Today we’ve got an especially great W2H reader success story from Bryan Amundson. Bryan paints a wonderful picture of this special day that ended with his tag on a great public land buck. Please join me in giving Bryan a big congrats! – MK

By Bryan Amundson

As often happens this time of year, I woke up before my alarm was slated to go off. Though I was excited for the day’s hunt, the list of chores to get done around the house before our next child arrives and my warm bed on this cold windy day were just a few of many reasons to stay in bed. After about two minutes of lying in bed looking at the clock I rolled out and started to gather my things for the day’s hunt. After all, the rut was just starting to get underway and I told myself anything was possible.

Making my way out the front door, I was blasted by the cold North wind that the weatherman had predicted and the smell of cold crisp autumn air filled my nostrils. This had all the makings for a great morning in the woods. The deer were sure to be up and moving at some point today. I only made it about two miles from my house when the snow started to fall, slowly at first, and then turning into all-out blizzard-like conditions. I felt like I was in the movie Star Wars going at warp speed through the Galaxy. Then just as quickly as it started, the snow was gone. By the time I reached my hunting grounds the stars were shining brightly in the predawn sky.

I gathered my hunting gear from the car and slowly made my way through the woods in the pre-dawn darkness. I arrived at the area where I wanted to hunt and picked out a tree that I thought would allow me to cover the area most affectively. I was hunting the edge of a suspected doe bedding area with a river to my back and some thick pines to the right. On such a windy day I was anticipating that the deer would gravitate towards the pines to stay out of the wind. With the wind blowing my scent out over the river I felt very confident in this set up. I got my stand set and was settled in about fifteen or twenty minutes prior to legal shooting light. As the darkness gave way to morning’s gray light, the river bottom started to come alive with the trumpeting sound of sandhill cranes gathering together before starting there southward migration. I so enjoy hunting along a river, as you never know what other kind of wildlife you are bound to see. I was also visited by bald eagle who was perched a mere 40 yards from me scanning the river for his breakfast. These are the things that make being in the woods in fall so enjoyable and relaxing for me.

I had been in my stand about two hours with no deer movement when I heard a stick break to my right. I turned to see a doe trotting straight at me at only 40 yards. As soon as I saw the doe, I instantly heard a buck grunt followed by the sight of the sun gleaming off antlers. By the time I stood up, took my bow off its hook, and turned towards the deer, the doe was already under the tree at 10 yards with the buck close behind. The buck didn’t follow the doe’s exact trail, but passed my location at less than 20 yards. Giving a verbal grunt in an attempt to stop the quickly moving buck, I was a little panicked that he would get past without a shot presenting itself. The buck took one more leap after my grunt and stopped directly behind a white pine full of dead branches. Now my heart was really racing.

Here was a deer I wanted to shoot, in bow range, and no shot was present. My worry was the buck would either take off after the doe, or spook and blow out of the area. To my relief he started walking at a relaxed pace into another opening where I was able to get him stopped again. This time the buck was in a wide open shooting lane broadside! With my bow already drawn I confirmed my anchor point and settled the pin on the buck’s chest. THWACK, the arrow plunged through the buck’s chest! I watched as the buck trotted off and saw what appeared to be blood pumping out. As happy as I was with the shot, I started to get nervous when the deer got just out of sight. This is only because I’m colorblind and have a hard time seeing red blood in brown leaves. I waited a few minutes and got down out of my stand to look for my arrow. I found the arrow with good blood covering my wrap and fletching. The adrenaline was really starting to flow now as I attempted to text my wife that I had hit a buck. Confident with my hit but wanting to give the buck a little time to be safe, I quietly packed up my stand and hiked back to my car. I made a quick trip to a nearby gas station for a few bottles of water that I thought would be nice for the drag that I was hoping to have.


Arriving back at the spot of the hit, I picked up my arrow and slowly started in the direction the buck traveled. I was finding blood, but having a hard time seeing it, which made the trailing slow. It took me about 15 minutes to go the 50 or 60 yards to where I last saw the buck. To my relief he only made it about 10 yards from the last spot I saw him. Taking a few minutes I sat down and took in the events of the morning and enjoyed the woods around me. Finally getting to the work at hand I field dressed the buck and began the drag back to the car. During my drag I was filled with a great sense of pride and accomplishment; this was the third year in a row that I was able to put my tag on a public land deer and I couldn’t be happier.


Here are a few things that lead to my success:

– Having a loving wife who puts up with my passion for hunting every day

– Following

– Using tactics discussed by Dan Infalt (hunting bedding, using terrain, and scouting)

– Only hunting when conditions were optimal (best wind, weather, and time of year)

– Having confidence in my set-up

– Always learning about deer and trying to make myself a better hunter

By Bryan Amundson