Taylor Fitzpatrick of Winchester, KY, traveled out to the Milk River in MT for a bowhunt last week. The 19-year-old climbed into his tree stand super early one morning, about 3:30. The air felt great, 42 degrees cool, and the full moon hung in the sky like a big pizza pie. Song and artist anyone?
Taylor began seeing deer in the moon glow, moving back to their beds for the day. A 10-pointer that would score about 155” walked beneath his stand and got him all fired up.
The sun came up hours later and he kept seeing deer. A buck with fresh, hard antlers cut across a corner of an alfalfa field that Taylor could barely see from his stand. He raised his Primos Rubberneck call and floated some grunts.
“He looked up and walked 60 yards to me on a string,” Taylor says. I dare say that was the first buck of 2006 that was grunted up anywhere in America!
Taylor did what any good bowhunter would do—drilled the animal through the boiler room at 20 yards. The 130” buck, Taylor’s biggest, ran back out into the alfalfa and tipped over dead. Here, the story gets interesting.
He watched as another P&Y buck still in velvet approached his dead 10-point, fuzzed up, pawed and roughed up the fallen animal, poked him in the belly and even tried to flip him over!
Luke Strommen, who was guiding Taylor that day, and I have a theory. Right around velvet-stripping time bucks feel a jolt of testosterone, and they get aggressive and spunky for a few days as they try to further sort things out in the buck hierarchy. Luke points out that last week about 40 percent of the Milk River bucks were still in velvet, and 60 percent were hard-antlered. Taylor was hunting smack in the middle of “sorting out” time. We figure that is why the buck responded to his grunts, and why the velvet rogue came over to show he was more of a man.
Luke and his dad have been archery hunting/guiding on the Milk for many years and that is the earliest they recall anybody ever grunting up a buck. That’s probably the first time anybody has really tried it that early. I’ve got another theory. Taylor is a good, hard hunter, but he’s only 19. A young, energetic guy is not afraid to try different things, like get in his stand 2 hours before sunrise and grunt hard to a buck the first week of September.
That is something many us “seasoned veterans” might not do. Coincidentally I hunted about 10 hours due south of Taylor in WY last week and I didn’t even carry my grunter. Too early for calling and all that for this “pro” you know… Hell, I got skunked!
I’m damn sure carrying my call now. Taylor you taught me something kid, way to go!
BTW, be sure to send me a good digital photo of your 06 buck (or a friend’s) along with a short story of the hunt. If I post your hunt/photo I’ll send you a free camo cap. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org