2019 -'20 Season - Big Buck Contest Essays

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2019 -'20 Season - Big Buck Contest Essays

Unread postby hunter_mike » Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:49 am

dan wrote:Start sharing your stories and pictures for the 2018 Big Buck Contest HERE ~ IN THIS THREAD.

**** Please just post your buck stories and pics****
In other words, NO COMMENTS PLEASE!! They will be DELETED!

****As much as we love comments please save those for a different thread / post. That will make things much easier when we all come back here to go thru the posts for VOTING purposes later on****.

After the season, on a date not yet announced, we will invite the 500 club members of this site to vote on whom they feel should win the prizes.....

Voting will be based on the size of the buck, the hardness of the hunt, the hunters ethics, the weapon used, etc...

Please keep that in mind when telling your story. Although big bucks often win, in past years we have seen a young man whom shot a fork horn win, and a button buck shot by a foreigner who traveled all the way across the ocean to hunt our much celebrated whitetails.

So enter every buck you shoot if you like. If you shoot more than one and want to edit your story let me or a Mod know and we can help you with that. All buck deer legally taken are eligible regardless of species ( mule, whitetail, blacktail, etc. )

Good luck to everyone & Congratulations!!

“The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.”
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Re: 2019 -'20 Season - Big Buck Contest Essays

Unread postby BRoth82 » Sat Sep 28, 2019 11:47 am

A little background on where I hunt, I hunt in West central MN, in an area that is ranked the 3rd lowest in deer harvest numbers for the entire state. Bow hunting in MN my goal every year is to not pass up a shot on a legal deer (excluding a fawn in the early season, late season you better watch out). I would love to take a big buck, but to me when I look at a deer all I see is Jerky, Hot dogs, Cheddar Brats and hamburger. Funny story about that I told my kids that the hot dogs they were eating came from the deer I shot, the following year I took a doe and showed my kids the deer hanging in the shed, my daughter (5 years old at the time) looks in the chest cavity and has a puzzled look on her face, when I ask her what’s on her mind she turns to me and says in a serous voice, “Dad I hate to tell you but this but I can’t see any hot dogs anywhere”….

The 1st hunt of the year;
I went out to a public that I hunted last year from the ground and seen 9 does and fawns. I also scouted it this past winter and found some great sign, being this was opening weekend and it’s a long walk back into where you can hunt I figure that the pressure was going to be non-existent and that the deer would be bedded close to the food source ( a corn field on private land). I walked the edge of the field and found 2 really good trails exiting the corn about 40 yards apart, I kept going to a low spot I wanted to check out, but the sign was much better on those other two trails so I back tracked and tucked in behind a cedar tree that split the trails in half.
The wind was blowing towards one of the trails so I would have to shoot quick, in order to get a shot off before they winded me. After sitting for an hour or so I had a big doe come out of the corn field about 100 yards away, she milled around in a low area for a while before I lost sight of her, an hour later I heard foot steps in a low spot that had water in it in front of me. I got ready, after 3-4 minutes and nothing coming by, I decided to slowly peak my head around the cedar tree to see if I could see anything. Just as I peaked around the tree a big doe stepped around the other side of the tree about 12’ away, she took off blowing and snorting. An hour or so before dark I had a small buck come out of the corn on the same trail the first doe took, now after the first doe came out of the corn I contemplated moving in on that trail, but thought maybe it was just a lone deer so I stayed put. He turned and headed my way along the field edge and looked like he’d turn and pass in front of me, but he ended up staying on the edge and passing by me out of range.
The 2nd hunt;
I decide that with my new stand and sticks I just got, that I was going to try my first real beast style sit and try to get within 100 yards of some suspected buck bedding, the wind would be a good cross wind for this little island. On my way down to where I wanted to get to I crossed a pair of good trails with some fresh droppings from that morning, I kept checking the wind and as I got on the downwind side of the trees it really started swirling and blowing straight S instead of W/NW. So, I back tracked and found a place to setup on the ground overlooking the 2 trails with the fresh sign, I tucked in the backside of a clump of buck thorn bushes and waited. The area where I expected the deer to come from was a cedar thicket, I could only see a little bit through the brush, so I’d have to be on my horse to get drawn before they got past me. The wind was howling at 20-25 mph with gusts higher, but it was in my face and keeping the mosquitoes away, so it didn’t bother me. It did make seeing any movement or hearing anything almost impossible.
Around 5:45 I caught some movement that was going the opposite direction the wind was blowing so I knew a deer was headed down the trail, the trail he was on would be a quartering away shot at 18-20 yards. As soon as I saw it was a deer, I grabbed my bow and started to draw, he walked out perfectly and didn’t notice a thing. I settled my pin and touched off the shot, I shoot a blue lighted nock and had no idea where my arrow went, I didn’t see it in flight at all, he trotted out to 35-40 yards with his tail down and turned to look back at what had happened. Now I’ve only shot a handful of deer with my bow and never got a chance at a second arrow, but my thought is if it’s still on its feet and I have arrows left I’m going to send them. I frantically scrambled around to get another arrow out of my quiver and nocked before he tore out of there, luckily, he stayed where he was. Most of his body was covered by the tall grass except the top of his back, I know I rushed this shot thinking he’s going to bolt out of the and I hit him high above the spine. He tore out of the grass ran along the field edge and then I lost sight of him, I waited 15 mins and went over to where he was standing and found a splatter of blood, so I knew I hit him. I decided to try to sneak along the field edge and work back to my truck so I could drop off the stand and get my other pack, we’ll as I was slipping along the edge he jumped up 20 yards away and took off.

Man, now I was really kicking myself knowing it would be much harder to find him, so I marked where I was standing so I could come back to that spot later. While I was sitting in my truck, I sent some pictures of the blood I found to Lockdown and asked what he would do, I agreed with him that I should give the deer a couple hours at the least just to be sure. I headed home to grab a friend to help look for blood and my game cart in case we found him. It was a little over 3 hours from the time I shot when I got back out there to look for my arrow, even with lighted nocks I could find either one, figuring they buried in the grass we moved over to where the buck jumped and ran off. The grass/flowers/thistle he was in was shoulder to head high, we found a couple drops of blood where he entered the grass and started to follow the trail, it was crazy hard to find a drop of blood in that junk, it took us close to 20 mins to go 10 yards. We would find a drop here, then go 10-15 feet and find another drop, at first he was following a faint trail then we came to a point where there was just a wall of shoulder high weeds on all sides, we looked all over and couldn’t find another drop of blood. At this point I knew the direction he went so I headed that way and right on the edge of the tall crap was my arrow, it had some blood and fat on it. The blood looked like muscle blood, when he got out to the shorter green grass he started bleeding more and it was easier to see, we covered 30-40 yards fairly quick, until he headed straight into the tangle of cedar trees. My buddy looked at me and said no I’m not going to crawl through that crap.
I ended up crawling on my hands and knees I would find a pool of blood ever 5-10 feet where he bedded, then after 10-15 yards there he was, he was stiff already, so I figure he died shortly after I jumped him. My first shot hit low and back, taking out part of the stomach, diaphragm and the offside lung, my second shot hit high above the spine. It ended up taking us close to an hour to get him out to the field edge, I was back home with him hanging at 11:30pm, man I was bumped but beat at the same time. When I told my daughter this morning that I found him, she smiled really big and said “Dad you know what that means right? We’re having heart and tenderloins for supper tonight!!!!” (She’s my little meat-eating machine) That right there put a huge smile on my face.

Here’s a picture that shows how the hunt went down,
The blue line – my access route
The lowest orange dot – where I wanted to setup in a tree
Upper orange dot – where I ended up standing behind the buckthorn
Purple circle – suspected buck bedding
Yellow dots – where I found beds in the past and where I think the buck was bedded
Purple line – the bucks travel route
Red dots next to orange dot – Where my shots were taken
Green dot – Where I bumped him
Final red dot – where I found him
Orange arrow – the wind direction
I always try to look back at a hunt and figure out what I could learn from it, here’s my bullet list from this hunt;
1) Slow down and make a good shot
2) If you can’t see where you hit the deer, error on the side of caution and back out for a couple hours
3) You can kill a deer on the ground in an area that has very few deer
4) Don’t walk past good sign, to get to unknown sign
5) Dragging a deer through head high weeds sucks
6) A gut shot deer stinks really bad when gutting, also on that note be careful if it’s bloated when field dressing. There are fluids under pressure and can spray out and cover you in nastiness.
Thank you to everyone here on this forum that shares stories, and helps out it truly is a remarkable group of people, and Thanks to Lockdown for helping me out with beast tactics, offering to come down and help track, I’ve never met you before but consider you a friend.
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It doesn't look that deep..... :o
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Re: 2019 -'20 Season - Big Buck Contest Essays

Unread postby cattailcrusher » Fri Oct 11, 2019 3:48 am

This past Monday afternoon 9/2 I connected on a nice public land buck, this being my second buck, in two sits, in two years utilizing beast tactics.

Ill start out by saying that I found this buck, along with two other really nice bucks, in the end of June by jumping him out of his bed while I was scouting this piece of public. I knew at this point by how much growth he was already showing that he was gonna end up to be something special, at this point the chess match began. So with me already jumping him out of his bed I completely tore this bedding area apart trying to learn it as best I could and finding what I thought would be the tree that I could slip in and kill him from opening day (9/1/2019).

Over the next two months, July and August, I would make the 1.5 hour drive to this piece a couple of times a week to glass him out in the bean field that he was feeding in, and documenting where he would come out into the field, based on what the wind direction and weather was at the time. With what I gained from the observations over the summer was that I was going to need a southerly wind in order to get in and hunt him.

Well fast forward to this past Sunday 9/1, the wind was not cooperating it was a light wind and was very swirly. Looking at the forecast for the next day the wind was predicted to be out of the south/southeast at 10-20 mph, BINGO! So I made the decision, just to sit back and continue to glass that bean field that I watched him feed in all summer and sure enough right before dark he stepped out and started to feed. At the time, that was a weird feeling knowing that I could of possibly had a shot at my target buck that night if I would of moved in for the kill that afternoon, but my gut was telling not to risk with the swirling winds.

Monday 9/2 came along and with it came the stronger south winds that were projected. I knew I had to get there pretty early cause it was going to take me a while to get to my spot and get set up, that being because I had to kayak around a half mile across a slough, and then also had a pretty far walk to my stand. And as others have mentioned before on this site, the last 100 yards to my stand i had to be super quite and go slow because the tree I wanted to get set up in was around 75 yards from the bed that I jumped him out of in June. Well it ended up taking me about 2.5-3 hours to get to my tree and get set up. Here's where things start get interesting, now it is around 4:30 p.m. and I am starting to get everything situated up in the tree. All of sudden I catch some movement out of the corner of my eye, to my disbelief there is my target buck just getting up out of a bed about 75 yards away, I couldn't believe it, all the time I put into watching this deer and there he was 75 yards away standing up out of his bed at 4:30 in the afternoon. I was able to watch him for about a minute before he moved into this thicket about 10 yards away from where I first saw him. I did not see him leave the thicket in any direction so my gut was telling me that he must of just re bedded down in that really thick stuff. At this point I was feeling really good, I knew this buck was really close and I was currently set up between him and the food source that I glassed him in all summer.

Well quite a few hours past and it is now 8:00, at this point I am starting to get worried that he slipped out of that thicket in the opposite direction away from me. In the mean time a decent 10 pointer stands up out in the CRP field about 100 yards away from me and I start to watch that 10 pointer. As I am watching the 10 pointer through my bino's, I catch myself thinking to myself I really need to be paying attention to what is around me, well to my surprise as i am taking my bino's down from my eyes there is my target buck cruising by my stand at what I thought was 30 yards, and he was about to go behind some trees which at that point I would of no longer had a shot at him. So with me being caught off guard and with him about to be out of my shooting lane, I grunted at him with my mouth to stop him, granted at this point I don't even have my bow in my hand yet. So with him stopped staring in my direction, I grab my bow, pull back, put my 30 yard pin on him, and release... I watch my arrow go right over his back. I watch him bound out to 60 yards and stop, and he starts to look around wondering what just happened. In the mean time I get another arrow nocked and I am drawn back, I settle my pin on him and and release... this time I watch my arrow hit home. I watch him take off on a death run for about 50 yards and then I lose track of him. I wait a while and then I get down and start tracking him, I am finding some blood but not as much as I would like. Ended up tracking him about 150 yards and he circled around and I found him laying dead in his bed, in that thicket, that I watched him go into at around 4:30. I couldn't believe it, there he was the buck I put so much time and effort into getting I was finally able to get my hands on him.

I just want to say thank you to all the members on here who freely give out so much good information, if I would not of found this site two years ago I can guarantee I would not of killed theses last two bucks.

I hope everybody here has a great season this year, Good luck!

Here is also a link to the original thread: https://thehuntingbeast.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=51423
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Re: 2019 -'20 Season - Big Buck Contest Essays

Unread postby Manitoba derek » Mon Nov 11, 2019 2:36 pm

Well to start off this story I live and hunt in south east Manitoba. I have always heard my whole life is “there are no big bucks in eastern Manitoba.” And “if ya want a big one you have to go to western Manitoba or Saskatchewan.”
This year was a whole lot of firsts for me this year as completely changed my entire approach to hunting white tale. My first year being truly mobile and trying all kinds of new areas and terrains. My first year hunting from a saddle. My first year completely abandoning my scent control routine. My first year hunting like a beast!! I first found out about Dan and his beast style of hunting in the spring right after I took my spring bear. Everything he talked about was true. Then as hunting season started and I got a new job working in the Arctic at a iron mine on Baffin Island. With only 4 days home a month and a new born at home I thought this season was going to be a wash with 0 time to get out and scout let alone hunt. 2 weeks ago I managed to get out for a day and I blew it. Or so I thought. I decided to check out this over looked section of this big woods public land area. I got 50 yards from the parking down a over grown logging road that everyone just walks past. There was dozens scrapes and rubs and there was one big spruce tree big enuf to set up in. But that day I felt like “ I was to close” and there had to be a better tree deeper in. As I pushed deeper there was no other tree to set up in. Most of the area was clear cut several years ago so they were all around the same small size. With dans words going through my head “you either set up or push past. Never go back!” I called the area burned and just spent the rest of the evening scouting the area around to try and find out where the buck laying this sign would be bedding. Then I got shipped away to work once again thinking all the info I got would be good for next year. It by the time I got back from my 3 week shift everything would be different. Gotta hunt the hot sign well hot sign is hot right. Then the great news hit. Some issue between the mine I worked for and the government. Project was shut down early and we all got sent home after only 1 week out. By the time I get home I only had 2 days of archery season left to make something happen. Friday over night we got snow. I went out and got into my saddle in the one tree in that over looked spot big enuf to sit. After a all day sit at 4:15 pm I couldn’t hear a really nice basket buck coming in. I noticed him when he was 10 yards away smelling my ground scent. He would of been my biggest dear to date but I rushed to get my bow and made a noise grabbing it. He looked up at me and we locked eyes. Me being the dummy I am didn’t close my eyes or look away and he spooked. Didn’t blow out but just bound away. I thought it was over and I blew my chance. 15 min later I heard some crunching. I thought Mby I was gunna get a second chance at him. I let a grunt out watching where I heard the noise. Then I caught a glimpse of movement over my left shoulder. I turned my head and there walking was this stud. I spun around drew back , stopped him with a bleat and let one fly. Shot looked good. I backed out and went to get my brother in-law with our truck. We came back and blood looked good. We tracked it and to our surprise he wasn’t down within 100 yards. We still had good blood on the fresh snow and scared of it snowing more over night we tracked and pushed that buck about a mile. After the sky cleared and we were positive snow was not in the future we backed out for the night. I came back at first light and continued tracking him. I got nervous as the blood was down to a drip every 8’-10’ but it was still dripping. At this point he had lost a lot of blood and it was still dripping. So I pushed on tracking him another km back through a frozen swamp where I finally found him piled up 17 hours after the initial shot. I stood there in disbelief in the raw size of this beast. After a 3 hour drag to a trail I could drive down to pick him up all I could think about was how many thing came together in order for this amazing buck to come together for me. From weather conditions to just being able to be home for this. I am truly great full for this animal.
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Re: 2019 -'20 Season - Big Buck Contest Essays

Unread postby Matt Gill » Wed Nov 13, 2019 2:13 pm

This is gonna be a long one but a good one!
11-10-19. SW wind. Mid 30 in the morning high of 60 in the afternoon. Hunting with my buddy from work. This is about 3,000 acres of privately owned land that is just like public, kind of like the AEP land is in Ohio. This is my third hunt in this area this. In my last two journal entries when I hunted there I just called it Ohio public for the sake of the long wonder details of how it all works and Obviously not gonna name the area bc it already gets hammered by locals and a lot of out of Towners, like me! :lol: There were 4 of us total in our group hunting yesterday. All the other guys hunt there old trusty ladder stands regardless of wind direction and such. They think I’m crazy for going hang and hunts everyday. To start the morning I went to a big section of hardwoods that is straight up hill to access unless you use an atv. Driving over to meet my buddy at his barn I actually had a what I’m guessing to be a 130” very wide buck cross the highway in front of me headed for the section I was gonna hunt. Told them I saw a good one and maybe I would catch him way back on the ridge I was going to. We left the barn and I made the steep access to my area. Picked a tree on a long narrow thicker ridge top with my wind dumping over the back. We always just does off this ridge shotgun hunting and I assumed it would be a good place to catch one cruising. About 7:15 I kept hearing something behind me and every time I’d look, nothing, finally I go to stand up and just watch behind me and when I stand and turn there’s the nice buck I saw crossing the road standing 30 yds away in the brush staring me down! Our eyes meet and he hops off the back of the ridge. I was frustrated to say the least. He was only deer I saw that morning. The other 3 guys saw a small bucks and a few does. We came out, got lunch and everybody told me what ladder stand they’d be hunting that evening. I decided to go to a new area where it is also steep access and hunt the leeward side. One of my buddies was going to ride a atv to the base of the steep hill and hunt one of the ladder stands so I caught a ride with him and then made the 400 yd trek up and over the top. This area is extremely thick where it has been logged in years past. There’s a ladder stand not very far at all from where I was planning on hunting but guys from up north only use it in shotgun. Picked a cherry tree about 25 yds from it and hung my stand. It had been windy all day but the wind finally laid down about 3. At 4 a smaller 8 chased a doe right under me and over the top. I text the buddy who was hunting the front side and let him know. About 15 minutes later I see more chasing in front about 60 yds away, just seeing glimpses of deer here and there. Thought to myself I’m sure it’s the same two but better stand up and get my bow in hand just Incase. Where I was set up is just a small opening in all the green briers and none of my shots were gonna be over 25. Two does bust out of the thick right into my main opening, followed by a deferent smaller 8 and a 6. Then I hear a long loud grunt and see a nice 8 headed for the opening. I decide he’s a shooter and draw. When he got in the opening he was moving fast and I gave him 2-3 short meehhs but it didn’t stop him so I said hey loud enough to stop him. He stops, I settle the 20 yds pin and shoot. Perfect pass through, through the back of lungs/diaphragm area! He runs off the ridge over into the thick nasty stuff. Text my buddies to let them know, quietly slip down and mark blood at the impact spot, and back out. By now it’s about 5 and I’m just waiting up on top so as not to disturb my buddy who is hunting the bottom. He then text a pic of a dead buck and says he got one too! He loads his up and we all meet at the barn to regroup and get lights, drag rope etc to recover mine. Mine went about 150 yds straight down hill. Was an awesome blood trail and a better shot then I had first thought.

What an awesome day in the woods with awesome friends. Very special to double up like that. One of the other guys also saw a shooter that evening but never got a clear shot in the brush. Guess I will be a full time driver/pusher now when Ohio shotgun gets here!

It truly is amazing the friendships hunting can create


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Re: 2019 -'20 Season - Big Buck Contest Essays

Unread postby TANGS » Thu Nov 14, 2019 4:05 am

This season ended with every bow hunters dream come true - detail heavy but enjoy!

This story starts 3 years ago - my parents live on 6 acres next to a decent sized piece of public land in Central Minnesota. My dad always has a camera up in the yard and this buck showed up in 2017 as a 130"ish 10 pointer. Last year in 2018, he showed up as a 160-170" 12 pointer. He only was in our yard once or twice in the middle of the night. At that point, I hadn't quite adopted the Beast philosophies on how mature bucks live and how to track him down. I didn't hunt him real hard, especially after about November 8 when he showed up with one side snapped off just above the brow tine. (That also earned him the name Uncle Cracker courtesy of my Dad and Uncle :D )

At the end of last season and leading up to this season is when I really seriously started listening to Dan and studying up on the hunting beast philosophies. With renewed ambition I set out to kill a mature buck off of public land. Over the course of the summer, I did a lot of scouting for this buck in particular knowing that he would be a once in a lifetime. Early in the summer I saw a buck that I believed to be him just one time when I was driving around in the evening but he wasn't grown out enough to know for sure... I never saw or heard anything else about this buck until October 7 when a trail camera photo of him started circulating from about 4 miles away on private ground. At this point I'm just jumping around different tracts of public ground and trying to figure out how exactly to apply the beast tactics to my own situation. Being in my last year of college I was hunting every chance I could get, usually 3-5 hunts a week... In the mean time I passed on several little bucks and had a close call on a 130"ish buck that just didn't quite give me a shot.

Fast forward to October 19, he finally showed up by us in the middle of the night. At this point, I knew he was around the area again and it was GO TIME. I went back into the state land on a few hunting/scouting missions. I was pretty impressed with the overall buck sign but hadn't been seeing any deer. On my third attempt (October 27) I had a wind and a cold front that I liked. With all of the information that I gathered, I had pretty much narrowed my search down to one heavily wooded patch that I figured didn't get hunted very hard. I put on my hip boots, took the slough edge, and hiked my way in there that evening. Once I hit the woods I realized why nobody hunts it - it was the thickest jungle of buck thorn and fallen over trees that I'd ever seen. I pushed through that knowing that it had to open up somewhere, and once it did I ran into some awesome and very fresh sign. I followed sign until I came across a rub on about a 6 inch tree and a freshly worked scrape with a big buck track right in the center. Seeing the trails wrap around a flooded area before heading back into the buck thorn jungle, I set up with my scent blowing into the flooded out area. That night I saw more deer than I'd seen in weeks, I had 9 does all come right past my tree within 30 yards. No bucks.

My next opportunity to hunt was the following Friday (November 1st) when I didn't have class... The wind was the same and I had a good feeling about that same tree after seeing the buck sign and the doe presence for this time of year. I packed a lunch and planned to sit all day (hiking through that stuff once a day is enough for me :lol: ) I showed up at the parking spot nearly 2 hours before shooting light so I could get in and find my way through the jungle. I ended up getting turned around several times and kind of lost and it took me over an hour before I finally found my way to the tree. I took my heavier clothes off and set my stand in my soaking wet T-shirt literally steaming :lol: By time I had that set and pulled my bow up it was only about 10 minutes to shooting light. Right away a doe and 2 fawns came from the south and stopped in the natural alley to browse on some of the green. They just hung out at about 30 yards for about 15 minutes and then finally I could hear footsteps in the leaves to the north. I was watching intently and finally caught one glimpse of a big buck moving through an opening at about 80 yards in between all of the buck thorn - he immediately registered as being a shooter but I couldn't tell how big he was. He followed the trail straight at me and I knew it was gonna happen. He closed the distance to about 20 and stopped right in the edge of the thick. He stood there for 5ish minutes and I still couldn't tell which buck this was. Luckily that gave me plenty of time to calm down and get myself under control. He finally stepped out and that's when I realized it was Uncle Cracker... He was on a trail that angled to me and by my stand at 10 yards so I had to wait until he was right by me to draw. At this point it happened so fast I didn't get a chance to start shaking. I watched his eye until it was past me enough to draw - I pulled my bow back and my heart dropped.... There was zero wind that morning and he must have heard my jacket rustle just a bit when I drew back, he startled just a bit and turned straight away from me walking the other direction. Luckily the does were far enough off that they just stood there looking at him and he had no idea what that was. Also, I had pre-ranged every single tree around me, he got to my 40 mark which was the longest shot that I'd take and he turned to the left giving me a quartering away shot. I made a noise to stop him, settled the pin, and squeezed off the shot. When I shot my lighted nock didn't turn on so I couldn't see my arrow, however I heard it hit and he took off crashing through all of the thick brush. I took that as a good sign but really had no idea what kind of shot I just made.

Also, I can't forget the part of the story when the 6 pointer came down the trail 10 minutes later and busted me because I was still shaking like a leaf. :lol: So I gave it some time and texted all of my family. Everybody was pretty much following along with this buck and some of them had history with him as well (pictures from 4 miles away was off of my uncles camera and they had photos the year before as well after he snapped his side off). My dad, 3 of my uncles, my cousin, and my brothers all said that they would sneak out of work so they could come help... I packed my stand out and looked around where he was standing. I found some good blood only about 15 yards from where he stood when I took the shot. At that point I was pretty confident that I made a good shot. I headed back to the house and waited until noon when everybody finally assembled. We went back out there, hit the blood trail, and marched it down 75 yards from where I took the shot and found him laying dead. Turned out to be a quartering away heart shot.

There haven't been many times where I've been left speechless but this was one of them. I know how blessed I am to kill a buck like that and having my family there with me made it so much more special... Thanks for reading - and also big shout out to the hunting beast for teaching me so much about hunting mature bucks and giving me the drive to bust my but and refine everything I thought I knew about hunting whitetails. I know this wouldn't have happened if I was hunting with my old techniques!

Also it was pretty cool when we found out that we all guessed his score way low :lol: We had all guessed around 190 +- and he ended up being 214 4/8 gross.... What a dream come true!
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Re: 2019 -'20 Season - Big Buck Contest Essays

Unread postby vovamir » Sat Nov 16, 2019 3:35 am

Version of this was posted to FB last night in case some have seen it.

I learned to hunt through trials, failures, books, and the teachings from this forum. I truly appreciate everything Dan and the rest of you have done for hunters like me who did not get brought up with hunting and have had to figure it out on our own. I now have 5 seasons under my belt. I've always been successful and proud of my kills, but this year I finally managed to put down a deer I've had years of history with. A truly mature deer. One with the most intense palmation I've ever seen and so much character that I couldn't help but share the story and photos with the people that helped me get this far.

Cell phone pictures don't do this animal justice. His rack is truly unique and he is built like a horse. I've been chasing this buck for 2+ years with trail cams and scouting and finally got an opportunity at him last night. It appears the right side of his rack changed a bit from 2018, but the left stayed generally the same. Last year his sides matched, whereas this year the right size is even more palmated, but without the sticker and a bit smaller. The gnarly eye gouger from the base of his antler is also super cool.

I had very limited time to hunt this year due to work demands. I missed all of archery season only managing to get out on a few short scouting/trail cam runs. After a half day at work on Nov 14th I snuck out and got my mobile stand setup by 2pm giving me about 3 hours of light. I only had a few more days open in my schedule to hunt this season so after two short hunts on the outskirts of this bucks assumed bedding area/territory I decided to throw caution to the wind and dive into the heart of it. I promised myself not to shoot anything other than an exceptional deer so I wasn't too concerned about the drag out at the time.

I've been scouting this highly pressured SE Manitoba public forest for years. There has always been high deer activity/sign in the area, but a 2018 logging operation clear cut a large swath of the forest I hunted. After a short session of cursing and panic continued scouting revealed that the clearcut actually concentrated the deer movement/bedding to a narrow strip of forest between a marshy creek and the clear cut. There were several other strips of forest branching off the one I was in leading through the clear cut. The edges along the marsh and between the clear cut and the forest were thick and often had standing water where the deer loved to bed. In between the two thick edges was a relatively open strip of pines that the deer felt safe moving through. I figured bucks would be bedded along the strip and would likely be cruising through it looking for does this time of year. I've even got a photo of this buck bedded in front of a camera I ran June-Oct and several photos of him moving about during day light in nearby areas. I knew he felt safe here. I positioned myself with the wind to my face on the edge closest to the clear cut. In front of me were several shooting lanes through the pines with a good view of the marsh. Behind me was a large section of shallow frozen standing water. Based on tracks in the snow I knew deer avoided this area as they would break through the 1" of ice allowing me not to worry about things sneaking around downwind of me.

Forty five minutes into my sit I spotted a big bodied deer moving away from me through the trees. I believe he got up from a nearby bed that was just outside my field of view. I quickly gave him a grunt, but he ignored that and walked out of sight. I then rattled at him (which I've never had much success with and generally avoid) and I immediately saw him charging towards me through the trees. I have never seen an aggressive reaction like that to a rattle bag. That alone made the hunt worth it. The second I stopped rattling to get my rifle into position (of course he came in on my right which is awkward AF for me) he stopped moving. I couldn't see him. After a few minutes I grunted again. After another 5 minutes I saw him slowly walking away again. A short rattle turned him back towards me. I panicked and tried to get into position and he stopped again as soon as the rattling stopped. All I could see was his giant . At this point I decided to stay in a semi-shooting position while ratting with my left hand against my lap. This worked and he finally took enough small slow careful steps towards me to come into a clearing. This is when I realized he was the deer I've been seeing all this time on my trail cameras. I did everything I could to calm myself down before taking the shot, but my heart was racing and my left leg was shaking.

After getting down from the stand I instantly found the best blood trail one could ask for and he wasn't far off.

After a few photos I field dressed him and began the longest and hardest drag I've ever endured over the thickest and most gnarly terrain with the biggest deer i've ever harvested. There was no place I would have rather been. After getting to the truck for the first time ever I had issues loading a deer into the bed by myself. Normally I grab them by the antlers and drag them up. This time it took 30 minutes of trail, error, a bit of cursing, and various rope contraptions. I don't know if I was exhausted from the drag or just getting old!
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Re: 2019 -'20 Season - Big Buck Contest Essays

Unread postby Matt6506 » Sun Nov 17, 2019 12:33 am

After a trying season of not seeing a buck from the stand in october I was able to fill my ohio buck tag on 11-13-19 with my biggest buck to date. I live and hunt in the hills of southeastern ohio. I mostly hunted public through october and had no luck with the bedding areas I had scouted the previous spring. Going into rut I knew that my time to hunt would be limited until the week of the 11th which in past years was on fire with rut activity. On the morning of the 13th I decided to hunt an east west running ridge along the leeward side planning for cruising. I was in the stand for an hour when I spotted a tall tank of a buck headed my way. I was able to stop him from a trot at 35yds when I let the arrow fly and saw it hit its mark. Initially my first thought was "dead deer, I center punched him." However not being able to find my arrow and little blood had me second guessing my shot placement. I decided it was best to wait so called me dad to see if he could give me a hand. My dad was able to leave work at noon and arrived to help me track by 1:00pm. All I have to say is that I was thankful for the fresh snow , we followed the bucks running tracks for roughly 50yds before we finally found some decent blood as the buck began to descend the ridge into a thick nasty cove. Luckily we found my buck laying along a log in the bottom of the cove. After field dressing it was discovered that the buck was more quartering toward me at the shot than I had originally thought which created a one lung, liver hit. In hindsight I should have hugged the shoulder more with my shot. I'm thankful for this buck and for my dad and his tracking skills that saved the day. I am truely blessed



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Re: 2019 -'20 Season - Big Buck Contest Essays

Unread postby Mutt » Sun Nov 17, 2019 8:07 pm

I have been hunting a state forest area for the past 10 years. 6 years ago my wife and I bought a house that borders that state forest, I can now walk out my back door, through the backyard, and into the woods I have gotten to know so well. This state forest is right on Lake Michigan, and is a forest that has grown on the ancient sand dunes from the lake. This creates approximately 15 small ridges that are sometimes 5ft wide to sometimes 30ft wide. These ridges rise anywhere from 2ft to 10ft above the sloughs that run parallel and between all of these ridges. All running a general NE to SW orientation. (imagine and old fashion washboard with a forest grown over it) The low areas between the ridges are normally filled with water, sometimes a couple inches deep and sometimes its waist deep. (We have gotten so much rain this year the sloughs have averaged knee to thigh deep)

Because of this unusual terrain most of the deer sign follows the ridge lines. This generally means I am pick 1 or 2 ridges that I believe the deer are going to travel and set up being able to cover 1 ridge with limited shot opertunities to a second ridge.

3 years ago I was out late season hunting(muzzleloader)/scouting and came across a buck bed in the swamp that runs from behind my house about 1/2 mile to the north. This is an area where the ridges only rise maybe 2 ft above the sloughs and the sloughs are generally pretty wide in the area(20 to 30yards). I had never heard of the hunting beast at that time, and knew nothing of beast tactics. I knew it was a buck bed from the rub on the tree the the bed was right under, and the rub was huge. That bed was only about 150yards from a gravel bike trail that runs through the state forest and maybe 250yards from the parking area at the bike trail and highway that runs the length of the forest. It was a good spot for a bed, as the predominant winds generally were blowing scent from the road and parking lot to the bed, when it wasnt I garuntee he could here anyone closing car or truck doors and would know someone is there. I scouted some possible ways to hunt the area the bed was in, but it was a tuff area.
I attempted hunting that area several times each year since finding that bed with no success. I had seen a nice dark antler old buck on my way to work 1 morning crossing the road and b lining for that bedding area, so I knew there was a good deer using ithe bed or at least that area to bed, but never saw 1 while hunting it.
I tried wading down the slough to get within 50yards of the bed, hauling in my fleet farm special hang on and 4ft long interconnecting sticks(I'm a dad with 3 little kids. I love to hunt, and fish, and cant afford the cost of the gear specially suited for these tactics, but make due with what I have and am able to afford). I dont think it's possible to set that stuff up without clicking or clanking something. Not to mention the ratchet straps to secure it to a tree. So I wasnt to surprised that the only encounter I got in 3 years was 5 or 6 does that moved through and crossed the slough in front of me. I knew time would eventually favor me when all conditions fell into place, but after 3 hunts trying to beast style that bed this year I was thinking it was worn out for the year. I tried walking the bike path in from a parking lot 1.5miles away so I could slip in a back way the deer isnt expecting, I only hunted when the wind was right for me to get in undetected( wind in this state forest has a mind of it's own. I dont know if its water thermals, something to do with the ridges that change or funnel wind direction, or some effect Lake Michigan plays with the wind. The weather app(even the flag in The neighbors yard agrees)can tell me I have a Ssw wind which is great and when I get in the woods the wind is blowing NW. It swirls all the time and is just generally unpredictable)

A couple days after concluding I had burnt that bed for the year we got a good north wind and I decided to try hunting that area 1 more time. Accept this time I would come from my backyard and walk toward the bed area. I knew there were some small ridges a couple hundred yards from that bed and thought those may be good secondary bedding areas if the main 1 is blown. This time I was taking my climber.(I call it beast hunting when I use my climber cuz only a beast would have something like this. It's a rivers edge sit and climb, steel stand, that I covered with neoprene from some old waders and hockey tape to silence it(no more clicks or clanks on this thing). Its a Frankenstien stand, but it works, I have been able to make it quiet and it's in my budget.) I was set up about 1200 on November 10th and was sitting till close. I decided to try rattling/grunting/bleating to see if anything would show interest. Nothing all afternoon. I remember checking the time when there was about 20min of shooting time left and as soon as I looked up after saw a deer coming from the direction of that buck bed area.( I'm at least 200yards from that area but it's at least coming from that direction.) It had to cross about 30yards of thin ice on the slough to get to the ridges I was covering, and he was coming just how I planned a deer might. He hit the ridge and was heading for an opening I had at about 20yards so I drew and got ready. He never slowed at the opening(i tried a mouth bleet and he just kept going) I thought he probably had come looking for the rattling he heard during the afternoon just to check his territory and after seeing nothing was just gonna head back down the ridge away from me. I figured i had nothing to loose so I snort wheezed at him and then made some mouth grunts(burps) He stopped and I saw him lay back his ears. I snort wheezed again and he turned back. He crossed the slough about 30yards in front of me(no shot, cedars and branches in the way). He got on the ridge I was on and was coming right at me. About 15yards out he stopped and pawed the ground and made is show.(still no shot) he started to move at me more and was gonna hit the opening I had at 7yards. He was moving downwind looking for this challenger, but was gonna pass right under me and end up downwind of me if I didnt get him at the 7yard hole. Its getting darker(hindsight it was overcast from the coming weather), but still 15min or 10 min till close. I drew for the shot and as he stepped into the hole I closed 1 eye to focus through the peep. It was to dark to pick a spot, I went back to both eyes open and ensured I was on the body and the front half. I closed my eye again and thought I could see the front leg and shoulder and picked the seem and released. Shot sounded good, deer bolted over 1 ridge then paused. I was grabing another arrow, I felt I got a good shot, but maybe he thought it was a buck that got him and I'm not against using another arrow if it kills him quicker. I snort wheezed again and he crashed through the original icy slough he crossed to get to me bolting away. I didnt hear him keep going and was starting to think the crashing was him going down in the slough not him running away.

I climbed down and just wanted to check my arrow to secure my thought of a good shot. I couldnt find my arrow. I didnt see that as a big concern as it was a fairly steep angle on the shot, maybe I didnt have a pass through. Texted a buddy who likes to help me track and drag and told him to meet me in 1hr so we could go track. We found blood right away in the ridge where he paused, but nothing in the area of the shot. No big deal, if I didnt get pass through it might take a bit for the blood to start.( at this time it started to snow) we tracked it across the slough and onto the ridge the buck bed is on. It was slow going the snow was so heavy it was covering all the sign.(30% chance of snow with no accumulation. Was the forcast) we mad it 150yards and he crossed an area of private. I decided to back out thinking if he beds I will easily find him the next day after the snow and no point risking pushing him.(plus the wife was rolling her eyes that I might be gone trailing a deer all night, she needed my help with the kids to get things taken care of at home)
When we got back out to my buddies truck on the road another truck stopped and asked if either of us hit 1. I told him I did and he proceeded to tell us he saw it 10min ago in the creek up the road on private looking real wobbly. That spot was 800yards from the shot site, but I thought maybe I only got 1 lung and it could make it that far in that case. We drove up the road to look but saw nothing.
The next morning I had to take the kids to school, but then was free to go look for my deer. My dad was gonna help so i stopped and got permission to search the private land where the deer was spoted in the creek. We walked the creek first, thinking if it was wobbly it was probly gonna bed nearby and hopefully die. We found no sign in the new 1inch of snow on the ground, no blood, no beds with blood, nothing. We geid searched the whole area and found nothing. So we decided to go back to last blood and tey to search following that route. Grid searched that area too and found nothing new. I spent all day till I had to go get the kids searching and came up empty. I was dumbfounded. I felt so good about the shot I couldnt believe I had botched it, but accepted I must have. 2 day later I had a vacation day and spent the entire afternoon wondering the ridges behind my house looking for any kind of sign of the deer and nothing. I figure it was a loss, maybe it was just a flesh wound, I dono but I couldnt find any sign of that deer and there wasnt much left I could do.
So today I drove up to the cabin to get my gun hunting spot ready and I got a message from my buddy who helped me look saying he found my buck. He sent me a screen shot from someones snapchat who found a deer while walking his dog and scouting for gun season. I knew the guy too and asked if he could tell me where it was and I was gonna salvage whatever I could. He told me he would show me when I got back home. So we met up tonight and walked in and sure enough it was my buck. The coyotes had found it and got the rear end and guts, but the front down to the ribs was untouched.. so I cleaned it up a bit and brought it home and tagged it

I'm so relieved to have it found. Im disappointed in the loss of meat, but I just have to make the best of it. I couldnt find any sign of the hit while looking at it tonight. Could have been low liver or the guts as that area was kinda destroyed by varmits. It was about 580 yards from the shot site and 1/2mile from the creek it was spotted at. We think the coyotes could have kicked him outa the creek and cought him and killed him back on the spot he was found it on if he didnt die from the shot I made.

I'm again just so happy to get the buck and now feel better about sharing the story
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Re: 2019 -'20 Season - Big Buck Contest Essays

Unread postby Dpierce72 » Fri Nov 22, 2019 2:56 am

A Brief Departure and Lesson Learned

After spending the last year and a half not stepping onto my buddies’ private farm (because of a personal goal …er obsession, to get it done on public), and hunting purely solo, I decided to hunt with the old group opening weekend of Arkansas gun deer season. And one question in particular was on my mind …Why was opening day so special, when many of us have already been hunting for 6 weeks?

While this is a farm I know really well and had cut my teeth on, I hadn’t been there in over a year, so my strategy going in was as follows:

• Ask where everyone else planned to hunt the following morning
• Review maps/wind and ask ‘where hasn’t anyone been in a while’

Armed with the answers to my questions, and much to my surprise, the area that jumped out to me was a spot right behind the hunting camp we affectionately referred to as ‘the Hangover Stand’, for reasons you can probably imagine. However, given our “age of maturity” …lol …cough, cough …and disappointing results from this area, it’s rarely hunted anymore.

As I slipped into the woods under grey-light conditions, I knew where the old ‘Hangover Stand’ was, but I planned to use my saddle in close proximity to the stand, not the stand itself. However, I needed some time to think through the exact tree, so I climbed up the ladder stand to sit …and think. As I did so, I was reminded why I love a mobile setup, whether my old Lone Wolf, or now, my Mantis. Because I’m in control of every decision …on every hunt. Yet now, here I was, putting my success into the hands of a decision we made 2 decades earlier that had not proven out over time. As I sat there, two questions came to mind…

• Why hadn’t this stand produced a mature buck but one time in the last two decades?
• And yet, why, out of 1,000 acres, did I choose this spot given such low odds?

I couldn’t seem to get that thought out of my mind…

As I sat there pondering the layout of the area, in a spot I had hunted a few times over the years, a doe and yearling passed by around 7:30AM and I thought ‘hey …maybe I’m okay sitting here’.

As time passed, I could not help but notice a drainage to my south (and there was a strong south wind) that had never spoken to me in quite the same way. As it dropped into a deep holler, I began to envision the deer coming out of this drainage on the south side of me (which was too thick to easily see through), putting his nose into the wind, and walking the narrow white oak flat that was pinched between a field and the bluff, directly away from me.

The more I envisioned this, the more I became convinced it was going to happen. So, my plan was born! I climbed down quietly and slowly (already wearing my saddle), and moved east, ever so slightly up the drainage, and south by about 75 yards. All the while dropping milkweed and being careful for my wind not to hit the drainage itself, but to blow by and over its upper end close to the field and significantly east of where I envisioned the deer coming from. I picked out a nice white oak, that was part of a team, which had the ground littered with big acorns.

As I put on my spikes, climbed and settled in, I looked back toward the stand from where I came. While only 75 yards away, I could only the lose end of a red, replacement cam strap, which had not been carefully tucked away, blowing in the wind. The stand itself seemed invisible.

By now it was around 8:30AM and I settled in for the morning. My plan was to sit until 2PM, so time to get comfortable…

As I sat the next 90 minutes, I did not see many squirrels, and the rubs I could glass seemed old and I began to fear

• Have the deer fed this area out (contrary to what I saw on the ground)?

• Have they moved on?

And as I pondered BOTH of those questions, I was reminded that a hunters worst enemy (or one of them) is between his or her ears – DOUBT!

• Doubt will cause you to get down and move when you shouldn’t. But…
• Doubt might also cause you to get down and move when you should.

Just as doubt had worked for me to leave the Hangover Stand itself, it was now causing me to second guess what I believed was a well-thought-out strategy.

Doubt can be good and doubt can be bad. Determining between the two can be excruciating part of the process if you are NOT content to ‘sit and wait’. As they say …HOPE is not a strategy!

As time passed, I began to reflect on so many memories of ‘opening days’ and continued to wonder, again, Why was opening day so special, when many of us have already been hunting for 6 weeks?

And it hit me …there is just something special about a day that unites so many outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen, under the banner of friendship, true stories, lies, jokes, legendary tales, food, bonfires, and good times. With a secondary benefit (to me) of free-range organic deer meat!

As my mind was wandering to memories past and opening day kills (and near misses), the distinct snap happened to the SW and as quickly as the woods were silent, at 10:36AM, he was there. As I reached for my binoculars to check if he was a ‘shooter’, I determined there would not be time based on his pace and the cover he was headed toward. I slowly reached for the gun to take a closer look, just as his head turned, plainly, I could see the rack extend well beyond the years, assessed ~10 points and decided he was indeed a ‘shooter’. As time was fleeting and he was about to ease out of my visibility, I found the mark, shot, and observed the ‘donkey kick’. He wouldn’t be far, I thought, and he wasn’t!

And as awesome as it was to build a strategy that proved successful, in an area that had so many times failed in the past, the more important part of the morning is that I realized this…

After being so committed to hunting alone on public land for the past 18 months, I longed for and missed the comradery of my friends. We spent two days laughing, reminiscing over stories of long ago (retelling many as if it were the first time they’d been told), wondering how we’d aged the way we had, catching up on our kids and how we hoped they didn’t make some of the mistakes we made, but most importantly, just being grateful to know one another!

And that answered my question about opening day…

Opening Day isn’t really about the deer after all!

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