The Suicide Squeeze

By Chad Cruickshank
Oregon, DIY, Public Land

Chad Cruickshank - The Suicide SqueezeMay/June 2013 EBJ (Issue 77) - Finally, the time has arrived. I have been in on more giant mule deer than I can even show for. This is a trophy that has been haunting me for years and I did it. Spot and stalk.

The story starts back in June. I had been hunting this area for the past three years and put in more time scouting this summer, learning more about deer activity and traveling routines than ever before. I decided that I needed to venture out of the farmland and into the forefront where the deer were bedding down during the day.

With my GPS in hand, I started walking and grinding the mule deer country I wanted to hunt. I started to put together a bunch of mule deer beds that I would have never even known about had I not done this activity. I finally located enough bachelor groups of bucks that I could take my ATV to certain glassing points to check on the deer throughout the entire summer. In addition to my scouting regimen, I incorporated an intense workout routine into my schedule. I felt like this would help close the gap between seeing deer in the spotting scope and being able to quietly get into bow range.

While I saw no sign of people in my summer scouting, on August 25th, the opening day of Oregon’s 2012 archery season, people were everywhere. It ended up being a people-watching opening morning as they regularly walked around deer they didn’t know were there.

After several hours of glassing, I noticed that the honey hole I had my eye on had been uninterrupted. Once I got to my parking spot, I made the mistake of not glassing before heading out on foot. The consequence of my lapse in judgment was the sight of two massive racks going over the plateau, silhouetted against a blue sky.

The season continued onward. I had some great opportunities that failed. I had stalks that ended at 13 and 19 yards on trophy deer in bachelor groups; I couldn’t overcome that many eyes, ears, and noses, just too many players in the game. I was becoming educated rather quickly at this spot and stalk game on monster mule deer bucks.

A highlight in the season came when my wife Tiffany scored a 5x6 bull elk on an early season rifle tag. After she took her nice bull, my focus went back to mule deer.

September 9th was a Sunday. I decided to head back out to the deer bed watching line that I had created. Seeing two hunters at my second stop, I decided to grab some gears in my four wheeler and head out-back to the mule deer beds where I had gotten some video of a great buck a few weeks earlier.

At my glassing spot, I initially checked all the normal spots to find nothing, but trying to think like a deer pushed out of his bed, I found what I thought was a doe and fawn bedded under a chalky rim. I rummaged through my gear to get my spotting scope out as quickly as I could. As I started to focus on the doe and fawn, they both grew horns. I was really looking at two bucks. When the bigger one raised his head into the spotting scope he was definitely a shooter buck. Seeing that two miles away in a spotting scope only means one thing – the bucks are located. I gathered my bow and pack; I had a plan put together.

When I arrived above the deer on the top of the rim, I was in good shape. The deer were still bedded, my confidence was up, and I was in my socks. Why socks? I do not know, I see it on TV and I really do think I am much quieter in them.

The bucks were still bedded, but I had made the cattle on the desert range restless. Next thing I knew, the bucks were spooked out of their beds and headed down the canyon…another blown stalk.

I hustled back to my boots and pack. Pack on, shoes on, bow in hand, I decided to work my way down the top of the rim that parallels the canyon, hoping the bucks were underneath it somewhere. Knowing they did not see me and definitely did not smell me, I thought there was a chance. I was excited and discouraged at the same time.

Chad Cruickshank - The Suicide Squeeze

For a full account of Chad's adventure, go to page 28 in the May/June 2013 issue of Eastmans' Bowhunting Journal.