By John Eberhart
It was October 19th and still a bit early to hunt my rut phase locations so I planned on checking a secondary location at the back of a standing cornfield that had two scrapes opened up during my pre-season speed tour. On an early season hunt the scrapes had become inactive so I hunted elsewhere. If they were active now, I would hunt there and carried in my hip boots to hunt across the river if they weren’t active.
Both locations are secure transition routes from bedding areas to the same standing cornfield. One route leads to the cornfield from the east and the other from the south after it crosses the river. With my ScentLok scent control regimen, wind direction is of no concern so either location would be fine.
It was windy and while walking through the standing corn I kept my eye out for deer bedded within the rows and about halfway through I saw a big doe securely bedded about 15 yards away. It’s always intriguing to see deer comfortably bedded in standing corn and I watched her for a few moments before moving on.
As I neared the edge the corn began to get sparse as the deer and raccoons had it eaten down pretty good. The scrapes were still inactive so it was time for plan B. I walked the edge of the cornfield and when it turned west I went straight and to the river. I changed into my hip boots and crossed the 40 foot wide shallow river and then put my Muck boots back on and while the walk to my tree was only 15 yards, I saw 3 fresh scrapes along the main runway.
The river ran east/west and the surrounding area consisted of about 4 acres of nasty dense bedding area to the southeast and timber with dense understudy and deadfalls to the southwest. I prepared this location in the spring because the main north/south runway which was only 12 yards from the tree, ran directly between the 2 bedding areas and there were small secondary runways from both bedding areas that fed into it.
The location was perfect for several reasons. I can access it through the field for an evening hunt without spooking deer. As long as the field is in standing corn I can exit through it without spooking deer and I wouldn’t intrude with either bedding area because it’s along the river’s edge.
At 4:40 I heard something moving to the south and within moments a big doe came into view and ran by down the main runway. She crossed the river and ran into the standing corn without stopping. She had no fawns with her and I know that mature does without fawns don’t just randomly run through areas with reckless abandon unless being pursued.
While my expectations of encountering mature bucks in pressured areas prior to the rut phases are low, sure enough a mature buck was in pursuit. He had a descent rack and came to an abrupt halt at the first runway scrape. When he stopped I couldn’t help but notice his mass of muscles and fat jiggle on his big body.
When he put his head down to scent check the scrape I drew my Mathews bow and released the G5 100-grain Striker that was attached to my Maxima Red arrow into his slightly quartering away chest. The hit was perfectly placed about 6 inches behind the shoulder which would angle the arrow right thought the boiler room.
He turned and ran back along the same runway and then broke east into the more dense area of brush, tall weeds, briars and deadfalls. I went back to my van, took off my ScentLok clothing and changed into lighter recovery clothing, and called a couple buddies. One of them didn’t own waders so he waited by the cornfield with my versa-cart until we recovered him and brought him back across the river.
Although he traveled a couple hundred yards before expiring, it only took about 10 minutes to find the 9 point as my 2 year old grandson could have followed his blood trail. Body wise he was big and ended up being a 3 ½ year old.