January/February 2012 EBJ (Issue 69) - As I hunkered in the small patch of oak brush, the mind chatter began. Is he going to come down the same trail he did yesterday evening? Will the wind remain good or is a sudden unexpected burst going to blow this stalk and the buck out of the county? Is this little patch of brush going to give me the cover necessary to conceal me and my movements? Can I get a shot on the 5x5 or will the other bucks see me again and spoil it? Over and over the chatter ran through my frontal lobe and continued until I saw the buck feeding toward my strategically chosen position. He appeared to be alone this evening, tipping the odds in my favor to get the job done.
Generally, he ran with four other bucks and my three previous stalks all failed due to being spotted by his peers. Those blown stalks had led me to understand how the buck came back into his core area. The previous morning, I had bumped the 5x5 and his cohorts out of their beds and that evening I glassed him returning back to "his ridge” by following a trail that skirted the top of a ridgeline.
The next morning came and I knew where to find him and it didn’t take long. I was once again slithering through the oak brush down toward his midday bed. I was closing the gap on the 5x5 when a doe I had not seen blew out and took the 5x5 with her. Fortunately, they retreated into the same area as the day before and that’s when my strategy to sit and wait for him to return to his ridge was formulated.
I was crouched in the oak brush, battling the stinging in my legs, when along came the next chapter of mind chatter. I remember thinking this could happen and I might get a shot at this buck. I didn’t have favorable conditions on the previous stalks and wondered how long I would have to wait for him to return to "his ridge.” I also wondered how long I could remain in this awkward position without stretching out my legs – the pain was getting worse and worse.
The 5x5 buck that had eluded me on three previous stalks was now feeding toward me at 36 yards. If he continued, I was going to have a slamdunk shot at 20 yards. He held up, knowing something wasn’t right. He skylined on the ridge trying to figure out what looked so different in the oak brush. He looked most impressive with the blue sky between his antlers and his golden velvet shining in the fading sunlight. He had me pegged and there was nothing I could do about it.
As he glanced away, I started to draw my bow. As I drew, he caught my movement and bounced down the ridge, out of bow range, toward the canyon’s bottom. I was frustrated to say the least. All the effort and strategy to get so close had not panned out. As I glassed him again, I noticed that he continued to work his way through the canyon bottom in the same direction as his ridge. I wondered if I could get ahead of him and cut him off at the top of the ridge. My thoughts quickly turned into action and I found myself sprinting around the mouth of the canyon.
For a full account of Shane's adventure, go to page 14 in the January/February 2012 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.