When I started out, I had a saying on my website's home page..."Starting a New Revolution in Big Game Decoys". Although the saying is no longer visible on the website, the statement lives through my efforts and through those that help me promote my decoys. You see, I knew in my heart there was a way to expand one's opportunities with the proper tools. I think the Heads Up Decoy embodies a tool that provides opportunities never realized before...with opportunities comes success and hopefully moments you will never forget.
My good friend Kent accompanied me Saturday afternoon on November 20th in pursuit of a big whitetail buck. The plan was to head to some property I have access to and hang out in a pasture waiting for a giant whitetail to show himself. We left Kent's house at 1:45PM...ish. Driving to our planned destination, we weaved through the county buzzing by some additional property we could hunt. You see, we know that the big bucks have a tendency to bed up with a hot doe in the pasture ground, basically voiding treestand hunting.
Part of the trip was taking a highway for a couple miles before hitting a final turn on a county road. I was babbling on the phone driving 65mph when Kent tapped my arm and gave me a "whirly bird" signal with his finger to turn around. I hung up and turned around. Kent had spotted a buck in a raggedy cut milo field that a mouse wouldn't hide in. He was bedded with a doe about 300yds off the highway, and he was a shooter.
We bailed out of the truck and planned our attack. We grabbed the Heads Up Whitetail Buck Decoy, the camera, a Bugling Bull Grunt Call, and my bow. The plan of attack was to get down wind and walk at him as far as we could before he spotted us. We walked as one, in unison, with Kent in front with the decoy and camera and me holding on to his coat-tail across a small grass strip, a shin high wheat stubble field, and finally to the last small strip of grass abutting the milo field the buck was in.
Several people have asked me why I made the buck decoy so big. Well, you use big buck decoys to kill big bucks...like the one bedded just ahead of us. The typical western KS wind let us down...it was hardly blowing. Where this buck came from we don't know...maybe it was "Divine Intervention"...cause he was big and he was looking into what little wind there was allowing us to approach him. We gently stepped through 30 yards of milo stubble and closed the distance to 60 yards. Not wanting to disturb his doe bedded on our side, we set up. Kent displayed the Heads Up Decoy and the buck stood up. With a small grunt from the Bugling Bull Dialect Deer Call, the buck approached our position larger than life...ears down, hair out, stiff legged... I ran a Rage broadhead through his cage when he was at 15 yards(aka "toasted him" as you will soon witness)...the time was shortly after 3PM.
I exploded with emotion and energy when the arrow disappeared through the chest of this great animal that I will probably be criticized for. I guess my justification is that I have worked very hard and my family has sacrificed for this moment and I did not restrain myself very well. I hope to refine my on camera performance as I continue with the success of the Heads Up Decoy. I hope you will understand when you see this footage. Please appreciate the fact that my friend Kent and I did something that at the time was a possibility...not a reality and that was to take a mature whitetail buck at eye level with archery equipment in open country...and Kent, being the absolute MAN! captured it on video.
I want to personally thank my good friend Kent Hensley. A side note about Kent, he truly is the best hunter I know. He was holding the Heads Up Decoy when I harvested the first animal taken by my decoy 3 years ago. Now, he was holding a Heads Up Decoy when I harvested the first whitetail buck with the Heads Up Decoy. Kent is a good hunter and a great man. Thank you Kent for helping me prove that you can get away with almost anything using the Heads Up Decoy.
Please click the link below for the video.
Garrett's 2010 Whitetail Buck
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Referenced in "Chasin Prairie Bucks" there was one more tag to be filled...Dalton's. Dalton out-did Dad in a BIG way. A Father and Son hunt for the ages. This is Dad's version...
As my 12 year old son, Dalton, jumped off the bus, I asked him, "Do you want to go hunting?" Without much hesitation he said, "Yeah, let's go." Within minutes we were heading down the road to our hunting spot.
The deer were already up and feeding. One of the bucks I had watched through the summer was in a group of a dozen. There were few options for a stalk in the open stubble field so I positioned Dalton in a weedy draw with to hopes that I could gently push them his way by showing myself. One of the does "freaked" out and ran the opposite direction. The rest of the deer followed including the buck.
Having a good idea of where the deer were heading I went back to pick up Dalton. We moved about a 1/2 mile and began our stalk down the draw not knowing if the deer were in there. A few hundred yards later we spotted the deer in a wheat field. They were 400 yards away. We slowly worked down the draw, stopping and glassing the group trying to figure out our next move. Then, for no apparent reason, the "freakout" doe took off again heading back to the first weed draw that Dalton had set up in. It wasn't looking good, but to our amazement, the buck and one doe stayed put in the wheat field. Things were beginning to look better. Now we only had to beat 4 eyes, 4 ears, and 2 noses.
Still 400 yards away, we were running out of light and wind. W had about 45 minutes of shooting time left and a 300 yard crawl to a cedar tree. I am sure we sounded like a herd of elephants in the dry grass as we noticed the doe was focused on the noise we were making moving down the draw.
We took it slow and steady. We managed to get the cedar tree between us and the deer with only a cut milo field to cross before reaching the tree. With the help of the cedar tree blocking our movement, we managed to make it through the milo field, but not to the security of the cedar tree.
Using the decoy, the goal was to make it through 20 yards of dry, noisy grass. Dalton knocked an arrow and I grabbed my range finder. We made it 4 steps when the buck heard our soft steps and stood up looking out way. With the cedar tree still between us and the buck we were still in the game. We moved up the hill as the buck move down the hill towards us. The buck stopped on the edge of the cedar tree staring at the Heads Up Decoy that we were now using for a blind as well as an attractant. To my amazement, the buck continued toward us. Dalton was positioned slightly behind me at full draw. I struggled to get a range, finally got a range. "30 yards", I whispered. The buck took 5 more steps and stopped; he was looking directly at the decoy. Dalton concentrated and shot, sending an 85 grain Magnus Stinger zipping through the bucks ribs and lungs. "You drilled him!" I said. We sprinted towards the top of the hill were the buck had bolted to see him pile up 100 yards away.
We celebrated a our hunt and stalk of a great buck with hugs and congratulation's. We both looked at each other and thank the Lord our God for giving us such a glorious experience, one father and son will relive for many years.
The Heads Up Decoy kept the buck around to allow Dalton this chance at a great Kansas prairie buck.
Dalton's buck is a wide main frame 3 X 4 with a couple of "sticker" points. Its gross green score was an amazing 173 inches...a true giant prairie mule deer.
Great hunt and thank you for sharing your story and pictures. Please click the link below to hear Dalton's story of his hunt.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
I Spent the weekend hunting with one of my best friends from high school, Jason Weltzin. Jason arrived Thursday night and we were looking forward to getting to catch up and hunt like old times, but also hoped to succeed in Jason tagging his first mule deer. We found a few good bucks right out of the gate, but we ran out of daylight.
After a few failed attempts, we decided to head to a new location Saturday morning. We found a large group of does with multiple bucks strung out along a weedy fenceline between a crop field and a large CRP field. The wind wasn't cooperating because it had all but died, but we watched the deer bed and decided to give it a try. We used the mule deer doe decoy to help cover our approach. As we approached there were multiple small bucks chasing does around the tall grass between us and the target bucks. We slowly made our way towards their location. Every once in a while I would look all around us to make sure that a buck hadn't snuck in behind us. I couldn't believe it when I spotted a mature buck parallel with us about 300 yards away. While Jason sized him up, the buck was extremely nice and bedded down. Jason made the decision to pursue the new buck and the hunt shifted gears. We crawled through the grass using the decoy to shield our movement. The buck had glanced our way a time or two, but paid no attention to us. We held up when we were 40 yards from the bedded buck and decided that was far enough. I think we could have got even closer, but we didn't want to push the envelope. The buck laid his head down for awhile and when he lifted it to stretch I raised the decoy up high. The buck locked onto the doe decoy and stared at us for a minute or so before casually rising from his bed. Jason took that opportunity to draw and the buck stood broadside allowing him time to settle in. Jason made a great shot and had accomplished his goal of tagging his first mule deer! It was an awesome hunt that neither one of us will soon forget!
Monday, November 1, 2010
My good friend Kent harvested a great 165 class mule deer buck on Friday Oct 29th. He is gracious enough to share his story. This is what he wrote:
I thought I'd mention some of the successes using the Heads Up Decoy I had from recent 2010 archery hunts. I've been taking the decoy on several hunts this fall. Twice I was able to get my 12 year old son within fifty yards of shooter mule deer, things didn't work out. But getting within 50 yards of a 4 or 5 year old buck, in my opinion, is success.
More recently, I was able to harvest a nice 4 year old mule deer buck. The hunt took place in the AM of October 29th. I found this buck by himself cruisin', "the perfect situation." This was a chance to get the decoy in front of him to come my way, especially during the early phase of the rut. Problem was I needed to quickly get about 300 yards down a draw to position the decoy and myself for a chance to ambush the buck. I hurriedly moved down the draw and had just enough wind to cover any noise I was making. As I approached my position, I looked aheads 70 yards and the buck was too close to get the perfect setup prepared. I quickly stuck the decoy in a clump of fire weed(tumbleweeds) and moved about 5 yards ahead slightly off to the side and got ready for a shot. As the buck got closer moving down the field edge, he either caught me knocking my arrow, saw the decoy, or a combination thereof. After a few minutes of staring my way he relaxed, flicked his tail, and proceeded down the edge of the field. I can't say with 100% certainty he saw the decoy, but if he was looking at me, he had to see the decoy positioned directly behind me. Anyway, as he moved towards me he passed behind a few weeds at about 25 yards and I drew. He kept coming and at 15 yards broadside I softly bleated, he stopped, looked my way and I quickly shot, hitting him just in front of the shoulder. He ran 200 yards, walked a couple hundred more yards, laid down and expired.
As I mentioned, I can't say for 100% certainty that he saw the decoy. I can say there is not another decoy on the market I could have set up that quickly being in that situation, only 70 yards away from the buck. The ease and quietness of carrying, along with the quick set up was no doubt a benefit to the success of this hunt.
Now as this year's rut heats up, I look forward to getting my son back out for a chance to decoy in another Kansas prairie buck.
Great hunt Kent! Thanks for sharing your story and photos. We'll look for Dalton to out-do his dad on one of those Kansas prairie bucks.