Mark is sponsored by: Victory Archery, Goat Tuff Products, Tru Fire Release Aids, Arizona Rim Country, S4 Gear, MyTopo and Barnett Crossbows.

It’s November 12th and my truck won’t start. It’s prime time whitetail rut. What do I do? The mechanics think it is an electrical problem that only occurs when it gets cold and they must keep if for a few days to figure it out. It’s the rut… a bad time to take off a few days. So, in a 2010 Chrysler Sebring rental car I head west early Friday morning.

Riding low in the Sebring, enjoying the XM Satellite radio, I spot a group of whitetails and a nice buck with them. He looks heavy and tight, definitely Pope & Young, a buck I would love to steal the day before rifle season. He’s hanging out in an overgrown weed patch checking does. I sneakily try to move in, but don’t have any shot opportunities that morning. I figure he’s not going far and have a plan for the evening. I get back to that spot about 1:30 pm. There are already 3 antlerless deer feeding about 30 yards from the tree I wanted to be in. I glass the weed patch and can see the buck about 200 yards back checking other does.

I only have tonight to archery hunt before the rifle bullets start flying tomorrow. My best option may be to kill him from the ground. I inch my way into a descent position for a shot in case he should he come my way. Over a 3-hour period the buck was up and down multiple times checking for receptive estrous does.

At about 4:00 pm the buck gets up from his bed and slowly starts working toward me. I want to get another 20 yards ahead, next to a big cottonwood tree. I kept the thick tree between the buck and myself, slowly moving forward. I didn’t know that as I was sneaking toward the buck he was also coming toward me! About 15 feet from where I wanted to be, I see the buck coming around the tree approaching less than 30 yards. I crouch in the waist high grass with an arrow nocked.

The buck spots me, but in the taller grass he thinks I’m another buck bedded and lays his ears back. He staggers forward with anticipation. Peeking under my cap I can see the buck licking his nose as the saliva drips from his chin.

A day before firearm season the author puts and arrow through the boiler room of this great buck.

He stops at 20 yards and knows something is not right. We have a 3-minute stare down and he starts backing off. I slowly shift my body to draw… but the buck panics, snorts, and bolts. He makes one mistake as he stops for one last look at the intruder. I quickly pull my Leupold from the S4 Gear Sidewinder and range him at 54 yards. I draw, settle my 60-yard pin on his heart, and throw a strike through the boiler room! The pass through shot only allowed the buck to make it another 40 yards before tipping over. It was a sweet hunt, stolen the day before rifle season!

When it rains it pours. The buck was a heavy racked 5×5 only 14.5” wide. I rough scored him at 138”. Remember: you must be present to win, rent a car if you have to!

Stay safe and thanks for reading.