Making the Move
Posted on December 4, 2012
As an effective whitetail hunter, being aggressive is’t always a luxury…sometimes it’s the only way you’ll get a shot. Here’s some great advice to get you started.
I was up against it. Truth be told, I hadn’t prepared for hunting this specific property, which was run by Minnesota’s Fair Chase Outfitters. With the quality of deer they possess, that was almost an unforgivable sin. Still, all the time invested managing a huge Illinois property had sucked my time dry.
Phoning the owner, John Redmond, I asked if he’d have any hunters on a ridge I’d helped set up while consulting for them a few years back. A point he already had a stand on was promising, but I felt the real sweet spot was actually further back by the bedding area. Having prepped the tree the year before, all I’d simply have to do is set a stand, do some minimal trimming and I’d be set for an all-day sit. I felt that was my best odds of pulling a rabbit from the hat.
Getting John’s blessing, I was showered and in the truck before 3 a.m. Upon my arrival, I loaded up and slipped through the woods as quietly as possible. Just as grey light arrived, I’d finished setting and trimming the stand. I was ready for what I believed would be a fantastic sit.
Of course, it wasn’t. Frankly, I hadn’t seen a single deer by three that afternoon. All that work and nothing, but that can happen even in the best locations during the latter stages of the rut.
Going through a checklist of options, I decided to climb down and head for a stand I’d hung several seasons back. The point leading to the standing corn was overflowing with bedded does. The only way in or out of the bedding area was past that stand. Sure, others had hunted it already, but it’s hard to beat a funnel positioned between does and food during the tail end of the rut.
I’d no more than settled into the new perch when I spotted the first doe entering the corn.Â Just that fast the parade of deer had started. All I needed was a shooter to enter the festivities.
As the afternoon turned evening, I began doubting my chances. By their behaviors, you could tell that the does dotting the corn before me had already gone through estrus. The magnet doe was nowhere to be seen.
With light running out, I spotted the buck trotting towards the field. One glance and his body screamed “three and a half years old,” but every tine on the left side of his rack appeared busted. I’d just convinced myself that I’d have to pass when I realized they weren’t broken after all. The buck just didn’t have a rack to match his body.
Knowing he needed to be removed for management purposes, I shifted into kill mode. Coming to full draw as I positioned my feet, a voice grunt stopped him in his tracks. Checking my IQ site for any torque at such close range, I quickly adjusted my grip, settled the pin and sent the Easton arrow slicing through his boiler room. A brief run straight down the side of the ridge and the crash reported the deal was done. I’d taken out my buck!
I chose this story to begin my article because it illustrates both ends of aggression in one sit. Before dawn, I went all in, setting a fresh stand right in a bedding area. When that didn’t work, I backed off and got into a different stand with zero impact. Balancing aggression is as much an art as it is a science. Know how much to use is often the decider between filling a tag and going home empty.
Story and photos by Steve Bartylla