Kansas Bowhunter’s Pre-rut Tip Gives Archery Pro New Ace for His Sleeve.
A bowhunter is as good as his last shot, the culmination of scouting, strategy, perseverance, marksmanship and man-hours.
Shawn Greathouse is Colorado’s director for the prestigious Archery Shooters Association. He shoots competitively the year ‘round. He finished ninth in the National Pro Am Tour’s semi-pro division this past year, but he has several national championships under his belt.
Truth be told, however, he’d rather loose an arrow at something wearing hair. And his accomplishments in that regard are as enviable as they are on a range. He’s taken 12 different species with a bow — more than 40 big game animals and four turkeys.
He is most proud of being one of the few archers to bag the Colorado Big 8, which includes elk, pronghorn, mule deer, whitetail, mountain goat, mountain lion, black bear and bighorn sheep.
In 2011, Shawn set aside the first week of November for his fourth trip to Linn County, Kan. He’d returned home empty-handed the other times.
Shawn’s cousin, Ryan Straley, introduced him to Brian Becker, a landowner and fellow bowhunter. Brian knows his 1,000 acres, the prevailing winds, the best treestand locations and what does and doesn’t work there.
Shawn was first aloft on Nov. 5, a Saturday, and witnessed several bucks and does weaving through CRP fields, woods and thickets. At the end of the day, he couldn’t wait to get back into his stand the following morning.
The eager hunter noticed it was an exceptionally bright dawn as he hauled up his gear. The reason became apparent when his cell phone’s alarm clock beeped, reminding him that he’d lost an hour with the time change.
He was back on track, a little closer down to earth, by Monday.
The day began shrouded by a dense fog.
“Sit anywhere you want,” Brian laughed, knowing that it would be difficult to see a tree, let alone a deer. Just in case the fog lifted, he also mentioned that antler rattling might be effective under such poor visibility. He added that he’d had good luck by lowering a pair of antlers from a ladder stand and rattling them a couple of feet off the ground.
He recommended bleating, too.
Poor visibility aside, the north wind was perfect for one particular creek bottom stand, so that’s where Shawn headed. After a quarter-mile hike in the fog, he was relieved to see the creek bottom and then the ladder stand against a big oak.
After scaling it and harnessing himself in, he ranged landmarks around his stand. That done, he followed Brian’s advice, lowered his rattling antlers and gave the rope a few shakes.
A small buck came in almost immediately and hung around for 10 minutes. Shawn heard more deer moving around at 9:30, but he never saw them.
He decided to try a different stand after polishing off the last of his sunflower seeds. He was just about to lower his bow when a doe appeared.
Shawn immediately sat back down and, with bow in hand, gave the rope — to which the antlers were still attached — a slight tug. Immediately, he heard a ruckus.
A big buck squirted out of the timber and began pawing the ground and raking nearby trees. Shawn might be a veteran bowhunter, but he found it difficult to keep his cool and to focus on the approaching whitetail.
The oak’s single limb offered little cover, so Shawn practically hid behind his bow. When the deer was at 30 yards, the only shot was right between the shoulders (when the buck’s head was down), and Shawn didn’t hesitate.
The arrow literally let the air out of the deer, Shawn’s first from a treestand.
That night, he took Brian and his family out to dinner. Afterward, he drove all the way back to Colorado, arriving in time to see his wife, Stacey, and the kids before they went to school.
The next day, Nov. 9, he was off again to some Colorado public ground he’d scouted the previous month. He arrived in the land of giant cottonwoods at 4:30 a.m. and struck out for the perfect tree he’d found in a river bottom.
Seven does and a nice buck passed through the bottom at 7:30. Five and half hours later, Shawn heard and then saw another hunter climbing a tree about 60 yards across the flat.
At 4:30, prime time, the other hunter got out of his treestand and walked out across the river bottom. So ended the first day, and Shawn checked into a hotel.
In the pre-dawn, Shawn met the other hunter at a parking area. They divulged and discussed their treestand locations and headed their separate ways, or so Shawn thought.
He was not a happy camper when dawn broke. He hadn’t traveled that far to spend his day watching another hunter through the trees.
At 11:45, Shawn knew he had to make the most of this situation. He lowered his rattling antlers and gave them a shake, just as he’d done in Kansas. Afterward, a mule deer wandered in and began rubbing a small tree near his stand.
The muley was so preoccupied that it failed to notice when Shawn dropped one of his gloves. The buck eventually wandered off toward the other hunter, and the man arrowed it.
Shawn witnessed the whole episode, and he didn’t think the shot was lethal; the arrow had hit high and in the center of the deer’s back, somehow missing the spine and liver. The buck fled.
The hunter soon wandered over to Shawn. Because he wasn’t convinced Shawn’s estimation was correct, both men walked the whole river bottom one last time.
Shawn was at his wit’s end when the other hunter finally packed up and left at 3:30. Since he now had the public hunting ground to himself, he sat back and appreciated the solitude.
At 4:45, he heard a commotion where the other hunter had been. “What now?” he wondered.
When he turned to look, he saw a procession of does ahead of an exceptional buck. Completely confident with the range, Shawn was ready when the buck was broadside at 53 yards.
The arrow zipped through the buck like a hot needle through butter, leaving it with 40 more yards of life.
Shawn was amazed at his good fortune. This whitetail was even bigger — in body AND antlers —than the stud he’d arrowed in Kansas three days earlier!
“I guess I’m having a pretty good season, to say the least,” he later e-mailed friends and family.
Hunter: Shawn Greathouse
BTR Official Score: 176 7/8
BTR Composite Score: 196 1/8
— Photos Courtesy of Shawn Greathouse This article was published in the October 2012 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.
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