My grandma Arthur always told me “If it is meant to be it will be” so I guess with the chain of events leading up to my Kansas trip this year this saying really held true. Michelle and I were to leave on November 9th for a 2 week trip to Wyoming for a mountain lion hunt. However, with the lack of snow in Southwest Wyoming we have put the trip off until early December. With this trip now pushed back, my Wisconsin bow tag filled and bad weather headed toward Wisconsin for a few days, I packed the truck and headed to our Kansas hunting grounds. Talking with my buddy Josh and his wife Cinda (Josh works for the farmer so they watch over this piece of ground), I knew the rut was just getting started. Josh put out the Moultrie 880is I had sent him for scouting, I also asked him to check the Ameristep treestand we had hung in a great funnel last year to make sure it was still safe and secure. Last year Michelle drew a tag and we hunted and scouted this area while she was hunting. After watching the deer for a couple days we placed this stand and she had a run-in with a giant that unfortunately didn’t offer her a shot. I was set to get on the road early Wednesday morning but Mother Nature had other plans. High winds, rain, ice and snow along the route held me at home for an extra day. Thursday at 4:30 am I was on the road headed southwest, arriving nine and a half hours later. The weather was nice and it looked to be a great afternoon sit. I watched 9 does and 2 small bucks on and off most of the night until the sun finally set. I headed back to town to see Josh and check the cards from the cameras. After looking at the pictures, I decided I was going to do an all-dayer since the buck movement through the funnel was happening throughout the entire day. Friday the 13th, I got settled into the stand bright and early. Not long after the sun came up I could see deer off in the set aside field. Now legal shooting hours and with plenty of light, I watched the deer make their way into the funnel from the field heading back to their bedding areas. A lone doe walked the pond edge at 50 yards to the west. Within minutes I could hear something breathing behind me. I slowly looked over my shoulder to see the stickers buck we had on camera, and on the hit list, at a mere 5 yards walking to my left. He passed me and I waited to draw until he was 15 yards out. This is when things got crazy. As I drew and shifted my weight on my seat, one of the armrest covers with velcro stuck to my jacket, and made very loud ripping sound. Sticker bolted like he had been shot out of a canon, then stopped at 45 yards to look back. After he surveyed the situation and started slowly walking off to the north, all I could think to myself was “Wow that was my chance and I blew it”. With the buck still within 80 yards, I regained by composure and shifted the padding on the armrest so that wouldn’t happen again. Stickers got to the other end of the funnel (approx. 100 yards) and checked a doe. When she rejected him, he turned back my way and then began to freshen a couple scrapes. I watched him for a minute and when I figured that it couldn’t hurt, since he hadn’t busted me or known where the sound had come from, I grabbed my Knight and Hale EZ bleat and Da Bone grunt call. I turned the EZ bleat over twice and followed it up with a tending grunt. Stickers’ head snapped up and he made the loudest nastiest grunt I have ever heard. He looked my way for a split second then came on a dead run to 3 yards. I was already at full draw but, with no ethical shot, I had to wait. He turned and walked straight away into some brush but was heading left to a scrape. All I needed was for him to work that scrape and I would have my shot. It didn’t look good, though, as he began to take the trail heading north again. Then the unthinkable happened - a new doe bleated back behind me which turned him around. He looked for her then walked my way until stopping to freshen that scrape I needed him on. He finally turned and gave me the shot I had been looking for. I squeezed the trigger on my release and sent my Easton Axis tipped with a 100 grain NAP Spitfire Maxx from my Hoyt Spyder down range. It found its mark and 40 yards later the sticker buck was down. (Note: I had been at full draw this entire 2 or 3 minutes now. Back when we filmed with Archer’s Choice, Ralph taught us that if you are ever in a long full draw situation to lower your draw arm elbow to your side and rest the cam on your leg. This will take a lot of the fatigue out and allow you to stay at full draw longer. A huge thanks to Ralph for this tip!)
The trip was quick and exciting. Even with the short time I was there, Josh and I talked about some small changes we would like to make. Next spring we plan on going down to make some of these changes and hang a couple more sets. If we time it right we may even get to see the twins they are due to have next spring. Wishing them the best and prayers for a safe and healthy pregnancy.
I am back home filming for Michelle until the snow flies in Southwest Wyoming. Thank you to my wife and family for allowing me to do what I love to do. Thank you to Josh, Cinda, and Laci for all you do. This hunt is one of those that was just “Meant to be”. Feeling very blessed and fortunate.
Art & Michelle Helin have enjoyed the outdoors their entire lives. Here, they share their passion with you.
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