Trusting the Thermal Hub
Isaac Ellison (known to die hard Southern Outdoorsmen listeners & reviewers as "StruggleBus") recently had an incredible hunt in West Virginia on some public ground.
Isaac highlights some specific calling tactics here which have produced a huge amount of listener success stories over the years. To key in on these same tactics, make sure you check out the following episodes of The Southern Outdoorsmen Podcast:
290 - Call Deer the Right Way with Richard Fought
188 - Pressure Based Hunting & a Fresh Look At Calling with Tim Knight
418 - Stay In The Bucks with Clifton Denney [LISTENER Q&A]
It was a cold morning in the low teens on opening morning of West Virginia rifle season on a national Forrest and I was hunting a giant thermal hub/flat and In this spot I killed my first good rack buck in 2020.
I was actually in the same tree in my climber about 25-30 ft up over looking the flat with 7-15ft tall pines that are scattered out with a small creek and mountain laurel that runs with it. It was so cold that all the leaves were frozen together so I got settled in early to give the woods some time to calm down and as soon as I could see 15-25 yards I started doing my blind calling sequence, which is about the same as Richard Fought by calling 180 degrees around the tree doing short tending grunts. A few times during my calling sequence I like to turn the primos can about 3 times. I also hooked up my rattling horns to my pull-up rope to try and do some Tim Knight style rattling.
As the morning went on I was doing my calling sequence every 5-10 min, since gray light, with some mixed in rattling. At about 7:30 it sounded like a truck was driving through the woods! I stood up in my climber and I was looking all over and I had no idea where it was coming from. It was so quiet and calm it was just hard to pin point it - I finally figured out it was straight in front of me.
I saw 2 deer coming right at me so I sat back down, put my rifle on my shoulder and zoomed in my scope and it was two does. They ran all the way to my right and stopped at 20 yards and they started walking in circles and the paused for a second.
I could hear another deer coming and all I saw was rack so I swung my rifle back to my front and zoomed my scope all the way to 9 and he was just facing me at 80-90 yards. The doe’s had stopped walking around and he couldn’t find them so he just stood still and one of the doe’s picked up my thermals and they started cutting back the way they came and the buck was standing still. In my head I had a feeling they were going to go back the direction they came from and I told my self this is my only shot and it was a tight hole through the brush so I decided it’s now or never so I put my crosshairs on the his chest in between his shoulders and I did and exhale. When I did that I fogged up my scope and I couldn’t see.
At that point the doe’s started doing that trot run so I went around in circles on my glass about 20 times and said that’s good enough - and squeezed off a shot and he dropped right there and didn’t even kick or move a muscle! I was in such shock and I had to ask myself “ did that just happen” and then I got the shakes and I called my dad on the radio and asked him if he saw those deer because he was setup in front of me about 300 yards. He said he could hear them but he couldn’t see them and they were in the laurels. In the end the more I think about it I never would’ve hunted this spot if it wasn’t for the podcast.
(1) it’s an overlooked spot and right off the road (2) big thermal hub multiple ridges lead to this flat (3) hunt where the deer are not where you want the deer to be (4) hunt the thick stuff / edges (5) calling all deer with Richard fought (6) the zoom meeting with Clifton Denny I learned even more from that and I can honestly name. Not to mention 10-15 more things from the show that helped me have more confidence in that spot because with out the show I would still be hunting those pretty woods. There’s a lot more to breakdown in the story and that was my best week I’ve ever had up there I’ve never seen so many deer in those woods in my life and y’all have been a big help!
- Isaac Ellison