That’s my deer. I’m going to take him!

This is a story of a true Texas Giant. This 9 point has great brows and G2s that would make any hunter jealous. Asthon, the lucky hunter in this tale makes a point to thank her friend Clinto for letting her harvest this great deer on his “Turkey Mountain Ranch”. Ashton knew this was the buck for her from the moment she saw him and wasn’t about to let him get away. But let’s hear the story in her words. Cheers – James

 

It was November 11th 2014 and a perfect day to be in the deer stand in southern Texas. My good friend Clinto Brown has a hunting property he affectionately calls Turkey Mountain Ranch and I knew on this beautiful fall day this was the spot I had to be hunting. I reached out to Clinto that day to ask if I could hunt his property and he graciously said yes.

The plan was to sit in one of Clinto’s blinds posted just west of his house and watch an area he knew to be heavily used by the deer on the ranch. We spread corn on the road next to the blind and settled in for our sit. It was about 4:30 when the action started to pick up. First on the scene there came a wide 6 point followed shortly by a spike and a 4 point. Soon after that a basket 4 point appeared with a young doe.

We were quite enjoying watching these deer interact but none of the bucks were quite what I was looking for. Eager to have some venison for the table I was thinking that I was going to shoot the doe. Just as I was getting ready for the shot all of the deer suddenly stopped and looked into the brush on the right. This change in behaviour caught my attention. I waited anxiously. Focused on the brush hoping to catch a glimpse of what was coming out to see them.

Just then a beautiful 9 point stepped out into the clearing. This boss buck had his big body puffed up and ears down like he owned the place!! I turned to Clinto Brown and exclaimedThat’s my deer. I’m going to take him!”

Unlike myself Clinto Brown wasn’t initially convinced. “He doesn’t look that big.” remarked Clinto. My rebuttal was quick and succinct He is. Just trust me!” We debated briefly back and forth while I was waiting on the buck to turn broadside so I could shoot.

Then I looked up and he was broadside and I told Clinto Brown “I’m going to take him!” I put my crosshairs on him right at the lungs, squeezed the trigger and let off a shot.

The buck didn’t initially jump like he had been shot and just took off running. I told Clinto Brown “I know I hit him.” Then as i watched him run through the brush I could tell that he was running like he was wounded. Despite my confidence in my ability and how the shot felt there are always some anxious moments while you wait for the animal to expire.

As we were getting out of the blind the other deer had scattered except the doe. We started making our way towards the area the buck had been standing when I shot. The doe just stood there watching us walk towards her and allowed us to make our way fairly close until she ran.

When we arrived at the area where I shot him I was relieved to see that there was blood right away! We began tracking the blood trail and not far along I noticed the blood was getting heavier and I knew he was fixing to go down. Then at 5:30 as we made our way around some brush we found him laying there! He had made it a mere 50 yards from where I has shot him on the road.

Great G2/G3s on this Texas Buck
Great G2/G3s on this Texas Buck

 

As we walked up and got our hands on his rack Clinto Brown was the first to admit that there was definitely no ground shrinkage on this deer and remarked Dang, he’s bigger than I thought!” I was quick to reply with an “I told you to trust me haha!”

Ashton with her trophy
Ashton with her trophy

We spent some time admiring this beautiful animal, took some pictures and then put the deer in the back of the mule and headed to Clinto’s house to clean him. It was the best hunting experience I think I’ve ever had. I jus loved tracking the blood trail!

School Bus Buck

This is a great story sent to us from John one of our instagram followers. This tale really goes to show you how having the right gear and being in the right place at the right time can really pay off when it comes to harvesting a trophy buck. Congrats John on a true monster whitetail. – James

 

The story of this great buck started early on in the season.

While hunting one of my core hunting areas I had a great encounter with a monster 9 pointer. Unfortunately, as big bucks often do, he meandered down wind and ran off before I could get a shot.

Night time picture of this 9pt ghost
Night time picture of this 9pt ghost

 

After this early excitement I hunted every chance I got but couldn’t manage to catch up with any of my shooter bucks. Knowing that harvesting big deer takes patience and persistence I stayed hard at. I run and check multiple trail cameras and make sure to practice good scent control traveling to and from my stands.

Fast forward now to the middle of November. With the days shortening and weather getting colder the now barren woods started to take the shape of the whitetail rut and my trail camera action was starting to pick up accordingly.

It was the morning of November 19th. I got up and like usual started through my busy morning routine. Got my things ready for work and took the kids to the bus stop. On this morning however I couldn’t have been ready for what was about to unravel.

As I walked down the drive on this brisk November morning a flicker of white caught my eye as I scanned out into the field. I could hardly believe what I saw but it was him. Chasing does across the field.

So quick as I could I went home and grab my Thompson Center Omega 50 caliber, dead downwind spray and my new extinguisher deer call and headed to my hunting spot.

I moved as quickly and stealthy as I could knowing I would have to be fast to seize this opportunity. After setting up and scanning the area I hit the extinguisher deer call four or five times in the Doe position. This is one of my favourite calls and one that had really been successful for me over the years.

About five minutes later a couple does made their into the field. I could tell by their behaviour though that something had their attention and it wasn’t me. I was watching them cautiously move through the open terrain when I slid the Extinguisher call to the buck position. I hit it twice and almost immediately heard a deer come in running across the hill.

Right away I knew it was him as all I could see was his antlers. He stopped about 75 yards away but my shot was obscured by some underbrush and I couldn’t see enough of his vitals. I finally hit the call one more time and he came running in.

He cleared the fence beside my location with a single bound and pulled up in a stop at 60 yards away. With all the action both the buck and does, still out in front of me, were at heightened attention. Just as I got ready to make the shot he jumped forward after a doe. We have all been there before and my heart sank as I watched my bullet I hit him about 6 inches back. He ran back across the hill from where he came and disappeared from sight.

After 15 to 20 minutes I went looking for the monster buck. I followed the path where he had run but could not locate blood anywhere. After an hour of searching I left for work with plans to return that afternoon and continue my search.

I continued my search when I got home but it was to no avail. I wondered if this buck was gone? It is never a good feeling losing a deer but never the less we were going to be back in the woods the next morning.

My buddy Brandon who had been hunting with me all season had arrived for a hunt and after sharing the tale of yesterdays events I told him if he saw the buck I shot at yesterday to put him on the ground.

Brandon got set up in his stand just before day break. By about 6:45 AM he had deer all around him. One of which was another one of the properties shooter bucks. As he scanned the woods behind him looking for the deer his gaze suddenly stopped on antlers piled up in some brush a mere 35 yards away.

He was so excited that without really thinking he jumped to his feet and ran over to the buck. Running off all of the remaining deer in the process.

He called over and told me to hurry and get the four wheeler and come up there where he was hunting. The entire drive over I thought he must have shot the monster buck from yesterday. As soon as I pulled up he said he found the deer I shot yesterday morning. I could barely believe it.

John with hist trophy buck
John with hist trophy buck

He is by far the biggest buck I’ve ever killed. Thanks to my Bushnell game camera we saw several big bucks coming through this season and it really helped me with patterning these big deer.

After this Kill I am a firm believer in my extinguisher deer call,d ead down wind spray and the Bushnell game cameras.

Another view showing off the great tine length.
Another view showing off the great tine length.

A Big 8 for Grandma

We have all had those hunts where it seems like we had someone looking down on us providing us with something a little more spiritual than luck. For Dale this story certainly seems like one of those occasions. I’d like to thank Dale for sharing the story of this giant Minnesota 8 point buck. Enjoy the story

– James

On Monday November the 10th a winter storm warning was in full affect for a good portion of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Up to 18 inches of snow was expected to fall somewhere in the affected area. As I settled in and sat on the cold five gallon bucket, I couldn’t help but think that I made a mistake in passing the nice 11 pointer the night before from this same stand.

As I waited for legal shooting time, I replayed the events of yesterday evening. A hot doe was in my area and I was covered up in bucks. I saw breeding, heard grunting, and saw chasing. A half hour after I first spotted the doe and the buck that mounted her, the two made their way past my stand at eight yards. I glassed constantly through the thick brush but this was the first really good look I was getting of him. He had tall G2’s and his rack was outside his ears. A flyer came off of his right G2 making him an eleven pointer. For whatever reason, I passed on the shot and watched the two saunter past heading towards the cabin. Maybe it was the weak G3’s and G4’s or maybe it was a bit too spindly. He appeared to be a young deer. I am not sure why but I did not shoot.

Nevertheless the show that took place after this was well worth the pass. Buck after buck materialized around the two. A busted 10 point and busted 8 shadowed the two. A fork horn just 15 yards away watched me as I glassed the group. I wasn’t too concerned about the fork horn giving me away as I could see the lust in his bulging eyes. He gave me 20 seconds and joined in the chase. Several does that joined the pair were now being chased by the nondominant bucks. With five minutes of legal shooting time remaining an eight point with a snow white rack raced by at 10 yards trying to catch up to the party.

If you have never experienced a hot doe near your stand you are in for a treat when it happens. It is magical and something you will never forget.

I thought about Grandma’s (motherinlaw’s) funeral on the opener and how it was probably the only Minnesota deer opener I missed in 37 years of deer hunting. My Wisconsin archery hunt was also cancelled due to her untimely passing. Skipping the Wisconsin hunt and the Minnesota opener was the right thing to do as family comes first. My wife and daughters needed me and I needed to be there for grandma.

The wind had shifted from the west to the northeast blowing my scent in the area where most of the action took place the day before. This was good as I expected the deer would be feeding at night in a picked corn field to my north east. The field was just picked the day before and somehow deer have an uncanny ability of finding a freshly picked corn field. I swiveled my bucket, faced into the wind and readied my gun. A light sleet pelted my face as legal time was at hand.

As soon as the time was right, I pulled out my rattle bag and lightly clanked the sticks together. I let out a couple of bleats and four grunts. Mature bucks are different creatures and proceed with caution. Unlike a year and a half old buck, mature bucks take their time surveying the land. They normally don’t race in and experience has taught me to be ready.

Several minutes passed and something caught my eye to the east. I slowly pulled up my binoculars and glassed the down falls. A fox squirrel ran along the ground foraging for nuts. Dismissing the movement, I continued to glass the rest of the area looking for any sign of deer.

Fifteen minutes later I pulled out my bleat call and let out another series of bleats and grunts.

It still amazes me how deer can appear out of nowhere. Straight to the east directly in front of the blow downs I glassed earlier, stood a majestic looking buck. The buck was looking my direction, not at me, but directly under my stand. At 70 yards I could tell this deer met the 4 point antler restriction in place for Southeastern Minnesota. Slowly raising my binoculars, I now could see what a beautiful 8 point rack he carried.

The buck started walking my direction and I immediately replaced the binoculars with my gun.

As the deer approached my stand I could see the nice tall tines and see the symmetry of his rack. Now at 25 yards the buck turned broadside to me in the wide open. I already had the crosshairs on him but wanted to look at the rack one more time to be sure he was big enough. It seemed surreal that this big 8 was right there. I thought what a great bow shot this would make. With the buck starting to walk away I mouth grunted at him softly and he stopped, turned around and looked back at my stand. The big buck dumped to the ground at the shot and kicked himself another five yards closer to me.

Beautiful symmetry on this big 8pt
Beautiful symmetry on this big 8pt

I couldn’t believe it. Here I was in stand for one hour and my season was done. I hunted a total of one day and one hour. There was no tracking job to do. He was right there.

The big eight grosses 140” and has only 1-3/8” of deductions. And I just want to end by saying, “Grandma, this buck’s for you”.

Dale with his trophy
Dale with his trophy

Frozen Fire

This weeks story comes from Charles, a friend of mine who lives a mere hour or so from me in Southern Ontario. Our paths crossed rather fortuitously a little over a year ago and since then we have stayed in contact sharing our deer hunting woes and triumphs. Charles has become a regular contributor on the blog having harvested 3 mature bucks in the last two seasons, while for the most part hunting heavily pressured public lands. Thanks again to Charles for sharing his experiences with our readers, enjoy!

 

When the weather finally got frigid the last 2 days of the season my attention focused on a location I hunt that has dense conifers with an adjacent meadow. In foul weather it has a lot of deer traffic as it has ample browse, meadow grasses and is protected from the frigid winter winds.

On the 31st I managed to get to my tree at about 2:15. Unfortunately I spooked does when I reached my tree but I made my way up the tree as quietly as possible in trying to minimize the disruption. Within 15 minutes 6 does made their way to within about 40 yards of me. 3 of them bedded down while the others generally did not feed but acted like sentries. They cautiously watched, scent checked and listened for any disturbances.

Deer look for cover when the weather gets frigid.
Deer look for cover when the weather gets frigid.

They maintained their positions till about 4 o’clock and then it got more interesting. It was like someone had turned on a switch; they all relaxed and the bedded does got up and began feeding. They all eventually ambled over to where I was located happily feeding and no longer at all concerned with the sound of the wind or any other sounds that previously had seemingly kept them on high alert.

On a couple other occasions earlier in the season I had encountered the full herd which at that time had 10 does in it and 5 juvenile bucks which had joined them one time (a six point was the largest). At about 4:30 six more does joined them from the dense conifers. I could see them coming from the conifers when they were about 50 or 60 yards away due to the snow contrasting their brown fur.

In cold weather look for food sources.
In cold weather look for food sources.

 

I now had 12 relaxed does feeding and snapped off a number of pictures as they were so unusually relaxed that I wasn’t worried about detection in spite of there always seeming to be at least one doe within about 20 feet of me. I believe that in foul weather they can be more relaxed because there is less likely to be any human presence in the area. I was up in a conifer about 27 feet and had my arm resting on a branch so I was out of their peripheral vision and well camouflaged.

At about 4:45 I saw more does coming from the conifers. I had no idea the area held this many deer and I quickly hung up my camera as detection by one of the does was becoming more and more likely. As they neared my location I noticed that the last deer within my range of vision was a very decent buck. I grabbed my crossbow and prepared for a possible shot.

I waited until he had passed by me partially to ensure there was no other buck within my visual range as I assumed the largest animal would come out of the conifers last. He turned broadside at about 20 feet. He was closer than I generally like as the sharp angle makes a humane lethal shot more difficult. I also knew it was unlikely there would be a better opportunity for a shot and the entire season had dwindled down to less than a half an hour.

The loud thwack of the bow scattered the does and the buck ran about 40 yards into the conifers. It stood still looking for the source of the sound. I began to wonder if my arrow had flown true. Within about 2 minutes the buck seemed to relax and took a step or 2 parallel to where I was in my tree. Now I was beginning to worry. Suddenly the majestic patriarch fell to the ground and did not get up again.

 

Where the giant came to rest
Where the giant came to rest

I waited about 15 minutes and then climbed out of the tree. The full bodied buck was a very symmetrical 10 pointer. The experience felt so very ironic and surreal. While the season had already been successful as I had loved my time in the various forests and had experienced nature more intimately than ever before, I had not succeeded in even seeing a mature buck the “je ne sais quoi” of the many hours of scouting and hunting.

Charles with his buck after many patient hours
Charles with his buck after many hours a field

Their presence and stature in the forest are unequalled. As I have heard stated their antlers feel like “frozen fire”, and it’s their forest that resonates with mystery and intrigue….so many unknowns…almost like buried treasure….For me hunting deer puts me in a very special and beautiful place while I’m pursuing a very confounding and challenging quarry. How fortuitous that my season is ending on such a high note…..but really for all the skill and adeptness one tries to add to the equation perhaps they occasionally make a mistake and we get lucky.

 

Amen Charles!

The Elk – By Ryan Hughes

Special thanks to Ryan who is a regular contributor and runs a fantastic blog of his own. Please slide on over and check out his writing and enjoy his post. http://thriveoutdoors.tumblr.com/post/104906301586/the-elk-by-ryan-hughes

Often times the success of hunts we embark on is not measured by what we are able to achieve, but rather what we experience. In November of 2014 I went hunting in Montana for the very first time. I had been hunting outside my home of Northern California multiple times, but never in Montana, which often resonated with me as the Mecca of all things outdoors. I had bought my Montana hunting license as well as a general deer tag between classes on a computer in the library of my local community college, but when I did so it seemed so far away that I could not even imagine what the trip might be like.

As the months went on leading up to our trip, my father mentioned the extreme weather that we were likely to experience so late in the season. Going so late in the season meant a few things for us, the most important thing being high amounts of migration of elk and deer from higher elevations to lower elevations due to oncoming snow. I could write all day about my expectations for this trip; I truly did not know what to expect. I suppose that is one of the many factors that draw us into hunting in new far away places, the uncertainty and constant challenge of learning about the area along with the wildlife within it.
We started our trek to Montana on a Friday morning. My so long to California included watching a hockey game and a ride out to the coast with some buddies the night before. Two day drives go by faster than you think when you are riding with great people. In the truck was my father, his friend Norm who I had never met before, and his other friend Justin who has become an extremely close and friend of mine over the years we have been hunting together. Norm was a pleasure to meet and hunt with; he was a thin man with a thick mustache. He was is very good shape and reminded me of the old west gunfighter Wyatt Earp. I took a liking to his very kind attitude and I very much admired his motivation and skill on the mountain. Justin is another great man and hero to me. He is very good friends with my father and myself but I think the reason they get along so well is because they are the perfect Yin and Yang. Their personalities are very opposite and different, but somehow they go very well together. Justin is a very humorous guy who gets his satisfaction from two things, hunting and making people smile. Justin is the biggest contributor to making any long drive seem like twenty minutes.
About halfway through the drive to Montana, we had our friends from other states meet up with us. First we rendezvoused with Rich from Nevada, then we met up with Joe from Oregon. As a group of six men, we continued on to the camp site we were staying, on the Madison River. My initial thought when we got to our temporary home was that I should have packed hunting gear for warmer conditions; it was not cold there. I was very disappointed because hunting in the snow is a very exciting and fascinating thing for a young Northern California hunter like myself. I was fed up with hunting in the heat and I really thought that Montana in November was going to be my big break. Oh boy, did Montana have a surprise for me. We arrived in the afternoon which gave us plenty of time for an evening hunt. I did not see any animals that night but I did start to get acclimated to what I might be hunting in for the next eight days; rugged mountainous terrain and possibilities for long distance shots, it almost made me wish that I had been practicing with my rifle at much longer distances. I quickly learned why Montana is called the big sky state. I also learned why people always talk so much about moving there, it is simply beautiful.
The next day was cloudy and quite a bit colder. We formed a single file line as we hiked into the public land that we hunted that day. The six of us followed a trail that ran parallel to a creek which led up to a huge valley surrounded by the Madison mountain range. I felt a whole lot smaller as I hiked up into the massive passage ways of mountains. Being nineteen years old, I was a boy amongst men and I had something to prove. I felt that each one of these guys had the utmost respect for me throughout the whole trip, and I intended to keep it exactly that way. The men that surrounded me were all cut from the same cloth, they were all excellent hunters and extremely hardworking and honest. I wanted to show them along with myself that I was cut from that same cloth. Most of the men I was hunting with did not know each other, they were all mutual friends of my father. He had brought them together for one excellent hunting trip that they collaborated to devise, much like a mad scientist conjuring up his greatest creation. I really do think that the most important thing that each of us took from this trip was not the meat we harvested or the antlers on our walls, it was the memories and connections we created with one another as hunters. Joe was the oldest out of all of us. He was the only one of these men who was retired but while on the mountain, he proved age to nothing but a number. I rode with Joe in his truck from Idaho Falls all the way to our camp site on the final day of our drive in. I had never met him before but I felt like I had because of all the great stories my father had about the man; it was almost like I was meeting a character out of a book that I had read so much about. As we rode through the beautiful country, he told me stories about my father that he must had forgotten to tell me in my life, like when they were hunting in Montana and he had mistaken a doe for a grizzly bear. Joe was a tall man who had white hair and a white goatee, his stature and knowledge gave him the presence similar to that of John Wayne.
Each of us went our own ways when we reached the large valley. It seemed impossible to not see any animals that morning with all the ground we were going to have covered. I never really split off from the group, they had just all split off from me. As I journeyed further back into the mountains, it grew colder and quieter. Justin’s voice had come over the radio, “I got a bull down, a nice rag horn”. I thought to myself, ‘wow, he already has a bull down?’. I rejoiced to myself and then thought maybe I would be up to bat next. I had radioed Justin and told him to let me know when he wants me to come help him pack the elk back down to the truck. I had made my way back to a small meadow that felt like the coldest part of Montana. I sat beneath a tree on the edge of the meadow, looking up at a snowy mountain side and a single steep ridge leading up to it almost like a walkway. The meadow I looked over felt like the perfect spot; I was confident that if I stayed up there all day then I would definitely see a few deer traveling through. Not much time passed beneath that tree before I heard something wandering towards me directly from the trail I came from; I looked in that direction and noticed that it was my father. He had not yet noticed me sitting there despite me trying to catch his attention with noises I was making such as “Aye!” or “Psst!”. He looked as if he was sneaking into his secret hunting spot where he sees all the big bucks come through; that is how I immediately knew that I had found a good spot. He had failed to hear my alerts because of the sound of his footsteps suppressing my attempts to give away my position. When my father had finally stopped, he sat down underneath a tree about twenty feet in front of me. I shouted “Dad” and he finally realized that his somewhat secret spot had been discovered by no other than the young man that he taught how to hunt. He ambled back to where I was sitting and took a seat at the base of the tree next to mine. We then sat for about an hour, made some coffee, spoke about how great of a spot it was and how proud we were about Justin’s bull.
We soon agreed that it was time we headed down back towards where Justin had been quartering out his elk. As we came closer to where we thought Justin was, we had captured the sight of a herd of elk heading our way, from the other side of the valley. My father and I immediately jaunted to the best vantage point possible to clearly see the avenue that the valley created. My father got down in a prone shooting position, using his backpack as a rest for his rifle. It amazed me that he seemed to know right where they would come through. He had asked me to range the bottom of the valley. It was around nine-hundred yards; he must of thought it to be a lot closer. I looked at my dad and told him “we gotta move farther down”. He agreed and got up from his position on the ground. I led the way as we jogged down the mountain. We tried our best to remain hidden on the side of the ridge opposite to the position of the elk. My father and I finally made it to a suitable position where we had a clear view of a small opening where we anticipated the elk would run through. During this time everything seemed to be in utter chaos, while at the same time it was ultimate perfection; chatter on the radio commencing about where the elk are, the sound of shots coming from a distance, and the wind that just never seemed to stop blowing. We sat and observed for nearly two or three minutes, however it felt like twenty seconds. We viewed a portion of the valley from a perch that seemed to have been the perfect spot, almost as if this was where we were meant to be. All of the sudden we noticed that the herd of elk were moving through the valley on a route that was far from us; there was no way any of them would pass us at a close enough range to take a shot. For a reason that I cannot explain, we did not mention a word of that to each other. We acted like we did not see them; like they were not what we were hunting. We continued to stare at the opening that was presented to us. A cow elk ran through that spot, then another. My dad asked “How far?”. I had ranged that spot right when we sat down. I quickly replied “two hundred and eighty five yards”, then I ranged again just to be sure. As multiple cow elk ran through, my dad and I had the same thought; we knew a bull would be behind them. As we initially were alerted of elk in the area, he told me “tell me if you see a bull, Ry!”, I figured that went without saying, but right as I saw antlers tear over the cow elk’s trail, I softly spoke “Dad, there’s a bull!”. As I immediately realized the size of this amazing animal, I uttered the words “Big bull, big bull!”. Seconds later, I heard the crack of my dad’s rifle.
I had never watched as my dad hunted and killed a big game animal. Aside from the occasional pheasant, chukar, or snake, every single time throughout my life when an animal has died in the presence of me and my father, it has died at my hands. I am not even sure if I have seen my dad shoot at a big game animal while I was around. The reason for this is because he always lets me get the first shot at an animal; he rather work hard for me to harvest an animal than do so for himself. There is something very fulfilling about successfully taking an animal; there is an unbelievable sense of pride and happiness that cannot be supplemented by any other action in the world. My father and I do a lot of hunting. We are not the average weekend warrior backyard hunters; we hunt a lot and we hunt hard. When my father calls a turkey in for me, sets me up on a buck, or even stands and watches as I chase a pig, this is his way of “passing the torch” along to me. I am not including this commentary to tell you how good I think I am at hunting, or how great of a hunter I think my dad is; I am explaining this relationship to aid you, the reader, in understanding what this hunt meant to me. The moment my dad took his first shot at that bull, I felt the joy that he has always felt for me. This event in my life was a quick change in roles for me. There is no question that my dad worked harder than hell to put himself in the position that he was in, but me being so heavily involved in what led up to us being here gave me a feeling like no other. I really felt like a real man up on that mountain with my father. We both worked hard and were able to achieve a life long goal of my father, and I was able to be such a big part of it.
The bull halted as the cows continued along the trail. We both knew the bull was hit. My father cycled the bolt on his rifle and shot the bull again; he fell to the ground and stomped his hooves. It was clear to us that my dad had just killed the bull of a lifetime. We immediately rose to our feet and began celebrating. We high-fived, and pulled each other in for a hug. We looked back at the bull and saw it laying on the ground still flailing its legs. A moment went by as we admired the dying elk from a distance. I handed my dad the radio knowing that he would have some news for our group. He told the others that he had a big bull down. He told them that he just shot a seven by seven bull. The radio blew up with the voices of our friends congratulating my dad and asking about the bull. The wind continued to push the tall grass back and forth as we walked up to the fallen bull. The gunfire and celebration quickly turned into silence as we descended to my father’s bull. When we finally reached the bull my father and I were speechless. While admiring the beautiful bull, my father picked up the radio and corrected himself “Its a big six by six”. My dad and I admired this bull like it was a newborn child or a classic car that we just put the finishing touches on. It was something that we created, something that we made happen. We could have been anywhere in the world but we were there. My dad then told me “There is nowhere in this world that I would rather be than right here, right now.”
Our four friends came in sight as they walked closer to our makeshift game processing plot. The men all congratulated my dad and we did the same to Justin for his nice bull. We all posed for a picture with the massive animal and celebrated. Justin mentioned that Rich had a bit of a story to tell but then Rich nonchalantly diverted the attention back to my dad’s bull. I wondered what Rich had done, but soon forgot about it and continued to celebrate the bull at hand. We all took inventory of all the meat we had to cut up and pack out; it seemed like we had quite a day ahead of us. Packing out two full grown bulls on our backs was looking to be a difficult task, even with all six of us taking part. When we decided to get started on the task at hand Rich began to explain that there was also a third bull that we were going to pack out. I have described every man in our group so far, aside from our friend Rich; there is a reason for that. Rich is a heck of a guy. If all people had Rich’s sense of kindness and empathy for his fellow man then this world would truly be a better place. There’s a lot that I could say about him and I could tell you all day about how nice he is, or I could just tell you the reason why we had another elk to pack down that mountain.
Soon after we had all begun to split up while making our way up the mountain, Rich had crossed paths with a fellow elk hunter. This hunter was a young man named Alex. This man Alex was by himself up there and did not have much aside from his dead grandfather’s rifle, a knife, and a few bottles of pepsi. Alex had explained to Rich that he had suffered a head injury in Afghanistan, this head injury forced him to forget a lot, including much of what his grandfather had taught him about hunting. Rich and Alex walked up the mountain together while Alex explained the recent loss of his grandfather along with his mission to take down a bull with his grandfather’s rifle. Alex and Rich spoke to one another while keeping an eye out for any elk. Alex explained to Rich how there is a large ranch, neighboring the public land, which makes an unsportsmanlike effort to dissuade the elk herds from crossing on to the public land. That morning the ranch employees must have failed to keep the elk on their land because Alex and Rich’s conversation was interrupted by the massive herd of elk crossing in front of them. Rich quickly grabbed his shooting sticks and shot the biggest bull in sight. Filled with joy, Rich handed his shooting sticks to Alex and excitedly exclaimed “Go get a bull!”. Alex took the sticks and rushed to the best vantage point he could find at the time. Alex hastily put his cross hairs on the biggest bull he could find in the herd and shot. He hit the bull and it fell to the ground. The moment Rich saw Alex take the shot, he noticed that the bull that Alex had just shot was the very same one that he had just shot. Rich then explained to Alex what he believed had just happen and Alex’s heart sank. Alex and Rich walked down to the fallen bull and found two bullet holes in the beast. Alex was immediately apologizing to Rich for what he had done; he was in fear that his new friend would quickly become an enemy but he clearly did not know who he was dealing with. Rich then told Alex that he had better start quartering out his bull. Alex was shocked by Rich’s response to his mistake; any hunter would be. Alex began to tell Rich about all the stories he had heard about incidents like this happening up there; men getting black eyes and broken bones because of mistakes like that. Without hesitation or an ounce of regret or anger, Rich told Alex that accidents happen and he was proud to be a part of his hunt. Alex broke down into tears of joy when Rich affirmed that the bull was his. It was obvious to Rich that this hunt was much more to Alex than just a search for meat to feed his family, it was also a hunt to make his grandfather proud as he looked down on his grandson. This had all taken place moments before my father had taken his bull, but it was very interesting to me how one herd of elk moving through that valley could take part in so many different stories. I believe that this is one of many ways in which hunters are often connected. That same herd could have traveled anywhere in Montana and been a part of another hunter’s great story. It truly is an amazing thing to me. As hunters, we all carry stories; they are a strong part of our culture and they have been present since the beginning of time. The first works of art ever created told stories of hunts. To this day we, as hunters, are still able to convey the same emotions through stories like those our ancestors did. This story is one that shows great adversity, kindness, and selflessness through the brief crossing of the lives of two hunters. I believe that there is not much more I need to say about our friend Rich. He is a one of a kind guy, and a great hunter.
The seven of us spent til dark quartering out the three bulls, and packing them several miles back down to our trucks. We all had filled our backpacks with as much meat as possible and took two trips each. My father had decided that he wanted nothing more than to see his bull on our wall, so we packed out the entire head and cape of the animal. Luckily for us, our new friend Alex had a small game cart in his truck; after retrieving it, we were able to put my father’s head on the cart along with a few pieces of meat that we managed to fit on the cart. There was no doubt that all of us had worked incredibly quickly and hard in getting all of our meat down out of those mountains. We parted ways with Alex and headed back to camp for the night. We were full of pure joy after having such a successful first full day of hunting.
The next morning we woke up to ice and snow. From this point on in our trip, temperatures did not exceed ten degrees Fahrenheit. The coldest I saw it get was negative twenty-one degrees, and take note that these temperatures and not including wind chill. Montana quickly became a very cold place for us, but we had no choice but to embrace the challenge we were faced with. The next few days were fairly uneventful as far as hunting went. We often split up into two different groups and hunted many different places that were accessible near our camp. Although our luck had seemed to fade when compared to our first day, the beauty in the land we saw was remarkable. The Madison River was a sight to behold; the edges were frozen for nearly two yards on each side and the water was more like a Slurpee. Chucks of ice floated down the river creating a nearly solid moving surface. When I was send to fetch water from the river, I had no other choice than to walk out on the ice in order to reach the liquid. Soon I was no longer worrisome about retrieving water because I had realized that the ice I stood on was solid as a rock. The last full day of our trip had finally come and the only thing on my mind was filling my general deer tag along with the doe tag I had bought in town. Because we were unable to see many deer in the spots we had been hunting that week, we had began looking into nearby property owners involved in Montana’s block management program. We had gained permission to hunt for whitetails on a ranch a few towns over from where our camp was. The last morning of our trip, a few of went to the ranch and I was able to fill both my tags on a young buck and a nice doe. I was very much excited to have filled my tags and I did not care one bit about the size of the antlers; I had harvested my first whitetail deer and capitalized on the chance to feed my family along with myself.
For me, hunting is not always about taking home the biggest trophy I can find. To be quite honest, I never really know exactly what I am there for until the adventure unfolds, but by the time my journey is over I always know that I have gained much more than I anticipated. This adventure was very special to me for many reasons; one reason that I have yet to emphasize is that we did this hunt unguided and on public land. Doing a hunt like this is not always going to get a hunter his dream elk, but in this case it did, and it was quite an experience that I am very proud to have been such a big part of.

Brow Tines and Texas Bucks

At the hunt blog we have been busy this season expanding our influence and developing new ways we can connect with hunters through various forms of social media and non traditional forms of hunting related media. The blog is full of hundreds of hunting stories and educational posts from around North America and we are continuing to build our webisode library so that you can enjoy our hunting videos from wherever you may be.

As part of our expansion this season we started developing our instagram hunting photo album to show off some of the pictures of our blog writers. This is a great looking Texas whitetail shot by one of our newest instagram followers Jordan Alker (@jordan_txgirl).

Jordan took this handsome looking buck in Shamrock Texas on a Sunday morning hunt on the Lutie Mesa Ranch.

Jordan and her father had decided to hunt together that morning in hopes of finding a big old deer making his way back to his bedding area. It had been a great sit that morning, Jordan and her father enjoying the sights and sounds as the Texas Ranch slowly came to life. They were just getting ready to call it a morning when something caught their eye.

We all know how quickly this can happen. You can be sitting there enjoying the peace and quiet when a ghost buck appears from out of no where. It wasn’t until the last 10 minutes of their hunt and this guy shows up.

It had been a few years since Jordan had had an opportunity to harvest a good buck and she wasn’t about to let this opportunity pass her by. However when that big deer walks out nerves can sometimes be overwhelming and Jordan took her time to settle her aim and make the shot.

Jordan with her great Texas Buck
Jordan with her great Texas Buck

The aim was true and her gear did its job as Jordan shot him right behind the shoulder blade and dropped him right under the feeder! She was over joyed and why not! This Texas buck has some great length on his brow tines and netted a very respectable 121 inches.

Great brow tines on this Texas buck
Great brow tines on this Texas buck

 

Truth be told however, as Jordan comments in her account of the mornings hunt, her dad was just as excited as she was for shooting it because he got to use his new deer hoist he welded to the Ranger.

Great welding job!
Great welding job!

All and all the last day at the Ranch for Jordan and her father ended up being a very good one indeed!

Thanks for sharing Jordan and we can’t wait to see more of your deer in the future!

This Buck Looked Huge To Me!

Being from Ontario ourselves the hunt blog prostaff and myself are understandably partial to stories about home grown bucks. As evidenced from some of the monsters our prostaff have shot over the years (like this 198 inch monster http://thehuntblog.com/2011/11/15/big-buck-down/ ) I think Ontario has the conditions and gene pool to produce some of the best bucks in North America. The bodies of our big bucks are dwarfed only by the mass of our racks but there is no doubt it takes our deer a few extra years to really start packing on the inches. This big bodied 7 point is a great example of what we have to offer. What this bruiser lacks in inches he more than makes up for in the enthusiasm of the story teller. Thanks for sharing your hunt with us Sara!

 

It was a cold Monday morning and the opening day of my first ever shotgun deer hunt. It seemed like I had been waiting forever for this day to come and with it finally here I could hardly wait. This was also a unique hunt for me as I usually I sit with the others that I hunt with but that day I sat alone. There is no doubt that there is something a little different about your first sit alone. No one to coach you through the shot. No one to help calm your nerves. Just you and nature.

For this hunt I choose to sit in a spot where I had clear view of one of the fields on the property. I like this particular spot as it was also bordered by a small creek which served as an excellent deer funnel. With a clear view of both the field and creek I settled in for the hunt.

There is always a lot of excitement which leads up to a hunt but as the things sometimes go the excitement was quickly diminishing. I was completely numb as this certainly had to be the coldest day of the week. The sun began to sink over the trees and with shooting light fading I was loosing hope!

I was working as hard to stay warm as I was to scan the field. It was around 430 when I heard some rustling, the tell tail sound of approaching hooves. I froze. Somewhat to my disbelief, out walked three does, a big mature momma and her two smaller daughters.

I sat quietly pondering to myselfDo I want to be done the first day with a doe?” I didn’t have to question this for too long as I really had my heart set on a buck. So I let the deer feed out into the field unaware of my presence and waited another ten minutes. As I sat waiting the doe kept stomping her foot and snorting. I thought for sure she smelt me but turns out she sensed a buck walking out.

As the big bodied deer stepped into the field I was shocked by his size. This buck looked huge to me! He was 45 yards from me and I was shaking with adrenaline, I lifted my 20 gauge mossberg three times before I steady my nerves and take aim.

Squeeze the trigger, Bam, I shoot. I hit it, he drops. He tries briefly for a few moments to get back to his feet but it was all over in a matter of seconds as he expired on the spot. By this time it is around 5 and getting dark. I couldn’t help it I was so excited I had to walk up to it and check it out.

Big Bodied Ontario 7 Point
Big Bodied Ontario 7 Point

 

Wow!” I thought, “a seven pointer!”. I was so proud and excited I kept saying “This is the best day of my life!”

As I was waiting for my dad to come out of the bush 4 does come 10 yards from me and simply stood there watching me. It’s like I was a deer goddess! LOL. I hit the buck in the spine and he dropped right in his tracks. It was a perfect hit and he died near instantly. But boy he was heavy to get in the truck!

Big Buck Down!
Big Buck Down!

Thanks again for sharing Sara. Can not wait to hear more of your stories in the years to come. Something tells us you have many more bucks in your future!

– James
thehuntblog.com

The “Wall Hanger”

War Eagle or Roll Tide? Despite being from Ontario Canada I have lots of love for Alabama. My wife went to U of A and my sister in law went to Auburn and both lived in the state for a long time. And that is where this weeks story comes from. It’s a great story about good friends, family, and a “Wall Hanger”. Thanks for sharing Meredith!

 

It was Sunday December 14, and my husband (John Locklear), his younger brother (Michael Pietkiewicz), and our best friend (Tony Caldwell) were all talking about hunting that afternoon. The weather conditions looked perfect and we were all in agreement it looked too good not to go. We live in Lee County, Alabama and my husband has a nice food plot across the street from our house.

We had been tracking several good bucks on trial cameras over the summer and beginning part of the season. We were calculated in our hunting efforts hoping that one day we would be able to say BBD! John and Tony have a keen interest in hunting videography and have been working hard trying to get me on video shooting my first buck. Tony decided that night he would sit with me in hopes I would finally get one. I have been hunting for 7 years now and haven’t found a buck I’d want to shoot. I have always told John that if I am going to shoot a buck, it will be one I will be proud to hang on our wall. It has been an ongoing competition in our house to see who will get the first “Wall Hanger.”

It was 1:30 when we finally reached our stand. We passed the first few hours on stand with me getting lessons on where to shoot if it’s a buck that walks out knowing they are harder to take down. I began searching on the internet for buck pictures so Tony could point where to aim. It was about 3:45 a button buck walked out. Tony and I watched him go up and down the field for about an hour. Throughout that time I could hear movement off to the right of the shooting house we were in. I kept anxiously whispering to Tony, “What is that?” “Just come on out so I can shoot you!”

He laughed and the entire time and I kept thinking in my mind please be a big buck, please!! It began to get to that 30 minute window when you know this is it. I kept watching the minutes tick by thinking, “once again I don’t have a wall hanger.” Then, out to the right in my peripheral vision, I see this huge figure walk by Tony’s face. It was a big bodied deer with what I thought was a smaller 7 point. I grabbed the rifle and put it in the small window to get a closer look.

As I tried to get the deer in focus and analyze his antlers Tony kept whispering “What it is. Doe or a buck?” I adjusted the scope and centred the deer in the crosshairs. At that point I was able to recognize the length of his tines and width of his rack and I whispered to Tony ” It’s a Monster Buck!” As all this was going on, a rhythmic noise was breaking the silence of our blind and I turned to Tony and asked “What is that pounding noise!” It took us about 10 seconds to realize it was the barrel of the gun banging on the window of the shooting house. I was so nervous. I was uncontrollably shaking at what I was looking at. Tony decided to put his hand under the gun so I could use it as a rest. He kept telling me, take a deep breath, and try to stay calm. I said it’s hard when I am looking at something as big as a moose!

I was finally able to steady my hand and said you ready? Because I am going to kill me a buck. BANG! I can’t stop shaking we listen carefully as he runs off and hear him hit a tree. We decide to sit in the stand a bit longer to make sure we don’t get up and push it. At this point I am freaking out, because all I can think of is what if I missed. I had this opportunity and probably blew it.

It is now dark and I keep seeing my phone light up, and I just know John is wondering if I got a buck. I didn’t want to answer my phone because it will light up the entire shooting house and I could hear that there were deer still around us. Tony and I finally got down and went back to the house. We needed to get lights and reinforcements in John and his younger brother Michael.

Sitting at the house we all decided to wait an hour before we began to track it. I was asked 20 questions about the events of the hunt. Where was he when I shot him? Was he looking up? How many points? Where did he run after you shot? Where were you aiming? As I sat at the house for an hour, correction, as I stood pacing back and forth for an hour all I wanted to know was if I got him or not. I felt like I was going to throw up, the anticipation as killing me

John finally finally broke the tension and said alright lets go see if you got yourself a buck. So all 4 of us, lights in hand, walk in to the field to begin looking for blood. John found the first spot and I was so excited I just screamed. We were following his trail tracking spots of blood when John decided to shine his light up the field edge just to see if he bedded anywhere near the edge. As he scanned the field edge he got a glimpse of something white under a tree and yelled “You got him, come look!”

Meredith with her Wall Hanger whitetail
Meredith with her Wall Hanger whitetail

The buck had only made it maybe 20 yards, hit that tree and laid down. We all jumped, screamed, and held each other for a few minutes. I was in shock! I could tell my husband was so proud of me, after all he had introduced me to hunting and the outdoors lifestyle. This hunt was obviously one of my favorite hunts, not only because I got me a great buck; but I got to experience the entire hunt start to finish with my husband, brother-in-law and our best friend. It was this experience that I will remember for a lifetime.

Double Barrel 7 Pointer

Thanks to everyone who has been submitting their stories for the enjoyment of our readers. This story comes from Austin McCoy who took this nice young buck during a shotgun hunt with his brother. It was his first ever buck and I think his last sentence really hits the nail on the head about what hunting means to us here at the hunt blog. Sure lots of big antlers on you wall look cool but it is the excitement of the hunt and the proud feeling that comes with telling our story which keeps us coming back.

 

On Monday December 1, 2014 I woke up around 4:30. Waking up good and early was all part of doing my due diligence as I got my backpack and my gun ready for the mornings hunt.

With the preparation complete I loaded up and headed out the door. It was 6:00 am and a cool crisp December morning. The moon had been hidden by clouds overnight and my brother assured me this would have the deer on their feet and moving.

I knew the trail on this property well which provided me the advantage of moving quietly as I made my way for my spot. It was 6:30 when I reached my destination and got setup. As I waited for the sun to rise with anticipation I took the time to spray some buck lure with hopes a curious downwind deer might come in for a closer inspection.

As the sun finally rose up and crested the tree tops of the bush I felt confident in our preparation and was ready to get a big one.

The day began quietly, as many days had before it. I didn’t see anything all morning and the woods lay still until around 10:15. Suddenly I could hear crunching coming from behind me. I listened carefully and could barely believe it but I was hearing a buck grunting.

The next 15 minutes seemed like an eternity as I patiently awaited the deer to show himself. Then, there he was. I saw this seven point come out of the brush right into the open.

I pulled up my double-barrel shotgun, steadied my aim and pulled the front trigger. My bullet flew true through the cold morning air and struck right through the left shoulder. I watched intently as the deer dropped right where it was standing.

Austin's double barrel 7pt
Austin’s double barrel 7pt

I excitedly called my brother and told him I had got a buck. He came right over and was overjoyed to help me gut and drag the deer out. That day at 12:00 I was unloading my trophy buck. It might not seem big to some people but it’s big to me.

 

It is big to us too Austin! Congratulations again.

– James
thehuntblog.com

Ohio Youth Hunt – Double Down

One of the exciting things about deer hunting is that you never know what or when something is going to step out of the bush. This fact is probably one of the things that keeps the gents around the hunt blog so addicted and keeps us heading back out day after day. When you read this story by Jake from the whitetail mecca Ohio you will no doubt get what I am talking about.

 

It was November 23, which was the last day of youth gun season here in Ohio. We had been out all weekend searching for a mature buck to harvest. Despite a lot of hard work and some long hours on stand, we weren’t seeing anything shootable. Mildly discouraged we went home for lunch around 11:00am to form a game plan for the afternoon.

My dad and I decided that we would go to my grandpa’s farm house and see if he couldn’t run something out to me on a little drive. With full belly’s we packed up our gear and headed to the farm. We had hunted here for many years and having intimate knowledge of the property and deer movement certainly played to our advantage.

I walked back and stood perpendicular to an old railroad with a dry creek bed in front of me. This was a spot I had known the deer to use as an exit trail from years past.

My dad hadn’t even begun to walk into the far end of the bush yet when I glanced up and saw that a yote was walking right toward me. Fawn killers are fair game around these parts and I couldn’t think of anything else to do besides shoot it. I knelt down with my New England in line muzzle loader and shot her 8 yds away and she piled up right on the spot. Pretty cool.

The Canines on Jake's Yote
The Canines on Jake’s Yote

I called my dad and told him what had happened. He was excited that I had bagged the yote but added that after the blast from the gun I probably wouldn’t see any deer now. In any event I reloaded the single shot muzzle loader and got ready. He continued to walk into the bush and no more than a minute later I saw something jump the fence into the field 50 yards in front of me.

I looked through my scope trying to see through the shrubs and little trees which obstructed my view. I strained but I couldn’t see it. All a sudden, he jumped the fence. I immediately recognized the impressive mass on this big buck. He was an old giant that we had been after for 3 years now.

He ran to my left and from less than 10 yds away he started down into the creek. I followed him and shot, dropping him dead in his tracks. I immediately called my dad again and he said “If you shot another coyote I’m gonna be mad!” I excitedly told him it was him! I got him! The big one! He said “No way!”.

Jake with his double in the creek bed.
Jake with his double in the creek bed.

 

Check out the max on this buck.
Check out the mass on this buck.

 

Dad came over crossed the fence and he saw him. We were so happy that we finally harvested this impressive deer! It was by far the best experience I have ever had in my life!

Jake.

Special thanks to Jake for sharing this great story of a father and son hunt. It definitely brings back some memories of some father son hunts with my Dad and it is these memories which will keep our tradition alive for many generations to come. Stay hungry my friends. It is only December 1st and there are many more big bucks still to fall!

James thehuntblog.com