We spend a lot of time talking about the importance of food sources now, in the weeks leading up to the rut. Bucks are starting to feel the testosterone buzz–I found a pair of fresh scrapes on a 20-minute scouting jaunt this morning–but let’s face it, tagging a buck right now means finding out where and what he eats. Oh, and having a good luck charm helps a bunch, too.

Minnesota bowhunter Chris Warrens headed out for an evening hunt this week armed with a solid knowledge of where whitetails were feeding, as well as a game plan. But the latter went out the window when Warrens’ 9-year old daughter, Cassie, asked if she could accompany him. “I was ready to head to a tree stand until Cassie wanted to go,” Chris says. “I decided to bring the ground blind along after that.”

Some might view a ground hunt as a handicap, but not Chris, who tucked the blind in a brushy fenceline separating a picked soybean field and a standing corn field. “The woodline was only 30 yards away,” he says. “And even though the blind was as hidden as I could make it, the sun was beaming on us for a long time. I figured any deer that came out would spot us pretty quickly. Then, five minutes after the sun went below the treeline, I saw a buck come out in the field across from us, about 100 yards away. He just walked toward us like he knew exactly where he wanted to go.”

Where he wanted to go was a spot 20 yards from Chris and Cassie, who urged her dad to shoot. “I made a good shot, and the buck went only 50 yards and piled up,” Chris says. “He’s the heaviest buck I’ve ever shot, and field dressed 230 pounds. I feel like I owe all my luck to Cassie; without her I would have set up in a tree stand. Now we have a hunt together that we’ll always remember.”

This blog will provide continuous updates on the hottest food sources, the best places to search for rubs and scrapes, and advice on placing stands and blinds. Good luck charms, though, are up to you.