On Saturday, October 13, I went to one of my favorite stand locations for a morning hunt. From dawn to 10 am I've seen only one doe with a fawn. I went home and decided to come back in the evening. In the evening I passed by a river bottom on private land where I've permission to hunt.
As I glassed the fields I saw about 50 mule and whitetail deer in the field, among them several small bucks. The big bucks wait until nightfall before they come out. One of the smaller bucks, a mule deer, caught my eye because of his very unusual rack. I decided then and there to abandon my initial plan to hunt my other stand and instead take this buck. I sneaked as close as I could without spooking the deer and hunkered down behind the field irrigation pump. As I ranged the distance it showed 280 yards. It's a bit of a long shot for me but I am confident on taking them. The crosshairs settled on the bucks vitals, the Weaterby Vanguard .270 barked and sent the Federal Accu-Bond 130 grain bullet on its deadly mission.
Upon impact the buck kicked his hind legs hard upward, indicating a hit in the heart. Then he jumped across the creek and disappeared from sight into the thick stuff. It took me almost an hour to retrieve and drag him back across the creek. The hardest part was dragging him through the thick underbrush back to the creek. Thankfully my wife was on hand to give me a hand between documenting the event with her camera for an upcoming article on hunting river bottom deer.
Usually I don't hunt this river bottom until late October when the foliage is all off the trees and bushes. The reason for that is that with the foliage still on it is nearly impossible to see more then a few steps ahead of you. Yes the river bottom is that thickly overgrown with trees, vines, and low growth brush...your typical deer paradise.
River bottoms can be very hard to hunt due to their small size - deer quickly catch on to hunters - and they are often hard to get to it. The reason why I love river bottoms more then any other structure is twofold.
1. They are deer magnets. River bottoms provide everything deer need to survive. Lush and plentiful food all year long -even in the winter - and lots of cover that provides security for deer.
2. Above all I like river bottoms because most hunters avoid these places like the plague because as mentioned they are hard to get to and hard to hunt. Most river bottoms require that the hunter has a boat or a lest a pair of good hip-waders.
Getting to river bottom deer hot spots often requires boats or hip-waders.
Shooting a deer in a river bottom is the easy part...
...dragging them back though the thick tangle of brush and across the creek to the waiting truck can be real hard work.
I'll be back in that river bottom at the end of October and see if I can tag that big whitetail deer buck I've seen there earlier in the year. I love hunting these river bottom deer.
(Images courtesy of Heidi Koehler Photogrpahy)