No Place to Run or Hide on Jeff and Chris Propst’s Ground Hunt for Big Bucks
Editor’s Note: Jeff Propst of northeast Missouri has been wearing Mossy Oak for the last 13 years. “Although I like all the Mossy Oak patterns,” Propst says, “over the last year or so, I’ve been mainly wearing Infinity. In the past, I have worn Mossy Oak Break-Up, Treestand, Shadow Grass Blades and the original Bottomland. My son, Chris, and I are hunting and videoing partners for “Bow Madness” on the Outdoor Channel.”
On this particular hunt, my son, Chris, and I were both in tree stands; I was the videographer and Chris, the shooter. Around 11:00 am, we decided to get down out of the tree to eat some lunch and get out early for the afternoon sit.
After lunch, as we headed back to our spot, Chris wanted to do some practice shooting with his field tips to ensure his bow was still in tune. We were quietly discussing our plan for the afternoon sit when Chris, pulling one of his arrows out of the ground, whispered, “Here comes a big buck, dad.” Sure enough, I turned and noticed a nice buck walking right toward us. Luckily, we were wearing Mossy Oak Treestand camo – a perfect pattern to wear when surrounded by open hardwood timber. Luck stayed with us since I had brought my camera down with me before we broke for lunch. I quickly dug it out of its bag, while Chris hunkered down by a little bush. Once the camera was up and running, I crawled over to Chris and then set-up to photograph the shot.
However, our luck ran out when it came to natural camo. Chris only had minimal cover, and I had none at all. This was as bare as I ever had been with a buck coming straight at me. I was as wide open as a traffic cop standing in the middle of the street in New York City directing traffic; no front or back cover. We became a duo of hunting statues as the buck advanced our way. Chris waited until the deer went behind a tree at 25 yards. This area had a mild breeze. When the deer stepped out from behind a tree, Chris grunted and took the shot. Sixty yards later, we found the 9-point, 130-inch buck, double-lunged and ready for the trophy room.
This interesting hunt taught me some important lessons:
- If you’re hunting in an area where you expect to spot a buck, always expect to see the buck every time you’re there – whether you’re going up to or down from your stand, standing at the base of the tree or walking into or out of the woods.
- When you’re hunting deer, remember you’re hunting on deer time. Deer don’t own watches. They don’t have appointments or places to be at certain times. So, keep your hunting times flexible and try not to stick to the same 4-hour periods after sunset or before sunrise to hunt.
- If your camouflage is to work its potential, natural back and front cover are essential to help break-up your silhouette. However, when you get surprised by a buck like we were, try to find a decent position to take the shot, and be as still as possible. Even if you don’t have both back and front camo, your Mossy Oak patterns can still save the day.
- If you primarily hunt and sight your bow in from a tree stand, still practice shooting from the ground in a kneeling and a standing position. If Chris hadn’t known how to aim from a kneeling position, or how the arrow would fly when he shot from that position, we would have missed the opportunity to take a nice buck on video.
- If you’re still, that’s powerful to successful deer hunting. Even when Chris grunted, stopped the buck and had the buck looking at us, the deer was unable to identify us as humans with intent to hunt. We blended in with our surroundings, and we were completely motionless.
Throughout years of difficult hunting seasons, Chris and I have come to realize that hunters have to be prepared to take their shots even when they may not be prepared at all. This hunt was a classic example of this.