featuring Dan Gritzner of Manchester, Iowa | Mossy Oak ProStaff manager for Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
In 2007, I found a travel corridor on the property we hunted by using aerial photos. When I put a tree stand in that location and hunted from it, the deer went too far around me to take a bow shot. This stand was 100-yards from a fence, and behind the fence was a great bedding area. In 2008, I moved the stand to hunt right on the fence line close to the bedding area. Because of the high steep limestone bluffs in that area, the wind constantly was switching, and the deer smelled me before they came in close enough for a bow shot. Too, the stand was placed so I was out in the opening on the edge of the field I was hunting. Many times, the wind passed by me and hit the bluff behind me, so it turned back and carried my scent right into the bedding area.
I decided to move my stand to not be so close to the bedding area. About 40-yards from my stand was a small drainage coming off the top of the ridge. I used milkweed seeds to determine what the wind was doing in that drainage. The wind was completely different in the drainage, and I decided if I could put a stand right on the edge of that drainage, the wind wouldn’t be blowing into the deer’s bedding area. I moved the stand to the drainage, and that 40-yard move proved to be the difference between taking trophy bucks and not getting bucks in range. I learned from that stand that by continuing to move your stand until you got it in the perfect spot, you often consistently could harvest older-age-class bucks from that same stand every year.
Since 2009, five bucks have been taken out of that stand with an average score of 150 Boone & Crockett points. Last year, film crews from Mossy Oak’s “Hunting the Country” TV show came up and hunted with me there, and we almost took a world-class 8 pointer. My friend Perry Peterson was in the stand with a cameraman from Mossy Oak. This monster 8-point buck came within 25 yards of the stand chasing a doe, but neither Peterson nor the cameraman could get the buck to stop, so Perry could get the shot.
In 2010, the year after Perry hunted from the stand, I went back and sat in it with Joe White, the Mossy Oak Productions videographer. When I’m bowhunting from a tree stand, I always wear Mossy Oak Treestand camouflage. I had put the stand up in August of that year, and we didn’t go back to that stand until first light on November 2. We sat in the stand all day long. That day was a bowhunter’s dream. We saw small bucks, medium-sized bucks and one really-good trophy buck. We saw does and bucks chasing does. We actually got to see two young bucks sparring. We saw deer almost constantly until about 2:00 pm. From 2:00 to 4:00 pm we saw very-few deer. As the sun went down, and the temperature dropped, we could feel it was about time for deer to start moving.
I looked out into this tree-planted bedding area with a lot of brush in it, and I could see a good buck coming toward us. I whispered to Joe, “I’m pretty sure this is a buck I want to take.” I watched the deer jump the fence toward us. He turned broadside to me at 25 yards, and I came to full draw. When he stepped behind a tree, I was within less than 1/2-inch from touching the trigger on my mechanical release to arrow the buck. I heard Joe whisper, “Don’t shoot. I can t see the buck in the camera.” I had stood up to make the draw, and my body was blocking Joe’s camera angle to the deer. I tried to move to my left, and Joe tried to move to my right to see the buck. But that little movement spooked the buck. He ran away and jumped back over the fence.
When I had that deer at 15 yards and was at full draw, I was solid as a rock and ready to take the shot. But when that trophy buck trotted away from us, I was so shaken-up that my legs got weak. I had to sit down. I totally understood why Joe didn’t want me to take the shot. I agreed it wouldn’t be the right thing to do, since we were trying to film a TV show. Fifteen minutes later, we looked-up and saw what appeared to be the same buck coming back. He stopped a little ways from us and looked back. I gave him a snort/wheeze call. He came to the edge of the fence, went to war with a small sapling, jumped the fence and moved to us. The buck finally came to within 25 yards. Joe had some good footage on the buck, and I took him with my PSE bow. That buck grossed 169 on Pope & Young. When we looked at the deer’s rack, we realized it wasn’t the buck we’d spooked. This was the best buck I’d ever taken in my life, and to take him on film with the Mossy Oak crew and get a DVD of that hunt to play over and over again was really exciting for me.
The next year, in 2011, I set up two tree stands in that same tree and took my 15-year-old son, Jake, to hunt there. As fate would have it, the buck Joe White wouldn’t let me shoot the year before started coming toward Jake. My son took that buck. This was his third deer taken with a bow, and his second bow buck. He scored 158 inches P&Y.