I wasn't going to do another one of these live hunts, mostly because it's a lot of work and changes the way I hunt a little. But this past spring I was inspired by my good friend Antonio Lara, publisher of South Pacific Bowhunter magazine, who did an awesome job with our excellent live hunt for red deer stags in Australia. After that, I had to do another muley hunt.
This hunt is dedicated to Antonio and to Wayne Preece, from Australia's Open Country TV, a world-class bowhunter and one of the funniest guys I know. These two hosted me on an amazing adventure in Australia, one of those "lifetime" experiences I'll remember when I'm drooling in a rocking chair someday.
I'll be out here on the plains this weekend, then back next Wednesday for 12 days, or until I kill a respectable buck. I'll post narrative and photos at least once a day, twice if I don't stay in the field all day. I also welcome any positive comments and feedback.
I'm hunting alone, as my partner, Tom Kelley, didn't draw a tag this season. So having you guys in my "camp" will make things a bit more hospitable out here on the barren prairie.
Due to the drought, much of the normal forage is stunted, and cattle have grazed other forage down below normal. Fromm what I can tell, the huge majority of deer in this whole area are concentrated along and in the yucca-cactus hills adjoining about a two mile stretch of dry creek bottom.
Fortunately, I have permission to hunt that stretch. This should be a good season!
Back at you tonight after some "on the ground" close-up reconnaissance down in the deer's living room.
I've been missing this, kinda badly....
"We who are about to see something die..... salute you!"
Good luck and kill a biggin.
I'm back in my little camp trailer, which is rocking like the Edmund Fitzgerald. Big wind all afternoon and evening, as a major cold front is moving in. Temp in the shade this afternoon was 71. Supposed to get down to 10 out here tomorrow, with snow tomorrow night.
I snuck down into the bottom to fix up my "fort blind" from last year, one of many natural forts created by a monster flash flood in the summer of 2011. It was so windy that I'm not sure I'd have released an arrow unless something was very close.
My old rancher friend told me tonight he'd seen a "great big bastard" (oops - can I say that on the internet??!!) living out in the yucca hills the past couple weeks, not far from where I'm hunting. I want to keep all the does around as bait until he appears, so I'll be very careful and hunt surgically for the next couple of days.
The herd of 12 does and bucks from this morning was back out in the stubble field in the same place, same bucks. Not far from them was a lone whitetail buck, bigger than I've seen out here for a number of years. It was too dark for a photo but I'll have a difficult time passing him up if he walks by, as he's as big as any whitetail I've ever shot.
Then again, knowing that great big muley may be lurking around will make any shot a tough decision until I see him for myself.
My rancher friend also asked me how I was doing, and I told him I was really great, doing my favorite thing in the whole world, which is hunting muleys with a bow out here. He said it made him really happy to hear that. It makes me happy to hear him say that, and I'll go to bed with a smile tonight.
Ok, after a nice dinner of an excellent pepperoni, mushroom, and green pepper calzone from the little mom and pop place in a nearby town, and a dessert of a couple fingers of Glenlivet on the rocks, I'm headed to bed in this bobbing, weaving prairie schooner.
He built this bow for me last spring (2011), and so far it's accounted for two elk and a great red deer stag. Didn't kill a muley last year because I was too picky, but should have that notch in it too. Maybe this year?
So is the tag you have for either whitetail or mule deer?
I hope this helps bring back memories from "back home" while you're sequestered away in Thailand. For you, too, Ted, though your international hunts make everybody else envious!!
Your hunts are always top notch and thoroughly enjoyable. Glad you didn't bail on us this year. The late season opens for me in a couple of weeks an this will help pass the time.
Thanks in advance for an excellent adventure!!
Good luck, Robb
Thanks for the reply Lou. How did you know it was a hybrid? The rack looks a bit whitetail but the coloration and ears looks more mulie to me and I wouldn't have guessed it was a hybrid. Looking forward to learning a bit more about mulies and following along.
Not good all around unless you like to watch tumbleweed races. As soon as I got set up a group of ten does and a teeny forky came running toward me. The were very nervous, which I attributed to the wind since nobody else is hunting anywhere around here. When it's blasting like this and changing direction, they are very skittish.
A couple would go one way, a couple would go the other way, and nobody could agree. Finally they decided to head upstream and passed by me in a blur.
He bird-dogged the girls and finally caught up with them when they stopped to mill around a few hundred yards upstream.
I sat the rest of the morning, seeing nothing, watching blue storm clouds boil in from the northwest. When it hit, it hit fast, and the temperature dropped 17 degrees in 15 minutes. Went from sunny to cold and sideways sleet instantly.
Now it's freezing, a mix of rain and snow, but at least the wind has abated some. The wind direction is veering with about a 90 degre fan, so I'm not sure what to do this evening, but I won't kill anything sitting here in camp.
Whenever there's a doe close to estrous out here, there will be at least two or three bucks dogging her until enough does come in so everybody has a date at the dance. So i'mthinking he was simply being an optimist.
My rancher friend is in s sour mood today. He said he's being pestered to death by people wanting to hunt. "Somebody wants to be my new best friend every day" is how he put it. He's upset because the CPW allows people to draw tags with no place to hunt, who then drive around bothering people.
As with most of these units out here, this one is 100% private land. Every place big enough to support half a deer is either leased or closely held for family and friends. The days of knocking on doors and getting permission, especially after the season is underway, are about ten years past. I'm very lucky to have a place like this, for which I gain access to by helping the rancher work cattle a couple weekends a year. But there are many people driving the roads in camo, knocking on doors, who drew tags because they saw the draw odds are 0-1 point. Then they find out they can't get a sniff of a deer unless it runs across the county road in front of their truck.
On mine, besides having the one whitetail-looking antler, he had a shorter-than-muley face similar to this subspecie of whitetail, and a more rounded rump like a whitetail buck.
I posted this photo from a hunt thread a few years back, but this whitetail buck hung out with 17 muley does for the whole rut. I watched him mount a couple of them, and this happened only about a half mile from where I shot the buck above. May be related, may not, but it's not that uncommon.
Ok, I'm going hunting. Gloomy afternoon, good for buck movement!
The wind was good for an afternoon sit at the fort blind, so I set out a couple decoys and started rattling.
I'm not a big believer in cover scents, except for scent eliminator on the boots and lower legs to minimize residual scent in the grass. I'll admit that up front. But on a whim (I like to try some new gimmick every season..) I bought a can of Nose Jammer and sprayed it around on the limbs in my blind. I also had a scent bomb with muley rut scent hanging off the butt of each decoy, which would have been blowing toward him then as well - as I was expecting a buck to come in from the other direction.
So he gets into the scent cone, picks up his nose, obviously smells some stuff - me, the cinnamon raisin toast smell of the Nose Jammer, year-old muley scent. And for whatever reason walks right over to me.
He looked at the decoys across the dry creek, sniffed a little more, and then walked away on down the trail. No spook, no nothing. Just continued on his errands.
I can't say if it was the Nose Jammer, or if he was young enough that nobody had told him to fear the three-day-old smell of a guy with a bow, hunkered down behind some logs where he wasn't supposed to be, but whatever, he didn't spook.
I'll try it again. The only downside is the bakery smell made me REALLY hungry all afternoon.
The only muleys I saw were a small group of does out of the creek bottom, wandering around in the grass. That was it.
Plains hunting. Feast or famine. But I could have killed a buck tonight and had fun with him, so I guess it was a good hunt.
Matt, I have your excellent article from last November's Bowhunter magazine, "Extreme Trophy Hunting" permanently in my hunting trailer. I reread it regularly, especially when I lose track of a buck or can't find what I'm looking for. I read it again today at lunch, and I'll eventually wear the pages out.
Matt paid me a huge compliment at last year's Pope and Young convention when he said, "You write what we do". No my friend, YOU wrote what we do. I just do it, but not as well as you. Thanks for providing my inspiration.
Getting ready to gobble a delicious chicken fried beef steak with new red potatoes and mac-cheese, followed by cherry pie for dessert. Outside it's snowing sideways, snowing hard, and was already drifting across the two-track when I came back tonight. The whole world is white. I'll make a plan for tomorrow morning when I get up and hope I can get out of here in 4WD.
People can never put a measure on the effect on people that well written recounts can have. This is the grass roots of what draws people to our amazing pastime and presenting them as well as you do, you surely are a great asset to our sport.
Best of luck mate. Hopefully a little 'downunder' deer stalking may make a little difference in helping down a bomber, though going by past years, you already know what you are doing in any case. Will be checking in each day for sure.
It was also one of those mornings I wish I didn't have to write about.
A lot happened and I have a bunch of photos, so bear with me. It'll be worth it. And you'll have a good laugh at my expense as a bonus.
12 degrees, 7 inches of fresh snow, no wind. A dream morning in deer country.
I drove back around and found the stubble field herd again. There were a couple of "ok" bucks with them, but nothing I'd shoot now. Since the wind was good, I hiked down to watch them come out of the field and bed, to try to figure a plan for next week when the rut is closer.
I had a successful insertion and extraction this morning, scaring nothing in or out. Good sign.
Before leaving, I rattled a couple times. The loud clacking really carried in the cold, crisp air. But nothing came that I could see, and I was watching some deer movement a couple hundred yards ahead.
As the dry creek is fairly deep for a hundred yards in that direction, I snuck in closer for a look.
He wasn't a shooter, but a pretty buck.
I already had an arrow on the string when the first buck came in, and right behind him was another, bigger buck, not wide but with amazing deep back forks. I have a lot of time to hunt, but made a decision to shoot this one if he gave me the opportunity at close range.
(I'll preface this next part by explaining that when hunting I always cock the doe hat at a 30 degree angle to the side to provide string clearance. I'd forgotten to do that this morning, as I was using the nose to shade my eyes from the bright glare while stalking to the fort blind.)
He stood at 16 yards (I paced this off, too) and I went back and forth over whether I should shoot him. I raised my bow and drew back. At about 2/3 draw the string stopped squarely on the end of the nose of the doe hat. I should have let down but my brain was on autopilot, and I attempted to nudge the hat to the side a little so I could get back to anchor.
The string slipped off my tab.
I hit him.
Squarely in the middle of his G-2.
I figure the only reason it didn't break his antler is because I was only at partial draw. The arrow bounced straight down, and he bounded off to about 40 yards.
The other buck was STILL standing there at 10 yards. He never moved. I put another arrow on the string, gave a little bleat on the bite call, and I'll be damned if the buck didn't turn and walk right back to me.
This time he didn't present a clean shot.
Yes, they WALKED away. Directly across my wind at about 40 yards, and never showed any alarm.
Lou....all I can say is thank you for your comments above. The respect is mutual! I look forward to seeing you in April.
Good luck on the rest of your hunt!!
Last I saw them they were casually sauntering downstream toward the bedding area of the field herd I'd left earlier.
I took my arrow off the string and stabbed myself in the jugular.
No, what I did was walk over and pick up my arrow out of the snow, beside his front tracks, at exactly 16 yards. I've had a few classic misses over the years, but this was an all-timer. One for the ages. My one consolation is that I didn't wound him. I only wounded my pride. And it wasn't a "buck fever" whiff. I had the spot and would have certainly drilled him if not for the doe hat interfering with my draw and blowing my concentration.
Go ahead, laugh and shake your heads. I deserve it. I'm now thinking (hoping??) this was meant to be, so I'd have a chance at that "great big bastard" when he shows up this week. I still have 12 days of glassing/hunting in November, and two weeks in December.
I retrieved my stuff from the fort blind and headed home. I need a few days to shake this one off. I'll be back out on Wednesday or Thursday, depending upon how work is going. Catch you then.
Just write it off a a wardrobe malfunction ;)
Nice pictures and that snow looked awesome. Pretty impressive that you were able to get in and out of there without blowing them out after all that.
It's only going to get better.
Nice to see you're still at it, my friend.
Kinda sorry you're still publicizing it.
Take care, and good luck.
It's not a secret anymore, which is why outfitters are leasing up everything possible. Its the access that's the problem, which I tried to explain (caution) in my post above. And it's outfitters who are, in large part, turning what used to be door-knocking into big bucks ventures for big bucks.
I have no problem with ranchers making some money from their property if they choose. Bowhunters out here used to be sort of a curiosity for ranchers, who would nod, smile skeptically, and tell you where they're seeing deer. But now, unfortunately, it's a business and it's what much of hunting has become.
I think you know both sides of that.
Good hunting, and thanks for the good wishes.
Honestly guys, I don't think there's much of anything in hunting that HASN'T been commercialized yet. It's a sad reality.
In a few weeks I get to go chase muleys that you'd pass on during the last day of your hunt. I'll still have fun, but your threads and pics have pretty well wrecked me...
Enjoying your amazing pics & stories very much.
I'll be glued to this thread Lou and living vicariously through you with the rest of the site.
Good luck and smash a big one!!
Thanks for the story. Can't wait for part deux.....
Darn that looks cold.....
Just returned from Kansas, with camera in hand. Got some great pictures of rutting whitetails while Dary was hunting. Five different bucks chasing does the other day, and one ran by me at 10 yards as I was on the ground. If I would have had your deer hat on, the buck would have surely been in my lap.
Keep up the hunt and I know we will surely raise a glass to your success.
"I think you know both sides of that."
I think we've both contributed to ruining what was a relative secret, not too long ago.
I regret that.
Lou keep at it you'll get another chance!
You were supposed to look at the big buck in the "hero shot", not my fly!
The patience and know how needed to be successful on the prairie are impressive. In my experience here in NE it has been a very humbling experience.
I love that fresh snow - Are there a lot of coyotes in that country? That white stuff always seems to bring them out.
I really wish I was out there and could hang out with you as planned but unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy had other ideas for me this month.
I switched my trip to mid-December and now hope to get away and give it a go next month.
I suspect it will be a food source based hunt at that time but any tips you may have for a "late" season hunt would be most appreciated.
Good luck and keep the fun coming. At least I can live vicariously through your reports while I'm stuck in New Jersey assisting storm victims.
GannettRidge 's Link
Best of Luck, Jeff
I also glassed about 9 or 10 square miles around where I'm hunting, open prairie, yucca hills, CRP, creek bottom, and didn't see a single other deer. Zippo. My rancher friend confirmed that he hasn't been seeing many deer either, and is puzzled by it. There was water all over during the summer drought (cattle tanks and springs) and the forage is still ok, so I'm not sure what's going on.
Just hoping the deer I was hunting last weekend didn't move on to somewhere else for some reason (coyote hunters scaring them??). I'm going to glass tonight to try to get a better clue before plunging blindly down into the bottom.
Hit the water. The bucks are putting on miles right now, bouncing from doe group to doe group, looking for the first hot does.
It's suppose to be hot this weekend, weather-wise. They'll be thirsty.
Just a little friendly advise. Take it for what it's worth.
Where I'm hunting there is quite a bit of water with scattered tanks. Unfortunately I have to ambush between water and bedding since there aren't any usable trees near any of the sources where my deer seem to be concentrated.
But they definitely hit the water in the a.m. after feeding out in the drylands all night.
Good luck to you, and if you score, please post a pic on this thread.
Didn't see much until shortly before sunset.
One of the "ok" bucks from last weekend was with them, as was my forky friend. All total there were about 11 does and two bucks.
As GG noted, they followed the does until they got settled to feed in the hills, then both wandered off to do recon. As much as they are wandering right now and knowing there is a group of does with a sub-dominant buck just upstream, where I'm hunting, I'm sure I'll see these two again soon.
It's that time where we see different bucks every day. We're still about three to four days away from the first does coming into estrous, so bucks will be cruising heavily until then.
I'm out here for the next 10 days. The next five or six should be rocking. You all have a good night.
"Good luck to you, and if you score, please post a pic on this thread."
I killed a good one a week ago.
I've just been keeping a eye on things for a buddy who is coming out this weekend.
I love this time. It's like a box of chocolates....
Best of luck to you!!
I sat until 7:30, seeing nothing, when I needed to start sneaking out to return to camp and a work project. I'd made it about 40 yards when I looked back down toward the staging area and spotted some does coming into the little clearing to browse.
They were exactly where I'd planned an ambush from what I'd learned from my Sunday scouting.
I bedded down, nodding once in awhile like a feeding doe, and occasionally showing a Heads Up "deer on a stick" to him. He finally lost interest and wandered off with the doe family.
Like Matt said above, "it's like a box of chocolates" right now. New bucks appear every morning and evening. This buck was 3/4 mile away last night, across the county road, with a different doe family. Tomorrow morning these does may bring a different buck. It's all about hunting the does, figuring them out, keeping them around as bait, and waiting for them to deliver a big buck into my lap.
The next three days are my absolute favorite days to hunt muleys.
I can't hunt tonight, as a good friend produced and directed a film that is premiering, and I was invited to the opening. So I have to shower at the ranch house, dress up like a civilized human, and journey across the plains to the Big City for a social event. But she's one of my best friends, so it's worth giving up one evening of hunting for that.
But I'll skip the after-party. I know those does are going to bring another big buck in the morning, and I want to be there, waiting........
Just got home from my Kansas drive. This is such an enjoyable thread.... good luck!! Thanks for taking the time....
I hope you have some success soon. This is getting good! I know you're going to connect shortly!
Can't wait for today's report! Keep at it!
I made it down to the staging area before shooting light and found a good blind on the dry "island" beside a fallen tree. It's in a spot where the timber narrows a bit and there's some green grass in the swales. When deer are around, it's a favorite spot for rut staging. Tons of fresh tracks on both sides of the blind.
I didn't see much until an hour after sunup. Then onesy-twosies start appearing here and there. I spotted a forker down toward the end of the island and called to him a couple times.
This photo is at 8 yards.
I have to tell you this: I'm not beholden to the Nose Jammer people in any way. I paid fourteen bucks for my can of the stuff. I'm still not sure if it has any effect, positive or negative except to make me really hungry for a raisin cinnamon roll. I sprayed some on the logs on each side of my blind earlier. This buck approached directly in my wind, and at 8 yards he is standing in my scent. He showed no alarm at any time.
Like I said, I can't say if it works because I've had similar inexplicable experiences out here with no Nose Jammer or anything else. But after he gave up on me, he meandered on up the creek and out of sight.
The only other buck I saw this morning was a ridiculous little one-antlered spike that was annoying every doe in sight. He bothered some in the yucca hills, down in the timber, back up in the hills. He looked like a serious pest - like a desperate teenager at a bachelorette party.
I stayed down there until 11:00 when it got very warm, then ran back to camp for lunch, a quick nap, changed into some lighter stuff, and to grab some gear to improve the blind.
I didn't see anything moving in the bottom tonight so I hiked back around and up onto the bluff to glass.
What I learned from glassing is that there are two good-sized bunches upstream from me( 10-12 does and a mature buck in each, plus a couple dinks), and one herd downstream. I'm in the travel route, but the way these deer move in the night, either of the near groups could be on top of me tomorrow.
These three groups bedded today in very difficult places to hunt. Flat, open no terrain breaks, bedding behind fallen cottonwoods with their heads poking up. I think I'll stick it out at this blind for another morning or two and maybe try for an afternoon ambush in the yucca. Traveling bucks should come by me, and a doe with a mature buck is likely to come here to do her dance.
The real rut kickoff seems to be a couple days off yet. I didn't see any real rut activity tonight, only bucks hanging with does. No pushing or nosing. The 17th is normally pretty close, with the 19th typically being the first real crazy day of chasing. Might be a day or two late, which is fine!
The wide buck from a couple nights ago is with them. He's a good buck; not great, but certainly a shooter for me. He has a sticker on his left side.
The next four days should be wonderful. Rut is kicking off. I'm stoked!!!!!!
A delicious Marie Callender's fettuccine with chicken and broccoli is cooking in the oven, I'm kicking-back enjoying a Scotch, rocking the Boss Martians on the iPod, and having just an outstanding Saturday evening on the bluff out here on the Great Plains.
Jake, good to hear from you and sorry you didn't connect in KS. Those bucks are lucky, but I guess you can't ALWAYS kill a monster, LOL!!!!!
It's built on a ball cap frame. When I'm wearing it the ears stand up in a normal posture.
Then she made an elk hat that's also a valuable tool when used in the right situation.
The herd with the wide buck was still up in the yucca hills, but had moved south in the night and were directly west of my blind, about 1/3 mile away, across the stubble field. So I continued on with my plan to hunt the blind and hope they came into the riverbottom near me to stage, browse and bed.
Then shortly after sunup a 3x4 came by. I gave him a couple of soft bleats, he spotted the decoys, and came right in.
He was also directly downwind at this point. I have no explanation......
After watching them for awhile he turned and wandered back the way he came. I saw him again on the other side of creek a half hour later, nosing along.
When I went out to pick up the dekes, he seemed really confused. He lay there watching, no doubt asking himself, "Why are those does letting that guy walk right up to them? Now he's petting one! Now he's picking one up! WTF???!!!"
He stood up and watched me for a minute, then trotted away, glancing back over his shoulder.
My plan tonight was to stalk furthest south herd I spotted last night in the yucca hills across the riverbottom. That plan was foiled by a friend of the rancher who came into the bottom from the other direction to cut firewood.
Not sure where those deer went, but the saws were going right in their bedding area and I could see two vehicles through the thick trees.
So I walked back to the truck, drove back around to the other side (7 miles to get to the other side of the creek from where I was planning to stalk..) and hiked back out onto the glassing bluff.
The herd with the wide buck came out of the timber below me, crossed the stubble field, crossed the road, and went right back into the spot in the yucca hills where they've been feeding the past few nights. There must be something those does love in that particular spot.
Evidently they'd come in this morning south of me, and because I suspected that may have happened, I'd purposely hiked back to the truck across the stubble field instead of along the edge of the bottom.
Tomorrow morning I'm going to try a different tack. I think I'll stand around on the timber edge of the field to watch, try to intercept them when they drop into the bottom.
I also saw old Lucky tonight, pushing a doe around in the hills over there above where the does like to feed. I can't hunt that section as it is leased to an outfitter, but evidently he only has rifle hunters.
Tomorrow should be the first day of doe chasing. The 19th. "Crazy day". It's been a day when we've killed some good bucks, and I'm hoping history will repeat.
What camera are you using? Great pics!
Good luck, Robb
I've been watching doe chasing for 2 days, Lou.
My young hunting buddy had a shooter 10 yds from him, yesterday morning, while in a stand I hung over a water hole . It was his first time sitting in a stand, and he was thrilled to have multiple deer underneath him.
Unfortunately, my buddy was under-dressed, and was too cold to draw his bow when the buck came in. Or so he says...I suspect a little buck fever had something to do with it, as well. You can lead a horse to water..... ;-)
Anyway, I hope the action picks up for you. Good luck.
Seriously? I think you're right- that must be a serious case of buck fever.
Go get 'em, Lou! I imagine it's just a matter of time. I hope you find that "great big bastard" the land owner was talking about...
I wonder if they have methadone treatments for people with this type of addiction.... I need to contact the Betty Ford clinic for help!!!
Lou, my hand is starting to tremble.....post another update....PLEASE!!
Paul-- do you know something?????
I stuck to my plan but didn't see anything in the hills or stubble field. Nada. But I sat my blind anyway, and the only thing I saw all morning was one dinky two-point frantically trotting across the yucca ridge behind me, no doubt wondering, as was I, where the deer went.
I was supposed to join the rancher for dinner at noon, so at 10:00 I packed up and took my gear 3/4 mile south to the fort blind, closer to where I suspected the deer had moved.
About 50 yards from the fort I spotted movement in the trees ahead. A buck was pushing three does toward me very quickly. I couldn't see what he was but readied an arrow on the string.
Peeking up over the creek bank, I committed the cardinal sin of doe-hattery - I let the does see the hat. Big mistake. Sure enough, four of them came right at me, fast. The buck behind them was the 3x4 from yesterday. I was caught with no place to hide, so I removed the hat and curled up in the fetal position below the ditch bank.
They couldn't see me but were locked on what they thought they'd seen. After ten minutes I peeked up and three were still there. I lay back down and dozed off for a few. Fifteen minutes later I peeked up again and they were STILL there. The buck was chasing one of the does around through the trees, but the other three were locked-in at 25 yards.
Ten minutes later they finally left, so I dropped my stuff at the fort blind and raced off to a wonderful dinner of beef roast, mashed potatoes, carrots and onions, and cherry-rhubarb pie. Awesome!
At the gate to the stubble field I looked up on the hill and spotted the wide buck and his does at an old abandoned homestead. I know this spot and there's absolutely no way to stalk it, since it's on a hilltop and the does were spread around on both sides.
I left them alone and hiked down into the creek bottom.
At the bottom of the dry gulch I spotted a buck bird-dogging. It was old Lucky, and he walked on the trail 20 yards from the fort blind.
The beef roast cost me a close shot at that buck.
Down I go again. They didn't see much, and fed around but kept looking at me, so I couldn't move.
I didn't mention that I also saw a great new buck working several other does south of the fort blind this morning. It is a staging area they often use when coming out of the hills to the east. I saw them using it when I sat the fort blind before, and had already decided I was going to try to find a good ground blind there after the hill stalk tonight.
Seizing the opportunity, I grabbed the chair, decoys and Slip blind from the fort and found a wonderful ground blind right on the near edge of the south staging area. Tracks everywhere, three trails intersecting within 30 yards. It's one of the very best natural ground blinds I've ever found down there, and it required no renolstering to make it perfect. The Slip blind will block the one exposed side and give me shade. There are more big log piles behind, making a natural funnel. It's another one of those log piles formed from the giant flash flood.
It was too late for a hill stalk by then, so I readied the blind for the morning hunt. As a bonus, I found two sheds within 20 yards of the new blind. Good omen?
I'm very excited about this spot. The deer are definitely down here, much further south from where I've been the past few days. The bucks know it, too.
Tomorrow should be a good day!
I'll try to post the correct photo again.
Wow, that added a little spice to the thread. LOL!!!!!
I'm running and gunning, so I don't want to carry my DSLR or anything else bulky. I'm carrying enough crap as it is. My deer hunting pack often weighs more than my pack for a day of elk hunting.
So I like a littel camera that will fit in my breast pocket and can be pulled-out quickly. It takes GREAT photos of guys in john-boats with machine guns....
Just need to figure out a good sling for it so it doesn't interfere with my binos and camera.
70 years later, the 21st century equivalent.....
Lou is my neighbor, sort of. Lives a few miles to the north. A man of principle. And, a great story-teller. Good sense of humor. I guess that is obvious.
Go get him, Lou! Good luck- I have a feeling about you shooting a buck today!
Gray Ghost's Link
When I said, "hit the water", I wasn't expecting you to go to this extreme!
His real secrets are leaking out.
Special ops amphibious attack!
Keep at it I am sure it won't be long.
Anyway I wish you the best. Get a big one Buddy!
Have a great bowhunt. BB
Sure wish I knew the history of that Photoshopped pic, LOL!
I went to the great new blind at the edge of the staging area when they emerge from the hills in the south gullies.
Just after the sun peeked over the rise, this guy came out of the hills alone. No doe. Not a good sign.
No decoys out yet, because I didn't want any doe leading a buck to lead him away from the competition. When the rut is cranking I wait to set the decoys later in the morning to attract cruising lone bucks.
Turns out he was looking at another buck coming in from behind, one I'd have shot. He's a very nice, tall and wide 3x4. I don't have a pic of him because I was on the string, but he didn't present an opportunity.
Nothing else happened, no does, no nothing, and by 11:30 it had warmed to 64 degrees, from 28 when I started. I was roasting, so I bailed to the truck, hauled-butt back to camp for a quick lunch and shower at the rancher's place, took off the wool, then raced back for the rest of the afternoon.
The only thing I saw this evening was the 3x4 wandering around behind me. At sundown I got out of there to glass.
Figures - the wide buck's herd from the old homestead last night (directly west of my current blind) had moved a mile north, to the spot in the stubble field they'd occupied in the evenings last week. I'm not sure if they bedded by my other blind or in the hills, but either way, several of the other local bucks were also there with the wide one and the does.
I drove back around, hiked down to the blind in the dark and retrieved my stuff - decoys, chair, Slip blind, Heads-Up doe, rattling antlers. I will go back to my previous ambush spot in the morning.
And I fully expect the deer to be back where I was this morning.
The bad news is that neither of the two on the ground were the right ones for right now. Maybe later, not now.
I'm becoming vexed. I've been doing this muley rut hunting for long enough that I should be used to the schizophrenia by now. But it still drives me crazy the way they move around in the night for no rhyme or reason.
I thought of the great line penned by Aldo Leupold, the father of modern conservation, in a letter to his friend Roy Case in 1935. "Killing a buck with a bow and arrow means going through a series of unexpected mishaps and keeping it up until one of the haps fails to miss."
Sooner or later one of the haps won't miss. Maybe tomorrow.
BB, great to see you back safe and sound, and looking forward to drooling over your photos!
I'm just about out of dinner food but didn't feel like making the 50 mile round trip to the nearest grocery tonight, so I'm opening a can of Dinty Moore and will have the last of an apple pie. Maybe some canned peaches. Hunting food. I'm on the hunt, living it, having close calls and having a blast. Hoping for a much closer call with the wide buck in the morning.
Thanks for the positive thoughts, vibes, and PMs!
Funny, but after I killed the big NT in 2002, I found the left side sheds from him from each of the two years before I killed him. He was big, then bigger, but absolutely blew-up the year I shot him.
The 3x4 from this morning is a mirror-image of the 3x4 that came to the dekes morning before last. This one has the 3 and 4 sides swapped. Wonder if they ever get together and compare racks?
I keep the camp stocked with emergency food in case I get snowed-in. I suppose being as frantic as a rutting buck while hunting the rut constitutes an "emergency.
Speaking of frantic, my rancher friend told me the hunters with tags but no access are getting panicky now, glassing deer from county roads but unable to hunt. One pair practically begged for permission yesterday, saying "We got these tags but don't got no place to hunt! What are we s'posed to do?" My friend said they should have thought of that before applying, and doesn't understand why the CPW allows people to draw with no hunting access, since it's all private land.
I explained that in this country, everybody has the right to make stupid mistakes, and the government has the ability to profit from their ignorance. He agreed with that assessment.
But seriously, if you are thinking about hunting the plains in any plains state, BEFORE applying for a tag make damned sure you have access, or apply for a unit with some public land, or book with an outfitter. By the time you draw it will be too late, and you'll be driving the roads, frustrated, like the guys around here.
i never got to tell you- the antelope hat worked pretty well- I never was able to close the deal, but I was sneaking around right in the middle of the herd- really had them looking confused, but never spooked.
Best of luck on this hunt- i look forward to the thread every day!!!
The wide buck's herd was nowhere to be found. I didn't want to sit a barren section waiting for phantom deer so I took the opportunity to go way around and take a look at the herd I'd scoped at last light last night across the valley.
It was after sunup by the time I crested the yucca ridge, and they were already below me, about to enter the bottom. The wide, spindly 3x4 was with them, the 2x4, a couple forkys, and a new buck.
I think I may have found the GBB. He's not quite as wide as the rancher described, but very heavy with a bunch of extra stuff on both sides. A very fine buck. He followed a small group of does down and left with one when they got into the bottom. He is about a half-mile upstream from yesterday's blind.
Tonight I went back to wait in the yucca flat up on top where that group fed last night. My plan was to try to decoy one of the two big bucks. Of course they didn't come back up there, but instead inexplicably trooped along the bottom and went up into the hills directly above my blind. No bucks, only does.
I am very optimistic about the morning. I expect one of the bigger bucks will hook up with them tonight and (hopefully!) follow them down into the staging area by my blind. They are so weird right now, never doing anything the same from one day to the next, that I think I should just stay put and think positive.
Thanks to midwest for the very positive and encouraging PM. It's tough right now, and I appreciate all of the good vibes.
TC, I feel for you. As I age, things in my knees are starting to go from all the miles I've put on backpacking and elk hunting. Fortunately my hips are still ok, but those could be next. Best of luck with the recovery.
I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. Since our daughter is out of the house and we don't have family close, my wife suggested I stay out and continue hunting. She knows I'd be a trainwreck sitting around the house for a day. After seeing that big nontypical, I'm going to take her up on the offer.
Eat some turkey for me. Back at you tomorrow.
Thanks again for this thread. When you have filled your tag, I need to talk to you about your experiences "down under". Then it will be MY turn for the hunting entertainment, since you are providing it now....
Best of Luck Jeff
I'll eat you some turkey, if you shoot me a big nontypical ;)
My wife is baking pies as I type, want us to save a piece of huckleberry for ya? I got ya covered on the turkey and rice dressing.
Best of luck.
I hope you all had a great holiday. I did.
Lots happened this morning, so bear with me. It will be worth it. Because so much happened, I pared down the photos.
I also learned something - DO NOT ever put your facemask in the same pocket in which you're carrying a bottle of synthetic mule deer lure. Just sayin'...
Not much early - a forky followed a group of does out of the hills at 8:30. I called them over with the bite call.
Then about 10:00 I spotted a mature buck through the trees a couple hundred yards away, nosing a doe along toward me. There were several other does behind.
Thinking she might lead him to me, I belly-crawled out to knock down the decoys, only getting into one cactus patch along the way. By the time I got back to the blind, they had bedded-down about 150 yards away.
By that time, the buck with the does had gone to sleep. I watched him doze off. Lucky barged in there and rousted the whole bunch. the other buck obviously knew him well, they had a discussion, and Lucky pushed three of the does off in the other direction while the original buck fed around with the does before they all bedded again about 20 yards further away.
Last night I was a little down because of the unpredictability of what is happening, so I reread Matt Palmquist's Extreme Trophy Hunting story. Thinking of some of his experiences, I weighed whether to sit it out and hope they came by me, or try to get closer and narrow the angle. I've sat and been patient before in the same situation and had to watch as they wandered away.
My progress was halted by this doofus bedded directly in my path. So I crawled as close as I could and waited behind another flash-flood dam of logs.
Watching the buck lie down and go to sleep, I lay back in the sunshine and nearly dozed off myself. You can see his antler laying over in the center of the photo. I figured I had a couple hours before they rose and started feeding around.
No! I remembered doing this once before and waking up to a snorting doe right in front of me, with the buck beside her. So I forced myself awake and sucked on the Power gel for caffeine. I kept watching.
At exactly noon two of the does stood up, and the one the buck was courting started walking in my direction. I readied an arrow.
They came closer.
And he stood broadside at the very outside edge of my range, with only his vitals and head exposed in front of a big tree. (How many times do they stop with the vitals covered??? This time it was the opposite).
I figured I would either hit him in the vitals, miss low at that range, or hit the tree. I picked a spot, came to anchor, settled, and let it fly, following through while holding form.
Because I was tucked into good follow-through, I didn't see whether the arrow hit, or where, but I heard a "whump".
He immediately spun and started running away.
didn't have to wait long to take up the trail, since he stopped, staggered, did the "Curly Joe" and fell over 40 yards from where I shot him.
He's a pretty good buck. I feel like I hunted well, made all of the right decisions this morning, and executed.
Congratulations and thanks for taking us along!
I'd guessed him at just a bit less than 30" wide. His outside spread is 28 1/2", 7x5. the more I look at him, he's really a great buck for this country, especially considering how few deer there are around this year.
Guess there's no chance of an Eastman's story without the REALLY BIG photo.
After cleaning and retrieving him, I was starved. I celebrated Thanksgiving with my last Dougie Burrito and the last piece of apple pie, two fingers of Glenlivet, then took the long nap I desperately needed and so wanted when I was watching him nap out in front of me.
Thanks to all of you who posted and PMed positive thoughts and encouragement. I really appreciate it.
This is a hard kind of hunting, during the rut, with a stickbow, hunting alone. Having that kind of karma sent from the best bowhunters in the world really helps. I'm honored and humbled, and feel extremely fortunate to have taken such a fine animal under these conditions.
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I did. Maybe my best Thanksgiving ever.
Getting a buck like this is a bonus. But a hell of a bonus!
I love it when a story has a happy ending.
Per the "A Team" "I love it when a plan comes together!"
Love laying down next to bedded bucks, waiting..... you just know something is going to happen given time, you just don't know exactly what. Sometimes it all blows up, sometimes it all comes together and falls in your lap..... and sometimes you just make it happen... offhand I'd say this was the third one....
Geez.... looks like you didn't even have to freeze the boys off to get this one either.... looks comparatively balmy!
Thanks again for sharing this with us. I know it's not easy. As others have said many times before, means a lot.
PS.... get together with BB and look for a camera.... next time I want to see his eyelids closed...... =D
Awesome hunt and a slob of a buck!
Well done. Thanks for sharing!
Best Wishes Jeff
Thanks again, and good hunting to you all.
I love your photos and your narrative Lou. You set the bar at a level few can match. It's always a pleasure to follow your episodes. They are far more than just a bow hunt!
Contrats on a great buck and thanks for taking us along for the ride.
May you have many a more great bowhunts. BB
I really enjoyed it and thanks for sharing ,
God bless you all, Steve
I’ve been buried with work and just found out I missed your entire hunt write up :( As always an amazing read even after the fact. Congrats on another great hunt!
I have a feeling every time I hit the woods now it’s going to smell like cinnamon and raisin! :)
Congrats on a great buck!
37 yards with the trad!? nice shot man
What a nice buck.
Good luck, Robb
Heck of a thread to say the least. Congratulations! Nice story as well. I imagined the country from your previous cabin pictures. Something I will never probably do, but it was almost like being there. Waited for the end to say thanks!
Update on Old Lucky: He ain't so lucky anymore. My hunting partner Tom Kelley's 14 year old daughter killed him on a rifle hunt yesterday morning, only about 100 yards from where I "missed" him. Her first buck. The dent where my Muzzy hit his antler is very visible, and the rancher is calling him the "Hole in the Horn Buck".
So I guess in retrospect, Lucky was lucky for her and for me, the way it turned out.
Best of Luck, Jeff