Bow Only Outdoors's Link
(It’s long, read it as you wish)
On the opening day of the Nebraska season, I was blessed with an opportunity at the buck of my dreams.
The day before season started, my buddy Micah and I switched gears from antelope hunting Western Nebraska to scouting for deer for opening day. That evening, we only saw a few does and expectations were low for opening day of the Nebraska season. The following morning would be different however.
Micah and I decided to sit on two different glassing hills so we could cover more ground and potentially have higher odds of spotting a nice deer. I glassed for nearly an hour before I even saw a deer, but the first one I saw was something I’ve only dreamed of. A giant, full velvet, non-typical whitetail. The biggest I had ever seen in the wild! My heart was racing as soon as I saw him. I watched him and two other bucks bed next to a small creek and although it would have been perfect for a stalk, I decided to wait it out and watch in case they decided to move once they got out of the shade of the trees as the sun rose. Shortly after they bedded, I noticed either a dog, or a very dark coyote spooked a group of whitetail to the north. The deer all took off to the south and the 3 bedded bucks, including the giant, went with them. I watched them go across the road and head back towards the creek to the south. They disappeared behind the thick cottonwoods in a place I knew we could get a stalk in IF they were still there.
I met up with Micah and found out that he had seen a nice mule deer buck as well, but informed him of the giant whitetail I had watched walk into the trees with around a dozen other deer. With the wind out of the North West, we made a game plan to come from a slight rise to the east of the group of trees to see if we could lay eyes on them bedded in the thick cotton woods.
As we made the big loop around, we slowly crept up the slight rise to see several of the deer bedded next to some of the fallen cottonwoods. We couldn’t see all of the deer that I had watched walk in there, but the giant, mature buck was one of the furthest south deer, which was going to be the direction we had to come from to get close based on the terrain and wind.
There was a perfect drainage that ran into the creek from the south east, just behind the rise to keep us out of sight. We circled all the way around to the drainage and crawled into the dry creek bed where we were below sight of the bedded whitetails. With the wind in our face, and the giant being only 300 yards away, I knew we might just have a chance at this Western Creek Bottom Monarch.
We slowly walked the creek bottom up to the fence line of the pastures and got eyes on the buck. I crept up the slight creek bank and could see the buck, now just under 100 yards. (I’m trembling just typing this!) I came back down the slight creek bank and told Micah we would have to go under the pasture fence and slowly creep North down the creek to get into some more fallen cottonwoods to have more cover to potentially get closer and increase our odds of potentially getting a shot.
We went about 75 yards to the north and I could see that all of the deer were either bedded behind fallen cotton woods, or out of sight of us. All we had to do was crawl about 100 yards around and we would be in position for a shot with our wind still being good and blowing back down towards the creek where we came from. We slowly and quietly crawled to a nearby fallen cottonwood to re-evaluate the situation and figure out where we needed to be to be prepared for a shot. We had only made it about 75 yards and almost as soon as we got to that first fallen cotton wood, all of the deer stood up. We froze on our bellies in the grass and didn’t dare move. The first wave of deer came right past us in the open at less than 25 yards, feeding casually with no idea we were there. I was afraid there would be no way for me to sit up and get drawn once the giant came through, even though he was the last deer coming down the line. The first 3 bucks and a doe came past and never looked at us once. They continued to the North and ended up bedding a little over 100 yards away. The four other bucks (including the giant) started to work their way through, feeding slowly. My heart was beating out of my chest, watching his velvet covered antlers backlit with the sun was a sight I knew I would never forget, no matter what would come from this situation. The amount of adrenaline rushing through my body was insane. I thought to myself at that moment, if he steps through this shooting lane at 25 yards like the other deer did, that it would be a tough shot, simply because of how much I was trembling and shaking from such an incredible experience. Out of no where, this group of bucks started to bed down next to a few fallen cottonwoods, one by one, with all of them being less than 40 yards away.
Micah and I collected ourselves and began to visualize the situation and what we were expecting to happen. The giant was bedded furthest to our left at 35 yards, and if he walked to our right like the other deer did, we would surely get a shot.
Over the next 4 hours, the giant buck stood up 5 times. Each time he would start to stand up, I would rise to my knees, hook my release on my string, and get prepared for a shot as Micah was filming right by my side. Each time, he would stand for roughly 1-2 minutes, feeding lightly with his head behind the log blocking his view completely from us for the draw. Each time, he was too close to the log, and I could only see the top half of his body which did not provide a safe and ethical shot.
On the 6th time he stood up, one of the bucks came and walked right towards us, and bedded only 25 yards away directly on the other side of the log with his rack perfectly blocking my first shooting lane. The giant slowly worked his way into that shooting lane and I hesitated to draw with the other buck there as it just didn’t offer a good ethical shot. Once the giant took another few step to the right, only a smaller branch off of the fallen log was blocking his vitals. I knew with only a few more steps I would have a clean shot at the buck of my dreams. I drew back, shaking, but undetected, and waited patiently as he slowly fed to our right. He stood behind that small branch for what seemed like eternity, and I almost decided to let down before he took another step to the right. At this moment, the branch was higher and I had a clear shot underneath of it into the killzone. I settled my pin and slowly pulled through my release and the arrow hit exactly where my pin was, missing the branch by only a mere inch or two. I could tell as he ran off that the arrow hit slightly further back than I wanted, and he was quartering towards more than I thought. At this point the deer had no idea what had just happened as the others all just stood up out of their bed. We stood up instantly and ranged the giant at 64 yards as he was stopped and looking back at the other bucks wondering what had just happened. I loaded another arrow and made the follow up shot which hit high at the base of the ribs coming off the spinal column. We watched him go nearly 400 yards from us and lost sight of him on the edge of the trees as he seemed to disappear in a slight dip. We thought then that the deer had bedded there, at least, that was our hope.
We went to the arrow where I first shot him and instantly found dark blood (liver) and then guts. I was sick. I knew this deer would die from the hit, but I most definitely didn’t want him to suffer and certainly didn’t want him to run off with the other deer. We slowly walked along where we watched him go, following a surprisingly good amount of blood for about 200 yards. We decided to stop and wait and see if we could lay eyes on him. We didn’t want to bump him, but I felt the need to put another arrow in him if possible. As we waited and glassed into the trees. Micah found a chunk, yes a CHUNK of lung on the blood trail that had fallen out from either the entry or exit hole from the first hit. A sigh of relief to me, yet I knew that there was still a chance that this deer could still be alive.
We slowly continued across the pasture towards where we last saw him. When we got to roughly 50 yards, I could see him, his back down hill, and sprawled out like he was dead. I know how incredibly tough these animals can be so I continued to slowly work my way in to roughly 30 yards. I could see through my binoculars that he wasn’t breathing, and that he was indeed, done. Micah and I both believed where we last saw him “bed” he had actually fallen and died right there within a minute or two of the follow up shot. When we walked up on the deer I was simply speechless. Not only was I in disbelief of what had just happened but of what such an incredible animal this was. A wise, old, mature whitetail that had survived in this rugged land since I was likely only 15 years old. My biggest whitetail ever with 19 total scorable points.
A true dream come true. This is something I’ve had envisioned in my head ever since I was a little kid, flinging arrows around my parents farmyard with my homemade PVC pipe bow. I’m still speechless, and grateful beyond belief. To see a deer of this caliber is amazing. To be able to fill my tag on him with one of my lifelong best friends by my side is something that will stick with me for the rest of my life. I hope you enjoy the story and hunt for this magnificent deer, and I hope you too get to experience a hunt like this some day.
- Josh Pflasterer
Watch the video of the hunt here )))———> https://youtu.be/DwjD8L5zY9g
The only thing I see bigger than the rack in your pic,---- is your smile !
Great hunt and well done.
Great staking and keeping it together for the shot. Your write up is great.
That was enjoyable to watch.
Very cool how the velvet appears to melt into the skull cap..
Curious to know if you guys knew previously if that buck was around, or if this was the first time you had seen him?
t-roy We did not know this deer was here previously, and neither did the rancher. He was very skittish of vehicles which is perhaps why he was never seen before otherwise. The ranch gets hunted hard during rifle season, but perhaps he would move to a different area during our rut for as long as he had survived.
Thanks again everyone! Good luck out there!