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David Welch Was 10 Yards from Four Blacktail Bucks That Never Saw Him


Editor’s Note: Forty-seven-year-old David Welch of Woodland, California, is a wilderness hunter, who has worn Mossy Oak exclusively for the last 5 years and is one of the first original Mossy Oak Pro Staff members. Although Welch hunts public lands, he sees and takes more game than the average public-land hunter. 

I was blacktail hunting in one of the wilderness areas in California with a buddy of mine, Jeff King. We had been patterning a group of blacktail bucks for about 6 days and had been making stalks on them. Even though we could get within bow range from time to time, they would move, turn or get behind brush. They wouldn’t give us a shot, but we hadn’t spooked any of the bucks. Finally on the last day, the bucks were in a position where I could make a stalk on them where they were in some willow trees, pine trees and tall grass where they liked to bed. They were on the opposite mountain from the one I was on, and when they moved into the willows, they couldn’t see me any more. 

Welch5_llI moved down to the bottom of the canyon and went up on the same side of the mountain where the bucks were. The bucks were above me, and the willows were between me and the bucks. I kept checking the wind and sneaking in closer and closer. I was wearing my Mossy Oak Brush camo, and I was able to move within 10 yards of this group of seven bucks. To register a buck with Pope and Young, a blacktail only has to score 90 inches, and a blacktail that’s more than 120 inches is a monster-sized buck. Two of the bucks in this group had antlers that would score more than 120 inches. The buck I really wanted was a 4x4 with eye guards, and his antlers carried a lot of mass. I moved into the alders at the edge of the cut where I’d seen the bucks move. Once I reached the edge of the cut, I was 10-yards from the deer and totally in the open. When I spotted the deer, I froze with no cover behind me. Four of the bucks then wandered out in front of me, but none of them were the buck I wanted to take. 

I could see the buck I wanted to take through the willows. He was looking in my direction, but he couldn’t see me. Even the blacktails 10-yards away couldn’t see me. As I turned to get in position to take a shot at the big buck, he apparently saw me move. He exploded and ran off, and so did the other bucks. I couldn’t believe that I was within 10 yards of four bucks with no cover, and those deer never saw me. I could have taken any of the bucks that were in front of me for at least 2 or 3 minutes, but I held my shot for the big buck. The fact that I didn’t take the big buck was my fault, not my camo’s fault. You couldn’t ask for more than that from camouflage. This Mossy Oak Brush camo is as good as camouflage can be. 

Day 4: Mossy Oak’s David Welch Is Eyeball to Eyeball with a Big Bull Elk

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