Today’s W2H success story comes from Jake Grundemann. Hailing from Southern Michigan, not far from me, it’s particularly exciting to see someone have success on a terrific buck such as this in my own area. Smart hunting, persistence and patience led Jake to closing the deal on this great Michigan buck, and it was well deserved. Congrats Jake! – MK
By Jake Grundemann
“My story begins in the fall of 2010. My wife of a whole six months had agreed to follow my dream of farming and purchase property close to where I grew up so I could help my dad on the family farm and build our dream home. Looking for property with a building site, tillable land, and of course prime whitetail habitat would prove to be a long process. Farm ground was at a premium due to high grain prices and most prime whitetail sites did not offer a suitable building site as well. Finally in December we closed the deal on 95 acres meeting all the criteria.
The previous owner had leased the hunting rights and due to the fact that I had plenty of hunting property already we opted to continue the lease for the 2011 and 2012 hunting seasons. I spent most of the 2012 summer on the hill overlooking the property driving nails and erecting what would someday become our home. In doing so I had ample time to watch the deer movement on the property, noting patterns and travel routes.
As the snow melted in early spring my sights were set on finally being able to hunt my own property. I spent time looking for sheds, tearing down old stands and planning my October strategy. I set up a mineral site to monitor deer frequenting the property and provide added benefit to both antler growth and nursing does. In July I set my first trail cam on the mineral site and left it for two weeks. My hopes were high but I had yet to see a “mature” buck on the property.
My first card pull had over a thousand pictures which I clicked through anxiously, and about half way through there he was, points everywhere, with a high velvety rack. I watched him feeding in the soybeans several times throughout July and early September and decided that he had to be at least 3.5 years old and would make a great “first buck” on the new property.
I knew that a small six acre woodlot was the primary bedding area and would likely hold this buck as long as I didn’t bump him. My “buck sanctuary” had one stand in the Southeast corner and one on a heavy travel route on the property line 60 yards from the east edge. I hunted these stand a few times in early October when the wind allowed, seeing many small bucks but never Triple Crown (as I had now dubbed him). He had also fallen from trail camera pics which had me worried, but I had a gut feeling he was still around.
On October 22nd the wind was out of the southeast, I climbed into my stand, checked my gear and settled in for the afternoon. After seeing several does and fawns and watching the sun settle I looked into a clearing in the sanctuary and there he was staring into the picked bean field. He paused for several minutes before making his way across the open field to the fencerow where I waited. I couldn’t see the buck anymore but knew he was checking a scrape about 50 yards south of me. Several minutes passed and he appeared again headed back across the field toward two does feeding on the edges of the sanctuary. I ranged him at 48 yards and drew as he entered my opening. Twice I tried to stop him with a mouth bleat, but with no success. Finally on the third try he stopped. Now 50 something yards I settled my 60 yard pin low on his vitals and released. The buck bolted and deer scattered in all directions. I waited for darkness and climbed down finding my arrow with no blood or hair, only a heavy set of tracks spinning for cover. A clean miss! I spent the next several hours going over the shot over and over. What went wrong? Did I blow my only opportunity? How bad did I spook him? I backed out and left the property unpressured for several days.
Sunday November 3rd with the rut ramping up I made the decision to enter the sanctuary. Possibly a “Bump and Dump”, I slipped in quiet as possible with 20’ of climbing sticks, a hang on and my bow. Spotting a suitable tree in the middle of several converging trails with scrapes all around I set up quickly, trimmed a few branches and settled in. It wasn’t 20 minutes and I started seeing deer movement. Then something caught my eye. It was Triple Crown checking a scrape line leading straight to me. He closed the distance to less than 15 yards and I slowly came to full draw as he neared a clearing. At 10 yards he stopped and stood for what seemed like an eternity then turned and slowly made his way back into thicker cover. Foiled by the acute olfactory system of a mature whitetail again!
I only hunted this stand one more morning, just before the gun opener, and watched Triple Crown work a doe for 40 minutes just out of range. I knew that this small woodlot was his core area and hopefully, he would slip up opening day of gun season.
The gun opener came and went with no sign of Triple Crown. I watched several small bucks leave the sanctuary only to cross the property line and succumb to lead poisoning provided by the pumpkin brigade on the other side. I crossed my fingers hoping my target buck had not fallen to the same fate.
November 20, I got out of work at 7 AM slept till 3 PM and headed straight to the corn field adjacent to the sanctuary. My dad had just left the field with a load of corn as I started across the headland toward my tree stand. With each step I would check down the rows of standing corn for deer. The wind direction was perfect and I was ready for anything. I was almost to my spot when I spotted a deer down a row of corn. Raising my scope I knew immediately it was my target buck. My heart raced as I looked at him through the scope. He was only 50 yards away but presented no shot opportunity. The buck stepped over two rows and I slowly followed trying to get a clear shot. He was now walking strait away from me as I said to myself. “Texas heart shot” or wait? Just then he paused and looked up to check the row in front of him. I made a split second decision and placed a 240gr Hornady XTP at the base of his skull. As the smoke cleared I couldn’t see him, frantically, I reloaded my muzzleloader hoping I had not pulled the shot.
Walking only a few steps down the corn row I saw that my quest was over. Shaking from the adrenalin I was finally able to grasp what I had been after since that first trail cam picture taken in July. A true non-typical and a great Michigan buck. Triple Crown will forever be the “first buck” taken on our new property but certainly not the last.”