SADDLE: Tethrd Mantis
When it comes to whitetails and killing good public land deer, I would not be the guy that comes to mind. However, I would place my ability to get on the big public land bucks with anyone. The last four years has been about close calls and hard lessons learned. Though I ate tag soup, I consider those four years the best hunting due to the number of giant TN deer I encountered. Four years of tag soup is nearly torture for a serious deer hunter like myself. That all changed December 15, 2018.
That morning I spoke to another hunter whom had just left an area I discovered giant sized rubs three days prior. He made mention he was going back in there that evening. I told him if he went in there with the NNW wind, he’d be done before he started. He was pretty set on hunting that sign with the bad wind.
Taking that information in mind, I developed a plan to use his entrance as an advantage. I drove home and grabbed my waders because I had no choice but to cross a slough to get downwind of the known bedding area. I entered the woods around 2:00 p.m. and started my hike back. When I arrived at the slough, the recent rain had it higher than my waders could take and I sank my waders. Pissed and determined I decided to proceed with the plan full waders and all. I arrived at my spot around 3:45 p.m. I began preparing my saddle and emptying my waders at a spot where I found a rub line leading to a beanfield. During my setup, I made the decision to abandon getting elevated with my Tethrd Mantis and sat the ground due to time. The decision turned out to be the right one because 10 minutes later a giant buck appeared in the swamp. He was walking to me with the wind at his back. My planned had worked and the other hunter I’m sure wind bumped the buck and he was now headed directly at me. I watched for 45 minutes as he fed on water oak acorns. Several times the past four years curse had entered my mind and I almost rushed the shot for fear something bad was going to happen to prevent me from killing the mature buck once again. I overcame that urge and stuck with patience; talking my way through it. The buck fed to 40 yds and I couldn’t hold off any longer. I let the 30.06 ring and the buck nose dived in front of me! FINALLY!
The curse had been lifted. Although he was a great 5.5yr old buck, it’s the grind and adventure that makes this worth the Tethrd Ten. No, I did not kill this deer while hanging from my Mantis. However, hunting with my Mantis was the sole reason I was in the spot I sat. I would’ve never gone through that adventure hauling the awful weight of a climber or hang-on. The weightless advantage of the saddle gave me the ability to be where I was and that is worthy of a Tethrd Ten.