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Deer report October 28: Close call with a big buck

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Firearms opener is this Saturday, Nov. 3, in Minnesota, which means now is one of the best weeks of the season to be in the stand as a bow hunter. (Eric Morken / Echo Press)2 / 2

One of the major changes I have made to my hunting over the last couple years is being more mobile, and it almost led to an opportunity at a nice buck on Sunday evening.

I crawled into a hang-on stand at about 6 a.m. that morning. Almost immediately, I had a big buck underneath me. The moonlight shined off his antlers every time he lifted his head, but I had a long time to wait before shooting light.

That buck made a fresh rub 10 yards behind my tree and proceeded to head off into the thicker cover to my right. Does and a 1.5-year-old buck came through in daylight, but that big one didn’t return.

I shifted gears for my evening sit. The wind was gusting to more than 20 miles per hour out of the northwest. I figured any bigger bucks would want to be bedded on a south-facing ridge so they could have that wind blowing over their back and see everything down below.

With that in mind, I slipped on my Tethrd Mantis hunting saddle and walked along a corn field at the top of that ridge in search of sign to set up on. I had never hunted this area before, but I figured there had to be some open scrapes.

The first noticeable sign I came upon was a small opening of grass and brush that separated the ridge and the corn field. There were trails everywhere in here with some small rubs on the trees. I kept walking the field edge and soon found a couple of active scrapes that had been worked within the last 24 hours after some heavy rain on Saturday night.

I knew there were bucks around, so I went back to that area of grass and brush and set up in a small cedar tree. It wasn’t half an hour later that a group of three does were within 10 yards of me. They stayed up there for about 20 minutes and had moved about 50 yards to the east when one looked down the ridge and became startled.

I had an idea of what this meant. About 30 seconds later, a good buck came out of the trees. I knew right away it was a buck that I wanted to take if given the chance. He scanned the situation for a while and then followed the direction of those does.

My only chance was to call. I let out a couple of soft grunts and it wasn’t long before he reappeared. He stopped and stared in my direction. Then, like big bucks tend to do, he walked back down the ridge to try to come at the source of the sound downwind. I watched through the brush as his antlers slowly disappeared.

This was the best encounter of the season so far, but ultimately one that left me without a shot. That means another day in the stand tomorrow.

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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