Published by archerchick on 10 Feb 2011
Whitetail Fever By Larry Weishuhn
Making A Video Of A Big Buck Hunt Involves Unforeseen Problems
IT ALL started out as one of your typical South Texas days. The
rut would begin as soon as the weather turned a bit cooler.
Bucks were moving well enough and each day brought sightings of ten or
more mature bucks. But we were simply not seeing what I knew was there.
For nearly a week, the mid-December weather had been warm and windy. On
some days. the wind blew so hard a bow-hunter would have had an extremely
hard time determining windage on a forty-yard shot. To make matters worse,
one of the hunters soon would have to return to Las Vegas and chameleon
from bowhunter to businessman.
Dave Snyder was getting a bit anxious for a shot at a decent whitetail. Holder
of the world`s record nontypical Coues whitetail, former typical mule deer
world record and numerous other Pope and Young record book heads. he was
about to run out of time. To make matters still worse. Snyder`s friend.
Peter Shepley. was not going to let him forget about the missed shot, albeit a
nearly impossible one to have made at a Pope and Young buck a few days
Through it all, Dave contended his legendary Snyder luck would hold and. in the end, he would
succeed. Pete Shepley. bowhunter extraordinnaire and founder of Precision Shooting
Equipment. Inc., along with Dave Snyder and the PSE Adventures inVideo crew, Mike
Bingham and Mike Behr. had joined me on one of the ranches I manage for Max and
Carolyn Williams. The primary purpose was to produce a video and to enjoy hunting a
big whitetail. Neither Snyder nor Shepley ever had hunted the brush country of South Texas.
When I met them at the airport, they were anxious to try our legendary South Texas whitetails.
Prior to the arrival of my guests, Jim Jordan, who works for PSE and is based
in San Antonio, had come down to help me do some scouting. The first morning
he came back from the brush he was babbling about the bucks he had seen,
the mountain lion that had walked out in front of him, then just stood there, the
wild hogs and javelina. He went on and on. Jordan, a friend for numerous years,
is usually pretty calm and coherent. Something had him excited, but we finally got him
settled down during lunch.
“You aren’t going to believe this! I saw no less than fifteen bucks this
morning that would easily make Pope and Young. One was the biggest buck I
have ever seen in my, life. He had at least fourteen typical points and was
well over twenty-four inches wide with tines that looked as long as his legs!”
Jordan explained. ‘”He’d rank near the top of the book. He never paid any
attention to me. He simply looked my way, then went on about browsing his
way through the brush. Then I started walking back to the pickup and just as l
got to the trail, out walks this mountain lion! l`ve never seen anything like
My first thought was to act like all of what he had seen was a common, every-
day event — which it was not. Now, with time running short, we had
Snyder scratching. Having established where the major travel lanes were, we
had erected tripods just off of the trails allowing for reasonable shooting distances
and in positions where the camera-man could record any action: In the last
couple of days, Snyder and one of the cameramen had seen approximately ten
bucks, including some that were tempting. But in each instance. the camera
angle was wrong or the deer moved out of position, preventing the taping of the
shot. All this did not help.
Having been involved with various video programs, I am of the opinion that
anyone who takes an animal in a fair chase situation with a bow and while on
camera. deserves to be listed in a special record book. Hunting whitetails with a
bow is a difficult proposition. but add a cameraman who dictates when you can
or cannot take a shot and it becomes something just short of an impossibility!
Snyder`s last day arrived much sooner than we wanted. but with it came cooler
temperatures. After dropping the hunters at their camera tripods. I turned my
attention to checking whether the bucks had started coming to rattling horns or
grunt calls. Since I had no intention of taking a deer until our hunters had filled
their tags, I left my PSE bow in the
Concealed under the overhanging branches of a mesquite tree near a
scrape I had found earlier. I softly clicked a pair of antlers together and
grunted on my Haydel grunt call. Immediately. a buck charged into
view, stopping mere inches from where I was hidden. A quick evaluation of
antlers, up close and personal, left little doubt he would score well above the
Pope and Young minimum. I only hoped our guests were doing as well.
After the buck tired of our game, I walked deeper into the pasture to check
out some scrapes. Deer were moving, does were feeding and bucks were
checking on the estrus condition of the does. Occasionally, I caught a glimpse
of a buck chasing a doe and frequently saw a 6—month—old forlornly looking for
mama, a sure sign the rut was in full swing.
Later that-morning, I picked up Pete Shepley who had seen several bucks. He
described most as being good young bucks or those that simply stayed just .
out of range. Approaching Snyder’s hideout, we found him just starting to track a blood
trail. About an hour after sun—up a . young buck had walked out right in front
of him. Glancingr over his shoulder. Snyder had gotten the “go ahead and take him” signal
from the cameraman.
The animal had moved forward just as he had released. but the blood trail
indicated a lethal hit. About a hundred yards from where we picked up the
arrow. we found the buck. The Snyder ~ luck had held! How big was he’? Well, as
Snyder put it. “He- ain’t book. but he`ll eat good!” With the successful bowhunter on his
way back to Las Vegas. Pete Shelpey and I got serious about finding him a
good buck. The rut was just starting to .get serious and each day we were seeing
more and different bucks every time we hunted. It would only be a matter of
time before things would fall into place: bucks. camera angle and success.
During the days we hunted together, I came to learn quite a lot about Pete Shepley,
the engineer, the bowhunter and the man. Shepley hunted extremely hard. leaving
well before daylight and returning after the song of the coyote had put the
day to rest. His time. too. was running short: pressure was on. I suggested Pete
hunt early. come into camp for awhile, then go back out just before noon. In
years past, I had seen and taken several good bucks during mid—day, especially if
there was a full moon during the rut, which was now the case. Pete’s morning
hunt produced some deer, but not of the right sex.
In camp, we discussed mid—day hunting. The “we” included not only Pete
and me, but Ron Porter, an old friend and hunting compadre, who is the
southeastern supervisor for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.
On numerous occasions, Ron and I have taken good bucks during siesta time. We
finished our coffee and made ready to continue the hunt.
No sooner had I dropped Shepley where he could still hunt his way back
to the deer stand than I spotted a good eight·point buck Shepley must have
seen him at about the same time, because he immediately nocked an arrow
and began his stalk. The buck was completely unaware of the bowhunter’s presence
and obviously was more concerned about checking his scrape than any
impending danger. As is sometime the case, the buck was so strongly in rut, he
cared little about anything else.
From a distance, through my Simmons binoculars, I watched the game
unfold. Each time the buck dropped his head to smell a set of tracks made by an
estrus—approaching doe, Pete moved a few steps closer, using what brush there
was for cover. The buck seem oblivious to everything going on. With slow
deliberate moves, Shepley inched closer and closer to the buck. When about
forty yards separated the two, I watched the hunter come to full—draw, hold for a
second, then release. Ilost sight of the arrow in flight, but could tell by Shepley’s reactions
he had scored a solid hit.
I waited but a few minutes before walking over. He had made a good hit.
The arrow had entered in the lung area immediately behind the buck’s shoulder
to exit on the opposite side. After a brief consultation, we decided to follow the blood
trail. At the site where the buck had stood, we found a few brownish gray hairs, a spot
of blood and just beyond, the blood-covered arrow. The moist sand made for ideal
tracking conditions. Within a few steps, we found bright, foamy spots of blood; a
few steps farther, a solid blood trail. It took only a few more steps to find the
downed buck. In all likelihood, if the folks at PSE’s new Arizona facility were
listening, they could have heard Pete Shepley’s yell!
The buck was mature and close to record-book quality. At that moment,
record book or not, the trophy of trophies lay before us.Did Mike
Bingham, cameraman, get it all on tape? I guess you will just have to see the ·
video to find out. It’s called, “Whitetail ever,” and concerns that malady many
of us suffer; it’s cured only by countless hours of hunting whitetail deer!!!
All Rights Reserved