It was two weeks before Christmas and I found myself on a plane flying to Colorado. Early in 2011, Trevon and Adam contacted me and extended an invitation to join them on their annual Colorado plains archery deer hunt. I was honored that they would invite me on a hunt that has been their tradition for many years. This was a no brainer as I had watched heir 2009 footage many times and was very impressed with the bucks they were chasing.
Born and raised in Nevada my passion is spotting and stalking in the sagebrush country the Great Basin provides. This Eastern Colorado plains hunt would be a little different than what I’m used to and I definitely was up for the challenge.
My first look at the country was on opening day. With the first rays of the golden sun hitting the landscape the thermometer bottomed out at 15 degrees. All I could see around me was wide open cut wheat stubble, cut corn, and CRP fields. With such little cover we could spot deer for many miles but getting to them would be the true challenge. This late season archery hunt was taking place after three gun seasons, making the animals very much on edge. Anytime they would see a vehicle moving they became very skittish and if the vehicle stopped they were high tailing it out of the country with ears pinned in the back position.
The first morning out on the plains, a day before Adam could get away to join us, Trevon and I spent most of the chilly morning in his truck moving from one vantage point (more like a slight rise in the road) to another where we would fix ourselves to our window mounted Nikon spotting scopes picking out every detail that was out of place. We would have to spot deer from a long way away and make a plan to get in close on foot.
Mid day found us pinned to the side of the road watching a large main frame 4 point muley moving through the cut wheat with another buck and a whitetail doe. The only reason we saw this bruiser buck was his mid day stretch got him to stand and reposition When the deer bed in this cut wheat little is left in the way of landmarks to follow except for the tips of their tines peaking out from the tan stalks. We only had the antler tips as a landmark above the rolling wheat stubble.
While we watched this four pointer, another group of deer rose from their beds at the report of a phesant hunters shotgun. This herd was about 400 yards away from the big four and bedded under the sprinkler lines in the middle of the pivot. We marked their position so as not to blow them out of the country when we went after the big four.
Trevon and I parked the truck downwind about a half mile from the deer and out of sight, and the stalk was on. With a rise in the landscape we were able to reach the edge of the pivot without being seen, but from then on it was on hands and knees belly crawling the rest of the way.
The wheat in this particular field is topped off at about 18″ and is extremely loud and crunchy. Although we didn’t have any wind that was steady but the occasional gust of wind would cover the sound of our approach and prevent being detected by the radar ears of the deer.
With bow in hand I was followed by Trevon running camera and getting everything on film. It was extremely slow going but we were steadily closing the distance. Keeping our eyes on the buck’s antler tips we weaved our way closer, occasionally having to sit still and wait in one spot for the breeze to pick up before moving again. One of these silent waiting periods was interrupted by another pheasant hunters’ shotgun report a couple miles away. Again this alerted the closer herd of deer and they stood to investigate. The biggest buck in the group stood for just a few seconds, giving us a quick look before repositioning to bed back down. Soon he was followed by the others as a calm came over the herd.
The wind started shifting and the herd was now down wind of the big four point buck we were originally stalking. We knew there was a decent buck in this closer group and if we kept going straight for the big four we would surely blow them out of the country and eliminate any opportunity to hunt them in the coming days. Sometimes, as a bow hunter, you have to except the gift you are given.
Being 150 yards from the herd and 300 yards from the big four, my strategy changed. I turned to Trevon and told him we were going to go after the big group bedded under the sprinkler pivot. They were in prime position and if we could get through the wheat and close the distance we would have an opportunity to fill a tag and have the first kill on film for the Outback Outdoors show. His nod in agreement changed the game.
Trev stayed on my heels as we closed the distance. The buck I wanted bedded near the 5th tire on the pivot sprinkler line, all I had to do was get to the 4th tire and I would have a 60 yard shot. Those last 100 yards was utterly nerve racking. Wheat stubble cracked under my hands and knees with every shift of my body. Seventy yards away and I was on my own as Trev stayed back with the camera to capture the events as they unfolded. There was 30 yards left to cover while avoiding the eyes and ears of the deer on the perimeter of the herd. I could see bodies and ears through the thin openings in the wheat stubble which forced me to slow my pace further. Finally making it to my goal and the 4th tire up line from the buck, my nerves calmed as now the waiting game began and I was in prime position.
Our timing on the stalk was perfect, almost scary perfect. Within three minutes of setting up, the smaller bucks and some doe started to stand and mill around. Surely he would rise at any time and join them for an evening feed. I could hear my heart pounding in my ears. As though it was a choreographed dance, I came to full draw as he stood and he gave me the two steps forward that I needed for a clear shot behind the shoulder. The small window of opportunity was all that was needed as a clean release sent the arrow 60 yards to its mark.
First day, first stalk, first shot and we had a buck down. There was no need to track the crimson sprayed wheat as we watched the buck fall less than 30 yards from his bed. With my 2011 Colorado deer tag filled I the next 4 days found me returning the favor and running camera for Trevon and Adam.
What a great experience, having the opportunity to stalk mule deer in the flat wide open country of Eastern Colorado. I will take the many lessons learned and strategies acquired and apply them to all my future hunts in the hope to become a better bow hunter. I believe, both in hunting and in life, no matter how successful or accomplished you are, you can always learn and better your future performance.
Dave Beronio – team Outback Outdoors