By Alex Comstock
Just a month and a half into the 2018 deer season, I can say it’s already been one of the best I’ve had in my life, and it will most likely go down as my best season ever. Today, I wanted to recap what’s been happening since my first day in the stand on August 31st in North Dakota, and what’s still in store for me this year.
Thursday, August 30th I headed west to hunt the first five days of season in North Dakota with a few friends. After one day of hunting, I came down with a nasty flu and was bed ridden for the next two days. By the time I got to the last day of the hunt on that Tuesday, I was worn out and tired from being sick, but I’m thrilled I stuck it out, because that evening I was able to send an arrow through my first ever velvet buck. This hunt was so special to me, because I was able to connect all of the dots and create a plan that actually came to fruition. I was getting a lot of trail camera pictures of this buck, and after checking the camera earlier in the day and having the buck in daylight the two days previous, I knew that I had to hunt there.
As soon as I got eyes on the buck that night, I immediately got that feeling when your heartbeat picks up, you start shaking a little bit and have to calm yourself down. I hadn’t experienced this in quite some time, and the buck ended up spending about 10 minutes directly below me. Once he presented me a shot and I took it, I knew it was perfect. Kicking off the season by killing a beautiful North Dakota velvet buck was such an incredible feeling. I’ve always longed to shoot a buck early in North Dakota, and once I was able to actually do it, I knew I’d be able to spend more time in Minnesota where I live.
After tagging out on the buck in North Dakota, my focus shifted to the home state of Minnesota. My main goal was to acquire permission on a small piece of private land that I had lost a few years ago. When I used to hunt it back in high school, it always held a number of mature bucks and was consistently one of my best spots. Well, after reaching out to the landowner in July, I was able to regain permission, and I knew right away where I wanted to put up a trail camera. After getting the camera up, I was going to wait roughly a month to check it, and when I returned in late August to check the camera, there were multiple bucks that had been showing up throughout the late summer that I wanted to hunt. I immediately put up a stand, and wasn’t going to return until hunting season.
After bouncing around some big woods stuff the first couple of weeks in September, I went back to my private piece to check the camera in late September. One of the bucks had shown up twice in daylight, two days in a row, and another was showing up almost nightly, but just after shooting light. I knew with the right conditions, there would be a solid chance I could make something happen here.
Thursday, October 11th was just how you dream it up. After four days of constant and torrential rain combined with gusty winds pushing 40MPH, the weather finally broke. October 11th brought cold temperatures with the wind chill in the 20’s, the rain had more or less come to a halt and the wind had tempered down a bit as well. It was one of those days where you just knew it could be good. I rushed out of work to make it to the stand, and was all setup at 5:20PM. Sunset was at 6:30PM, giving me just over an hour and a half in the stand.
At 6:43PM I caught movement coming right at me, and right away I knew it was the buck with the split G2 and G3. I quickly turned my camera on, got it on him, and before I knew it the buck was at 20 yards. I hardly even had time to get nervous, and then the buck turned to walk away, but stopped right away. With him standing broadside at 22 yards and daylight running out, I knew it was now or never. I quickly drew back, had to crouch in the stand and lean out a bit to avoid a limb, and let the arrow fly. Instantly I knew I pulled the shot forward, but the buck absolutely tore off, and was clearly in bad shape. I got down, checked the arrow which the buck only carried in him for about five yards, and noticed I had about 12 inches of penetration with 6 inches of the arrow stuck in the buck. There was blood all over at the site of impact, and I opted to give him about two hours.
After regrouping with a group of friends and re-watching the footage a million times over, we headed out to track him. What ensued was better than anything I could have imagined. There was blood everywhere, and after tracking blood for about 40 yards, there he was. Speechless, amazed, in awe. That was my initial reaction, and honestly, still is over a week later. I’m more in awe that I was not only able to get it done, but that everything happened EXACTLY how I hoped it too. When it comes to hunting mature bucks, even when everything comes together, often times it doesn’t happen how you dream it up to. The night of October 11, 2018 will be one that I never forget.
This year has undoubtedly been surreal already. To be tagged out in two states by the second week of October is special, and I’m beyond thankful for what has unfolded to this date. As we move forward though, my focus is now shifting to a couple different things. First off, I’m going to be moving all of my trail cameras here in my home state of Minnesota to scrapes and rut funnels to establish a base of information for next year. I’m a big believer in yearly patterns, and if I can make moves next year based on information collected this year, that’ll be a good start. Secondly, I’ll be heading to Nebraska for five days of rut hunting November 5th-9th. My cousin Kaleb lives down there and has been running trail cameras for us. We have a number of bucks on camera that I would shoot, and I’m really exited for five days of dark to dark sits during the rut. If I were somehow able to notch a tag on a third buck this year, it would cap an already unbelievable season.