Today’s W2H reader success story comes from Alex Schmalenberg as he shares with us a great story of pushing through adversity to find success. He had a few things go wrong, but didn’t let it stop him, and he now has a great buck to show for it. Please join me in congratulating Alex! – MK

By Alex Schmalenberg

This last weekend I finally got it done. The morning of November 8th rolled around and it was the Minnesota rifle opener. The temps were dropping (30’s) and the wind was going to be just right for the stand I had picked out. To start the day off right my alarm failed to go off and my dad woke me up 40 minutes before first light! (He asked me when I was getting up.) I then hurried to get my gear in the car and make sure I would be on stand in time.

I got out to my stand, surprisingly, just before first light. I was sitting in a stand that just the week before I saw a 140 class 10 pointer that was out of bow range. I had high hopes that he would be back. As it became light out I noticed some does walking about 100 yards through the woods to my right. Next thing I know, about 100 yards straight ahead of me is a 9 point buck! He was standing with about 4-5 other deer, including a nice 8 pointer, through some oak trees. I took my gun off of the gun holder and lowered it slowly. I set the gun on the rest and looked at him through my scope. I noticed he was a shooter right away, so I aimed just behind his shoulder and pulled the trigger … NOTHING!

I then noticed the action on my dad’s 30-06 hadn’t put the bullet all the way in the chamber. I tried (wasn’t so successful) to silently shut the action so the bullet would go all the way into the chamber. The buck magically hadn’t moved or heard this commotion, and was standing in a small shooting lane. I aimed behind his shoulder once again and pulled the trigger. I happened to drop him on the spot. Double lunged him and took out his back shoulder. After shooting this buck I saw about 15 more deer before my dad came out to take pictures and load up the deer. Although he’s not the biggest buck in the woods, he’s my biggest to date, and it was cool taking him with my dad’s 30-06, which he got when he was about 15!

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I think there was more than one key to my success on this deer. The weather was a prime factor, dropping from 50 degrees the day before to around 30 degrees that morning. Another key to success was the use of trail cameras. I had three or so locations to hunt, and had a trail cam at each location. I checked these cameras the week before. First camera, dud. Second camera, dud. Third camera, STUD. On my third camera I had pictures of three “shooter” bucks. What’s more exciting than pulling a good memory card?? I knew because of trail cameras where the bucks were and that they were out during daylight. Final key to success, like always, is a little bit of luck.

– Alex Schmalenberg