By Alex Comstock
Somewhere between 70-80 sits. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of hours spent scouting, shed hunting, hanging stands and trail cameras, and hunting. The amount of work that went into harvesting my first North Dakota whitetail since moving here before last hunting season is crazy, but is all worth it in the end. This past Friday, December 9th, I had quite the epic hunt, and was able to finally seal the deal on a mature buck here in North Dakota.
If you've been following along with me here at WhitetailDNA, you'll know that the last two seasons have been a grind for me. Last year, I passed buck after buck waiting for the right one. I was dead set on shooting a buck that I thought to be 4 years old or older, and stayed true to that, which ultimately led to me eating my tag last season. This year, it'd been more of the same. I've had some really good encounters, even got to release an arrow at a buck back in November, but the shot wasn't true. Thankfully, I'm optimistic that buck will survive until next year. Nonetheless, it still left me searching. And that brings me to Friday December 9th.
1:00pm: I met up with my buddy Mike, who lives out here and thought he might have an idea on a spot I should hunt. We drove around, did some speed speed scouting, and ultimately found a great looking spot. We located a standing corn field, sandwiched between two thick bedding areas, and it was absolutely loaded with deer sign. I ended up setting a blind up on the corner of a cut corn field adjacent to the standing corn field, and not more than two hundred yards away from bedding to my north, and a few hundred yards away from bedding to my south.
2:30pm: The blind was set, and now I just had to wait. I really wasn't sure what to expect, as we had bumped a good amount of deer out of one of the bedding areas while setting up the blind. The corner of the standing corn field, and the cut corn field I was in was caked in deer tracks, so I knew I should see deer, but still when you set up on the fly like that you really never know what is going to happen. I could have never predicted how my next couple of hours were going to go down.
4:00pm: I saw my first deer. A few does filtered into the standing corn up about fifty yards away from me. By this time, I was trying to do everything I could to stay warm. The real temperature was roughly negative 10 degrees, with the wind chill factor, it was around negative 30 degrees. I was freezing as you might imagine.
4:20pm : I look to the south, and can see a few deer heading my way through the cut corn field about two hundred yards out. I get my camera on them, and before I know it, those few deer turn into about fifty deer! I couldn't believe what I was watching unfold. The amount of deer that were headed right at me was insane. To makes things even better, I noticed there were two nice bucks in the group, and one was a mature buck. I watched them work their way towards me, in to about a hundred yards away, and then it happened.
4:30pm: A common phrase used in the deer hunting world is, "that happened so fast". This encounter was just that. As I was watching those deer head my way, I was watching them out of the furthest window on my left. I glanced to my right, and boom, there was a big buck standing not more than five feet from me. We locked eyes for a split second, and he took off, but then stopped to look back at me. This was his fatal mistake, as I guessed him at 30 yards, put the pin on him, and released an arrow. He took off into the cut corn field towards the other deer, stopped after about running a hundred yards, and went down. I then proceeded to lose my mind! The whole encounter lasted about twenty seconds from the time I first saw him, to the time when I watched him go down.
Conclusion: This buck means so much to me, it's really hard to put it into words. After the shot, and I watched the buck go down, it was hard not to reflect on all of the work that had gone into this moment. As a whitetail hunter, this is what we live for. I live for the feeling I felt that night, and how I feel right now. It is pure emotion of joy and happiness, and I could not be any more thankful for the opportunity. I think it's really important to acknowledge that I wouldn't have been able to do this by myself either. This day will be a day that I always remember. Hard work does pay off, sometimes it just takes longer than you want or expect. But it in the end, nothing can compare to this moment.