With another buck tag in his pocket, Mike headed back to Oklahoma to see if he could knock down another mature deer. The cell cameras were still showing good movement on the property we had already struck twice on. After New Years, him and ‘JP’ headed south for another go at it. The first evening sit would be all they would need to make it happen. The deer started moving early and several bucks were on their feet. It didn’t take long before the buck they were after, “Mendoza” would make his way into bow range. Mike sent an arrow out of the Ox5 blind and it found its’ mark. 2 great bucks in Oklahoma to top off the season for Mike.
Wisconsin was a bust this fall for Chad, so he wanted to take a stab at North Dakota late season and try to turn his season around. A trip before Christmas left Chad with high hopes on a return trip. After the holidays were over, Chad and his wife Heather headed back to north for round 2. It didn’t take long and Chad was full draw in a Barronett Blind with his pin steadied on the vitals. After a long season, there is nothing like ending it on a high note and that is exactly what Chad did!
Ryan and Dylan have spent the past week up at our North Dakota deer camp, “Dinkota”. The weather has been cold, but not the type of cold that North Dakota usually dishes out this time of year. With a couple good bucks on camera, the boys stayed persistent in hunting the winds when they allowed for it. 2 nights prior, “Muley” made an appearance but coyotes had the deer herd on high alert and the giant buck never came into bow range. The encounter was enough to get the guys fired up, this would be one of the best bucks we as a crew have had the opportunity to chase in North Dakota over the years. Cold weather moved in, snow started flying, and the wind was good to try him again. Well before dusk, “Muley” began making his way across the plains along with several other deer. Ryan 10 ringed him at 20 steps and the rest is history, Ryan’s largest buck to date and he is a stud!
After knocking down a great buck 2 nights ago, I called Mike and told him to get in the truck and head south. Having recovered my buck with the Rambo bike in the middle of the night, I knew that we hadn’t done any damage to the area that still had several other good bucks running around. Mike got into town just in time to crawl into the same Barronett Blind for an evening hunt. As luck would have it, one of the other shooters made his way across the CRP in the final moments of daylight. The shot was a touch back, so we backed out and let him lay over night. We headed in at first light the following morning and the buck was laying in his 3rd bed, only 120 yards from the blind. When in doubt, back out!
With several good bucks dinging the cell cameras in Oklahoma, I packed my bags and headed south to try my luck. We had stands and blinds set up in a couple different locations on the tract of land we could hunt. The one side of the property had very promising intel on the cameras but our first evening yielded an unfavorable wind to hunt where we wanted to. We opted to play it safe, hunt a different area and wait for the right winds before heading into our “best spot”. On day 2, the wind changed from south to north and allowed us to head into the Barronett Blind that we were wanting to sit. About an hour before dark, this buck stepped out of the cover in front of us. After watching him check does for better than a half hour, he finally came into bow range and gave me the shot I was praying for!
“Pretty Boy” was one of the first shooters to show up on the cameras on the new lease that Dylan and Ryan picked up in Wisconsin this year. Just 2 days after Ryan had punched his tag, Dylan was in the hot seat on October 27th when they first laid eyes on the buck. After a few convincing grunts, here he came. As has happened to anyone that has bow hunted long enough, Dylan made a less than ideal shot and hit the buck in front of the shoulder. Essentially no penetration. Within a week, “Pretty Boy” was back on the trail cameras and seemingly getting around just fine. A couple more sightings in early November had Dylan itching for the gun opener as he thought they had a solid plan in place to get a crack at the buck. On opening morning of gun season, Dylan would get his second chance and end the story once and for all!
November 7th would be the first hunt of the year for me in Iowa. Ideal weather, and what we thought would be the peak rut, left Dylan and I scratching our heads after we hunted hard for 8 straight days and seen very little action. Although we seen a handful of good bucks, we weren’t seeing any evidence of bucks doing what they are normally doing this time of year which is running rampid. After the 8 day stretch, we decided to take a few days off before jumping to a new piece of property with hopes of a better turn out. We headed back into the timber after our 3 day break and ended up having the hunt we were hoping for. This buck was the 3rd of the morning and he gave me a 14 yard chip shot shortly after a rattling sequence around 8:30am.
The past month and a half have been nothing short of a grind for us. Sightings of good bucks have been few and far between for the crew, and opportunities at them have been non existent since our early season run in North Dakota. That all changed when Ryan was able to break the ice for us in Wisconsin! A classic pre rut hunt when this buck had one thing on his mind and came past the tree nudging does. Ryan made the shot count and hopefully it is a sign of good things to come for the crew!
With Dylan connecting earlier in the evening (see previous blog post), JP and I were hunting about 10 miles away at a different piece of ground. We had a few shooters that had been showing up on the cameras but no real consistency from any of them. With a drop in temperature and a safe wind to hunt the stand, we felt like it could happen. With about a half hour of light left, JP caught movement coming through the thick vegetation behind us. The buck worked through the thicket and made his way to the bean field and gave me a quartering away shot at 20 yards. This would be the first time that we had ever doubled up on bucks in North Dakota in September, a night we will definitely not forget!
A cold front that we won’t soon forget. A 20+ degree drop in temperature would bring Dylan, Mike, JP, and myself back to Dinkota for some more early season action. We ran around, checked the cameras to see what the bucks were doing since our last trip and then came up with a plan. With ideal winds for a couple of the spots that were holding shooters, hopes were high. Dylan headed into a new spot that we started hunting this year. We called it “The Slip” because it was a narrow transition area that pinched deer movement between 2 marshes on their way out to the bean fields. This buck read the script perfectly. The drop in temperature had him on his feet well before dark and he moved through “The Slip” just like we drew it up!