Heads Up Decoy

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Double Down on Heads Up Decoy

Two for Two: A Hunt of a Lifetime
This article was featured in Bowhunter Magazine

I stayed tight to my brother Lucas as we aggressively closed the gap on the rutting mule deer buck. The Heads Up Decoy (HUD) mule deer doe was working perfectly to mask our approach as we neared the buck. Finally he turned on a dime and was coming right at us! Was this really about to happen? We had already decoyed one mature buck that ran off with an arrow in his vitals. Were we really going to be blessed with a second mature buck coming into bow range in less than 30 minutes?

Growing up, I was obsessed with hunting from a young age. My younger brother, Lucas, could take it or leave it. Most of the time he would just go because he was tired of me nagging at him and it was a good excuse to go spend time together. I started bowhunting during my college years and was immediately hooked. When Lucas decided he wanted to buy a bow and try bowhunting I was super excited. It didn’t take long until he became addicted like the rest of us and now he spends many hours in the field each year with his bow in hand.

Being the older brother, I always want to see Lucas have success. My desire for him to get quality opportunities on hunts and fill tags has created pressure on myself as well as on Lucas when it comes to making the shot. This has burned us on past hunts. We have matured as hunters and strive to just relax and have a good time, which has improved our success, and most importantly the enjoyment of hunting together.

I moved to western Kansas in 2005 and we have talked about getting together to hunt mule deer every year since, but family responsibilities and eastern Kansas whitetails kept Lucas from venturing out west during the rut. We decided during the summer that it was time to quit talking and start doing, so we made plans for Lucas to come stay a few days during November and try to kill his first mule deer.

We locked in a four day stretch around Veteran’s day to spend hunting together. The week was finally here, and the excitement was too much to manage.  Lucas was able to duck out of work early on Thursday allowing him to arrive in time to have a couple hours to scout some areas for the next morning. Lucas arrived around 3:30 in the afternoon and it didn’t take long for us to get dressed in our Sitka gear and head out to try to locate some deer. Neither of us expected much, but we were excited to spend time together and see some animals.

Shortly after leaving town we saw a lone buck cruising through a crop field. We glassed him and thought he was too small to shoot so early in the hunt, but as we watched him he continued moving in our direction, further tempting us.  We contemplated trying to kill him, but ultimately decided he just wasn’t what we were looking for.

We continued down the road to an area where I saw a nice typical earlier in the season. I had also watched some does using the field so I thought it might be a good place to check with the rut activity picking up. It didn’t take long to spot a decent buck cruising through the drought stricken corn in search of a receptive doe. The corn was very thin and non-existent in some spots, but would provide enough cover for us to try to close the distance on the lone buck.

We made it several hundred yards into the corn before spotting a deer in the middle of the field. It wasn’t the mulie we were going after, but it was a mature whitetail buck. After looking at him closer we decided he would be hard to pass on if he came over to check us out. We had the HUD mule deer doe decoy and I was wishing I would have brought my whitetail buck HUD along as well. We still thought the buck might check out the mule deer decoy so we hunkered down on the back side of a terrace in some weeds and continued showing the decoy to the whitetail. He would look at us and then look away. It wasn’t long until the mulie we were stalking came into view and the whitetail bristled up, posturing towards the mule deer. The mulie continued on and we lost sight of him. However, the whitetail was still watching us from several hundred yards away so we stayed put. A short while later Lucas heard a corn stalk break and the mule buck had somehow snuck around us and was 50 yards and closing!

Lucas had to get repositioned to ready for a shot while the buck continued towards us. As Lucas went to draw, a bowhunter’s worst nightmare happened; I saw his arrow come off the string. I think Lucas remained much calmer than me and he hurriedly got his arrow nocked again. As soon as he did I was telling him to draw because the buck was on top of us. As Lucas hit his anchor point the buck stopped 20 yards away. It didn’t need to be said, but the big brother in me was coaching, and I said kill him there. Lucas took his time and sunk the arrow perfectly in the buck’s vitals! He exploded at impact and made it several hundred yards before falling out of sight!

There were a lot of high fives and hugs after seeing that buck go down. We couldn’t believe it! Lucas drove close to four hours and we had only been hunting for a little over an hour and he was done. It couldn’t have played out better and the Heads Up Decoy worked flawlessly, pulling that buck from hundreds of yards away right into our laps!

We were all smiles as we headed back to the pickup to get the camera and necessities to take care of Lucas’ deer. While we stood there recounting the events that had just transpired, Lucas looked down the road and saw another good buck headed our direction. The buck stayed on the road long enough for me to size him up and decide that he was definitely a mature buck with great width, but crossed into the field we had just vacated before I could really assess his antlers. I quickly decided we needed to get a closer look so we ditched the cameras and tripod and I grabbed my bow and Lucas grabbed the decoy.

We headed towards the buck, but rather than coming towards us he headed out to the middle of the field to where Lucas’ buck had come from and where the whitetail buck was still located. We could watch the buck the whole way and could tell that he was rutting hard. Déjà vu was happening because the buck went right towards the whitetail and he bristled up once again, but this time the mulie went around the whitetail and headed in our direction staying in plain view. As he closed the distance it was evident he wasn’t coming right at us, but would cross by us several hundred yards away.

The mulie walked with his head to the ground and rarely lifted it. Lucas thought we should try to close the gap, but we would be leaving the taller corn and going into an area of knee high grass where the corn failed to grow. I agreed and we moved forward. The buck raised his head once and glanced our way, but quickly put his nose back to the ground and continued walking on the back side of the terrace. I have watched bucks act this way in the past and knew we could be very aggressive. Lucas held the HUD in front of us as we hunched over in “I” formation and quickly closed the distance. The buck was still oblivious when we came to a halt within shooting range. Dropping to our knees, I hastily nocked an arrow to prepare for a shot. Like it was scripted, the buck turned and decided he was going to come check us out. When the arrow clicked on the string Lucas was ranging and the buck was 25 yards and closing. I decided to let him get tight before drawing in case he spooked. Amazingly, he didn’t even flinch. I hit full draw and the buck stopped less than 15 yards away and the VPA tipped Goldtip zipped through him so fast he didn’t even know what happened. He bounded a few yards and would have tipped over, but I couldn’t contain my excitement and foolishly stood up with my arms in the air. The buck finally realized what we were, and tried to flee, crashing 40 short yards later!

Unbelievable! We had just used the Heads Up Decoy to double up on two mature mule deer bucks! After coming down from that adrenaline rush we realized that the deer were shot and died less than 100 yards apart. What a hunt! I still can’t believe how it all played out and in such a short time. The hunt unfolded like we all dream they will and I was very proud to be with Lucas when he arrowed his first mule deer. Sharing a hunt like this with my brother is one of the greatest moments of my bowhunting career, and something we will relive together for the rest of our lives. It really doesn’t get much better!

Like brothers do, we argued over whose deer was the biggest, but not in the fashion one would think. Lucas thought mine was bigger and I thought his was bigger. We decided to have my friend who is an official scorer for the Pope and Young Club green score our deer. The bucks do not resemble each other at all, but ironically score very similar. My deer gross scored 171 7/8” and netted 156 4/8” and Lucas’ buck gross scored 168 2/8” and netted 157 1/8”, so I guess you could say we were both right. After the mandatory 60 day drying period we will have our deer officially scored and proudly enter them into the Pope and Young record book. Lucas and I will have many more hunts together in our lifetime, but killing two Pope and Young qualifiers in less than 30 minutes in the same field will likely never happen again, and is something I will cherish forever.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

It's A Numbers Game

For myself, hunting elk and calling elk into bow range is a numbers game. The more times you set up and call...eventually one is going to commit to bow range. With experience and repetition, your efficiency of calling an elk to bow range will improve. Let's be honest, pretty much every place in the elk woods looks ideal. It's whether or not they are there. With that said, it's best that the numbers of encounters stack up in a year and not over multiple seasons. For me, it's been the later. Hunting elk is much easier than finding elk. It's just my opinion.

Over the years, we've been so unbelievably close to killing some GREAT bulls in Colorado with the decoy, but it's just simply not materialize mostly due to tight shooting windows. By drawing another AZ bull elk tag, I was hoping to change our fortune and have it all come together.

The summer of 2016 was an interesting one for Heads Up Decoy. Personal preparation for the fall hunts was limited from previous years. No scouting and not a ton of shooting. I purchase a Hoyt Carbon Spyder in the late winter and barely got myself acquainted with it before I left for the Grand Canyon State. I was going to rely on my 30 years of shooting a bow to carry me through.

We arrived Wednesday which was a couple days before the season opener. Doing so gave us a day to sleep in, get organized, shoot, and to get acquainted with our surrounding. My brother also had a tag for the same unit. Being a resident, he had the opportunity to do some scouting. Plus, he had friends that knew the unit pretty well and had some success in years past.

One particular friend of my brothers was in the unit the previous year and stumbled onto a unique calling pattern that would get the bulls really stirred up. Mulitple encounters with the decoy and his "crazy cow call" was the recipe. It proved successful for him and his brother.

I was confident throughout the summer...irregardless of scouting...that we would have some opportunities once the season rolled around. It's Arizona and calling elk is a numbers game. Eventually we'll find one...maybe two...that wanted to die.

Our camp was comfortable except at night. Sleeping proved to be difficult due to the amount of bugling elk keeping us up...some not more than 100 yards from camp. I thought that was very inconsiderate. So we set out to shoot one of them.

Our first morning of crazy cow calling resulted in a loud response of bulls in close proximity, but due to some technical difficulties, we let them off the hook. Never setting eyes on them. The remainder of the morning was uneventful, so we relocated.

Most units in AZ have good...too good...road access. This unit was no expection. It's a popular camping destination and couple that with opening day being on a Friday...it was busy. The evening found us roving a new area only to stumble onto roads and traffic. With the sun dropping quickly, a swift move to a new location needed to be made.

When we stepped out of the truck and began our trek into the woods, we were very disheartened by the mess a previous camper left behind from the previous Labor Day Weekend. Bags of human waste lying in the forest. It was sad to see.

Once distanced from the messy campsite, my brother let out a series of "crazy cow calls" and was immediately hit with an excited bugle! He was CLOSE! We scramble to close some distance and to set up. The cow calling intesified as did the bulls excitement. The bull emerged on the ridge 100 yards ahead. We had no choice but to hold our position and get ready.

My brother hadn't quite mastered the physical call so the cow sounds were not perfectly hit, but the decoy help dispell any doubt in the bull's mind as he approached quickly. I admit that I carry and seldom use my rangefinder, but predicting the bull's path ahead of time, I took the time to range a pine only to verify that my 35 yard estimate was spot on.

My brother settled directly behind me and the bull started to approach head on. I was preparing for a frontal shot inside of 20 yards, but the bull began to leak off to my downwind side and inside the pine I had previously ranged. He stopped quartering too and let out a bugle. KICK ASS. That's all I had to say at that moment. But I was frustrated with determining where and when my shot was going to take place.

As the bull began to drift a few more steps to my left, he flattened out allowing me a more comfortable broadside shot if one materialized. I shifted my weight as the bull came to a stop. A small pine branch or tree somewhere between me and the bull covered his vitals. I decide to draw. Once anchored, I rose off my heels moving the top of the pine to the bull's mid-line. Seeing it was clear, I settled my 30 yard pin on the top of the pine and watched my arrow fly gracefully over the branch and sink deep into the bull's chest.

Even though the blood trail was great, there were a few anxious moments leading up to finding the bull. Given the shot placement and the damage the broadhead made, I was surprised the bull made it out of sight.

It goes to show the importance of finding a bull that wants to die. Even though it is usually a function of numbers and repitition, this bull's number was up right out of the gate. Finding success so early took a lot of pressure off us for the remainder of the season.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Point Blank Turkey Hunting

As bow hunters, we always want a slam dunk shot. With the Heads Up Turkey Decoy, we expect it. Not the ground blind traditional set up, I'm talking the wide open turkey fanning bow mounted set up.

It is not unusual to get multiple point blank...inside of 10 yards...shots during a season. For that to happen, the birds do need to cooperate. But it is frequent to say the least. I can remember a picture perfect day in 2015. I was hunting by myself. I had one golden opportunity to seal the deal on a bird inside of 10 yards. And a couple more that were not far outside of that 10 yard market. It was day where I was not following my own advise...DON'T RUSH!

Our Heads Up Turkey Decoy continues to prove it's worth season after season. Based on my social media feeds and text messages, 2016 is no different. There a lot of people out there with their own version of turkey decoys. As I said in my last blog post, you cannot compete with the Heads Up Decoy when the weather is bad...or when the weather is good. Our simple design lends itself to versatility and effective. We've proven that time and time again...to the point we have nothing left to do other than keep having fun and introducing our product to new folks.

I have some great footage of my friend David from a couple years back that has never been formally produced until now. (Click Video) It was a windy spring, but this day proved to be picture perfect for turkey hunting. We did not roll out of bed at o-dark-thirty. David and I sneaked down a low wash to a steep bank. As the sun was beginning to light up the pasture, we eased up the steep bank and settle into a small yucca patch on the top of a ridge. The ridge had a great vantage point and it happen to be adjacent to a small grove of trees the toms filtered into after they lost their hens to the nest.

We occasionally called. We could hear birds in several directions. Pretty soon we realized one gobbler was really picking up what we were putting down. Easily the farthest bird I've every called and decoyed in. He was merely a speck when we saw him.

When an animal is way out there, I don't mind doing some really crazy things to get an animal to see the decoy. Once I know they have made eye contact, I reel it in an begin making more natural movements. This was one of those instances where I raised the decoy high above my head. Rotate the Heads Up side to side until he made visual.

Once this bird made visual contact with us, he didn't know whether to strut, gobble, run, or all of the above. He was fired up. When I saw the bird run down the draw toward us a few hundred yards away...I knew this bird was going to finish close...and well...he was in David's lap.

We get a lot of hunts that work out like this, but not all of them are on film.

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Saturday, April 2, 2016

When The Wind Blows

With all the growth and success of Heads Up Decoy, I am still barely more than a weekend hunter. I plan my days off based on the time of year. Rolling the dice that Mother Nature and the animals will cooperate.

It is hard to believe that I have been building Heads Up Decoy since 2008. The improvements we've made with the product, the additions, and the new revelations have been so great that our original thought behind our concept is hard to recall.

Is Heads Up Decoy more of a system...than an actual decoy? A question I ponder often. The versatility with the decoy and accessories lends itself to limitless opportunities for the hunter willing to give it a run. So, I would say yes, it is a system because there is no one way to use them.

Over the years, I have developed a great appreciation for how well Heads Up Decoys can work in really crappy conditions. I suppose one could argue that in order for it to perform in bad conditions is that you may need another person. I have witnessed many hunts, either as a videographer, observer, or the one holding the decoy, in some pretty brutal conditions that led to a shot. Mostly because we were willing to make the effort.

A couple years ago, we met up with some friends in the hopes of getting them a true Heads Up Decoy experience. It was spring and we were after turkeys. Mother Nature in all her splendor, did everything she could to foil our hunt. To be honest, she kick our butt in all but about 20 minutes of our 3 day hunt.

We did what we could do, but the wind simply would not relent. It beat us down, but we kept after it. Sticking to it ultimately led to success on one of those brutally windy days.

There was no option to have the Heads Up Turkey Decoy in the bow mount, someone had to hold the decoy. On this opportunity, two of us crawled out into the pasture. When we were able to locate the bird from our bellies, we slowly raised up and showed the decoy to the bird. 45 seconds later we got our one and only shot...and made good on it.

Brutal conditions are a part of hunting, and the thing I appreciate about our product is that if you are willing to use it, you have control over decoy in these really bad conditions and can ultimately get an opportunity.

When you cannot pick and choose the best of the best days to hunt, like me. Heads Up Decoy can be the key to success.

For video of this hunt, click the link below. Best of luck this turkey season.

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Goats Ammongst the Cactus

story and photos submitted by JON YOKLEY

About the 3rd week of July the draw results were posted for the fall hunts here in Arizona. My friend, Ken Thomson, and I DREW!!...not one but 2 tags!! Pronghorn and Bull Elk, both archery tags. These are both second choice and in highly hunted public land areas so this would require many hours of scouting and serious strategy.

The Pronghorn would be first with the opening day of 8/21/15. We started with Google Earth and topical maps to help make the decision on where we would concentrate and begin setting cameras. Once cameras were placed and working, we began hours of glassing and looking for sign. Through the first 4 weeks we learned a lot and found some decent herds that held some good bucks. Our cameras weren’t producing Pronghorn at all, instead we found countless elk. This was due to our heavy monsoon rains that kept producing large amounts of rain leaving standing water everywhere and of course scattering the Pronghorn even more.

The decision was made to make this happen on the ground with spot and stalk. The use of our H.U.D. mobile decoys were possible because this is pre-rut and I prefer this method over sitting any day. Day 1 was full of opportunity as we found Buck # 1 and Buck #2 in the same area. These were notable bucks to us and both would score mid 70’s. Buck #1 had 6 does whereas Buck #2 wanted them. This would make an ideal situation to decoy once in range. We watched as the satellite buck, which is buck #2, try to gain control of the does but the herd buck, buck #1, had other plans. A half mile out, a great fight started, as the 2 bucks met. We grabbed the decoy and moved as fast as possible to the fighting bucks. We knew that if we could get there it would present a shot or maybe two. As luck would have it the fight broke up and we were just 150 yards out. The herd buck took his does in to the juniper trees while the satellite buck moved away. This was a perfect opportunity to use the decoy. We presented the smaller buck decoy to the satellite buck and he responded slowly. As he approached with caution and stopped inside bow range, I knew this was as close as he would get so I settled my pin on the buck then released. I missed!! I shot just an inch under his chest. He moved away and when he was out of sight we made our way back to the vehicle deciding to leave this group alone until the next morning. My pride was hurt because I really wanted this buck!

It was Ken’s turn now so we went in search of Buck #3 (another low 70’s buck) about 4 miles away. We searched and searched for him. After an hour we found him with his 7 does. He was in a great place to decoy so the plan was made. We made our way to a position to start the process, the decoy was raised. He was curious and started to commit slowly, and then would hang up but still inside of bow range for an out west hunter. I ranged and Ken released his arrow. The buck jumped the string so fast he left the arrow behind him unharmed as he took his does and moved on out.

On the second day we decided to pursue the satellite buck that I had missed the day before. I was up to shoot next and felt ready. After glassing for about 45 minutes we picked him up and made a plan. I made an attempt on him in the wide open but it went the buck’s way. I failed again. We watched as buck #2 moved toward the back of this huge valley. He was heading in to a juniper patch so I quickly worked my way through the trees to try and get ahead of him. As I started glassing below I could see him a few hundred yards out working towards me, but this time he picked up a smaller buck.  I slowly moved in to position as this was going to be great because the wind was perfect and they had no clue that I was there. The smaller buck fed to about 40 yards as the other buck held up. After about 5 minutes he started moving across from me and stopped inside my comfort zone. I settled my pin on the spot and released. I heard that familiar crack and I knew he was hit. He quickly left the area to end up bedding in a huge cactus patch. After about 30 minutes I settled down and I could see that the buck had not left the area so I started my slow stalk towards him. This took about an hour to locate him after minimal blood on the ground.  I glassed every cactus and was finally able to turn him up. I had filled my 2015 tag! He was larger than I thought because he grossed at 76 6/8” putting him well into Pope & Young and just a few inches under the Boone & Crockett minimum of 80”. This buck is very special to me because of my history with him and numerous pictures throughout the scouting time.

On day 3 we searched for an opportunity for Ken to fill his tag. We found many antelope which produced a few stalks but none would give any shot opportunity. That day ended way to fast but Ken was still in great spirts knowing that we were going to be back hunting after a few days of work at our real jobs.

It was now Thursday and our 4th day in the field. We had decided to work an area where we have seen some great bucks and also heard of a great one in particular known as Unicorn. We were told he has one solid, normal horn and a deformed horn growing along side of his face. We started out glassing up a few does but couldn’t turn up a buck so we moved on. We were heading to an area where we had seen the most sign from previous scouting trips. It wasn’t long until picked up a single and it was a great buck. We didn’t study him too hard but knew that he was a shooter. The plan was to get above him in the junipers and work toward him. We started moving to where we saw him last but at a slow pace, glassing and picking every little bush apart. Finally, we heard him grunt and quickly picked him up. He was moving through the trees and unaware that we were there. Once again the wind was in our favor so we became very aggressive to try to get in to position to decoy this buck. Before we knew it we were there. The buck was 80 yards and moving at an angle that would present a shot. Ken knocked an arrow and I grunted to stop the buck while showing him the decoy. The buck stopped and locked on to the decoy, I gave Ken the yardage, and he released his arrow. The buck was hit well! As I glassed the running buck I told Ken “You just shot the “Unicorn Buck”!  We were both in disbelief that he just took one of the notable bucks in this area. We were able to watch this buck fall inside of a 100 yards. As we approached him we couldn’t believe the mass and character that this buck had. We also saw the deformed side was growing down and into the side of his face. He ended up with a gross score of 72 4/8” Pope & Young points even with his goofy horn.  If his deformed side was equal or close to the good side he would have grossed right at 80” Boone & Crockett minimum!

What a season start this was. Two great Pope & Young bucks in just 4 days of actual hunting.  As the phrase goes, “Scout Hard, Hunt Easy”.

Now it’s on to Bull Elk in the northern part of Arizona in an area that I am very familiar with. Season opener is 9/11/2015.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Southwest Style

photo courtesy of Jon Yokley
                                                                                ...author Michael Riger

My name is Mike Riger. I am good friends and hunting buddies with Jon Yokley. Jon introduced me to HUD decoy’s about two years ago. I have to say I am quite impressed with the Mule Deer decoy. I have used the decoy in many different situations to close the distance on these illusive desert mulies we have here in AZ.

The first year Jon introduced me to your mule deer decoy I was quiet skeptical of how it would work. I glassed up about 135” muley bedded with several does. I did not have a tag and the buck was a little under my buddies standards. It was the perfect situation to see how well the decoy would work. My buddy and I started at 250 yards in plain view of the mulies. We kept zigzagging back and forth towards the bedded deer, never walking directly at them. We got up to 75 yards before the deer even stood up. Since this stalk the decoy is with me at all times while hunting Mule Deer.

On 12/25/2014, My wife and I glassed up a head of deer bedded on top of small mesa. With only a week left in the archery hunt my wife was not being picky. There was a small forkey that we seen bedded with the herd. We thought it was the only buck. My wife and I put a stalk on this herd using the decoy. We got sixty from the small buck. My wife had a hard time finding the buck as I kept telling her to step out from behind me to shoot the little forky. Out of nowhere stepped a 22 inch 2x3 to our left at forty yards. The buck fixed on the decoy giving my wife plenty of time to draw and put a great shot him.

On 12/26/2014, I glassed up a buck I had been chasing since 08/2013. He was about a mile away. I had put 4 stalks on this buck previously and was able to get into bow range each time. All 4 times I was never able to get a shot opportunity. I thought this stalk was not going to be doable, but I went for it anyways. The deer were able to see me the first ¾’s of the stalk. But due to me using the HUD Mule Deer decoy I was able to cross a lot of open country in the line of sight of the bedded muley buck and his does. The last 300 yards of the stalk I was out of the sight of the deer. After getting in bow range and waiting for the buck to stand up, I was finally able to send an arrow air mail at the magnificent muley.

I just wanted to give a big thanks to you guys at HUD decoy. I have been able to make stalks happen that without the decoy there would have been no chance. You guys have some great products.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Where the Wind Blows

author Tate Haines

We crawled into the blind late in the afternoon on October 31, 2013.  My brother, Travis, and I had set out our trail cameras early in the summer and we had a pretty good idea of what deer were frequenting our property.  Now, we sat in the blind hoping to get eyes on any of the five or six nice muley bucks that had been posing for us throughout the summer.  It was the perfect evening; no clouds, comfortable temperatures, and not a breath of wind.  The kind of weather that you hope for every time you head into the field, but as anyone that has been hunting in NW KS knows, is extremely rare.  Our usual plan of attack is to use well concealed blinds to spot from, formulate a plan of attack, then put the HUD into action.  A few doe started to move into the area from various directions followed by a few small bucks.  There was probably fifteen or twenty deer in a spread out group, but nothing to get too excited about.  It was getting close to dark when a familiar buck came strolling into view.  He was probably a few hundred yards out from us, but the size of his body and unique rack made it pretty obvious which buck we were now watching.  The smaller bucks stayed clear of him when he walked through the group and began to beat and rake his rack up and down a small cedar tree along the creek.  It was getting too late and he was too far away to execute a decent stalk, so we reluctantly snuck out of the area, hoping we would come across this guy again in the next few days.

The only thing more obnoxious than the screaming alarm at 4:30 a.m. the next morning was the sound of the howling NW KS wind, which was holding steady around forty with higher gusts.  This particular part of NW KS has about ten trees, total, and I was sure those trees were probably resting somewhere in Oklahoma after a ride from the NW wind.  Lots of people would have turned off the alarm and tried to sleep off the wind, but I don’t get too many days in KS each year so we hunt any and all weather we encounter along the way.  Since the previous nights’ events were still on replay in our heads going back to sleep was probably out anyway.  While cussing the wind we geared up and headed out to the blind, assuming it was still there.  Surprisingly enough the blind managed to hang on through the night and we were settled in before the sun came up, waiting to see one of our big bucks walk, or blow by.  It was pretty uneventful up until about 8:00 a.m. when a few doe came into view followed shortly by the same buck from the night before.  He seemed pretty interested in one particular doe and soon bedded down out of the wind with her, settling on the East side of a tree surrounded by tall weeds.  This spot put them about three hundred yards straight West across a bare field from us.  Travis suggested we ease out of the blind, circle around, and come in from a pasture on the West side of their location.  This seemed like the best option as we could make a wide circle around and above them on a hill to the North and eventually come in from the SW.  We would then be hidden by the wind break the buck and doe were now laying in.

We slowly moved out of the blind and along the edge of a creek.  When we were about directly North of the buck, we spooked a group of fifteen mule deer from a wash.  The group blasted out of the wash and ran right behind our buck.  By some miracle, the rut and wind saved our plan and our buck stayed put as the group went screaming behind him and the doe.  We continued with our plan and circled down through the pasture.  By 8:45 a.m. we were moving through in the middle of a bare, worked up field about one hundred yards SW of the bedding location.  We moved slowly and stepped softly as we made our way across the field trying to minimize how much dirt we made swirl up in the wind with each step.  When we got to the back side of the weed patch I nocked an arrow and made sure the HUD muley doe was still securely in the bow mount.  The weeds were tall enough that we couldn’t see the deer from the SW side of the weed patch, but we knew about where they were laying the last time we had eyes on them.  I moved into the weeds first with Travis directly behind me.  I got about five feet into the ten foot wide patch of weed when I saw antler tips sticking up seven yards in front of me.  In about the same amount of time it took me to realize what I was looking at and pull back to full draw, the buck saw the HUD and pushed his thick body up to a standing position, as did the doe.  The buck stared at the HUD for a few seconds while the doe started to get nervous and walk away.  The buck lowered his body just a bit and looked off to the East, a gesture I knew meant he was about to blow out of there.  I pulled back on the trigger of my release, let the arrow rip, and heard that beautiful sound of an arrow blasting through ribs at 320 ft/second.  The big guy ran to the East about fifty yards, stopped, and started to sway from side to side.  I expected him to drop, but he somehow mustered up the power to go another two hundred and fifty yards before he dropped at the edge of a creek bed.

 The trail cam pictures we got of this buck throughout the summer didn’t do him justice.  The mass and symmetry of the rack was amazing.  After we recovered the deer, I was too excited to truly appreciate his body size.  When we got him to the processor, his hanging weight (gutted, skinned, lower legs, and head removed) was 166 pounds.  The manager of the processing center felt compelled to call and tell me this because my buck outweighed the other twenty deer he had taken in that year by at least twenty pounds.  The rack measured in at 162 3/8 gross, 151 1/8 total Pope & Young score.  The P&Y Measurer told me that out of all the years and hundreds of deer he had measured, mine was very unique in that all circumference measurements were perfectly symmetrical when comparing the left side to the right side.

In an industry being flooded by the “latest and greatest” gimmicks to get you that trophy buck, there are few products that actually live up to their claims.  I know without the HUD, that buck would have flew out of his bed and been in the next county before I could draw my bow back.  I have had many close and personal experiences with the HUD that would have been impossible otherwise.  From a rutting buck running at me full steam to a doe sniffing the toe of my boot as I sat against a tree with the HUD in my lap, there is no other product that will give you this kind of edge.  The area of NW KS I hunt is probably one of the toughest places you could ever find to try spot and stalk hunting.  The HUD is a game changer in this area, and anywhere else you can use it.  Thank you for such a valuable tool!