SADDLE GEAR: Tethrd Mantis, LWCG Ambush, LWCG Compact Sticks
Like many whitetail addicts in the Midwest, the first two weeks of November tends to be one of my favorite times of the year. The past several years I have been fortunate enough to capitalize on the mid-day movement during the full moon on multiple occasions. In 2018, I managed to grunt in a brute of a 9 pointer on a frigid evening sit on November 13th.
Going into 2019 I had high hopes of getting back on some great bucks we had history with, but after a rough year of EHD, none of our bucks were showing up. I spent a few weeks scouting, scrambling, trying to get on whatever deer our farms held and couldn’t connect with a mature animal. As November approached, I was excited but apprehensive, knowing I was purely hoping to catch one cruising from a neighboring property at this point.
First week passed, still not a single mature buck sighting. Somewhat disheartened, I climbed into a tree on the 12th in a pinch point on our home place and finally saw my first rut action for the year, I knew I needed to clear the schedule! The following day I planned a mid day hunt, while getting my gear gathered, I got an invite to meet a friend at his place for a change of scenery. After a rough start to the season I jumped at the opportunity to change things up.
With fresh snow on the ground I decided to head into a block of timber along a cut bean field that OnX showed to be a nice subtle pinch. As I slid into the timber and began to climb, I bumped a bedded buck roughly 40 yards from the tree. He stopped just into the field to attempt to figure out what had disturbed his mid day nap, he eventually gave up and showed me his tail and that gut-wrenching view of his tines from behind. Just before he entered the woods, I gave him the best mouth grunt I had, which was enough to make him stop and take another look. He stepped into the trees, and as he disappeared I finish my climb, hang my Ambush, and just as I was hanging my bow I looked up to see him headed my way on a string. I hadn’t had a chance to set my tether, open my pack or anything at this point and I’m stuck standing on my platform with only my lineman’s belt and my bow! (NOTE FROM TETHRD – that’s why we recommend setting your tether BEFORE you climb onto your platform 🙂 now back to the story. )
He came back into his bedding area and locked up tight, staring holes in the timber for several minutes before eventually working his way back towards his bed. As he was about to finally offer me a shot, a doe came through and immediately had his attention. I thought, “There he goes, for the second time in 30 minutes!” Moments later he came trotting back towards his bedroom and we started the exact same process once again. The buck was slowly milling through the briars working his way towards my one shooting lane when a couple young bucks barged in and took him on another trip through the trees. While exciting to watch everything a whitetail hunter dreams of, I was about a frustrated as you can get with a deer at this point!!!
A few minutes pass before I caught sight of him coming back down the edge of the field, and into the woods. I had to watch the same exact process AGAIN as he worked his was back to his bed, which seemed to take an an eternity this time. He finally made it to the same point as before and took the final few steps into a hole in the brush. Everything seemed to go into autopilot. I settled my pin and squeezed through my release to watch the arrow blow through him right behind his shoulder! In an instant, excitement turned to angst, as he took about three big bounds and stopped behind a tree at 60 yards, and just stood there….
I nocked another arrow, but with everything vital being behind a tree, I was forced to wait. After several minutes of him standing motionless and driving my blood pressure through the roof, he stumbled! He slowly proceeded to make the same moves working back to his bed, but never offered the opportunity to get another effective arrow in him, and at this point I just wanted him to lay down in his bed so I could slide out of there! Just as he laid down, one of the young guys from earlier came back for round 2, and this bruiser still had enough in him to get up one last time to square off!
Moments later he was down, falling on the very arrow that I had sent his way a short time before. There I was leaning into my linemans belt, 35 yards from my first Pope and Young whitetail! Replaying the hour I got to spend watching him do big buck stuff, only solidifies my addiction to chasing mature whitetails.