2017 Journal #8: Two Trips To North Dakota - Two Encounters with Mature Bucks

By Alex Comstock 

The last two weekends have produced some of the years best bowhunting action for me. In my last journal post, I talked all about how Kobe was harvested by another hunter, and how now I'd be much less selective in what buck I'd harvest. Throughout the fall, I've got photos of a number of mature bucks and now I thought I had a much better chance of getting it done being after any mature buck, and not one particular deer. 

Saturday, November 11th: It was the day after Kobe had been harvested by the other hunter, and I wanted to hang a new set in an area between two doe bedding areas. I decided to sleep in and in the afternoon (after getting over the fact I was no longer after Kobe) I headed out to hang a new set. The afternoon was pretty slow as I only saw two young bucks and a doe. 

Sunday, November 12th: The next morning I headed back into the set I had put up the day before, and things were on fire. As I was climbing into my tree I had a young buck walk right under me, and movement never stopped after that. About fifteen minutes after first light, I looked up and saw a deer crossing from my left to right about 100 yards away. I put up my binos and instantly knew it was a shooter. He was all by himself, and after tossing a couple grunts and a snort wheeze at him, he continued on his way. He didn't have a care in the world about my calling. I was pumped, being that it had been the first shooter I'd seen in about a month, but at the same time was bummed he passed through way out of bow range. 

 After reviewing my sub-par footage, I'm about 90% confident this was the buck I saw that morning. 

After reviewing my sub-par footage, I'm about 90% confident this was the buck I saw that morning. 

As the rest of the morning went by, I saw buck after buck, with most of them chasing does, or cruising nose to the ground. I ended up seeing ten buck by 10:00am, but sadly I had to pull my set and head back home to Minnesota. 

This past weekend, due to obligations, the only free day I had was Saturday. Knowing that the rut was on in North Dakota, Friday after work I made the four and half hour drive back out there just so I could sit all day Saturday. 

Saturday, November 18th: Saturday was another crazy morning in the timber. I started off the morning with a rattling sequence right at first light, and rattled in a nice 3 1/2 year old buck. From there, things just went bonkers. I caught movement to my right and saw a doe headed right for me. I put up my binoculars, and there was a beauty of a buck behind her. The buck chased the doe all over the place, at one point got within forty yards of me. Unfortunately, the buck was chasing so hard he wouldn't stop for me to get a shot. 

 I forgot to turn my camera on, but I believe this was the buck I had at 40 yards on the 18th. 

I forgot to turn my camera on, but I believe this was the buck I had at 40 yards on the 18th. 

Everything happened so fast, and I realized I was filming, but hadn't hit record. I started recording, but by then the buck was gone. Shortly after, I had multiple bucks all chasing does, and I literally was having a hard time keeping track of what bucks were where and if there was any shooters. At one point, I had a shooter slip by at about 70 yards, but he was moving quick as well. I'm not going to lie, I haven't experienced many rut encounters like this one. My head was spinning, I didn't know what bucks to film, and my hands were freezing from having one on the camera, and the other holding my bow for a solid hour. 

After about an hour and 8 bucks later, things seemed to quiet down. That's when I looked up and saw a nice buck headed right for me. I thought at first he was a shooter, but after looking him over, I decided he wasn't mature. Of course once I decided that, he came right in and presented me with a 35 yard broadside shot, but he just wasn't the buck I was after. 

 After having a crazy morning in the timber, this buck presented me with a shot, but I decided he wasn't for me. 

After having a crazy morning in the timber, this buck presented me with a shot, but I decided he wasn't for me. 

After the buck passed through, movement came to a halt, and I decided to move my stand about 150 yards to the North on the edge of a little secluded opening where most of the action was headed. I pulled the set at 11:00am, moved the stand, got set back up, and was on pins and needles for the afternoon. But the rest of the day went by, and I didn't see another deer. I was disappointed in the afternoon, but my head was already starting to turn to my late season plans...

Going Forward: Based off the last couple of years, late season can be the best time of the year to harvest a mature buck in North Dakota. I've got some plans, and will hopefully be able to get back there one day next weekend to set some stuff up for my late season hunting. My rut encounters were awesome, but now my mind is switching to how I can fill my tag during the month of December or January.