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North Dakota Mulies and Whitetails.

by Marshall Kaiser 15. April 2011 14:16
Marshall Kaiser

Late October I found myself with some good friends south of the Missouri River Breaks in the southwest corner of North Dakota, hunting whitetails and mulies with our traditional bows. We hunted food plots, travel routes, ridge tops, and round bails.  The rut was a few weeks away, and deer seemed to be on their natural feeding patterns with a little bit of chasing by the smaller bucks.  


Definately not a shortage of deer.

The landscape was not the typical, flat, open country with scattered duck ponds; we hunted pine, cedar and juniper ridges, as well as sandstone, shale, agate draws, and river bottoms, all within a 6000 acre, free-range ranch.  The territory was a great place to spend a week of hunting.  Not only were there plenty of deer, but the population of coyotes, pheasant and even badgers was also very high. 

North Dakota Badger trying to figure me out.  I was in a homemade ground blind 5 yds away.

The hunt was action-packed yet frustrating at times. Just like when you hunt anywhere else, once you seem to get the animals figured out, they out-smart you and show up out of bow range.  Little did I know my luck (or lack thereof) was about to change.  On the fourth day, my hunting partner and I were doing a little spot-and-spook when we came upon a mulie doe.  We split up and thought our odds would be better if one of us could get the deer’s attention and the other move in for a shot.  The events that happened next will forever be etched in my mind.   

As luck would have it, the doe focused its attention on my partner allowing me to close the distance.  I got within about 40 yards of the doe when I noticed another doe and two bucks just over the rise.  I was pinned down, but not busted.  I waited it out until all eyes were on my partner.  I slowly got to my knees and estimated the shot on the bigger 4 x 4 mulie at around 34 yards.  Everything that happened next was a blur.  Before I could take back my arrow I found it sailing toward the target.  With the thud of an arrow hitting its mark, I looked up and saw the mule deer tip its head back and bound down the draw. For a brief moment I actually thought I had just shot my first mule deer.  But as I looked back to where the buck had stood, I noticed the bright white fletching of my arrow stuck in a dead tree about 30 yards from where I stood.  As I did the math, that was about four to five yards short of my intended target.   

A gorgeous place to hunt.

As most of us who hunt have experienced this pain, frustration, confusion and embarrassment all rolled up in one, we have to try to keep our heads together . . . yeah right!!!  For the rest of this trip my focus was shot.  I had launched a few more arrows trying to fill my tag with some venison; however, that did not happen.  But even with my lack of luck, the trip was still well worth it.  In fact I’ll be back out there in the middle of November hoping to meet up with a lovesick buck; anyway, my hunting partner ended up arrowing a nice whitetail before we packed up and headed back to Wisconsin to hunt the rut and get my head back in the game.  Lesson learned: it’s not always about the kill! 


My hunting partner with a nice North Dakota whitetail.








Longbow Longbeard

by Marshall Kaiser 15. April 2011 10:18
Marshall Kaiser

In the spring 2008, I was committed.  My wife would like to say in more ways than others.  I was committed to using my longbow for the entire turkey season no matter how desperate I got.  So I did my homework, found places to hunt, set up cameras, blinds, did some extra scouting, and purchased leftover tags.  I did everything in my power to hopefully accomplish what I felt was next to impossible.
Several times I set out, but had no luck; I was getting birds on cameras and seeing birds from a distance, but closing the distance was just not possible.  The birds were there-- I just needed to work harder on a plan.  I knew the later seasons would be tougher to hunt the birds, but I was bound and determined to not give up.

While hunting one sunny afternoon I noticed a group of toms strutting amongst themselves a couple hundred yards away in a green field.  The sun lit up the colors on their feathers and made them even more tantalizing.  I was on the other side of a fenceline in a cut corn field.  The landscape was perfect because there were some drainages between the birds and myself.

The fenceline was also made of stone and brush.  This was it.  The cards were in my favor.  I closed the distance to about 75 yards from the birds.  I set up on the fenceline behind some rocks and brush on the cornfield side.  My plan was to make a few soft putts and try to draw the birds down the fenceline past me so I could get a quartering shot at the last one.  I felt this would be my best chance at not being busted.

After a few soft putts, they were on their way, like a bunch of college guys on ladies night at the local club.  Within minutes they were well within bow range and looking for love.  Any one of those birds could have been a trophy.  I didn’t care about the length of beard or spurs; I kept focus on how and when I could pull off a desperation shot.  The neat part was I was trying the Magnus bullheads, so I was curious about how they would work if given the opportunity. 
It was now or never: on one knee I drew back.  I think I hit anchor, focused on the closest bird, and let fly.  I saw a flash of feathers and toms were scattering in all directions-- all but one. He lay piled up approximately 15 yards from me.

After further examination it looked as though the arrow skimmed the back of the bird and caught a good piece of the neck and cut the bird wide open.  It was one of those moments when you look around hoping to see if anyone is there to celebrate with you.  I gave my thanks to my Maker, tagged my bird and headed back to the truck.  I had to be careful with each step so I wouldn’t trip on my smile!

I had just accomplished something I never thought I could do.  I knew I had withdrawn a huge piece of luck from my luck account, but that was ok.  I would find a way to start saving up for the next time I would need to cash in.  I was hooked: this traditional thing was slowly sinking its teeth into my bowhunting nerves, and man did it feel good.  I still refuse to hang up the Mathews Z7, but we all like a new challenge every once in a while-- this was definitely it.




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