Author Jake Leibke
My good friend Nic was in town and he was hoping to experience some good rutting activity. It was the beginning of November 2017 and the whitetail rut had been pretty slow so far. We had not had a very good response to calling and rattling and it seemed like few bucks were cruising around.
By the morning of about the fifth or maybe even sixth day we had seen a few decent bucks but nothing presented a shot. This morning we were hunting a decent sized piece of public ground. Nic and I split up that morning trying to cover a few different areas. We saw a handful of deer moving right away but nothing we wanted to close some distance on. As I turned my bino’s to glass the bay of the lake we were hunting against I noticed a deer standing on the far shoreline. I recognized immediately it was a good buck. As I watched him longer, he chased off a few smaller bucks and I had a hunch he had a doe locked down in the rushes. Sure enough, after maybe another 10 minutes I saw a doe emerge from the cover. She bedded back down as the buck continued chasing off some smaller bucks. This was a situation that looked promising.
After a few hours of keeping tabs on the buck and doe they hadn’t moved more than 15 yards or so. I made my way over to Nic and he was also watching the duo. I told him we could get on those deer. He looked at me skeptically. I told him the plan. We would head back to the truck drive a few miles and come at the deer from the other side. Then hike in the mile or so to the bay we last saw the buck. Our hope was to get in there and I would have the Heads Up Decoy and the buck would see that and come in to chase off the intruder and Nic would get a shot. He once again looked at me skeptically.
Fast forward a few hours. We had backed out, came around and were sitting at the crest of the hill above where we last saw the buck. We found 2 of the smaller bucks bedded so now it was just a matter of finding the big one before we got spotted by any of the, at least 4, deer that were below us. We didn’t have to wait long. Two of the smaller bucks couldn’t take it being bedded downwind of the hot doe and got up to harass the big buck and doe. It didn’t take long for him to stand and chase them off. Now we had him pinpointed and it was a matter of time until we could make a move.
He finally bedded back down and we made a plan. Nic would back out and come in from directly above where they were bedded and I would stay put until he was in position then slip down, side hilling towards the deer and do some aggressive grunting to get the buck to stand and offer Nic a clear shot.
Nic used his ninja skills to close the distance to what looked to be about 40 yards or so from my angle. He gave me the signal and I started towards the deer. I closed to about 50 or 60 yards and started grunting. Nic saw the deer stand and start my way before I could see him. Suddenly he came out around all of the cover towards me. By this time Nic was at full draw. The deer saw the decoy and took a few more steps in my direction paused and looked towards Nic. The buck looked back towards me as Nic sent the arrow. Turns out Nic was about 23 yards and made a great shot! We watched as the buck went about 50 yards and collapsed near the lake shore.
Time to celebrate! This was Nic’s biggest whitetail and a story neither of us would soon forget! With smiles on our faces we relived how the events unfolded and the effectiveness of the H.U.D.as we snapped a few photos (like almost 400!) and got the buck boned out and loaded into Nics pack for the hike out. The weight of his pack couldn’t wipe the smile off his face!