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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!