One November morning in Kansas, the rut was rocking when Greg Brownlee saw a doe walk out of a tree line and proceed to cross a CRP field.
She stopped and looked back. “Oh boy, this is it,” he thought.
Greg’s heart dropped as he glassed a young buck with one antler come out the trees toward the doe. Then he caught more movement—an enormous rack overtook the little buck and made for the doe!
The hunter started to get excited, but quickly took 5 deep breaths to calm down. “If I think about it too much, I could screw this thing up,” he thought.
The giant started toward the doe, but when he got about 150 yards out from Greg’s stand, he stopped and looked around slowly, like he knew something wasn’t right. He never looked Greg’s way and he didn’t spook, but turned slowly back toward the trees and Greg knew it was now or never.
He had practiced out to 200 yards with his muzzleloader, so he was confident at 150. At the shot the buck tiptoed into the trees. Greg knew the deer hit, but didn’t see him fall.
He walked over to the shot site, but found no blood. He looked around some more and started to get worried. He looked up and saw the monster lying dead in the trees 50 yards away! The 22-pointer gross-scored 218.
3 keys to the hunt:
Greg did a super job reading the buck’s body language and demeanor—and then confidently taking the shot him before the buck got away. That is a critical but often misunderstood and overlooked key to killing a big deer.
Greg took deep breaths and calmed his nerves. I don’t care how long you’ve been hunting and how many bucks you’ve shot, the exhilaration and nerves are still there…do what you can to settle down.
If you’re a blackpowder hunter, listen up: MANY times there is not a speck of blood at the shot site, especially at ranges beyond 100 yards.
The velocity of a muzzleloading bullet (even the best new ones) is relatively low, and many times you get no pass through on a buck. The bullet stays inside the deer, and with no exit hole there is little if any blood. You owe it to the deer to look and look, and grid search, and look some more. I can’t tell you how many muzzleloader bucks I’ve shot and found dead within 120 yards, with not little or no blood to go on.