July/August 2011 EBJ (Issue 66)
Arizona, 2010, DIY, Public Land
- There’s something to be said for having a reliable hunting partner. My cousin, Evan Fretz, and I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what we did this archery season without each other’s help and dedication.
Our hunts began with some serious scouting efforts, as they always do. Where we planned to spend our upcoming season is a physically demanding area. Evan and I had put more than 100 miles on our boots, in this one region, by the time we got the last deer to the freezer.
December 26 was a cold, windy morning in Arizona and it was difficult to sit behind our glass. A short time into the morning, Evan, my best friend, Jeremy, and I were watching a group of rutting bucks. With six bucks to choose from, our spirits were high. We watched as a couple of bucks locked up in a serious but short battle. Immediately following the fight, all the bucks within a hundred yards made a mad dash to check out the ruckus.
After we realized what had just happened, Evan and Jeremy bailed from our vantage point with a set of sheds in hopes of rattling in a rutting mulie. They soon got situated 150 yards below the deer and started smacking racks together. Without a second thought, the closest buck to the ambush made his way over to investigate the simulated fighting deer. As the basket 3x3 got to 80 yards, another hunter came into the picture and ruined the setup.
Meanwhile, I was still posted up behind my optics and watched the biggest buck of the bunch disappear into a big draw. I waited for a long time for the deer to materialize, but he never showed himself again. I came to the conclusion that the big buck bedded down for the day. I eventually told Evan and he started his long, steep hike to get around and above the deer. As he was en route, I made my way to a small knob directly below the cut where I could pick apart the hillside in hopes of spotting the deer in his bed.
Not five minutes into looking for him, I found his rack silhouetted against a rock bluff. We were back in the game! Evan was 150 yards above the big buck and started his descent to get in position for a shot. Taking everything that goes wrong into account during this difficult task, Evan slipped into less than 40 yards. The plan was to wait the buck out and let him stand.
After more than an hour of patiently waiting above the buck with an arrow nocked and rangefinder in hand, the buck finally stood. A couple of does came walking below the big deer and got his attention. This is where the deer made his mistake. The buck crossed to the other side of the draw to tend his does and offered a broadside shot. My front row seats let me see the two-inch Rage broadhead do its job. The big desert mulie only made it about 40 yards! One down and one to go.
Before I get into how my hunt went down, I would like to mention all of our failed attempts. Harvesting anything with archery equipment is an outstanding accomplishment, but if you add in a few variables that desert country has to offer, it makes the chore even harder. Evan had two different opportunities on nice bucks before he filled his tag. His first stalk was exciting to watch. Evan was 30 yards above the bedded buck, waiting for him to stand. When the buck did, he walked out and was a half-step away from offering Evan a great shot. Instead, he went back to his bed. When he stood again, Evan watched the back view of the buck’s rack get smaller the farther he went in the wrong direction. His second stalk went much the same way. It’s frustrating to say the least.
For a full account of Koll's adventure, go to page 14 in the July/August 2011 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.