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The Big Payoff

Heath BakerBy Heath Baker

-- Anyone who is serious about bowhunting knows it can be lot of work. Trying to pattern a buck might involve moving your stand several times in order to present yourself with a shot. 

During this 2008 season, I did just that, and man did it pay off.

It all began on a 130-acre property I was given permission to hunt. While scouting, I found a slough located just off the edge of a field with a lot of sign. The slough had three drainage points that converged, forming a creek where they joined. I found abundant deer tracks and an enormous oak tree there. I knew it would be a hot spot, so I placed a stand in the oak. 

When the time came to hunt, I made my way through the back side of the field with the wind in my face, and quietly climbed into my stand an hour before daylight. As the sun peeked over the hillside, I spotted something moving in the slough to my right. I picked up my binoculars and focused in on what looked like a nice buck. As the deer kept moving toward me, all I could do was stare at his rack. He had great mass and was a mainframe 10. 

When the buck got within 60 yards, I readied my bow. Just as he was entering bow range, he turned broadside and tromped up the hillside into the trees.

That same morning, several other deer move down the slough and followed the same path. Later that day, I moved my stand another hundred yards down the slough.

Weeks went by, and the weather turned abnormally hot. The deer movement slowed. I gave the stand a rest for a while and vowed to not sit in it until the temperature dropped and the wind was perfect. The next time I would sit in the stand would be Nov. 7.

The first frost of the season came the night before, and the following morning, it was 38 degrees outside. I knew it would be a great day to hunt, so I made my way back to the stand an hour before daylight. As the sun rose, I spotted a nice buck chasing a doe. After they vanished, I let out three short and quick grunts.


Soon, a very nice 8 point came grunting down the slough and stood 10 yards in front of me. Looking at him, all I could think of was the big buck I’d seen weeks earlier. I decided to let the smaller buck pass.

The movement seemed too slow, so I picked up my rattle bag and rattled one good sequence. Out of nowhere, a big buck came running down the slough heading straight for my stand. I knew he was a shooter, so I picked up my bow and drew it back.

The buck presented a broadside shot at 20 yards, so I let the arrow fly, and it passed right through the vitals. The big buck ran 40 yards and expired at the bottom of the creek.

As I was checking out my trophy, I noticed it was the same buck that I’d seen before. Moving my stand had definitely paid off.

--Heath Baker

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