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By: Jim 'Killer' Miller
Most of you, who have followed me for some time know that getting high up to hunt is more like sitting on a bar stool chair instead of a “Little Sit” from Woodsey Too! Well this was my fourth (4th) trip to Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch in Bland, Missouri. I was so excited to have been invited back, this was to be the year I was going to hunt hard on the ground and try to use a natural blind, instead one of the commercial pop up blinds.
My Guide, Keith “Cleat” Sullen had informed me that it was a great idea of hunting out of a natural blind along a food plot. However when we arrived it was raining; I mean it was a real Toad Strangler! Never fails. In the four years of hunting with Oak Creek Whitetails Ranch it has rained every year! I think I will borrow a line from Tanya Tucker, “Step back no believers, I going to deliver some Rain” I really starting to feel like the Rain Man!
At least 2 inches of rain on the ground was perfect for wild mushrooms and the Deer would be cruising the timber foraging for those morsels. That afternoon, after the storm had moved out the temperature had dropped into the low 40’s and those Monster Whitetails of Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch on this 18th day of October were moving. Perfect bowhunting weather, the fall colors were spectacular and it was a perfect time to be with Donald Hill and all of the wonderful staff at Oak Creek Whitetails Ranch.
Cleat, returned about 4:00 PM and said lets saddle up. We did and headed out to a food plot. Cleat however had thrown me a curve, in front of me was a Double Ladder Stand, the infamous “Cody’s Stand” 20 plus feet in the air. '^#^$#' need I say more? I thought of the term “Hang’m High” in the trees to avoid being seen or smelled!
It had been years since the last time I had hunted out of an elevated tree stand! I felt just like Jack looking up that proverbial bean stalk! Y’all know I hate tree stands of any kind! But I was here to hunt so I buckled up and reluctantly and carefully crawled up into the stand! This stand was set up along a huge food plot on the edge of a timbered, deep draw that was a natural travel route out of bedding areas into the food plot. This looked like a great place to be and I almost forgot how high I was off the ground.
The evening went quickly as we had 10 or 11 does and fawns on the food plot. Things really looked up when a huge 2 year old 10 pointer walked under the stand checking and freshening up his rained out scrapes. I had put some Timber Valley Fresh Scent “4-play” in a scrape and when the 10 point buck hit that one he went nuts looking for the scent trail leading away from the scrape. That buck ran circles like a jealous guy looking for the Doe’s exit trail, it was really funny.
As I sat there we also saw 6 different shooter bucks but none came close enough to take a shot. Let me tell you, when you go to Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch, you’re going to see huge bucks, period! However, if you’re bow hunting this is not a “fish in the barrel” shoot! You’re going to have to work hard, smart and hunt your butt off to get your trophy. You are going to see bucks and just like any buck anywhere, you put the pressure on them, they will hide and then move only during the night time, I’ve had the unfortunate opportunity of returning from hunting only to see a monster buck after dark. Cleat, said “Yup, that's ole so and so, he’s a very smart ole buck and totally nocturnal”
After the evening meal that was more than any person should eat we settled down and talked about Whitetails of course before we knew it, the pumpkin was at the door, midnight!
That Rooster started crowing about 4:30 AM! Where’s my shotgun? Long days and short nights at Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch is quite common as everyone wants to visit and talk about our favorite subject, Whitetails. After a quick breakfast we were out the door and headed back to the same food plot, Cleat felt that this was a hot spot because of the food plot,a wild Persimmon tree and several honey locus trees. Whitetails love persimmons and honey locus making a great combination to draw deer.
As daylight leaked in, it showed a foggy, misty, dreary morning. Not much wind but the deer were not moving. We did see several Blackhawk Choppers flying in formation very low from Fort Leonard Wood to wherever but finally around 9:30 am, Cleat, looked at me and said, “You look like you’ve had enough, let’s go and get some biscuits & gravy and some eggs!" I’m telling you I came off of that ladder stand a heck of a lot faster than I did going up. Great meal and a nap!
Around 2:00 pm Cleat came in, woke me and said , “Saddle up were burning daylight. The bucks are moving” We gathered our gear and went off to the 'Hang Em High' Tree Stand. Still not too comfortable hunting in a treestand I had enough safety gear on that there was no way I was going to fall out of that stand! I might have been hanging but no long fall with a sudden stop at the bottom!
Once settled in it was no time before we had a bunch of does and fawns on the food plot. It was fun watching the deer in their normal day in day out activity feeding and setting up their societal pecking order. After about 30 minutes we watched a monster buck walk out along the edge of the timber on the far side and walk right to the persimmon motte. This Oak Creek Monster settled in and started to feed. it’s amazing how much soft mast and locus beans a deer can consume and this big boy was certainly over 300 lbs in total mass. After gorging himself he slowly moved out and started chasing the does. A short few minutes later all of the does had left the food plot leaving the monster buck by himself.
A while later we had several more bucks come in to the plot and start to feed and spar with each other, nothing serious just jousting! Suddenly Cleat said in an excited whisper, "There’s a shooter buck right behind us moving up out of a very deep draw." I picked up my Helim bow and got ready for action.
As the Buck moved out into the food plot feeding as he walked, I came to full draw. I had to lean out to get a full open shot at the bucks lung area. When I had the position I needed I sighted in and got ready to take the shot. As I did I heard my cameraman whisper “OK”. I was narrowed in my sight and confidently squeezed the Silverhorn release. The shot was off and instantly I had this sharp intense pain in my knee! I was so intent on the shot I had inadvertently brought the bottom limb over my knew and when I released the bottom Solo Cam said hello to my knee.
Almost the same moment when I felt the pain in my knee I heard a loud smack as the deadly arrow hit the monster buck! The buck took off with big bounds across the food plot for about 75 yards and stopped with his head hanging, my arrow was hanging out the off side and blood was pouring out the exit side. I was sick knowing I had made a terrible mistake of not making sure my bow was clear when I took the shot!
This great buck was hit hard. Now was the time to wait for it to bed down for the last time.
He stood there straddled legged, tail clamped down hard between his legs, panting hard, mouth hanging open and constantly licking his mouth. It took maybe 15 minutes for him to travel the 200 yards across the food plot and enter the timber, twice the buck stopped and stood for over 5 minutes, constantly bleeding out of the exit hole. After much quiet conversation about what had happened and the condition of the buck we knew we did not want to disturb the area as were not really sure about the shot nor the condition or whereabouts of the animal. When faced with circumstances such as this it is always better to back off and give the animal a minimum of 4 hours to lie down and expire. I've found that if you jump a wounded animal it will travel until it literally drops. So we decided it would be best to back off and come back in the morning and take up the search then. Unpushed, hurt as badly as this buck was we knew it would lie down and we would find it the next day.
Let me tell you, it was a long night, reliving the shot, the arrow placement and the reaction of the buck as he traveled across the food plot. It was a stressful night, to say the least! The next morning we were all anxious to get back in the field. We returned to the scene of the hit and followed up the blood trail to the first spot where the buck had stopped and there was a pool of blood the size of my Stetson. My respect for how tough these animals are grew as we followed the blood trail. It was continuous to the second pool of blood and again was the size of my Stetson. We continued follow the blood trail down into a draw where at the bottom was a natural spring. After about 100 more yards we found the buck in the water.
It was a shot I didn't have enough clearance for, not an optimal hit and a long night of concern but the end result was a monster of a Non Typical whitetail buck with a main frame 5 X 5. With 23 inches of main beam, 20 inch inside spread and a total of 23 points SCI score of 216 3/8’s points. Truly a buck of a life time. If you’re ever looking to hunt your buck of a lifetime Oak Creek Whitetail Ranch it the place to go. I know Donald would be glad to visit with you about hunting with them.
Buena Caceria /Good Hunting:
BOW: Mathews / Creed
BROADHEADS: No Limit /Grave Diggers
SIGHTS/STABILIZERS / ARROW REST: Axion Archery
BOW CASE: Lakewood Double Case
COVER SCENT: Atsko, N-O-DOR
BUCK LURE: Timber Valley Fresh Scent / 4-Play
CLOTHING: Game Hide Lost Camo
RELEASE: Scott Archery Silverhorn
Nocks & Vanes: Firenock and Aerovane II
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