Today we’ve got our first Wired To Hunt reader success story of the year and it comes from Matt Tagget. Matt traveled all the way from Michigan to chase early season bucks in North Dakota and his hard work and preparation paid off in a big way. Read on for his full story – and if you’d like to learn how to submit your own story to be featured on Wired To Hunt, click here. – MK
By Matt Tagget
“The trip started this past spring as my hunting buddy and I contemplated our early season hunt. Our options were between Kansas, Missouri, and North Dakota; and with Kansas being a bust the previous year we soon narrowed it down to two. After a couple months going back and forth between opening week in Missouri or North Dakota, for various reasons we finally settled with Nodak. With neither of us ever traveling through the state of North Dakota before, let alone hunting there, we had no idea what to expect. Luckily a mutual friend on Facebook had a house out there for waterfowl hunting that he was willing to let us stay in for the opening week of archery season. After talking back and forth for a few weeks we had a few starting points of where to look for deer and what all this hunt might entail. Over the course of the summer, I spent numerous hours on Google Earth scouting potential stand locations that we would check out when arriving in September.
After making the 17-hour drive from Michigan to upper North Dakota, at first glance we thought we had made the wrong choice. When they said there were no trees in North Dakota, well they were not joking. Looking at the less than desirable whitetail habitat, so we thought, we soon began to look into some of the area that I had “cyber scouted” in the weeks prior. We spent the first two days of our trip logging miles on back roads, gaining permission to farms, and running trail cameras in any place we could find a tree.
The next two days we invested our time sitting in observation stands, glassing from a distance, and deciding where our best points would be to get in range of these deer. By this time, our trail cameras started to show several nice bucks, and one spot in particular had 3 really good bucks come in during shooting hours the previous day.
On September 5th, the sky was covered in grey clouds, the temperature was in the mid 60’s, and the barometric pressure was on the rise. The kind of day that just felt like a deer killing day. We had a feeling these bucks that were showing up on camera would be on the move that night, so my camera guy Tyler and I snuck into our ground blind setup just after 2:00 pm.
The wind was blowing just perfectly out of the northeast, blowing our scent behind us across a large pond. At roughly 4:45pm Tyler tapped me on the leg whispering “big buck, don’t move”. Did he really think I wouldn’t move? Of course not, I had to get my eyes on this deer! So I began to upright my slouched posture in the chair, only to see a full velvet 10 pointer starring into our blind at 35 yards. With a wag of his tail he worked his way right in front of my trail camera that I had ranged at 27 yards. As he turned broadside I came to full draw, Tyler assured me he was in the camera frame, and I released the arrow. The arrow disappeared into the buck just behind his shoulder and he raced towards the blind with his head down plowing over weeds, veering off into the cattails at 10 yards.
At that point I realized I had been holding my breath for probably the last minute, took a few deep breaths, and was left speechless. After gathering my thoughts, and realizing that this did just happen, Tyler and I began exchanging high fives. At first I was extremely worried that I’d hit him a little high for being on the ground, but after reviewing the footage a few times it looked promising. We then started to take up the blood trail, which was very sparse, as the deer was slightly quartering to and there was no exit wound. After trailing the buck for an hour and having gone about 100 yards with still minimal blood we decided we would back out and wait for our friends hunting a few towns north to help. However during the track Tyler had lost his Thermacell and made a quick circle on the way out to hopefully find the lost unit, well not only did he find the Thermacell but he also found the buck laying 20 short yards from where we decided to back out! Sure enough it was an excellent shot, and the 141 3/8″ 10 pointer didn’t make it out of sight of the blind. The next hour entailed lots of laughing and high fives and an awesome sense of accomplishment.
To have a do-it-yourself trip work out as well as this one did has to be one of the best feelings ever. Over the past 4 years we have been on several DIY out of state hunts, and few have turned out as good as this one did. To be able to go somewhere over 1,000 miles from home, and in 4-5 days learn the land and harvest a mature whitetail, in a place you’ve never been is a huge success. This along with being able to share the experience with a couple good buddies, and make new friends along the way, reminds me of why we do this thing called hunting.”
– Matt Tagget