Editor’s Note: D.J. Randolph of Velva, North Dakota, is the Mossy Oak regional manager for North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska and Alaska. A Mossy Oak Pro Staff hunter since 2008 and a Pro Staff Manager for the last 3 years, he’ll begin to hunt antelope on Labor Day weekend.
One of the big advantages we have in North Dakota is: because our deer season opens the first day of Labor Day weekend, we have an opportunity to take velvet-antlered bucks. Once I had set-up three or four stand sites. On opening day, I went out to hunt my primary stand site, and the wind was wrong. So, I went to a tree stand I had set up where two sunflower fields and a corn field cornered into each other. Out here, when you find fields cornering into each other, they create pinch points that funnel deer. I had put a ladder stand at this pinch point. I had been in my stand for several hours and had seen a couple of does. As the sun faded, I looked over into one of the sunflower fields and spotted a real nice velvet-antlered buck coming toward me. He was a 4x5 and had a lot of mass. As he approached, he would stop and eat sunflowers.
While I watched him coming in, I could tell he was going to be too far away from me for me to take a bow shot. My only hope was that when he come out of the sunflowers and reached the edge of the field where the sunflowers were planted, he would walk down the edge of that sunflower field and come right past my stand. Once he reached the edge of the field, there were three different ways he could go. But luckily, he decided to come down the edge of the sunflower field and took the trail that would lead right past my stand.
I had set my stand about three trees back from the edge of the field. Before he would be in range, he had to pass three different rows of trees. Each row of trees was wide enough and thick enough, so he couldn’t to see me when I drew my bow. When the deer stepped out from the last row of trees, he was 25-yards away, quartering away. I settled my pin and took the shot. But instead of going right after him, I went back to the house, called one of my buddies and asked him to come help me. When we arrived at the spot where I had arrowed the buck, we could see blood on the sunflower plants. The buck had only gone about 50 yards from where I had shot him. His antlers grossed about 135. With deductions, he didn’t quite make the Pope and Young record books. However, being the first velvet buck I ever had taken, he was an absolute trophy.
North Dakota and Wyoming are great places to early season hunt for many species of animals, and I can hardly wait for Labor Day and the beginning of bow season this year.
Yesterday: A Quick Family Bear Hunt