We’re all rushed for time and when hunting season rolls around it seems like
you and I never have enough time to hunt. Step back and take a breath.
Sometimes the “run-and-gun” approach isn’t always the best.
I first picked up on this years ago when I started hunting Western
whitetails with regularity. Alfalfa fields along narrow ribbons of timber
made it difficult to enter the fields in the morning without bumping the
whitetails from the field. Instead of risking changing the pattern of a
potential trophy, I would scout from afar in the mornings and evenings to
learn the patterns of bucks, especially early-season bachelor groups. When I
felt confident, I would hunt the afternoons. By midmorning the bucks were
tucked safely in thick bedding cover allowing for easy access to stands for
an afternoon hunt. I knew their patterns and success increased.
This was a big change from my Midwestern roots in whitetail hunting. I
hunted morning and evening while focusing on the cornfields of eastern South
Dakota in my youth. With food scattered like the deer themselves it was easy
to get access to small honey holes at any time of day.
Last season I had to resort to this strategy in the middle of the rut. After
wrapping up a hunt early I had the opportunity to move to another location
where I held a buck tag. Unfortunately the winds were sustained at 50 mph
with gusts more than 60. A video photographer was traveling with me and
instead of dragging him out in the gale-force winds I gave him the afternoon
off to reconfigure gear. I alone braved the hurricane-like elements. OK, so
I’m not that brave and there weren’t many deer on the move, but at sunset
the wind speed dropped to approximately 40 mph and activity picked up.
Immediately I spotted a large-framed buck and I moved quickly to get a
better view. Climbing up on to the cab of a junked tractor (one of my
favorite vantage points) I spied the buck in the last few minutes of
available light and decided to start the morning hunt for this buck.
At sunrise I spotted the buck on the hunt for does. He wasn’t wasting time
and I barely could keep up with him as he left the river bottom for some
high bluffs. By the time I reached the top of the bluffs he was already back
on the bottom, but now I had the sniper advantage. After nearly three hours
of stalking I cut him off and was presented a 250-yard shot, all caught on
The buck was gnarly with a non-typical right side and a perfect left side.
He grossed in the 150s and the fast-paced hunt made for a great episode for
a new show I’m hosting, TruckVault’s Xtreme Hunts on Versus. If you want to
watch, the series just kicked off on Aug. 1, 2008, at 7 p.m. EDT. For more
information go to www.xtremehuntstv.com and remember to take a breath now
and then.—Mark Kayser