SADDLE: Tethrd Mantis
It was a few days into the season and the high hunting pressure of northern Michigan’s public land was besting most of the hunters in the woods. Deer sign started to disappear in the weeks leading up to the season. Four days had passed and I had yet to see a good buck. As I was sitting in my saddle on Saturday I was researching Onx maps and noticed a small stretch of public land a mile North of me with connecting public land, but no roads to access it. I knew that it was time to gear up and get back there.
Sunday I slept in, but I got out to this remote area around 11am. It was a long hike. When I arrived there I saw that most of the area was small hills, but very steep. I climbed up to about 30 feet in a tree that I thought gave me the best advantage with a good view. I could see over top of the small ridges, which were only 20-50 yards from one ridge point to the next. North of me the small ridges broke into one large ridge. I was only hanging in the saddle for a couple minutes, and I had already seen a couple of small bucks and several does. At about 2:30 I saw a deer about 300 yards away, while watching it through the binoculars I was able to identify this deer as Elliot, a good sized, one antler 5 point buck that my buddy had on camera. We knew he had broken off his left antler while fighting last year. The left antler had grown back as a spike this year, but he had broken that off again. I watched him for about 25 minutes hoping that he’d make his way towards me but he was only getting farther away.
I decided that it was time to attempt to bring him in, so I quickly blew a snort wheeze through my teeth. He stopped, and looked my way. After about 10 seconds he looked back away from me and started walking slowly. So once again I snort wheezed, this time sightly harder than the last time. Elliot did not even hesitate this time, he turned around and ran straight at me. I was nervous as I realized that I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to stop him at his full run. At 45 yards, without warning Elliot stopped dead in his tracks and almost like he was trying to offer me the best shot possible, he turned broadside and just stood there. I took a 45 yard heart shot, and he ran towards me, and died 10 yards from the base of my tree.