CHRIS COON, 37 – MISSOURI
SADDLE GEAR: Phantom Saddle, Predator Platform
Man, where do I start? I am from Michigan. Shot my first buck at 14 with a compound bow and have been hooked ever since. Hunting in Michigan is very, very challenging. I have never really had private land of my own, so I have hunted mainly public land and I spend more time walking away from pressure than I do actually hunting.
A few years ago I was introduced to out of state hunting. I leased a piece of ground in NW Missouri, and could not believe the difference in deer behavior my first year out there. Deer in my home state of Michigan are very skittish and they just don’t get very old here. I have dreamed of seeing a mature buck my entire hunting career. After hunting the lease and roaming the public, I have been able to get on deer better than ever. Boots on the ground and time in the stand.
From 2017 to 2019, I used primarily hang ons and presets. 2019 I decided after lugging stands around, I wanted to be more mobile and bought my first saddle. Best decision I have ever made hunting wise. The system works perfectly for my style.
Our lease has a bedding/transition area in the back that we pretty much stayed out of our first 2 years out there. I decided to place cameras back there at the end of 2019 and focus on that specific area. After making a few trips out in the spring for mineral sites, new batteries in cameras and getting hunting locations ready we were ready to head out as the season grew closer. Once we made it out for the early season, we realized the hunting was going to be terrible. It was hot, the corn was still up, and we couldn’t get anywhere quietly. I pulled the cards that first night, and checked them after a long day grinding it out, and couldn’t believe what one of our bucks had turned into.
We have history with him the last couple of seasons and he blew up from 2019 to 2020. When I saw the trail cam pics from July, I could not believe a deer of this caliber was roaming land that I had permission to hunt. Dream came true right there and I haven’t ever seen this buck in person. I was sitting there telling my brother and cousin “I will never see that deer in person”.
Our early October trip is over, so now we head back to Michigan and wait for our Rutcation Nov 1st. It’s time for the trip, and for certain reasons my brother and cousin have to push their trip back a few days because of the election. This leaves me hunting the lease by myself for 4 days. I hunt hard all day everyday for 3 days, with 2 close calls with 2 good bucks and can’t seal the deal. I begin getting frustrated, as my wife is home with my 7, 5 and 10 month old kids. I’m ready to head home. I pull out of the drive, call my wife and tell her I’m headed home and she immediately says “No. You can’t leave, you are so close, stay one more day and see what you get.”
So I drive to the nearest diner, grab some lunch and head back to the lease. I pick a spot up front that I’ve never hunted before. As I’m relaxed in my saddle I see the farmer show up to disc in the outer portion of our 120 acres. At the same time, the farmer on the property next to us, comes back and starts cutting the corn. So at this point I am surrounded by tractors and it’s 2:00pm. I decide I need to move away from them just so I don’t have to listen to the tractors. I decide to check my cell cams and go wherever I have the most does the day before as it is the rut. Sure enough my back camera had does the night before and that morning so I headed back there.
As I get to the normal tree that I hang in my Phantom, I realize all my back cover at hunting height is gone. I decide to move 7 yds to the west, and into a tree I have never hunted before as it is covered in thorns. I slowly climb and trim as I go using the wind as sound cover and move higher and higher. I finally got 3 sticks high and realized my shooting angles were not good. I took 1 stick off, and hung my predator at 14 ft. At this point I am sweating, the sun is beating on me and it basically sums up the first 3 days of the vacation. Some of the worst rut hunting conditions I have ever experienced.
About 45 minutes later I start feeling dizzy and realize the sun is getting to me so I end up climbing down to get in the shade to rest for a half hour or so. I believe I was dehydrated from a combination of the heat and excessive amount of coffee I drank at lunch. It was 80 degrees throughout the day.
Once I started feeling better I climbed back up and clipped back into my tether. It was chilly in the mornings so I wore wool socks, which proved to be a mistake. At around 4:30 my feet were so hot I took my boots off and was standing on my platform barefoot airing out my boots. All of a sudden I hear a deer jump the back fence and start making its way through the CRP toward me to my right. 10 seconds later I heard “brrrpppp brrrpppp” and I knew a buck was following the doe. I grabbed my bow, and twisted my hips to get square for a weak side shot.
I had 2 shooting lanes, one at 4:00 weak side and one at 12:00 weak side once I got rotated. The first lane is a 35 yd shot coming down the hill then a 5 ft wide pine tree, and then a basketball sized window at 40 yards. The doe slowly trotted through both lanes, and at this point I’m ready to see what was after her. Out of the corner of my right eye I see tines and immediately realize it’s a shooter. The buck then takes another step and turns his head and I realize it’s the drop tine that I never thought I’d see in real life. He trots behind the big pine, I draw my bow and he stops. After holding my draw for about a minute he continues to take the same path the doe did. I put my 40 yd pin right behind his shoulder and let him have it.
SMOKED HIM! I practiced that same shot over and over throughout the summer on a paper target in my backyard so I had an idea of what size the deer should be at 40. I did not have time to range him. To this day I’m still kind of in awe. After many 10.5 hour drives,.money spent, and time away from the wife and kids, I finally achieved a lifelong goal of shooting a big mature whitetail. I learned a lot from the past couple seasons, after many failures and close encounters, the hard work finally paid off. I can honestly say it would not have been possible with my Phantom/Predator combo. Awesome stuff!! Thank you guys