Josh Crawford headshot

Josh Crawford

Horseshoes and hand grenades

 

After taking a few days to celebrate the buck I killed in Pennsylvania last week, my focus shifted back to W. Va. and trying to get an arrow through a nice buck in my home state. 

This past Monday, Oct. 12, I decided to go into an area where I have seen quite a few bucks while glassing from afar, as well as having a really good hunt there during the 1st week. 

The area is basically just an oak flat between good bedding cover and a cattle pasture. 

What makes this spot great for bow hunting is how close a person is able to slip into the bedding cover, as all of the oak trees and pasture are on the west side of a ridge, and all of the bedding is on the east side. Without even having to be sneaky, it is possible to get within 100 yards of bedded deer on a regular basis. 

After school, I headed to the property, parked my truck and got into all of my gear. I have a pre-hung stand in that area, but I elected to take my mobile tree saddle because 10 days before I had seen quite a few deer feeding under a white oak, roughly 100 yards from my stand. 

I figured that there was no reason to be out of the ballgame again, so I strapped everything to my backpack and headed in. 

Once I got into the area where I had seen the majority of the deer 10 days prior, I scanned for the perfect tree within easy shooting distance of the white oak that was dropping acorns. 

Before too long, I noticed a young red oak that offered good cover and was fairly straight, which meant it would be comfortable. Without much hesitation, I unpacked my gear and slithered up the tree. In no time, I was clipped into my saddle and ready to roll. 

Being mobile is vital to my style of hunting, as I have found that moving in on “most recent information” and “hot sign” produces far more buck encounters than sitting on the same couple of tree stands over and over again. 

After years of practicing, I have become pretty efficient with hanging my saddle, or Lone Wolf Assault, quickly and quietly. Because of this, I have, without a doubt, gotten into far more deer than I would have if I was simply cycling through the same few stands. 

As time passed, I kept checking the wind and was happy to see it continue to blow true to the northeast direction that the weatherman had predicted. 

Roughly 45 minutes before dark, I noticed a few deer slip onto my side of the ridge, and began working my way, ever so slowly. To my surprise, it was a group of bucks, still bachelors in mid-October. With a couple of them being nice 8 points, I slowly lifted my bow off of the hanger and readied myself in case they wandered within 25 yards of my tree. 

They slowly inched their way towards me, feeding on red oak acorns, but heading in the direction of the white oak that I had seen them under before. As they neared my tree, I had to reposition myself on the platform a little bit, which scared me because I was going to have to look away, and hope they didn’t catch any movement. Luckily, I was able to position myself without tipping off any of the deer and I readied myself for a shot. 

At one point, 1 of the nice 8 points was 31 yards away, standing broadside, but that is just a tick farther than I like to shoot, especially on a calm evening like that. For whatever reason, I have an innate fear of deer ducking the string and sailing arrows over their back. Therefore, I try to keep all of my shots under 25 yards, even though I can routinely hit a fist-sized spot at 50 yards on a target. 

After ranging the buck at 31, he started inching my direction again. When he got within 25 yards, I started to put tension on the string, ready to draw as soon as the buck looked in a different direction. 

Seconds later, there was some commotion in the cattle pasture 150 yards below us, which startled the deer, and caused them to jump, then bound off out of shooting range. After assessing the situation, my 8-point and the rest of the deer, I simply walked back the way they came from. 

In all honesty, I wasn’t too terribly upset, but I will say that the buck doesn’t have any idea how lucky he was. Had the loud hoof beats of cattle not startled him, he probably would not have lived to see another day. I guess the chase will have to continue, as we are starting to get into some really good hunting. 

The coming weeks are some of my favorites of the entire season. I’ll be out as much as possible, doing my best to get 1 of the nice bucks that I have scouted. o

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