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A crazy hunt in TX!

STATE: Texas

HUNTER: Tyson Schmidt

I was watching this deer for multiple seasons. Initially he caught my eye with what looked like a split G2 on his right side. The first season I aged him at about 2 yrs old with good characteristics but not much mass. I decided to let him go another year. The 2nd season he came around, he showed good growth and increased body mass but still needed time to mature. I let him walk early season and after a sub-par season, I made the decision if he was still around toward the end of season I would take him. Once rut kicked off he disappeared on me never to been seen again.

After listening to various podcasts (primarily Southern Outdoorsmen & Truth from the Stand) I made the decision to get away from the typical Texas “hunting” mindset of sitting at a feeder and shooting what comes out, to actually getting away from the feeder and hunting based off sign Intel and inventory from trail cams. I also made the commitment to harvest a buck with my bow. Did some off season and early season scouting, found some predominant trails, old scrapes and rubs, as well as various bedding locations. I spent months moving cameras around, scouting different areas, tracking deer movement with the weather and wind direction and narrowed it down to a primary and secondary location, plus a spot by the feeder for my Son to be able to hunt with his bow.
This guy showed up on camera, and to my surprise, grew exponentially. Granted, most free range Texas hill country bucks and no where close to those I’ve seen in GA, OK or CO; he was bid for the area. I started tracking when I was getting him on camera, correlating that with weather patterns, wind direction, etc. He was only ever caught on camera during daylight with an E, NE wind. But was on camera consistently at the feeder during night time, but on on winds ranging from N - SE. All of which were counter productive to my tree stand location. The problem I ran in to was there were not many trees that would work for my tree stand (heavy with cedar trees and schrub oaks). As well, with the target wind direction, hunting from the ground would be difficult with the terrain and lack of coverage. The only chance I had to hunt that location effectively was with an E, NE wind and rising thermals. With the plan of rising thermals carry my scent over him as he came in. I sat multiple observation sits in situations where thermals were rising and witnessed countless does and small buck walk right underneath my stand. That stand location would work under those variables.
Monday, October 23rd, while at work, I received a notification from a cell cam that my target buck was directly underneath my tree stand. The weather was right (storm front moving in), wind was NE steady @ 10 mph, and temperature was expecting to drop approximately 10°. I packed up my laptops from work and hauled ass home. Changed clothes and headed out to my stand.
From the time I was leaving work, I got him on camera @ 15:25 (tree stand) 15:48 (feeder), & 16:08 (tree stand). Because of the locations of the cameras, I came to the conclusion he was feeding before the storm came through and was hoping he would stay in the area long enough for me to have a chance to harvest him.
I got on site @ approximately 16:45. Grabbed my gear on got in my tree stand. It didn’t take me long to notice that the wind at my stand was constantly swirling and never in a consistent direction. I threw in a crossroads cartridge in my wyndscent and let her rip. I wanted to make sure my thermals were still rising with the wind shifting so much. They were, but I had 4 different does come through the area of my stand but never come into shooting range. Even though I was careful with scent control and playing the rising thermals, they were still able to sense something was off. 3 of the 4 does just turned and left the area, the last doe (who came in from the path the buck would come in from) blew and bolted out of there. After that happened, I made the decision this spot was only going to work with the swirling wind. Got out of the stand, went back to the truck to drop off my pack and harness, threw on my “Stalkerz” grabbed my bow and wyndscent and went to where I wanted to avoid… the ground blind by the feeder. At this point, with rifle season rapidly approaching I didn’t want to chance losing this deer to someone else during rifle season. I made my way down to the blind and got settled. I was in the blind for no more than 10 mins when I heard grunting come down the hill to my left. Low a behold my target buck walks out 15 yards in front of my quartering away. Once he got to the feeder and hopefully turned broadside I would have a shot @ 30 yds. He goes to the feeder, turns to his left and starts browsing. I drew my bow and instantly turned in to Michael J. Fox in a blizzard. Worked on my breathing and calming myself down, but by the time I felt comfortable releasing that arrow, he had already moved past the feeder and going towards a large patch of oak trees that were dropping acorns about 80 yds away. After having an internal monologue with some choice words about what an idiot I was, I made the decision to say “screw it, I’m going after him!” I unzipped the blind stood behind it and glasses as I watched him work left to right away from me and into the brush.
I made the decision to book it across the field opening to the tree line on my right about 60 yds from the blind. Now mind you, I’m a 275lb disabled veteran with a BK amputation. Even with my stalkerz on, my fat gimpy ass was far from quiet, but I figured since he was in the brush and the wind is blowing in our faces, he shouldn’t hear my fat ass stomping through the brush trying to get to cover. I made it to the tree line and started working my way down toward his last known location, which was behind the old abandoned barn. In my mind I knew I had to get to that barn quick and skirt the side to try and get eyes on him to see if I could make a play to try and get in range. I broke free from the tree line, crossing a small 2 track road and into an opening before the barn. And of course, right when I get into the opening, he comes back out from behind the barn off to my left. In a split second decision I said screw it, keep walking and just get out of his line of sight. I got the the barn and worked the side wall to the back corner and peaked around to see him working around the back side of that barn toward the road. I drew back, controlled my breathing and waited… for what felt like an eternity, for this buck to walk out into a small opening behind a mesquite patch. Initially, I thought he was going to come straight across at about 20 yds, but he worked left to right away from me and ended up being at about 30 yds. I waited for him to get free of all the small waist high brush and let out a “meh” to get him to stop. He took a few steps, stopped and looked my direction. Made a quick calculation in my head with my sight based on his estimated distance and let ‘er rip. I shot just behind his front right shoulder with a clean pass through and double lunges him. He mule kicked, bolted into the brush and J-Hooked back where I watched him fall approximately 30 yards from me.
If I hadn’t started listening to the Southern Outdoorsmen podcast, I never would have been able to harvest this deer. The information I have obtained from y’all with regards to hunting the wind and giving a more to the deer, never heard of thermals before y’all, various signs to look out for, finding feed trees, what to look for in bedding, scapes, rubs, whip rubs, etc. y’all’s pad cast was instrumental in my success. This buck is as much yours and he is mine. Thank y’all, keep it up. I look forward to learning and implementing more tactics and knowledge in future hunts.
He’s scored 137 7/8ths. Biggest buck to date on this property (3 yrs in). Not a bruiser by any means, but he’s going to make a beautiful euro mount and story to tell.
God bless & Stay southern
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