We checked The Weather Channel every morning to give us an idea of wind direction before selecting which stand to sit.
It’s two hours before morning breaks and I can’t sleep, so I get up for some caffeine and a look at The Weather Channel. The local forecast is for warm weather, it’s only 50 degrees out at 4:00 a.m. but the winds are light and from the north. When my friend, outfitter Steve Rortvedt of Western Outdoors gets up and sees the forecast, he grabs his coffee and doesn’t say much. He walks outside, checks the wind, comes back and sits down, then grins from ear to ear. “Wind from the north, perfect for the Cow Pen stand.”
Outfitter Steve Rortvedt has lots of Moultrie game cameras out and checks them regularly. This one had lot of pictures of some dandy bucks near the Cow Pen stand.
Steve then explains that this is the stand that he has shown me the photos from his Moultrie game camera. Yikes! There were three dandy bucks near this stand, on more than one occasion! And guide Jeff Oglesby has sat in the rifle shooting house 125 yards off the travel corridor scouting and seen them with his own eyes.
For bowhunting Steve erected a 22-foot ladder stand against the trunk of a huge cottonwood tree. Jeff and I head out there well before daylight breaks so I can get nestled in. I am using the Summit Seat-O-The-Pants full body safety harness this season for the first time, and have grown to love its simplicity and security, both welcome in this stand!
As the sky barely lightens up it is pin drop quiet and I look over my left shoulder. Gawd! Not 10 yards off stands a whopper buck. It’s so dark I can just make out his oversized body and massive antler frame. It’s the kind of buck you do not have to evaluate any more than that – just shoot him! But he’s too close and when I move to get my bow off the hook he hears something and bounds off. He circles the stand and with two smaller bucks, begins placidly feeding 40 yards away. Though he is there for 20 minutes he never gives me a shot and then two does walk by. It’s the pre-rut and the chase is on. Adios, amigo.
Not to worry. This is a great stand and I am confident I can do some business here. Unfortunately, that afternoon the wind shifts from the south, making hunting it again a fool’s game. So Jeff takes me back to the Cattail Stand, a fixed position stand set in a lone cottonwood overlooking lots of CRP transition country between some thick bedding areas and a pair of winter wheat fields that we hunted the evening before. Jeff has spent a lot of time sitting in a rifle shooting house overlooking the area with his binocular scouting and has seen some excellent buck and lots of deer.
I get settled in and wait, but there’s not much going on. As shooting light fades a fat doe comes by. Steve encourages all his bowhunters to take at least one doe on their hunt, so I raise my Mathews Drenalin and launch a Carbon Express Maxima 350 shaft tipped with a 100-grain Slick Trick broadhead. The shot is just 25 yards, and we have some meat for the freezer.
As we drag the doe to the truck, all I can think about is tomorrow, the Cow Pen stand, and the whopper buck. Will he come back?