SADDLE: Tethrd Mantis
It was a stormy Halloween. Already soaked from the rain, I questioned the value of sticking it out on highly pressured public land. Yet I knew that coming gaps in the radar showed promise for deer movement. Trick-or-treating had been moved up to the night before due to the rain in the forecast allowing me to hit the woods for the evening Halloween hunt; a night on which I had always wanted to kill a deer. As the rain let up I saw him step into view; a big mature 7-pointer. His neck bristled with rage as he eyed the 1.5 year old fake in front of me. His stiff-legged walk as he approached told me this was a night I would not soon forget.
Hoping to take my mobile hunting game to the next level, I decided to give saddle hunting a try this year. I got everything I needed, including my Tethrd Mantis, just in time to have a couple weeks of practice before the 2018 season here in Illinois. After helping my boys (age 8 and 9) fill their tags I was finally able to spend some more time in the saddle and try to pursue a large public land buck. With a good idea of where a mature buck was bedding and increased sign in the area, I knew just where to go. Given past success with a decoy I had hopes that a dominant buck would not tolerate a young intruder in his core area.
The saddle allowed me to setup in a tree that I normally wouldnt have been able to with other methods. A climber wouldnt have worked due to a fork in the tree. While a hang-on wouldhave worked it would have either left me exposed on the side of the tree, or with no shot on the backside of the tree. The saddle setup was perfect allowing me to hang on the backside of the tree and still have a perfect shot.
As he approached around the opposite side of the decoy I was able to keep the tree between us. Every hair on the buck was on end as he hooked around to the head of the decoy. As he made his turn to face off with the young imposter I leaned and drew. He stopped about 5 feet away from his opponent offering a 12 yard shot. My arrow met its mark and the buck stormed off into the brush. I waited until dark, went back to the truck, and waited a couple hours before pursuing. After a short track, I found the buck and to my surprise, noticed an 8th point that I hadnt seen before, a droptine in the shape of a batwing. How fitting that my first Halloween buck would have such a point. This was certainly a hunt that I will never forget and what a great first kill from the saddle!