How many times have you been on your way to your stand, filled with anticipation, when all of a sudden you bump a nice buck out of his bed and watch disappointedly as he bounds away in the opposite direction? It has certainly happened to me a time or two and I always thought he was gone for good, especially if he was a mature deer. However, over the past several seasons I have learned a lot about buck behavior and I’ve found that this situation doesn’t always have to be bad. Sometimes bumping a mature buck can actually be a golden opportunity to learn why he was bedded there and then use that information to quickly develop a plan and hang a stand to hunt him.
This very scenario occurred several days ago here in eastern Iowa. A couple good friends of mine, Peter, Ross and his dad Dennis have been hunting a particular piece of land that is made up of several big ridges and steep ravines with a creek that meanders through the bottom ground. They have several stand locations and had been noticing plenty of fresh sign but had not seen many mature bucks moving during daylight hours. Then on October 15th after a morning hunt another close friend, who by the way is a big buck fanatic, was slipping out of the timber when he noticed a 140 class buck bedded along one of the ridges. The deer rose from his bed took one look at Pistol Pete and bolted!
Most guys in this situation may have thought they wouldn’t even have another chance at that deer until the rut, but not the crew I run with! These guys are die hard deer hunters and always look for another angle to put the slip on Mr. Big!
Peter wasn’t able to go out the next morning, so he and Ross met at the truck and decided to slip in and scout the ridge before leaving. Quickly they realized that a big buck had been working the area and someone needed to be waiting when he re-entered his bedroom!
Ross wasted no time and quickly checked the wind direction for the following morning. He decided that the buck would most likely be bedding there the following morning because he can see the whole ravine and can position himself with the wind in his favor. Ross also understood how the deer move through that area in general and had a tree in mind for Dennis to use for the morning sit.
Dennis has had several close calls over the last two seasons and really wanted to fill his Iowa bow tag. This was going to be one of his best chances. Without a stand hung at the location Ross wanted to be in, they slipped in extra early and both used their climbing stands to get into position in the same tree!
Several minutes after daylight movement along the creek caught their attention. Ross quickly grabbed his binoculars and whispered, “buck” and after a short pause “shooter buck!” The deer was moving in their direction but looked as if he would pass by at 45-50 yards, making for a long shot. Ross gave him a couple soft grunts in hopes of getting his attention.
After hearing the grunt, he turned and came within 30 yards but didn’t present a shot. As he turned again, he began heading towards a rock outcropping. Ross said to Dennis “when you can’t see him let me know!” Dennis gave him the signal and Ross snort wheezed at the buck. It turned him on a dime! The bristling buck bolted right back to within 5 yards of their tree and started shredding a cedar behind them. By now Dennis wasn’t sure he was going to get a shot because of the angle and brush behind them. As the buck turned to leave for the second time Ross grunted one last time and he turned to offer a 10 yard broadside shot! The 146 inch Iowa trophy expired in less than 150 yards. Congratulations Dennis on a great Iowa whitetail!
This story goes to show you that if you bump a nice buck and have time to slip in and scout his core area, while treading lightly, you just may be able to pick up a missing piece of the puzzle. With enough time, the right wind and a little luck you too could have a chance at putting the old “Bump and Dump” on a true giant!!!
– Corey Fall