A few years ago in September Taylor Fitzpatrick traveled to the Milk River in Montana to bowhunt with our friend Luke Strommen. The then 19-year-old Taylor climbed into his tree stand super early one morning, about 3:30. The air felt great, 42 degrees cool, and the full moon hung in the sky like a big pie.
Taylor began seeing deer in the moon glow, moving back to their beds for the day. A 10-pointer that would score 155” walked beneath his stand and got him fired up. The sun came up hours later and he kept seeing deer. A buck with hard, fresh antlers cut across a corner of a distant alfalfa field. Taylor raised his call and floated some loud grunts.
“The buck looked up and walked to me on a string,” Taylor said.
Taylor did what any good bowhunter would do—drilled the animal through the boiler room at 20 yards. The 130” buck ran back out into the alfalfa and tipped over dead. Here, the story gets interesting.
Taylor watched as another P&Y buck approached the dead 10-point, fuzzed up, pawed and roughed up the fallen animal, poked him in the belly and tried to flip him over!
Luke has a theory. Right after velvet-stripping time bucks feel a jolt of testosterone, and they get aggressive for a few days as they try to sort things out in the buck hierarchy (they’ve been buddies all summer but now begin to get antsy and less tolerant of each other). Taylor was hunting smack in the middle of this “sorting out” time. Luke figures the buck responded to those grunts and attacked the dead buck to show his dominance.
The episode proves another thing: Carry a grunt call from September through January, and don’t be afraid to use it any time, any day. A few grunts will never spook a buck, and you never know when a buck will like what he hears and come closer to your stand.