There’s nothing I enjoy more than hearing from our readers or listeners about how they were able to implement lessons learned from Wired To Hunt to help them have success in the field. And today’s story from Nate Flook is a perfect example of this. Nate took a number of different ideas and tactics that we and/or our guests have shared on the podcast, put in the work, refused to cut corners, and was then rewarded handsomely for it. And I think this is a perfect example of what each and every one of us can achieve if we’re willing to man-up and do the work. Great buck Nate, and congrats! Thanks for showing us all what is possible with a little extra elbow grease. – MK
By Nate Flook
“I have been hunting since a very early age and have killed a few decent bucks in the past – probably 3 ½ year olds – but I have always longed for more. Over the offseason I committed myself to studying deer behavior in hopes that I might jump to the next level of mature bucks. This included reading online articles, magazines, books, and of course listening to the Wired to Hunt podcast.
Research and Preparation
One of the key resources I came across was “Mapping Trophy Bucks” by Brad Herndon. I read the book cover to cover on the suggestion of a friend and am so very glad I did. Initially I read the book to prepare for terrain we face on our DIY public land hunt in Southwest Ohio, but after reading the book I realized I may be able to implement a few of the vegetation features on my main hunting property. Among other new stand sites, I was able to pick out a few inside corners on the farm and got to work scouting them in August.
Previously I had always avoided hunting inside corners. I never imagined a hunter could be successful because your wind will either blow where the deer are coming from or where they will be going to. Brad’s illustration and detailed description sold me on attempting to hunt an inside corner this season.
This particular inside corner, where I shot my buck, laid out exactly as Brad’s book had described. There were two main hubs on each side of the corner which were connected by a main trail. I set up my stand how Brad instructed by placing it between the main trail and the inside corner created by a corn field. This blows the wind out into the open field where minimal deer activity should occur and also keeps your scent downwind of the predicted mature buck travel route on the main trail.
I did not cut any corners on selecting a tree. It took me a good part of two hours to get everything set up because the tree was so nasty – branches and splits everywhere. I also set my stand on the backside of the tree from where I anticipated killing a deer on the suggestion of Mark Kenyon from the Wired to Hunt podcast. I specifically remember him setting up on the backside of the tree during his quest for Jawbreaker. This would give me additional cover and help to avoid detection while drawing my bow.
I will not bore you with all the details of the hunt, but it definitely had its ups and downs. I had a few deer “pop” the corner early in the night and feed in the corn field. One deer was a decent 2 ½ or 3 ½ year old seven pointer. All of the deer that popped the corner eventually worked downwind of me and quickly exited the field and went back into the safety of the woods. I became quite frustrated and was reassured I would never hunt another inside corner again.
At 6:52 pm I caught movement forty-five yards away in the timber and working right toward me on the main trail. I was hunting in a very thick area of the woods, so everything happened pretty quickly with very little time to decide whether to shoot or not. After going through a few checkpoints I decided I would take this deer knowing he would score in the high 130’s to low 140’s. He walked through all of my shooting lanes while I scrambled for my bow. I drew while he was behind the tree I was sitting in, hoping he would not pick me off. He kept walking and approached my last shooting lane at which point I settled my pin and released the arrow. The deer ran away and I quickly lost sight of him in the thick woods.
I got down about fifteen minutes after the shot to check for blood with worries of losing the trail because of the approaching rain. I did not find my arrow and struggled to find blood at the point of impact. After about 10 yard I found blood and followed the trail. It eventually opened up and he began to leave a heavy trail so I decided to keep following which lead me to a dead deer after about 80 yards of trailing. I didn’t know exactly what I had shot until I found the deer and you can only imagine my excitement when I saw him laying there.
One strategy I committed to for the season was staying on the exterior of the property in observation sets. I had always been aware of this strategy in past seasons, but didn’t fully commit to the plan and would give in to temptation to jump into the timber too early in the season. This year was different. Another tactic I would implement would be waiting until conditions are absolutely perfect in order to hunt some of my best stands. After messing around in observation sets for the good part of the season, I finally got the SE wind I was looking for on October 23rd which would allow me to slip into the inside corner stand for the first time which I had hung in August.
The wind direction was the biggest factor in determining where I would hunt for the evening, but there are several other details that all lined up justifying pushing into one of my best stands. The stand setup was learned from “Mapping Trophy Bucks”, but a few other factors were pulled directly from the Wired to Hunt Podcast.
- A cold front with a chance of rain would be coming through overnight. Deer tend to move on the front and back end of weather fronts.
- The full moon would occur on October 27th – this was October 23rd. Mark Drury believes it is best to hunt the evenings leading up to the full moon and the mornings after the full moon. This is because the moon will rise before sunset leading up to the full moon and the moon will set after sunrise after the full moon. This correlates with a deer’s normal feeding patterns and may lead a mature buck to get up a little earlier in the evening or get back to bed a little later in the morning. On this particular day, the moonrise was 4:44pm and the sunset was 6:57pm. (Learn more about this in our podcast episode with Mark Drury)
- Don Higgins believes deer will have a similar annual pattern each year. The previous year, I had a big nine pointer show up on the property for the first time on October 24th. I had not gotten any pictures of anything truly exciting over the summer, but I hoped this would be the time frame where new deer would begin to frequent the property – specifically the big nine pointer from the previous year. (Learn more about this in our podcast episode with Don Higgins)
- Trail cameras can be very useful, but do not let them determine your every move. Also, do not get too down if your cameras are not showing a hit list that is on par with prior years. To the best of my knowledge, this particular deer was not even on the property until the day I killed him. The first and only trail camera photos I have of him from the 2015 season were hitting a scrape on October 23rd at 1:00am. (Unbeknownst by me at the time I was hunting.) I killed him the same day at 6:52pm. After killing this deer, I looked through last year’s trail cam photos. I had a series of pictures of him from December 2014 or January 2015.
- The greatest strategy I learned from the Wired to Hunt podcast was to not cut corners. I believe everyone is capable of killing a trophy buck, but the hunters that fully commit to their tactics and don’t take the easy way out are those most likely to be successful. This doesn’t just include deer season, this extends into the offseason.
I surrounded myself with passionate hunting buddies. I immersed myself in deer hunting material during the offseason. I broke down my walls and developed new stand sights and access routes. I labored over perfect stand placement. I committed to observation sets during early October. I parked my truck in strategic and farther places. I pushed in and struck when the time was right. I developed a whole new way to approach deer hunting.
I cannot put my finger on one single tactic or strategy that led me to be successful, but I think it was a combination of a lot of tactics and going the extra mile which played a role in killing by far my biggest buck to date. Where did the name “Slacker 12” come from? While I wasn’t cutting any corners, this deer decided he would. Was luck involved? Sure, but after implementing everything I have learned over the offseason, I would like to think it was a little bit more than just luck.”
– Nate Flook