DUSTIN MOLL, 33 – MONTANA
SADDLE GEAR: Phantom, Predator platform, lwcg minis
It was October 13th and I was driving west to Montana, head-on into a monster of a low-pressure system forecasted to last 4-5 days. This system was hauling snow and temperature drops of 40+ degrees.
The first couple of days of hunting the October lull was nothing more than just that. As the hunt progressed, the deer activity increased in the right direction presenting me with opportunities at some nice deer.
Sunday morning, October 18, is the last day of the archery season. As I dangled in my Tethrd Phantom, this low-pressure system decided to lift. I knew if I placed myself in a high odds spot that evening I was sure to have some good encounters.
With bluebird skies and post front temps in the low teens, I decided to head to a river bottom spot I had scouted a couple of times but had never hunted.
Two narrow fingers of timber ran North and South paralleling each other. There was a large area of dense security cover on the north end that connected both fingers to make a horseshoe shape. The eastern finger looked most appealing to me. With a northwest wind, It was the downwind travel corridor for a buck to exit the bedding area.
I started to set up mid-way in the east finger, I almost set my predator and decided the tree wasn’t going to work. With limited shots and potentially giving up my wind, I moved north, closer to the bedding area. I found another tree. I climbed three sticks up… “Nope this isn’t it either”. With the season-ending in hrs, I had to make a decision. I pulled the sticks and moved a bit northeast. There, I found THE tree. There was a bunch of deadfall on the east side of it and a dried-up river bed beyond the deadfall. knew the deer would stay west of me in the cover and give me the perfect strong-side shot.
I was set up in my Phantom much later than I wanted to be. With an hour left of light, I hoisted up my bow and hung it on a gear tie. I reached into my pack to grab the shoulder for my camera arm and heard some deer traffic. A small group of does sifted by. I tried to set up my camera arm again, and just as the arm slid into the shoulder I heard a noise that most bowhunters can’t mistake. I heard rack tips hitting branches as he came down the same trail the other deer used. The cover was dense so I knew I was going to be forced to make a snap judgment. He hit my small shooting lane at 15 yds and I stopped him with the famous mouth mac, bleat, grunt (whatever the noise is that comes out in that adrenaline-filled moment). I looked him over and squeezed the release.
Without any footage and uncertain of the shot a buddy and I came back the next morning and found him 90 yds from where my arrow zipped through him.
This is not my biggest deer. However, it is a very meaningful buck as it was my first Montana whitetail, and my first saddle kill! I was such a skeptic of the saddle hunting system. I thought there was no way it could work for me. But after spending a long weekend paddle fishing and having a great teacher with loads of knowledge (Tethrd Founding Father, Shawn Chadwick) give us a crash course in saddles, it got my attention.
I went on to kill two more bucks in the 2020/2021 season with the aid of the saddle. Anywhere I go, I’ll be preaching the good word about saddle hunting and its functionality. I can’t help but love this style of hunting. I don’t see myself hunting any other way besides ground sits for some time. Thank you for the great products and happy Hunting!