Photo by Lance Krueger
Slipping up on a trophy buck is a blast by yourself, but it’s even better with a friend.
Rick Hanson’s buddies used to laugh at him for belly crawling across the South Dakota prairie, bow in hand and whitetail buck in mind. Now they ask to tag along—and he lets them. “This is simply the best way to kill a big buck in open country,” says Hanson, who has snuck to within 35 yards or less and arrowed a 200-incher and several 150-plus bucks. “Hunting with a good buddy can really help, too.”
Here’s how it’s done.
Pick your spot. “Whether you have big ag fields mixed with woodlots or rolling prairie, you need open country with lots of small breaks or contours so you can spot bucks and get close.” Though it can work anytime, Hanson loves to use this tactic during the pre-rut and rut, when bucks are distracted by does and responsive to calling.
Buddy up. Once you’ve chosen your area, grab a friend and glass from afar. “When you find a good buck, sneak together to within 200 yards,” says Hanson. “If I’m the shooter, my buddy gains a vantage point where he can see the buck and direct me into range.” Hanson then starts crawling and never looks up to check on the deer; instead, he depends on his partner’s directions.
“He’s the coach.”
Call him close. With a bedded buck, Hanson crawls all the way into bow range. But more often, he stops 60 to 70 yards from the deer, gets to his knees where he can’t be seen, and makes a few aggressive grunts. “When you’re calling from within a buck’s safety zone like that, he’ll usually come right to you for an easy shot. Meanwhile, your buddy can watch exactly where he’s hit and where he goes down.”