As the sun came up on the morning of October 27th, 2013 a dream became a reality and I found myself sitting 25’ up in a tree in the hills of Buffalo County, Wisconsin.
My brother and I would be staying on the farm of Dave and Donna Ernst at their Cross Ridge Retreat. Where we would be on a 5 day DIY archery hunt in the bluff country of Wisconsin just a couple miles from the banks of the Mississippi river.
We had made the 16 hour drive from our homes in North Carolina, and arrived at around 2:30pm the day before our first hunt. We piled out of the truck and hit the ground running. The landowner quickly pointed out the property lines as he needed to run back into town and left us to get to work.
I had studied the farm for a couple of months on Google Earth, US topo maps and had some what of a game plan to get us started in the right direction of getting some stand sets hung. I had located a long timber ridge that was located on the south portion of the farm and this was going to be the first place to locate some sign and get up a observation stand. Upon entering the woods we found that there was an old logging road that ran the length of the ridge that feed out into 8 acre Alfalfa field. With every 10 yards further down the ridge we walked, the buck sign became more frequent and fresh. Rubs on every other tree and scrapes every 30-40 yards. I knew that this location had quickly turned from a observation location to a permanent stand set. I quietly unpacked my Lone Wolf Alpha and 5 sticks and headed up a small white oak just on the North side of the logging road and eased back out to get ready for the next morning hunt.
The next morning, the alarm went off at 4:30am and while I was getting ready and extremely anxious for my first morning hunt, I had a gut feeling that I was heading into a set where I would benefit from an all day set. So I quickly rushed to the kitchen made a few PB&J sandwiches and grabbed a drink and threw them in my Full Rut pack and headed out the door.
I reached the stand well before daylight and gave a short interview , but I did not see my first action till 9:30am. All small 8 point had snuck into 20 yards of me on the ridge top road bed. I was able to ease around and get the camera turned on just in time to see him travel right under my stand and on out the ridge. Over the next several hours it was just me and mother nature. I dug through my pack at around 11:15am to eat my first PB&J and watched the hours pass away. The all day hunt was turning out to be a long and grueling day of bird watching. The temps had warmed up to the mid 40’s with 15mph winds and deer movement was no existent, but I had made it to 3:00pm and it was time to eat my final PB&J.
At 5:15pm I made the decision to stand up till the end of legal shooting time, so as to not be caught off guard or handcuffed. The winds were still at a steady 10-15mph making it difficult to hear. I was paying close attention to the wooded ravine off the to my left, feeling that this maybe the direction or place to detect some activity. While checking back over my shoulder at the road bed every five minutes.
My last glance at around 6:10pm I caught the glimpse of a racked buck standing just 50 yards in the middle of the road bed headed straight towards me. I slowly eased my way into shooting position, by this time he was within 30 yards working a scrape. He had closed the distance fast and I still had a lot of movement left to get ready to take a good shot. I reached up and got all my cameras rolling, slowly reached for my bow and creeped it around in front of me. Finally, I was ready to take the shot if presented with one. The buck was at the final scrape along the road bed that was at 5 yards from my tree. So with every rake of the branches he was looking upwards in my direction, limiting my movement and camera shots. So I set my primary camera to a wide opening in the road bed at the base of my tree almost guaranteeing to have the impact shot on film if I could get him stopped. After finishing up with the scrape he turns and walks out to the center of the road bed and begins eating acorns. He had come in so quick and caught me with my back turned, I had not had anytime to get my binos on him and I had no idea how big, how many points or the score of this buck, but I had made the decision that I was going to take a crack at him. After a short time of picking through the leaves for acorns he turns to his left and heads right down the middle of the road bed and in frame at 6 yards. I come to full draw give a soft grunt, settle my pin and touch off my Carter Quikie and WHACK!!
After dinner and a few phone calls we head back in to pick up the blood trail. The Grim Reaper Whitetaill SS had done a number on the bucks vitals and after just 120 yards I am able to wrap my hands around my first Wisconsin buck. Even though I tagged out on my first day of being in Wisconsin it was a hard earned trophy and one that will stick out in my mind for years to come. Now it is back to North Carolina and Ohio to try and fill the remainder of my tags!!
Grim Reaper Broadheads: 100gr Whitetail SS
Spot Hogg Archery : 5pin Hunter
GamePlan Gear: Full Rut Pack / Snap Shot Sling
Gold Tip: 7595 Pro Hunters
Carter Release Aid: Quickie
Lone Wolf Knives: Landslide