Well it’s been a tough last couple of weeks. Those damn deer have been giving me fits worse that the elusive wapiti. Two trips to North Central Montana left us empty handed. Blue tongue left a destructive path throughout the river bottom of the Milk River. We saw a good number of mule deer but no shooters. Fortunately we were able to drop a handful of coyotes and keep the mood light. Other than those trips east we’ve been bowhunting deer and haven’t even picked up a rifle.
The weather quickly has went from fall to full on winter. Temps have dipped as low as 5 degrees and makes slow stalks on deer quite cold and difficult. Recently Travis and I had a chance to stalk a nice 9 point. We spotted him on a ridge early in the morning and watched him lay down for the day. After a mile loop we were above his position.
As we crept to within range we spotted a doe. I had a doe tag and was about to let loose an arrow when I spotted horns. He was bedded 10 yards behind the doe next to a downfall. I put my 40 pin on him and checked with Travis to make sure the camera was on him.
As my great luck would have it he jumped straight from his bed and booked it down the ridge. I couldn’t believe he didn’t stand for even a quarter of a second. With the recent snow we were able to track him down and follow him as he circled from his original bedding location. Again we looped to get to a favorable position. We spotted the doe bedded and crept to within 80 yards. This loop took us an hour and a half and a majority of that was behind the binoculars looking for the buck. At 80 yards the doe spotted us and stood up and slowly walked to our left. All of a sudden the buck stood up from under a small evergreen. I couldn’t believe we hadn’t seen him, and I quickly went to hook my release to my d-loop. Again I was behind the eight ball. After crawling for hundreds of yards in the snow, my release had iced up. I frantically tried to fix the problem before he walked away. After about 5-8 seconds I was back on track, and I drew on the buck at 55 yards. We tried to stop him before he walked behind a tree but he didn’t stop until he was behind it. I let down thinking he’d stand there and inspect where the noise came from but he soon continued walking. I drew again and had to rush a shot before he dipped over a small ridge. It sailed right over his back at 65 yards. I was boiling at that point. By the time we made it back to the truck it was 3PM and we’d been running off of only a bagel we had eaten at 6AM. We were exhausted and very frustrated.
Yesterday we were back at it again with a bow but in a different location. This spot has plenty of deer and some great bucks. The terrain is very tough as a majority of it is open country with little cover. After a couple of hours of walking and spotting we saw a nice herd of mule deer. We made a wide loop to get in position. As we were creeping over the edge of a coulee we noticed an exceptionally nice whitetail bedded on the other side of the coulee.
The wind was right for a stalk but I’d have to be careful that I didn’t spook the mule deer when I came at this deer from above. After a couple hundred yards of army crawling I was close, and I hadn’t spooked the mule deer which were in plain sight across the coulee. I slowly got on my knees and looked for horns. I could barely make out the chocolate horns over the grass just 60 yards away. I kept slowly moving and closed to within 40 yards and knew this was as close as it was going to get. All I could see was his head and horns and didn’t have a shot at him bedded. My plan was to get in behind him and shoot him in his bed but without being able to see vitals I had to change plans. The wind was beginning to swirl so I knew it needed to happen quick. I drew my bow and stood. A doe was bedded with him and saw me as I stood up. She immediately booked it, and I quickly got my pins on the buck. I knew I was going to need to shoot very quickly. I lined my pins up and was just about to send an arrow when he spun and ran off. From the time he stood up to when he ran away was maybe a second at the most. I had no chance to even shoot. All I needed was a quarter second more to pull that trigger. I seriously wanted to cry. Two bucks in three days that I had gotten to 40 yards of while they were bedded. Both never stood and gave me a shot. They both booked it immediately. What happened to those tv bucks that stand there for 5 seconds staring at the hunter while he lines up his shot? I couldn’t believe it. The stalk only spooked about 4 or 5 of the mule deer so we set back up to get on them. There was a great buck in the group and we devised a plan.
Again these deer were in an open field down in a small valley. There was no cover for a stalk so we set up on a hillside where they occasionally travel up to a small ag field. After my first stalk I was wet and the wind had now picked up. It was a long and very cold couple of hours of watching these deer feeding and the bucks chasing does.
They never made a move and we had to back out and admit defeat for the day. A couple of nice bucks will live to see another day, and my search for a buck for 2011 continues.