With all the build-up that goes into hunting the rut, spending time on stand during the late seasons can seem like a real letdown. Deer movement is at a minimum, and there’s that lingering thought in the back of your head that all the good deer were either taken during rifle seasons or are now laid up, licking their wounds. It’s almost enough to keep all but the most dedicated hunters out of the field.
For those hunters who stick it out, the late season can reap rewards, particularly when it comes to getting second chances at bucks that may have gone missing during the rut, or worse yet, that a hunter missed when he did get the opportunity for a shot. That’s what happened to Jeremy Oehlert, on the left in the photo here. Jeremy’s brother Nathan (on right) is one of my most fervent and faithful whitetail rut reporter contacts down in southeast Kansas. Here’s Nathan’s version of his brother’s story, which started two calendar pages ago but doesn’t get its happy ending until after Thanksgiving.
“It all started back in October, when I found all the deer eating anything green they could find in the open pastures. There were two pretty nice bucks coming out with 6 or 7 smaller bucks and a good amount of does. We were getting a pretty good look at these two bucks through the binoculars. One of them had a broken G2 on his right side so I called him the G2-0 buck and the other had what looked to be a little split G4 on his right side so I named him G-44. Neither of the bucks would come out every single night, but they were out very frequently. We scouted from a distance for almost a full week was and finally we got the right wind to hunt them.
“That night, they both came out with tons of other deer and went directly to a certain spot in the pasture and started feeding. They were acting unlike anything I have ever seen. They were running excitedly and flickering their tails on their way to start eating. I don’t know what was in that grass, but it was our ticket. The first night the G2-0 buck stayed at a distance from us, but the G-44 buck came within 30 yards. My brother was just getting ready to draw when one of the many does saw us and busted out of there.
“I decided to move the double set to a little oak grove that had some more cover around it. I hunted there a couple more times and saw both of the bucks, but had no shot opportunities. The third time, I took my brother. While I was filming him that night, both bucks came out right to us. The G2-0 buck came by at 30 yards and was feeding on the grass and clover. My brother released his arrow and it was clear the buck ducked and the arrow flew over his back.
“The G-44 buck was not spooked by the shot and fed around behind us into the shooting lane at 40 yards. This time my brother stopped him and released an arrow not two or three minutes after the previous shot. The arrow flight was perfect, but within the last ten yards of the flight this buck also started to duck and the arrow struck him right at the top of the lungs. He didn’t get very good penetration.
“We backed out and came back the next day to find very little blood and no signs of the buck. The season went on with us wondering whether the buck survived the hit or if he was lying dead somewhere. That isn’t a good feeling. A month and a half later, we got a trail camera picture of the buck during the middle of the night. We had a couple of hours to hunt that afternoon, so we decided to try it. Since we didn’t have any daytime pictures of the buck and very few pictures total, we weren’t very hopeful. A few does came out about an hour before dark and were acting jumpy. It was a windy day so I thought they were just acting that way because of the wind. Then a couple of them started looking back where they came from.
“A few moments later a buck stepped out and started making a scrape. I immediately knew it the G-44 buck. After he made his scrape, he started to chase the does. It truly didn’t seem real that it could be happening again. The buck came right in front of us, and my brother made a perfect shot.
“I have personally never seen this happen. For us to have several encounters with this buck, hours of footage of him, then shoot him once in October on video and kill him a little over a month later on video – it is pretty unbelievable. We were very fortunate. It was a good mature buck and a great story. When we cleaned the deer I found both holes from the previous broadhead just above the lungs.”