SADDLE GEAR: Tethrd Mantis, 4 lone wolf sticks with aider, WE Perch
First I would like to thank you for making excellent products and excellent customer service. I purchased my Mantis in 2018 and had great success hunting in archery and gun season in 2018.
That being said my Mantis is comfortable as can be. This is important because in March of 2019, I underwent major spinal surgery at NYU hospital in NYC. I trust your product with my Life (literally) and against my surgeon’s orders refused to take the year off. After my two level spinal fusion at 37 I was unsure of what my hunting future was going to hold. I was set on blind hunting this year for safety but decided to try the Mantis and I was comfortable sitting all day for multiple days. A true testament on the quality, packability, and comfort of your product.
Now the hunt!
My friends and I take an annual trip to SW Ohio in November. We are from an area in Upstate, NY where there are no active farms, available crops or quality browse. Mature bucks are hard to come-by. Consistently harvesting mature bucks takes a lot of scouting and persistence . I wholeheartedly believe that if you can consistently take mature deer in a state like NY you can hunt anywhere successfully. However the ability to hunt high and move to the shot, benefits any hunter, anywhere.
While laid up from surgery I had time to do some cyber scouting on a piece of public land in Ohio. I studied the aerial photos and topo maps and found what I considered the perfect spot. “The Spot” was a perfect rut funnel (1 mile back) where three separate ridges running southwest intersected on the top side of a creek with a steep cut bank. This was in my mind perfect for a southwest wind. Around the ridges were CRP fields. One was planted with soy beans. The others had thick grass with small densely wooded drainage ditches running uphill into them. I also identified another dense area of cover along the creek that I knew any rutting buck would be covering or bedded. This just happened to be at the base of the ridges. The perfect setup.
We all shoehorned our way into my buddies conversion van and put the gear in my enclosed trailer and took off. We arrived after the 9 hour drive and decided that we would scout another area in the morning and hunt the afternoon. We found some good spots but no one saw a deer the first two days of hunting. I decided if we got a SW wind the next morning I would sneak into that spot making sure the wind was blowing my scent into the CRP field. This would ensure my scent stayed out of that bedding thicket where I thought a mature buck would be hiding.
We arrived the next morning and the parking lot was empty. I knew it was a good day to get it done. The temperature had dropped 10* overnight and everything was working as planned. I crossed the creek, snuck up to the top of the main ridge and set up about 24 ft. up facing downhill. My scent was blowing uphill with the prevailing winds and I knew as the thermals rose from the stream below I would be set up perfect for my ambush. With the big ole’ maple tree to my face I un-patiently waited hoping Mother Nature wouldn’t call.
At first light, as I ate my daily bag of sunflower seeds I watched a small buck and doe make their way down the ridge from the CRP eating acorns. At about 8:40am I hear a quick grunt and turn around to see a wide buck charging out of that bedding thicket. He was hot on the trail of the doe I saw earlier and coming fast. I quickly spun around, as he was facing directly at me waiting for him to stop for a shot. The buck decided out of nowhere to stop at 15 yards, but I had no shot. He then took a hard right and started heading up the wooded finger into the CRP. At 7 yards I bleated. He stopped and looks directly behind him, his neck and head covering his vitals. I waited patiently, burning a hole through his vitals just waiting for the slightest opening. The opening never came and he darted off.
Unable to get a shot I watched as the largest buck I had ever drawn on ran out of my life and up the middle wooded finger, just like the one he was giving me. Disgusted I started the typical self loathing 101 tactic of cussing at myself “You stupid mother$=$#$”. I was so mad at myself for not stopping him earlier, thinking I blew the only shot I had at a mature buck the whole year.
I started texting my friends and telling them what happened. Then something told me to put down the googler because “he might turn around”. I put down my phone and started glassing frantically trying to spot him in the CRP. After a few minutes I saw the light reflecting off his rack, he was working back down to me. I quickly reached for my grunt call to get his attention, I grunted three times and he began to walk down the finger. At this point my adrenaline was maxed out. I was fumbling trying to put my grunt tube back in my bag, but after multiple failures I end up tucking it in my hat like a carpenters pencil to get ready for the shot.
As a public land story goes just as I get ready, I hear a bell and see a hunter and his rabbit dog walking through the CRP right towards me about 150 yards out. Of course the wise ole buck hears the bell, turns 180* to the right and climbs the ditch into the CRP. I couldn’t believe it was going to happen again, so as he crested the knoll I started burning that hole again in his vitals this time failing to realize that when I was burning that hole I was also burning it through a tree branch about 20 yards in front of me. Not realizing The limb was present and quickly judging him at around 25yards I let it fly. My excitement turned quickly and the feeling like I wanted to vomit took over as I watched my arrow deflect off the tree branch.
Not sure where he was hit I watched him dart off and then slowly walk away over the ridge. I was unable to get a follow up shot because of distance but as he walked away I saw that I shot him quartering to me and it blew out his rear leg on the other side. Blood was pouring out his femoral artery.
After about 10 minutes I started worrying about that beagle jumping him so I climbed down, found my arrow, the broken branch, and the blood trail. I followed the trail for about 50 yards to see the direction that he was headed and went back to my tree. It was only 9:30 am! I called my friends, still sick to my stomach, and I told them I had a questionable shot on him and I was going to wait at my tree. Being so early in the day and not wanting to ruin their whole day hunting I planted my butt at the base of the tree and started praying to GOD. I sat at that tree for 10 hours praying and afraid to jump the deer while tracking.
At dark I met my friends at the road and we went looking for him. I knew he was headed to the water so we went to the last blood and started tracking. 10 minutes in we found him piled up about 75 yards from where we started. It was a quick death. I felt good knowing I did the right thing backing out. I definitely would have jumped him if I pushed further. My friends (great guys) helped me get him to the truck on the cart because my back was shot and we headed off to the butcher. The beauty grossed (176 3/8”) and it has not dried long enough for the net.
This was the best hunt of my life, one I will remember forever and tell my kids and grandkids about. The feeling of picking a piece of public ground on a map, looking for a honey hole on a topo map, going there and shooting a slammer can not be topped. I love the challenge of hunting mature deer on public land.