Today’s guest blog from our friend Derek, an excellent bowhunter from North Dakota:

Hi Mike: It has been a roller coaster season, up-down-up, for me this year.

Opening night (Sept. 1) I had my 7 year old daughter with me in the ground blind, her first time coming along on a bowhunt. We saw a few does, fawns, and smaller bucks come in close and it was awesome seeing how she enjoyed it. I enjoyed a few more evening hunts in that blind and in another stand, seeing plenty of promising action but no mature bucks close enough.

On September 15th I was once again in my blind and one of my target bucks, a wide 8, showed up with an hour left of daylight. With the buck at 24 yards and slightly quartering toward me I made a bad shot low and back. The arrow smelled of paunch and there was very little blood. I resorted to grid searching the surrounding cattail sloughs in the area I saw him run towards, but was unable to recover him after more than 2 days of searching.

I am sure he is dead somewhere since I have not gotten any trail camera pictures of him since. I hope the neighbors find him while combining their beans or corn or while hunting themselves. That was a hard pill to swallow, and it took me some time before I could bring myself to go out hunting again.

I was back in the same blind on September 27th when deja vu struck. It was not the wide 8 but another target buck, a tall 8, that showed up at last light. He approached the blind straight on, on the same trail as the other buck, but never offered a shot opportunity in the fading light. I was optimistic and made arrangements so I could get back into the blind on October 1st.

October 1st was a crummy day; overcast, pretty windy, and occasional light rain. All day I considered not going hunting but then I decided that if I had the opportunity to go I better go despite what I thought about the weather.

ND derek 2

It is always windy here in North Dakota so that usually doesn’t throw the deer off too much, and on this particular day the wind was perfect for my blind. I had early action with several does and fawns surrounding me within 20 yards. They got scared off when 3 bucks came running in, 1 of them the tall 8. As the daylight faded, once again my target buck stood facing my blind straight on for several minutes. I thought for sure he would do the same as the previous hunt and I would run out of daylight without getting a shot at a deer only 18 yards away.

The two smaller bucks of course stood perfectly broadside the whole time, go figure. Finally one of the smaller bucks decided to try sparring a bit with the tall 8. That both distracted him and got him to turn broadside. I drew and aimed for what felt like forever, not wanting to make a marginal shot. This time the arrow flew true and hit the mark; the buck kicked and ran over the hill. I dove out the front window of my blind hoping to see where he ran but he had already disappeared.

I found the arrow and good blood right away. What a huge sense of relief and excitement. Still, I waited about one hour before following the blood trail. I had seen him run into some cattails, and I found him 15 yards in. I was overcome with emotions…happiness, sadness, excitement, relief, appreciation, redemption.

Our farm is 90 miles from my house, so it is not just a quick trip to run there throughout the year. I started running trail cameras in June and located 2 good bucks in the same general area going from our CRP to the neighbor’s soybean field. About 50% of our CRP was released for emergency haying this summer due to the drought in western North Dakota, and I was nervous that losing that much good cover might cost us some deer. That didn’t seem to be the case though.

I was able to brush my blind in really well among the hay bales scattered out in the field, and that really seemed to pay off. This is the same blind and same CRP field where I shot a nice buck 2 years ago that you shared on your blog.–Take Care, Derek Plautz

That’s an honest, real-world hunting story right there, way to go Derek.