Tagged Out From The Saddle

Discussion in 'Bowhunting Talk' started by Justin, Nov 9, 2020.

  1. Justin

    Justin Administrator

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    Well, fellas - I'm tagged out here in IL. Saturday was an interesting day..... (LONG READ - SKIP TO THE BOTTOM FOR PHOTO)

    I got up around 4 am to get moving for the morning hunt. The farm I hunt is basically divided into two large chunks - we typically refer to them as the North and the South pieces. I was planning on hunting the South piece that morning as it tends to hold more does, and with it being November, we know what the bucks are doing. As I'm getting ready my phone dings and I get a pic from a cell cam of the buck I'm after, heading into the North section of the farm. Granted, it's 2 hours before light and he can be long gone in a few minutes, but I changed plans and decided to sit the North section.

    Not having any great morning stands for a SW wind, I sat in an "out of the way" spot, hoping to catch a buck cruising or pushing a doe into a remote pocket of timber to keep her pinned down. All I saw that morning was 2 coyotes - one of which I missed at 15 yards. Still not sure how that happened.

    After the morning hunt, I headed home. My wife had a hair appointment and I was on dad duty. I enjoyed the nice weather and spent the afternoon cleaning up the yard and burning leaves with the kids.

    When I got home that morning I noticed a box on my doorstep. Turns out it was some gear from Tethrd. A friend of a friend is an ambassador for them and saw I was doing some saddle hunting this year and wanted me to try their stuff out. It got a Phantom saddle, a platform, ropes, and a couple of Syshauler bags. So I put it all together, tried it on for fit, and figured I'd give it a whirl that afternoon. Eventually, I'll put together a video on all the saddles and platforms I've tried this year with some thoughts on each one.

    With temps in the low 70's I wasn't expecting a whole lot to be honest. I had to go dig my ScentLok Savanna suit out of a bag as I had already put my warm-weather hunting gear away for the season. So I loaded up my camera gear, grabbed a set of Lone Wolf sticks, and headed in.

    My plan was to hang in an area I've always wanted to hunt, but never have. The stand I killed my IL buck from last year sits on the South of a swampy area with a large pond/creek system running through it. I've only sat that stand a handful of times, but have consistently seen deer crossing the swampy area to my North. My buck did it last year, and I managed to rattle him in for a shot. But with a South wind that wasn't an option. I needed to get on the north side of the swamp, right up against the creek, to have the wind in my favor.

    It took me until 3:45 to finally get in a tree and be ready to hunt. Not only was it a long walk, I had to pick a tree, then hang sticks, platform, etc, trim shooting lanes, get camera gear all set up, etc. But again, with temps in the 70's I wasn't too worried about it. My plan was to hunt that spot the next morning when it was a little cooler out, so this was more of a preparation sit than anything.

    Once I got set up I checked my phone and noticed I had some cell cam pics from earlier in the day. I pull them up and BAM, there's a 5-year-old buck that is one of three deer on the farm I wanted to shoot. This isn't the same deer from the morning pic, but he's in the same spot. I hadn't had regular photos of this deer at all this year, and it had been weeks since I had any pics of him at all. I had no idea where he was at. Probably off locked down with a doe somewhere was my guess. But there he was, 1:30 in the afternoon, 70 degrees out, 1/2 mile north of where I was now set up.

    At 4:15 my phone dings again, and it's a different cell cam checking in. Low and behold, it's the same buck from earlier, but now he's 1/2 mile South of me. This dude is covering some serious ground. I look at the photo and notice he's headed North, which is promising. A lot can happen in 1/2 mile, but there isn't much between us but a big alfalfa field and if he's going to leave the wood lot he's in, he's likely going to end up in a spot where I can at least see him.

    15 minutes later I spot him cutting across the Alfalfa field South of me about 400 yards. He's just walking at a steady pace, still headed North. I don't have my rattling antlers since I was trying to pack light for a hang and hunt, so I simply watch him come. He's too far and through too much brush to film, so I just kept an eye on him with the binos.

    He gets to about 200 yards and I lose him in some Phragmite grass that's way over his head. At this point I know he's going to end up somewhere near me, I'm just not sure where. I was set up about 20 yards South of the pond, so I'm still thinking he's going to come and cross to my South, which is where all of my shots are at.

    A couple of minutes go by and I catch him coming across a tall grassy area, still paralleling the pond, which makes a hard right turn. He's either going to need to go across, or turn and head straight at me. Luckily he turns, and starts closing the distance.

    At this point, I'm still not sure which side of the tree he's going to pass on. I know it's going to be on my weak side somewhere, which sucks for saddle hunting and filming. So I start to get ready in case this happens. I pull the camera back under the bridge, point it in his direction, and start to figure out how and where I'm going to shoot.

    buck-story-pick.png
    Here is a map to illustrate this whole thing. He covered, at the very least, 1.5 total miles between my first pic at 1:30 and when I shot him around 4:40.

    Earlier this fall when I started saddle hunting I watched a few YouTube videos on filming from a saddle and got a good tip from DIY Sportsman. On the weak side shot, he would push his tether up high, bring his left arm under the bridge, then spin around to face away from the tree. Doing this brings the bridge and tether up over your left shoulder and basically pins you to the tree so you can shoot the weak side. I'm very glad I watched that video!

    The buck is under 100 yards now, but in a big willow thicket where I can't see him and he can't see me. I can hear him coming so I hurry up and get into position.

    As fate would have it, he decides to pass to the North of my tree, which is the last place I expected a deer to go that night. I had no shooting lanes trimmed and only several small holes to try and fit an arrow through. So I get the camera in position and wait for him to come, all the while thinking there is no way this is going to actually happen.

    At 12 yards I come to full draw, he takes a couple of steps and stops where I have no shot. As he starts to walk again he's angling slightly toward my tree, which is perfect, as it brings him under a couple of problem limbs. I "meh" to stop him, but he's in that looking for does zone and doesn't hear me. He takes a few more steps, even closer now, and gets to about 8 yards. This time I simply yell "Hey!" at him.

    He stops, picks his head up, and I buried the arrow right behind his shoulder. Blood sprays at impact, he runs 40 yards, flips over in the grass, and it was all over. What the hell just happened??

    buck-shot.jpg
    Here's a still image from the GoPro over my head during the hunt. It's pretty epic.

    After a few calls to my buddies and wife, I simply sat in the tree and enjoyed the beautiful sunset. It was an absolutely gorgeous evening so I soaked up as much of it as I could. The sights, sounds, and smells of a November evening are what bowhunting is all about.

    Tom Alford lives about 5 minutes from me, so he stopped in at my house to grab my oldest son and joined us for the recovery. We let Joey and Tom's son Jack lead the way on the track job since we know it was an easy one. The Killzone Maxx took out both lungs and perfectly center punched the heart. He was dead in seconds and the trail was easy to follow.

    This is a 5-year-old buck that didn't have an official name - we simply called him the split brow 8. I didn't weigh him, but he was a tank of a deer. He was at least 250 on the hoof, if not more. My buddy Mike who hunts this farm with me is an infinitely better shed hunter than I am and had 3 years worth of this bucks' sheds he graciously donated to me upon harvesting him. A matched set as a 2-year-old, then one side at both 3 and 4.

    jz-buck-2.jpg

    So concludes my 2020 Illinois whitetail season. It feels great, but it's also bittersweet as there's still a lot of good hunting left ahead of us. I'm going to spend some time behind the camera for some friends and teammates from here on out because sleeping in during November is never acceptable!

    Full hunt footage is coming later this week. Either Friday or Sunday would be my guess.
     
  2. cls74

    cls74 Legendary Woodsman

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    Congrats!

    Is this your first year tagging out on two mature bucks in IL?
     
  3. Justin

    Justin Administrator

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    No. It's been a few years since I've tagged 2 bucks in IL, though. I had a streak of 3 or 4 years where I tagged 2 a year, then I hit a 3 year dry spell, and it's been 1 good one a year since then. This is definitely the earliest I've been tagged out though. It feels very strange.
     
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  4. cls74

    cls74 Legendary Woodsman

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    Gotcha, maybe that was what I was recalling then.

    Either way, it's not an easy feat.
     
  5. Mod-it

    Mod-it Die Hard Bowhunter

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    Another great buck, congrats! Perfect shot too, doesn't get any better than that shot.
     
  6. Page

    Page Weekend Warrior

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    Congrats JZ!
    Will be looking forward to the hunt and really interested in seeing your saddle reviews.
    Shot my first deer from one this morning. Couldn't have hunted that tree without a saddle

    Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk
     
  7. Vabowman

    Vabowman Grizzled Veteran

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    Awesome buck!! Congrats my friend!!
     
  8. arrowflinger1

    arrowflinger1 Die Hard Bowhunter

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    Great story and Great buck! Congrats! Bruh
     
  9. fletch920

    fletch920 Grizzled Veteran

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    Congrats on another beauty!
     
  10. S.McArthur

    S.McArthur Die Hard Bowhunter

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    Couldn't have done it without the saddle, bruh!
    Also, you are supposed to "BRUH" now, not MEH. It should have been in the instructions.
     
  11. bucksnbears

    bucksnbears Grizzled Veteran

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    Great write up. I liked the shot picture.
    Nice buck.
     
  12. Justin

    Justin Administrator

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    I knew I was forgetting something!

    The tree I was in would have worked with a LW Assault, and it will probably have one in it next year. The nice thing about the saddle is the flexibility and being able to get into just about any tree you find. When you're going in blind, it makes picking the right spot versus a good tree a lot easier. I'm still not sure I like it better than a stand, but it's growing on me.

    And that Tethrd Phantom is a very nice saddle. I really like the minimalist design. Without the Syshaulers and ropes, you almost can't even tell it's there.
     
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  13. virginiashadow

    virginiashadow Legendary Woodsman

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    This is fantastic! Nice Justin.
     
  14. Gabilgerat

    Gabilgerat Weekend Warrior

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    congrats on a fine beast !!!
     
  15. MGH_PA

    MGH_PA Moderator

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    Congratulations!
     
  16. Swamp Stalker

    Swamp Stalker Legendary Woodsman

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    Bruh that is Awesome! Congrats!!
     
  17. Holt

    Holt Grizzled Veteran

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    Look at that, you old saddle pro! Great job and a beautiful buck!

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
     
  18. Wop 75

    Wop 75 Weekend Warrior

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    Congrats that's a hell of a nice buck
     
  19. Shocker99

    Shocker99 Grizzled Veteran

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    Way to get it done! I agree on the comfort aspect but man being lightweight and all of the shot angles you can pull off in a saddle I think outweigh the comfort. Congrats on another Dandy buck!
     
  20. Okiebob

    Okiebob Grizzled Veteran

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    Honestly @Justin if you don't throw a bruh or two in the episode I'm going to be fairly disappointed..

    Nice buck! Congratulations on tagging out.
     

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