-By Brandon WikmanThe forest’s canopy is choked with heavy green foliage wrapping around limbs, while the floor’s scattered with gold nuggets of prized acorns. There’s no better time to be hunting Buffalo County, Wisconsin than right now!
The Wisconsin archery season is underway. The weather has been unseasonably warm, which burns much opportunity of spotting a giant during daylight. As I prepped for my weekend adventure with Bluff Bucks Outfitters, I couldn’t help but notice the forecast. A heat index flirting in the 80-degree mark scorched my hopes of slaying a true trophy. So I thought.
Butch Fox, the owner of Bluff Bucks Outfitters, pinpointed a picture-perfect stand site, which would drown the worries of scorching heat. We decided that our best bet would be overlooking a small manmade drinking hole. I strongly agreed that our only chance of spotting a heat-exhausted whitetail was with its head sunk into a refreshing pond of water.
Fox has several stand sites built with a mindset of early season hunting. He explained that hunting small ponds during the early season and rut are a huge splash in his successful outfitting business. A 20-foot stand overlooked a small staging area, which led into a blooming food plot. A mixture of soybeans, sunflowers, forage peas, and much more! The staging area was tucked-in from the food source about sixty yards and sported a thirst-quenching pond with a congestion of deer trails wrapping everywhere.
My cameraman, who was Dick Gunther, owner of Dick’s Whitetail Taxidermy, was just as stoked as I was to share a tree and hopefully slay a Buffalo County brute! We both scaled the bluff covered terrain as the sweat began oozing. Our setup was deep in the hills along a blanket of agriculture fields. As we approached the stand, we both sprayed down in scent-eliminating spray. It not only worked for terminating our scent, but also acted as a natural coolant!
As I approach a stand site, I’ll always toss down a scent trail no matter what time of season. I’ll simply cater the correct aroma to the time of year.
I sent Gunther up the tree first with a Hooyman handsaw so he’d be able to clear any branches for video. I anxiously waited at the base of the tree as chips of wood debris rained. After settling in, I tossed the rangefinder up and knocked out an array of distances as Gunther prepped the camera. It was obvious that the water hole was a popular destination after seeing a cluster of wildlife tracks smudged into the muddy outer walls. Times passed with each glitter of sunlight fading into the backside of a towering hilltop. Darkness began enveloping the forest floor. It was just starting to get prime.
My eyes snatched a glimpse of red fur atop the ridge ahead. I motioned to Gunther that we had a deer walking toward us. The slinky whitetail edged his way into the open after hiding himself in the thick underbrush. Rattling scrub bushes and waving weeds unveiled an outstanding whitetail buck. His tall tines and chocolate frame swayed as he dipped his mouth into the pond. I readied myself and closed my eyes to concentrate. My respiration jacked into overdrive as I huffed air inside my carbon-lined mask.
My bow rattled in my hands as Gunther documented each moment of big buck history. I cranked back my bow as soon as the buck turned to walk away. With the “okay” from Gunther, an arrow tore into the vitals. History was made.
Hanging high during the early season has proved to be a success. It was a head-to-head battle with relentless weather conditions. Luckily, the hunter came out the winner thanks to a great game plan. I’d like to thank Butch and Marc Fox of Bluff Bucks Outfitters for guiding me to an early season dream!