Tips & Tactics

Go With Your Gut!

Go With Your Gut!

By Mike Handley

Photo: The night before he arrowed this Nebraska brute, Rack magazine editor Mike Handley bought The Can on a whim. Going with his gut has worked well for Mike during his long and successful hunting career.

Going with your instincts is an important element of deer hunting. Sure, experimenting in the field will sometimes result in flubs, but experimenting is the best way to learn what’s wildly successful, too. If I hadn’t acted on a whim as a fledgling bowhunter, I’d never have known that a bleat call can make a buck turn on a dime.

Recalling the first time I witnessed a buck do that brings me back to a blustery November trip to Pawnee County, Neb. I’d booked that hunt — also on a whim — with a relatively new outfitter, Tim Puhalla of Wild Things Outfitting, in 2002.

On the drive from the Lincoln Airport, Tim stopped for gas and I went inside the station to buy snacks. When I saw Primos’ can calls hanging alongside the gum and cigarettes, I chuckled to myself, “Only in Nebraska.”

My gut instinct told me to buy one, which I did, and I returned to the truck. I said to Tim, “If this silly thing doesn’t work, I’m only out $4, right?” I slid it in my jacket pocket and forgot about it.

The next morning, Tim directed me to a ladder stand on a ridge well traveled by deer – a natural corridor between a harvested cornfield and a stand of cedars where they bedded.

What a morning! By 10:00, I’d seen at least a dozen deer, including a decent buck just beyond bow range, and not an hour ticked by without a deer passing through my field of vision.

About 4 p.m., a doe burst out of the cedars directly in front of me and stood motionless right under my stand for 15 minutes, looking back the way she’d come. My eyes were glued to the same spot, and I attached the release to my bowstring just in case.

The doe finally ambled off down the ridge, and I began to relax.

No sooner had I let down my guard than a mule-faced buck burst form the cedars. Its rack was bone-white and thick, and the tines long — except for one, which appeared to have been broken. Even so, I knew those antlers would make the record book.

Instead of following the doe, however, it took a path that arced away from me. The buck was at 50 yards and getting farther by the second.

Desperate, I remembered the can call and slid one hand in my coat pocket to flip it. The muffled doe bleats caused the buck to raise its head and turn on a dime. In less than a minute, it was at 16 yards with a foot of Easton aluminum soon buried in its shoulder.

I had to pinch myself to believe what had happened.

“This is so cool!” I said aloud, lowering my bow to the ground.

Since then, I have used the little can to bring in several other bucks.

I supposed the moral of this story is, if you have a hunch something might work, just try it. My $4 whim has become one of my favorite tactics.

— Photo by Tim H. Martin
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Copyright 2017 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2017 by Buckmasters, Ltd