Late in the year, Mike and I got on some property down in Oklahoma. Mike made a scouting trip and both of us made trips down checking trail cameras. Mike’s first trip down to hunt brought a lot of action, but no tag punching. He was excited to get back. We left ATA a day early to get back to OK for one last weekend of hunting before calling it a season on the whitetail hunting. A snow storm made for interesting travel but we arrived just in time to head to the stand. About 45 minutes before dark, a beautiful 8 slipped up and walked past inside 20 yards and Mike let him have it. Shortly after, Mike arrowed 2 mature does and the work began. What a finale for the 2018-19 deer season!
On December 28, I had an encounter with my target buck but he failed to present me with an ethical shot. I elected only to hunt him when conditions were favorable from then on out. As luck would have it, warm weather moved in and southerly winds didn’t allow me to go after him. I spent my time on some other farms but action was slow. This took it down to the last day I was able to hunt before hitting the road for ATA in Louisville. Finally, some cooler weather had moved back in for the last sit of the year in Iowa. Just before dark, my target buck didn’t show but a big 6 that I knew all too well stepped out. With it being my last day, I didn’t hesitate to cock the hammer.
After a slow season in Wisconsin, Chad headed to North Dakota for the final weekend of the season. Some quick scouting and he had found a cut corn field that was getting hammered by deer. He threw up a ground blind and crawled in. It wasn’t long before deer started piling in, and eventually a shooter showed. Chad 10 ringed him and watched him fall in a woodlot just across the field. What a great way to finish out the season!
Ryan and Dylan had plans to leave for North Dakota New Years Day due to some obligations back home. With the forecast ideal leading up to New Years, and gradually getting warmer afterwards, Ryan changed plans. Brandon was available to run the camera so him and Ryan hit the road early. This move would prove to be a good one. The first afternoon, Ryan struck well before dark. When the cold weather hits out there, you just have to be in a blind!
After Aaron had killed the night before, confidence was high. The weather was changing for the better, a blizzard was hitting the northern plains head on. We climbed into the blind around 2pm and waited. The snow was coming down heavy and the north west winds were biting us good. With temps well below 0, we stayed on high alert. Some does and fawns fed early and then it got slow. With about 20 minutes left, a fawn fed in front of us and coming out of the draw behind her was the “big 10” that we had on camera. He jumped the fence and offered me a clean shot at 25 yards. We watched him collapse in the CRP field, what an unbelievable way to spend Christmas, 2 bucks in 2 nights!
After an early season mishap, Aaron was ready for some late season redemption up north. After some convincing, I had talked him into (after he talked his family into it) spending the holidays in North Dakota this year. If the weather conditions are right, generally the late season is action packed. This year proved to be no different. The good bucks were active on the cameras, it was just a matter of picking the right spot on the right night. On Christmas Day, we headed into a blind that had several shooters on camera. Movement was slow, in fact we did not see a deer until the last 15 minutes of legal shooting. As luck would have it, 1 of the deer to appear just before dark was one of the shooters that we had hoped to see. Aaron made a good shot and we celebrated Christmas in style in North Dakota
Wisconsin was no walk in the park for Aaron this year. Seeing deer at all was becoming a task, even into November. On the morning of November 15, him and Mike sat in the vehicle before heading to the stand and couldn’t help but laugh about how poor the hunting had been. They even admit to having had zero confidence that morning as they made all kinds of noise making their way across crunchy snow into the timber. If the racket of their entrance wasn’t enough, they persisted to get up the tree in their climbers. A slow morning as expected, and then it all changed on a dime. Mike picked up movement heading their way. Aaron didn’t think twice to grab the bow and go to work. Finding success on a nice Wisconsin public land buck is no easy task, the hard work had finally culminated for Aaron.
Chad and Heather made a trip to Kansas to scout a lot of public hunting ground this past summer. They felt like they had some good options for the fall. Little did they know, they would return in late October and find almost every area they had scouted to be under water. Crazy amounts of rain had fallen and forced them to find new areas to hunt. The first trip was unsuccessful but Chad made it back in mid November for round 2. After a couple of close calls, November 14th proved to be a good one. 2 fully mature bucks had a doe pinned down and this guy came too close to the tree that Chad was sitting in. Heck of a buck for Chad on public ground in Kansas.
With the Iowa tag punched, Mike and myself hit the road for Kansas to see if we could do something about the KS tag in my pocket. Mike had spent a considerable amount of time on OnX looking for public spots to check out. The first day was bitterly cold, we did a hang and hunt in a funnel area and froze our asses off, and got skunked by the deer. With a fair amount of fresh tracks in the snow through that funnel, we elected to give it another try the following morning. By mid morning, the activity was slow and we knew we had to make a move. We packed out of that area completely and moved to a different piece of public. We slipped in, hung our double and climbed into the tree midday. Shortly after getting settled we began to see deer. A little while later this buck snuck in on us and gave me a golden opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up. Tagged out in KS.
This year I elected to stay out of the Iowa trees until November. I was hopeful that no October pressure would give way to some incredible sits in November. After 5 consecutive “action packed” sits on the main farm, east winds would mean plan B on the morning of November 8th. Dylan had been with me behind the camera the previous 5 days but he had to get back to Wisconsin. Mike rolled in on no sleep and we headed straight to the woods. We crawled into a virgin set that overlooked a gateway where deer crossed back and forth between ag/crp and good bedding. The cell cam showed consistent activity over the week prior and the wind was good, so we were optimistic. A couple hours after daylight, a shooter read the script and came cruising through the gate, he piled up about 150 yards later.