Help Me Kill My Buck, Win the Rack
Shortly before our October 1 bow opener, I found a new rub line leading roughly from a creek crossing to...
Shortly before our October 1 bow opener, I found a new rub line leading roughly from a creek crossing to a lush alfalfa field. So I hung a stand overlooking it about 20 yards into the woods (labeled S1 in the accompanying chicken scratching). Walking in on my first hunt, I noticed a new scrape on the field edge more or less in line with the rubs, so I was feeling confident. But nothing showed near the sign that night. Instead, from my stand, through gaps in the foliage, I watched a pile of does mill in and out of sight in the alfalfa. I thought, If one of them gets close enough to the field edge, I’m going to climb down and sneak in for a shot.
With about a half hour left of shooting light, I glanced through a particular hole in the leaves and, as so often happens, where there was no deer there suddenly was–a big-bodied one feeding just 30 yards out. I slipped down and slinked toward the field, making the last few yards on my knees. When I finally peered from the edge of the woods, the deer calmly raised its head from feeding and showed me his very large rack (by this area’s standards), backlit by the setting sun. Just then, he looked away to eyeball a fawn crossing behind him. I drew and was settling in for the shot when a downwind doe snorted sharply, kicking off a small stampede of deer. My buck was the first to bolt. And that was that.
I couldn’t get back to the spot until the end of last week. This time, I brought a climber and a subdominant buck decoy. I staked the latter, with just one antler, about 20 yards out in the field and used the former to set up right on the field edge (S2). The evening started slow, but again, about a half hour before the end of shooting light, I looked toward the south end of the field, and there he stood, feeding. I grunted. He looked up, saw my decoy, and came trotting in…until he reached about 40 yards away when I suddenly heard someone whistling clear as a bell what sounded like [“Oompa in the Park With Ned.”](http://www.youtube.com/watch/? v=nno7_Xepcqw) Seriously. The buck banked a hard right and scampered off into the woods.
I expected to see someone come walking down the edge of the field. But no one did. Instead, about 10 minutes later, a doe ambled into bow range. She bolted at the shot but only went about 50 yards before piling up in the alfalfa.
Having learned that the buck comes from the south end of the field and that sounds from the nearby road travel very well across the alfalfa (I can only guess), I went back at midday yesterday to check the upper field edges for a smoking gun–a fresher rub line or a moist scrape or two to show me exactly where this buck enters. And I found exactly nothing…zip.
So now you know everything I do. I have my own ideas about what to do next, but I wonder, what would you do? I’ll tell you what: If the wind is right I’ll be back after this buck later this week or early next. If you lay out a detailed strategy* that I like enough to use (even if it’s the same thing I’m planning to do) and I manage to arrow this deer, I will send you the buck’s rack**. (Why would you give away your buck’s rack? you may be thinking, to which I say, why not? What I want from a hunt is an unforgettable experience and a pile of meat. The rack is cool, but I’ll gladly give it to you if your plan works. And just think, when someone asks, “How’d you get that one?” you’ll have a very unusual story to tell.)
So here we go. If you were hunting this buck, what exactly would you do *You have to be specific. “Stay after him” is too general, and so is “Try a morning hunt.” Use the diagram to provide details, including exactly where to set up, whether to call, use a decoy, scents, etc., etc.
**Assuming it’s legal for me to send it to you where you live. If you don’t want the rack, you can have the treestand I used, or I’ll come up with some other fun prize.