The Hunt for Skywalker
November 3rd was a great day to be in the tree stand. It was cold and there was the slightest breeze coming from the Southeast. I decided to hunt the downwind side of a big bedding area. The action started before I could even get to the stand, as I could hear deer running around in the woods. When I was 50 yards from the tree, a deer spooked and I contemplated going to different spot, but I knew that the deer in this area haven’t been pressured much, so spooking a few during this part of the early rut under the cover of darkness wouldn’t be a deal breaker. As soon as I got into the tree stand the action continued when I heard a deep grunt break the silence of the cold morning air. The buck was chasing a doe around the top of the ridge all around my stand while it was still dark.
My goal was to capture the hunt on video, but my camera arm requires a ratchet strap to go around the tree and I figured I would wait until there were no deer around me to put it up. Unfortunately, that opportunity never arrived. As it got lighter and lighter, I could start to make out what the deer were and one I recognized the big buck as “Skywalker,” one of my hit-list bucks. He had recently broken off his G3 on one side, but I wasn’t about to pass him up knowing my taxidermist can fix it.
This is also the same spot where a brush cutter cleaning up power lines found a dead buck that had injuries from fighting. Makes me think Skywalker was the culprit. When it finally got bright enough to shoot, I had Skywalker, a button buck, and a doe all within shooting range, but in the thick brush. Skywalker wouldn’t tolerate the button buck getting near the doe, so he chased him off. At one-point Skywalker walked directly toward me into one of my shooting lanes. I quickly attached my release and went to pull back and about an inch into my draw cycle the release pops off and sends my arrow about 5 inches. Thank goodness it’s the rut and bucks are barely paying attention to their surroundings because at this point the buck is at 20 yards, my arrow is off the string, and the lighted nock has been activated. He turned and went into the thick brush to chase the button buck off again which gave me an opportunity to get my arrow back on the string, lighted nock and all. In the chaos, the buck worked around the tree and lost track of the doe he was chasing. I waited until he circled directly upwind then gave him a few soft grunts, like I was another buck tending his doe. He wheeled around and came back on a string. He entered my shooting lane again, this time at 30 yards and I sent a G5 Deadmeat into the back of his lungs.
I immediately sent a text to my wife to ask if she wanted to join on the recovery. I was also lucky enough to have my buddy Bryn Forstner of Haunted Outdoors to join along and capture some great photos of the recovery. The track job was a steady walk following bright red blood. He only went about 70 yards and ended up at the edge of a drainage ditch.
Now with my bow tag punched, I’m going to focus my efforts on patterning another buck for the gun opener this weekend. Skywalker was taken in the CWD management area here in Minnesota, so I can still shoot additional bucks using my gun and muzzleloader tags. We are starting to pick up mature bucks on camera that we have not seen all year, so now is the time to really grind out the hours in a tree stand. Research shows that mature bucks make at least one rut excursion during the breeding season well outside of their core home range. You never know what will step out this time of year, so putting your time in can be extremely rewarding. Good luck everyone and may the force be with you!