Editor’s Note: Rick and Julie Kreuter are the hosts of “Beyond the Hunt” that appears on the Outdoor Channel Mondays at 8:30 am EST and Thursdays at 3:30 and 8:00 pm EST. Rick and Julie have been married for 14 years, have hunted together for 15 years and have worn Mossy Oak for 8 years.
We were hunting in Utah with Daniel Richins of the R&K Hunting Company.We had a second guide with us named Doby Batt as well as Spook Spann, another Mossy Oak Pro Staffer. We had glassed several big mule deer from a long way out. Once we spotted a deer, we picked-out a landmark close to the deer and started stalking. We looped around this buck to get the wind in our favor and were able to get above this buck, using the landmarks we had chosen. We started walking down the hill to him. Because we had found the buck early in the morning, we knew that the thermals would cause the wind to blow toward us, and the buck wouldn’t be able to smell us. To keep the buck from seeing us, we had to move in the shade. In this area of Utah, the brush often can be 5- or 6-feet tall. As we made our stalk, we tried to stay in the brush and the shade. Both these types of cover allowed our Mossy Oak Brush camo to help us be invisible.
On this particular hunt, Julie was using her PSE Vendetta bow. When we got within about 30 yards of where we thought the buck was bedded, we couldn’t see him. The hill we were coming down was steeper than we first thought it was. When you spot a deer from a long ways, and you set-up landmarks, you don’t absolutely know how close the deer is to the landmarks, especially if the deer is bedded-down on the side of a hill. Unknowingly, we had moved to within 10 or 15 yards of the bedded buck. Once I sat-down and used my binoculars to look-back at Spook, Doby and Daniel, they were pointing at their feet and mouthing, “Right below you.” Although I knew we were close to the buck, I still couldn’t see him. I realized that Julie and I couldn’t move. I kept studying the terrain below me. Then I spotted antler tips, and the deer stood-up. There were three bucks instead of just one, and they were tucked-up under a little shelf below us.
When the bucks stood-up, they didn’t offer any shots. We watched them walk and then trot away, going from 10 to 200 yards without giving Julie a shot. Finally the bucks stopped at some cedar trees. Two of the three bucks bedded-down in the shade where we could watch them. The biggest buck remained standing in the sun. I told Julie, “Let’s back out of here and not spook these bucks. We’ll come back later in the afternoon and hunt them, when they go for food and water.” Julie said, “Rick, I think we can stalk that buck and make a play on him.” I said, “Okay Julie, if you think you can stalk that buck, you lead the way. I’ll stay right behind you with the camera.”
We left our packs and gear where we had been sitting. Julie nocked an arrow, and I put the camera on my shoulder. We tried to move through tall sage grass from shady spot to shady spot. When we felt we couldn’t move any closer, the buck only was 10-yards from Julie, still standing and feeding in the sage brush. We backed-up just a little bit to get in more shade. The only way that buck could get away from us was to walk straight away from us. At one point, the buck moved a little to the right, and Julie started to draw her bow. But then he instantly turned around and started feeding, so Julie laid her bow down. About 30-seconds later, the buck moved again to the left side of the brush. Just as he moved, Julie came to full draw, as she had a clear shooting lane to the buck. While I videoed, I saw Julie setting her sight pins on her PSE Vendetta bow. When she released the arrow, I clearly could see that she had made a heart shot on the buck.
Daniel, Doby and Spook were about 400-yards away from us. They had Spook’s camera with a Tripler, a device that allows the lens of the video camera to zoom out to 3 times the normal distance, so they could get the buck, Julie and me all in the same frame as we made the stalk, and Julie took the shot. They told us later that they were all cheering for Julie. The buck only ran about 40 yards. That was Julie’s first Utah velvet-antlered bow buck and it scored about 170 on Pope & Young. He was an absolutely-gorgeous buck.