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Stalking A Buck In The Sunflowers
Whitetail bucks have this seeming invincibility around them. Most hunters believe that whitetail bucks cannot be stalked by a bowhunter. But, it can be done and it is not immature bucks that I am bowhunting. These are mature bucks and, yes, they can be stalked. And stalking is the ultimate challenge.
The sun was high enough we had at least three hours to walk, run, crouch, crawl and even slither through the sunflower stalks. Looking across a field of combined sunflowers it looks as if there is no cover, depressions, or contours to use, but by carefully glassing, you can pick a route that will help with wind direction and concealment. On the way your route may change as deer move and wind directions switch. You need to keep all your senses on high alert.
Today the deer were on the opposite side of the field feeding and rutting. They were not focused on us. As we moved in their direction, we crouched and jogged through the sunflowers stalks picking our way, careful not to break or scuff a sunflower stalk and alerting any deer that we were inside their domain.
On the way to the deer we had to adjust to the deer moving, as well as to the changing topography. Keeping our heads low we regularly glassed the deer, looking for the big buck we had seen through the spotting scope, before deciding to go on this stalk.
We saw the big buck’s competitors but could not find the big buck himself so decisions needed to be made quickly, move closer or wait. I decided, and in a few minutes we were closer. Crawling on my belly sliding my bow ahead and picking my way through and around the sunflower stalks. My knees, elbows and back began tightening up, but you have forget the pain … and move on.
Soon we entered the deer zone undetected or ignored. Glassing through the sunflower stalks we searched for that big buck, he had to be here. As we were focused on looking for the big buck, a smaller buck unexpectedly walked our way, I ranged him at fifty yards and closing — what to do now?
We sat motionless hoping he would not see or smell us and spook. Every step closer made my blood pound like sledge hammers on my veins, what an adrenaline rush. Fifteen yards from us he stopped, and started moving his head like those inquisitive does that can ruin a great situation.
After what seemed like an eternity, with my legs cramping and lower back muscles burning, the buck nervously trotted away. Because of all the rutting and feeding activity the other deer barely took notice. I took a deep breath I and relaxed for a moment.
Looking to my right I saw the big buck a hundred and twenty-five yards away crossing the sunflower rows. I blow on my small grunt call and the buck turned and walked directly towards us.
Time to focus and make things happen. Nocking my Wac’em tipped arrow and ranging him at sixty yards I know he will get closer, so I put my release on my string loop and raised my Elite Answer.
The big buck closed fast; I draw with one fluid motion and settle my pin on the buck’s vitals. He is about twenty-five yards, and he stops and stares, I put my finger on the trigger and my arrow is on its way and buries itself into this magnificent buck. He turns and runs in the direction he came but shows the effects of the razor sharp broadhead.
He lies down. I then lay in the snow and dirt, reflecting on what just happened. The surreal feeling surrounding me soon become a reality. The sun is getting low on the horizon.
On the way to where I shot the buck I see blood all over the patches of snow and dirt. If I would have had to trail him, that trail would’ve been an easy one to follow. As I got near the buck all kinds of emotions run through my head,
I’d just arrowed a 150 + buck spot and stalk, not my biggest stalked buck but an impressive accomplishment to say the least. Two hours of crawling through this harsh environment had once again culminated with a beautiful whitetail buck on the ground.
I stalk these deer in a combined sunflower field by using the contour of the land as well as the stalks of standing sunflowers themselves. There are a few things that will help you succeed in this situation.
Camouflage, binoculars, shooting ability, a deer call, and confidence:
Number one on the above list may surprise you, but to be a successful spot and stalk hunter, the most important thing is confidence in yourself. Half hearted attempts will not reap rewards. You have to know that you can do it.
Beside confidence in your stalking ability you need confidence in your shooting ability, knowing that even in a pressure situation you can make the shot count.
Distance will vary with each individual hunt; but practice, and by practice I mean crawling and shooting on your knees, can only help you at that critical moment when success hinges on you and your ability.
I think number two is your gear. Use the best you can afford. I am hard on equipment, and if my clothing is comfortable it can keep me in the field longer and focused on making the shot.
Archery equipment that you are confident in makes all the difference. I know what has proven its worth, time and time again and I expect my equipment to hold to my standards through the rigors of my hunting season.
I always have a small deer call, something that can be easily used and then put out of the way quickly. My call makes the important sounds at the right time to attract a buck; but I don’t use the big bulky calls I have seen. A small deer call works great for the spot and stalk situation.
Remember, every terrain offers an opportunity for success.
And whitetails are not the invincible animal we’ve been told they are. I am a spot and stalk junkie. Think you will have the opportunity to stalk whitetails? Be ready for an adrenaline rush.
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