-By Brandon Wikman
If I had a dollar for each time I’ve been duped by a giant whitetail buck, I’d be able to afford an entire hunting lease that would stretch from Iowa to Ohio! Sometimes when chasing after a bruiser buck, no matter what you do or how you do it - nothing goes right.
Mature whitetails are mysterious in each and every way. They survive by instincts and past experiences. It is the small faults we make that add up to full-fledged mistakes.
This past week I archery hunted in Buffalo County. I had hung a set of stands a few weeks ago in a prime travel corridor, which leads deer straight from a thick bedding area to a vast cornfield. I call it the, ‘swamp stand’. The best characteristic about this location is that it’s untouched by human litter until late October and November. It is one of those hotspots I leave alone until the rut begins to escalate.
Friday afternoon I had to make a choice—whether to hunt the swamp setup or wait until Saturday evening. The wind was ideal for both of my setups I had in mind. It was literally decided over a flip of a coin (my deer license actually). A few hours later I found myself sneaking into the swamp stand with an I-60 Game Spy cam in hand. After hanging the camera and performing my ritual scent-minimizing practices, I crept out slowly. I couldn’t wait to see what I was going to miss out on.
I climbed into my perch, which looked over a few acres of cornfield and backed up against a small creek. It was a place I had struck a few deer with arrows in the past. Friday evening’s hunt yielded with only one deer sighting. A yearling doe tempted her taste buds on a few ears of corn. It was as if the movement suddenly shut right down. I couldn’t wait to see what my trail camera photographed in the swamp.
Saturday afternoon I snuck back into the marsh to retrieve an evening’s worth of deer pictures. My camera snapped twenty photos in only a period of a single evening and morning. I smirked, cringing with a rush of anxiety as I transferred the pictures from the trail camera directly to my laptop.
It was official - I was reluctant to win another dollar for my ‘pity-bank!’ My I-60 photographed an impressive 145 class 9-point buck three times throughout the evening. The most upsetting thing was that he was captured during daylight, with my tree stand hanging in the background.
Needless to say, I hunted the swamp Saturday and Sunday with no luck at all. A handful of does and squirmy yearling bucks pranced down the trail and in front of my Moultrie, instead of the big buck. As one buck vanishes another one appears, at least that is what I hope to happen. I will be solely directing my focus on him or another one of his competitors as the breeding season kicks in. I wish everyone the best of luck. This experience reminded me of the old saying; “I’d rather be lucky than good any day.” Let this be a learning curve for some of the acrobatic equations a buck will spit back out at you and shed light on their unpredictability.
Once again, I was at the wrong place at the wrong time.