Author’s note: Rick and Julie Kreuter are the hosts of Beyond the Hunt that appears on the Outdoor Channel Mondays at 8:30 am EST and Thursdays at 3:30 and 8:00 pm EST. Rick and Julie have been married for 14 years and have hunted together for 15 years.
We were hunting in Utah with Daniel Richins of the R&K Hunting Company (435-655-5484), as well as a second guide named Doby Batt, and Spook Spann, another Mossy Oak and PSE Pro Staffer. We had glassed several big mule deer from a long way out. Once we spotted the deer, we picked out a landmark close to it and started stalking. Using the landmarks we had chosen, we were able to loop around and get above this buck so that the wind would be in our favor. We started walking down the hill to him. Since we found the buck early in the morning, we knew that the thermals would cause the wind to blow toward us, so the buck wouldn’t be able to smell us. To keep the buck from seeing us, we moved into the shade. In this section of Utah, the brush often can be five or six feet tall. As we made our stalk, we tried to stay in the brush and the shade. Both types of cover allowed our Brush camo to help us be invisible.
On this particular hunt, Julie was using her PSE Vendetta bow. When we got within about 30 yards of where we thought the buck was bedded, we still couldn’t see him. The hill we were descending was steeper than we first thought. When you spot a deer from a long way away, and you set up landmarks, you don’t absolutely know how close the deer is to the landmarks, especially if the deer is bedded down on the side of a hill. Unknowingly, we had moved to within 10 or 15 yards of the bedded buck. Once I sat down and used my binoculars to look back at Spook, Doby, and Daniel, they were pointing at their feet and mouthing, “Right below you.” Although I knew we were close to the buck, I still couldn’t see him, but I realized that Julie and I couldn’t move. I kept studying the terrain below me. Then I spotted antler tips, and the deer stood up. There were three bucks instead of just one, and they were tucked up under a little shelf below us.
When the bucks stood up, they didn’t offer any shots. We watched them walk and then trot away, going from 10 to 200 yards without giving Julie a shot. Finally the bucks stopped at some cedar trees. Two of the three bucks bedded down in the shade where we could watch them. The biggest buck remained standing in the sun. I told Julie, “Let’s back out of here and not spook these bucks. We’ll come back later in the afternoon and hunt them, when they go for food and water.”
Julie disagreed saying, “Rick, I think we can stalk that buck and make a play on him.”
“Okay Julie,” I said, “if you think you can stalk that buck, you lead the way. I’ll stay right behind you with the camera.”
We left our packs and gear where we had been sitting and Julie nocked an arrow, while I put the camera on my shoulder. We tried to move through tall sage grass from shady spot to shady spot. When we felt we couldn’t get any closer, the buck was only 10 yards from Julie still standing and feeding in the sage brush, we backed up just a little bit to get in more shade. At one point, the buck moved a little to the right, and Julie started to draw her bow. But then he instantly turned around and started feeding, so Julie laid her bow down. About 30 seconds later, the buck moved again to the left side of the brush. Just as he moved, Julie came to full draw, as she had a clear shooting lane to the buck. While I video taped, I saw Julie setting her sight pins on her PSE Vendetta bow. When she released the arrow, I clearly could see that she had made a heart shot on the buck.
Daniel, Doby, and Spook were about 400 yards away from us. They had Spook’s camera with a Tripler, a device that allows the lens of the video camera to zoom out to three times the normal distance, so they could get the buck, Julie, and me all in the same frame as we made the stalk and Julie took the shot. They told us later that they were all cheering for Julie. The buck only ran about 40 yards. That was Julie’s first Utah velvet-antlered bow buck and it scored about 170 on Pope & Young, he was absolutely gorgeous.
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Image courtesy John E. Phillips