually get a crack at a buck that takes up with them.
However, this year, with all the cattle in here, the deer are being moved from bedding areas during the day, and are not occupying the normal bedding areas. So the travel corridors that bucks typically use to cruise bedding areas are not being used,
If there is a bright side, it is that it seems in the night that the big group of does broke up and chose "husbands", so now they are more dispersed. This should make things easier when hanging on the edge of the bunch, trying for a shot.
I crawled through the cactus and yucca to the edge of the field, but the closest I could get to them was 70 yards. The buck laid down and watched the does feed around him. After a bit they fed out into the field, and he stood and followed. I tried to get his attention to bring him over for a look, but he wasn't interested.
I crept back down out of sight, and snuck over to the top of the next rise, as close as I could sneak, but because of the backward wind I couldn't make a stalk on them. Hard to see, but lying down in the center of the photo is a really good buck, heavy and symmetrical. I think he is the better one from the sorghum basin, who moved over here sometime in the night or today. Good - another nice buck to hunt!
Funny thing- the closest I was to a buck today happened this morning at the gate on the county road above my camp. When I drove out this morning there was a tall, heavy 3 point with a group of does, feeding in the weeds in the borrow pit. They stood there at 30 yards as I unlocked the gate and drove out.
Tonight when I came back in the dark, in the exact same spot 30 yards from the gate, was a different buck. This one was a very tall 4 point with a group of does, possibly the same ones, that he'd commandeered during the day. He came over from the drainage I'm hunting, a couple miles away. I think they are bedding out in a depression in a big weed field.
I was on the phone with my hunting partner when I drove up on them. His suggestion was that I sit there at the gate in the truck all day tomorrow and be ready to shoot. LOL!
Tomorrow I plan to center myself in the creek bottom and be ready to move up and down the dry creek bed when I find deer. With no real discernible doe patterns to work for ambushes, this is going to be a season of random opportunity, I suspect.
Good luck and I hope you let tha air out of one soon!
But this year is weird from a deer behavior perspective. Possibly the most frustrating behavior I've ever experienced out here. Not sure if it is because of the cattle or the big standing sorghum field to the west, but I've seen nothing remotely predictable so far, except for the bunch that was hitting the top corner wheat field above the sorghum for a couple days.
That field has now been overrun with cattle (the rancher grazes some of the sorghum and wheat) which I suspect drove the one herd over to me today.
I'm hoping to find at least one doe group that gets into a pattern for a few days, now that every doe bunch has a buck with them. The only predictable thing at the moment seems to be that the one I call the "shooter buck" seems to be living in the same square-mile section of the earth. This is clearly his "home range".
Thanks for following along and commenting. Hopefully I'll "let the air out of one" soon!!
At first light this morning I slipped into the creek bottom in the middle of the staging area where the big nontypical worked the does yesterday morning. I found a great blind where three good-sized trees came together, right on the edge of a seven foot deep depression in the dry creek. Perfect place to shoot or scoot (sorry, Scoot, couldn't resist!).
I knew I was in the right spot, as three other small muleys and my little neighborhood whitetail were waiting in the area too, hoping for some does to descend from the winter wheat field. Two of them walked into me when they saw the doe hat I wore to get set up.
The first little group out had three does and a fairly nice 22" four point. They stayed up on the hill until they passed me. I wouldn't have shot him anyway.
At one point I moved clear around the little tree blind, just to see how much movement I could gat away with. He looked at me and posed, but then turned his attention back to her.
I did not see any more after that (except for the little bucks still poking around). I worked up into the yucca hills to glass, and still didn't find any of the good bucks. Not sure where everyone went in the night, but they'll be back. I think this doe was one of the little group that comes to this staging area after they leave the field. Where her relatives are is anybodies guess, but I suspect others of her clan will lead bucks back to this comfort place in the next few days. She was pretty deliberate about where she wanted to go.
Doug, good thought about herding the cattle, but when you have 1400 cows and calves scattered over about five square miles, it is pretty tough to do anything calculated. If I were to somehow push a group into an upstream bedding area, there is no predicting where the deer would go - possibly over to the next drainage two miles away. The cattle are about as spooky as the deer, and when they stampede through the river bottom, everything runs away. I think I'm better off just letting things stay "natural" and hope the next doe brings a big buck.
It will happen. I feel it now.
I had the luck this morning. Just not the buck.
May your good luck continue, I can feel it too!
Does have such a deep maternal instinct and most times if you know how to call, will come right into you. (Within 10 yards) Bucks don't have that instinct, but at this time of the year, will usually follow the does.
My wife is the best deer caller I have ever seen. It is truly amazing what she can do to doe deer. The sad thing is I taught her how to do it, but as the years past and old age crept upon me, my voice changed enough that I can no longer call like I could when we went together and for years after we married. She will call when we are out hiking, but she won't ever go with me during hunting season and call when the bucks are in the rut, because its "too cold". But I know it would work great if a guy does it with the right sound. It just so happens, my wife makes the perfect sound.
It just seems to me you have the most perfect setup for that under the conditions you hunt.
Good luck Lou and have a great bowhunt. BB
Where's your partner during all of this?
May I borrow your wife someday when it's warm?
Dirty D, he didn't draw a tag again, so he's up in the mountains with a 4th season buck tag, which starts tomorrow.
Today it was very warm for awhile in the afternoon, and I spotted a bunch bedded in the creek bottom directly west of the old farmstead. From that place, they will often visit for a drink before heading up into the field above. So I snuck into the area around the barns and chicken coop to wait in ambush.
If they came that way, I'd have a shot betwen 20 and 35 yards as they passed between two buildings near the water tank.
As they approached, a sudden wind storm hit ahead of a rain storm, and a piece of tin on top of the chicken coop started flapping and banging. This made them ver nervous. Some wanted to keep coming, but the lead doe went back and forth before taking them the other direction, up the draw behind me.
I couldn't hold the camera steady for a good focus on these photos, as the wind was blowing about 40 mph at that time. But the big buck is in the middle of the photo.
Interesting evening, and I guessed correctly. However, Mother Nature intervened and saved the life of a big buck.
On a side note: On the way back to the truck, I walked right up on a bobcat walking down a trail. I was within 25 yards and he hadn't seen me, so I made a lip squeak. He looked at me and ran like a scalded dog. Or cat. I've never seen a bobcat out here before in nearly 25 years of hunting, but the rancher said there used to be an occasional one years ago. Pretty cool. As the rancher said, better a bobcat than one of the river bottom cougars. I've had enough cougar excitement for one lifetime.
Tomorrow I'm going back to the staging area where I hid this morning. Hoping a friendly doe brings a biggun' my way!
When you guys are talking about calling the does, I'm assuming fawn in distress calls? I need to get my teenage son into some deer, and a doe would suit him fine (though I have a hunch we can find a few big'uns). I'm imagining a squeal like a rabbit in distress?
What works best for me is a soft mew. I've done it with my voice before, but a few years ago my partner turned me onto the goofy little "K'meer Deer" plastic bite call. It's not a "silver bullet" but it does work pretty well. So does a can call, which is more of a bawl and seems to work better for bucks. I imagine your son wouldn't have a problem with a buck, would he??!!
Good luck with your son's adventure and thanks for following along. Always good to know that serious muley fans are along for the ride!
On veterans day I sat in a narrow tree (6") diameter next to a bucks rub line/staging area for 4 hours in the rain, sleet, and light snow. The rubs were fresh enough I thought he might come back. I set my stand in the middle of this thick patch of thin trees with 2 shooting lanes that I could get a clean shot to 30 yards. About 45 minutes before dark he came quickly straight to the rub area, he was a good 140" WT. I was shaking the moment I saw him come to the area and the entire time he was there. This nice buck starts rubbing a smaller bush behind trees 25 yards away, I could only see parts of him without looking like a jack in the box, besides the tree would sway whenever I moved.
The wind was fairly strong that night and blowing my scent right over the top of him. The wind carried human voices from about half mile away and he threw his head up. He looked up in the trees and saw my face amongst the trunks and branches and that's all it took for him to take off out of there.
See, your not the only one.
I had a herd of 25, including 2 shooters, show up on one of my spots a few days ago. They acted like antelope and stayed in a wide open grass pasture that day. I'm hoping this weather pulls 'em into some cover where they can be hunted.
It feels like a good day to kill to me. ;-)
My favorite hunting story of the year. Kinda like anticipating the animated Christmas movies when I was a kid....
Thanks for taking the time to share.
The storm blew through in the night but only left about a half inch of snow. Morning dawned clear and cold, with a very nice steady breeze.
I made it to the creek blind before shooting light. My first rattling sequence drew this little whitetail right in, but he was the only thing that responded to rattling and calling from there.
Nothing came down from the field at my end, though I watched several groups come down way north, near the old farm. They filtered back toward the bedding areas and out of sight.
With good wind, I decided to try to ease down that way. En route, a nice buck chased a doe around through the trees about 80 yards away, but never came closer. They didn't slow down enough for a photo.
After crossing the red willow gulch, I encountered a doe. I stopped on the edge of the willows. Through the willows, on the other side, I could see the shooter buck and another heavy dark-antlered buck rooting around with a little group of does. I readied an arrow and watched the only narrow shooting lane available, but did not get a shot, even though they were only about 30-35 yards away at one point.
They drifted way downstream to the far south bedding area, where a stalk is impossible.
I really wish I could have captured a photo of him for you guys, because he is really something. Too many trees, too much movement. I couldn't get a focus. This was the first chance I've had to study him. I was comparing him to one I have at home that is a hair under 31" outside spread, and he has to be at least 4" wider than that one. Looks like one of those Sonora bucks. He won't score that well but he's really a special buck for around here.
After he and his does moved further north to where the herd from last night was bedded, this nice whitetail buck moved in, tending a muley doe. She bedded and he stood over her. After awhile I guess he wanted to "claim" her, as he started making scrapes and marking branches in a big circle around her.
I bleated him in, though not in bow range, but I wouldn't have shot him anyway. I'm after a big muley unless it is a real gasser whitetail, which this guy isn't. We don't have many whitetails around here anymore due to changes in habitat from heavy cattle grazing, I suspect. My partner and I have both taken really nice ones in years past, but now there seems only to be a couple of small bunches in the whole area. I haven't found a scrape yet.
It was 10:00 and everybody was bedding, so I elected to back out rather than push further toward the wide one and risk blowing them up. They aren't too far from the property boundary. I'm hoping (praying!!) they will pass by the old farm tonight on the way to the field above.
This country is so huge, and the deer so unpredictable, that sometimes this feels like a futile pursuit. But I know it only takes one close encounter, which I truly believe will happen. And this morning was so gorgeous with the fresh snow, so much fun with deer around, that it didn't matter whether I killed one or not. I was in the hunt, and when it all boils-down to the basics, that's what I'm out here to do. Otherwise I'd apply for a rifle tag.....
I know there are some of you following this who are far more skilled hunters than I, who could likely breeze in here, kill a monster, and be back to town for lunch. I'm not the most talented bowhunter around; my best attribute is in being patient and committed until something makes a dumb mistake. But I'm doing the best I can, learning things along the way, and enjoying every minute out here.
After last week, when one of my best friend's sons died at home the night after their deer hunt, another friend from the archery club passed away, and I learned that my cousin, with whom I'm very close, has prostate cancer metastisized into his vertibrate and may only have six months to a year to live, I'm thankful to the Good Lord for every day on this earth. Each day experienced on this amazing prairie is a gift from God.
My friends are great gifts too, and I thank all of you for the positive vibes and good karma.
It'll happen. You'll zig and they'll zag.... it'll happen in seconds and be amazing.... as it always is...
Oops, I think I just slobbered a bit on my keyboard...
TD, watch out: slobbering is the first sign -you'll need Depends before long!
Tonight was 62% debacle, but the remaining 38% was OK.
After posting my morning update and grabbing lunch, I made it back over in time to stalk into the old farm about three hours ahead of when they normally start filtering up from the timber. I stalked and glassed my way in and didn't see any deer running away down in the bedding areas. Good sign.
Then from some thick trees behind the old garage, a place so thick I can't glass into, deer came boiling-out. A dozen does, followed by the super-wide and the nontypical. Crap. They were a long way from there when I left them in their beds.
I crawled up to see if I could watch them streak into Kansas, but they stopped in the middle of the big wheat field, looked around at each other like WTF?, and started grazing like nothing had happened. I suspect they saw something but didn't know what it was. Maybe the doe hat fooled them.
Given the opportunity, I went back down into their morning staging area and found an awesome blind, on the (normal) downwind side of the area where they mill-around after leaving the field before drifting downstream to the major bedding area. A huge cottonwood has fallen and created a "fort" behind which I can hide and shoot.
After figuring that out and planning a good escape route, I decided to go way south to try to intercept the shooter buck and his does if they came up to the field. Sure enough, they were standing right at the top of the deep gully where I tried to draw on the big buck Sunday night. But no one saw me and they continued on into the field.
As far as photos tonight, I've got nuthin'. But what started out as a bad deal has now turned into something very promising. I have a good morning place for an ambush, and if the shooter buck's does keep going back south, I can try for an ambush on them in the evening. All good.
This super-wide buck is back here for the third year in a row. Two years ago I decoyed him in and passed him up on my first night hunting. He was a three point then. Last year he was a 3x4, but not quite as wide and still spindly. This year he has blown-up. If I don't kill him in the morning, I should at least get some good photos for you guys. He's really something for this part of the country. If he and the nontypical give me an opportunity at the same time, it will be a very difficult choice. I've killed a couple great nontypicals, but never anything like this wide guy. I hope that decision presents itself!!
One thing about these bucks - it seems they have reached a dominance understanding, and tolerate each other without any threatening behavior. I watched all three big bucks tonight when they were near each other, and they all seemed to have the program worked-out. The herds of does merged in the wheat field, the bucks hung out on the edge of the herd, then when they separated, the shooter buck's does stayed together while the super-wide and the nontyp buck's does fed away.
I also saw two other smaller four points, nice bucks, working solitary does up in the yucca hills. So the rut isn't full-on, but getting really close.
Tomorrow I will try for the morning ambush, then have to head back for a heavy-duty business meeting in the late afternoon. So my post about the morning hunt won't happen until tomorrow night. If I manage to whack either the nontyp or the super-wide, I'll post a quick "Yippee" before I leave, if I have time.
Thanks again for the vibes and the PMs. Y'all are great.
Quick question: does this late bow season run far enough into December that I might be able to take part over my winter vacation from teaching someday? Good luck in the morning! Pete
I did my first sagebrush muley hunt this last weekend. Lotsa fun!! Had some good stalks but couldn't close the deal on anything. Way harder to get close with 38 pairs of watching you.
My three best whitetails out here were killed in December, and I've missed shots (misjudged range with the longbow) at several great mulies then. They will often be in big herds though, which means that any setup must be crafted so all the does can pass before the bucks come trailing behind. So it is frustration of a different sort.
I don't recommend this hunt for anyone who doesn't have a high tolerance for frustration and possess much patience. You also need to have a perpetual positive mental attitude and understand that most of your encounters will be at long-range until the one good one happens. That one good opportunity can happen at any moment, and can occur quickly. I read another thread where the poster tells of how many missed shots they had during their hunt. No mention of any wounds or lost animals, but many hunters quickly become "Best Of The West" long-range arrow-flingers out here, mostly due to losing patience.
Thanks for the feedback. I'm trying to convey a true sense of the hunt, for better or for worse.
That's a great quote that pretty much sums up bowhunting in general. If I had an archery shop I'd get a sign made and hang it above the front door!
I'm want a pic of the super wide buck... Hope your getting him cleaned up for a photo session. Super wide to me is like 18".
Got that covered. It's that white stuff on the ground and a wind that feels like it's been stropped that I'd have to think long and hard about. =D
Certainly would need a whole different wardrobe....
Good feelings about today. Must be late morning and no posts yet? Best hurry or I have to do paperwork. Hate paperwork... this I can justify. =D
I made it into the dead cottonwood fort in the dark. At first light I could see a few does milling around the thick trees behind the old farm. Didn't see a buck with them, but watched the shooter buck wander along the edge of the wheat field up top, all alone, off on an exploratory mission.
Around 8:00, the does started filtering across the open grass field, right toward me, just as expected. I had perfect wind and just knew either the nontypical or the super-wide would be with them.
But no, those two whoremongers apparently were shacked with a couple of trollops they picked up in the night when the bar closed.
Then as he came closer I was on the string, trying to decide if he was a shooter. He's interesting, but not what I'm looking for right now. You can't see it in this photo, but he has two 4-5" extra points that look like misplaced brow tines close to his G-2s.
The does fed around and he scent-checked them constantly, while rubbing and thrashing poor little saplings. With the bright sunlight, I couldn't move to take many photos. Every time I moved even a slight bit, a doe or two would lock onto me. Most of the time he was back in the trees. I didn't want to alarm anybody becasue tomorrow one of the big ones may be back, after tiring of whomever he ran off with in the night.
That was the hunt for the morning. Good adventure, amazing sunrise, had the buzz again, but he's just not the buck I'm looking for right now. You may be able to see the extra back points in this photo. sorta like caribou back-scratchers. When he made it to the trees he was moving around so much that I had a really difficult time getting any clear pictures.
Travis, good to hear from you. Hang in there and whack that wide 2x2. Tom's slogging around in the snow and wind in the Poudre, seeing more rams than sheep.
Doug, I've thought about a video post and may get there, but it would just be videos of a bunch of deer walking around acting like deer. You've seen that before!
I plan to try the same setup tomorrow if the wind holds. Great wind this morning, and staying steady in the right direction now. I'll post a report after the morning hunt.
This fort is just a hair on the outside edge of where my gut tells me I need to be. Putting a Double Bull in the staging area usually freaks the does out, as they have memorized every twig, every blade of grass. Travel corridors, no problem. But this travel corridor is really wide and open, and with the wind expected to kick-up in the a.m. I could be in trouble with a popup since the sand won't hold anchor stakes. Depending upon what happens in the morning, I may slip a treestand on the shady side of the staging area tomorrow evening after they get into the field.
DirtyD, hope to have a closeup of the wide one for you tomorrow, one way or the other.
Trav, the rut here is right on time. Usually our crazy chase day is the 18th or 19th. I've seen a little chasing the past couple mornings and watched the wide one breed a doe yesterday. Pretty much typical behavior for this week of November.
Nice evening out here tonight. Unusually warm - it has gone from 44 to 53 degrees in the last hour with a hot wind blowing. Not sure what's up with that. I'm ready to enjoy a fabulous Fettucini with Chicken and Broccoli dinner, with a couple fingers of single malt on the rocks for dessert before beddy-bye.
Keeping track from halfway around the world...this thing is being watched worldwide.. Just convince one of those big Bucks he will be an instant International Superstar and he is sure to cooperate.
I hid in the fort blind before first light. Great day to hunt deer - overcast, cool, perfect wind for this blind.
A bit after sunup I started seeing bucks trailing single does here and there. I didn't recognize any of them, but that's not unusual for this stage of the rut. Does were filtering out of the old farm and wandering around, leading the bucks behind.
When they were about 60 yards out, the doe stopped, but the buck kept coming. He walked straight toward me and stopped at 20 yards, looking back over his shoulder at the doe. I only had a straight-on shot, with which I'm not comfortable. The wind was getting a little shifty and I was afraid he was going to wind me, but he didn't.
He turned broadside.
Double lung. He ran 20 yards, stopped, and tipped over.
He is a killer buck. 27" outside spread, good mass, kickers on each side, the only thing wrong is about 2" broken off the top of the left G2.
Not sure why the focus on the photo is goofed on the post, because it is pretty clear on my laptop. but you get the idea.
Thanks everyone for the great PMs and continuous positive thoughts. It all came together!
TD, I had the buzz, I still have the buzz, and will probably have it tomorrow. I shot him four hours ago and my hands are still shaking!!!
Thanks again for taking the time to share.
I love those kickers on that buck.
P.S. I want to take some lesson's from a guy like you.
Glad you had a great bowhunt and thanks for taking us on the ride. The bad thing is I hate to see it end. I looked forward each morning and evening to tuning in and taking the ride. Again thanks. Your friend. Bill
Now I don't know if I'd rather chase rutting mulies in the plains, or velvet mulies in the high country
Thanks for sharing your hunt again this year. As always, it was a great read and very well done.
Any chance you'll hang around and maybe get a few pics of those other bucks that you've been mentioning? Would be neat to see!
I about fell out of my tree from pumping my fist as I read this!!
I couldn't be happier for you, my friend.
Ha! Nice way to start. I like the surprise ending. The whole hunt has been fun to follow. Thanks for taking us along!
Congratulations on the awesome buck.
Truly inspirational thread and thank you as always for taking the time and effort in taking us so very close to the action. I don't have many goals in my life, but one is definitely to do what you have just done and get after them mulies with my bow
At least you had the courtesy of not shooting one on day one. We have enjoyed the ride. Already looking forward to the next semi live experience.
Hang onto that "buzz" as long as you can, today, tomorrow, heck, take it out next week and roll around in it some.
Talked to a bowsite friend on the phone a day or so ago about keeping that high, embracing it, the thrill of the hunt, the accomplishment, hanging on to the glow as long as you can. It goes away in time anyway, sure no need to rush it. Those are the feelings you'll still remember in your last days. I think his words were "never going to lay on that deathbed wishing you'd have gone to work a couple more days or worked later"
That's a beautiful buck, a well earned buck. Congrats on both actually.
And thanks again for taking us along with you and sharing. Looked forward to it every day.
Rats, now I have to go back to work... =D
I also enjoyed the interaction with those of you who joined in, either in posts, PMs or emails. Felt like I was in a big hunting camp with a bunch of buddies, except buddies who don't eat my food, fart, or steal my bedtime Scotch! :~)
Sorry we didn't make it into December, with subzero temps and frigid wind and Lou out there suffering through it for your amusement. Maybe next year, though if I had my druthers, I'd end it near the end of November every year and then go ice fishing in December in my warm little hut.
After taking my best-ever bull elk this season, this buck is the capper. TD's counsel of holding onto the buzz for as long as possible is advice we all should take. Life is short.
Oh, and BB, I'm home and have taken a shower so I don't stink anymore, but I can't do anything about ugly and dumb. We all have our crosses to bear.
We'll do this again.
Awesome deer!!! SOOOO happy for you! Especially after reading (suffering) through your account of last years hunt where you were frozen to the ground every night....I was waiting for the Colorado papers to report...
"A smelly, dead senior citizen, missing for more that 30 days, was found frozen, clinging to his longbow on a windswept eastern prairie yesterday. Initial reports indicate that the emaciated, bespectacled man, obviously unkempt, unshaven and wearing threadbare campflage clothing, had been waiting in one spot for 22 days for a particularly large mule deer to walk within the impossibly close range of his amazingly inferior weapon.....ravens and magpies had pecked his eyes out and the coyotes had gone to work on his nether regions...not much else is currently known about him, other that his camp trailer, dirty and disgusting, was discovered several miles away, in a secluded grove of cottonwoods. Contents included an almost empty bottle of single malt scotch and a laptop computer, open to daily accounting of his apparent suicide, detailed to fellow enthusiasts who seemed to follow his march towards death with a cult like obsession.
I LOVE that buck! You deserve it.
Many congrats on an epic season!
You may have been mistaken on one point, though.
I'm pretty sure we all do fart.
I know you are going to miss balmy December on the plains...maybe I could drag you down a dirt road by the ankles after a foot of snow...just so not to miss the all the fun.
Awesome job great thread!!!!
I always look forward every year to this post!
My guess is that the local neighboorhood deer are safe now. Paul
You are the man! Congratulations, that is an awesome nontypical muley, and well-earned! The thread was amazing, I couldn't wait to log on every morning so I could see what happened. What a great year you are having!
Best of Luck, Jeff (Bowsite Sponsor)
Way to go!!!
Nice buck Lou. BB
Thanks so much for your fabulous work "fixing" my photos. You have a very happy Thanksgiving!
(p.s., I posted something similar to this a while ago but it never showed up on here. Must be floating in cyber-space. If it shows up as a near-duplicate post, it isn't because I'm senile. I don't think.. Now who is that guy in the picture with the deer?? :~)
Congratulations on a great hunt, great pics, and a great buck! Rob