The Ultimate Stand

 Sponsored by: HECS & Winners Choice

By: Stacy Engstrom

I received a call from a buddy of mine one afternoon asking if I was interested in breakfast at the local café the next morning.  Of course, I’m never turning down a good meal and conversation with a friend.  We met as planned  and after the meal we were sitting around chattering about life when a fella walked in and sat down at the table next to us. Since we were the only customers left in the restaurant, out of courtesy we included him in our conversation even though both of us had no idea who he was. When he introduced himself. I almost fell out of my seat. The gentleman just happened to be the landowner of several farms around the area, but no one that I knew had any idea how to contact him.

Rather than rushing into asking him about hunting his farms, I held my cool and just kept a regular conversation going on. We all three sat around for three hours just gabbing about anything that came to mind and were hitting it off brilliantly. We finally decided to leave, but in the meantime I made a suggestion that we all meet again the following Saturday at the same time for breakfast. We agreed and went our separate ways.

We met again the following Saturday and once again had a ball. After we got ready to leave I subtly asked if he allowed any hunting on his farms. He indicated he did some hunting, but very little, yet he hadn’t had anyone ask him to hunt in a few years. He said, “You’ve been nothing but a complete gentleman to me. You can hunt on any of my farms but the original homestead, only just because that’s where I like to hunt.”

I told him up front that he can also hunt any stand I put up since he was letting us hunt his farm. He quickly said if he had the urge he would definitely call me if he was heading to that farm. Before we parted I him he would be seeing my truck around his farms a lot, scouting and getting ready for the season. That was just fine with him.

After studying the aerial photos of the properties on, I became interested in three of the farms he owned and one in particular. It was river bottom ground but the funnel wasn’t along the river. To the east of the property laid about 300 acres of heavy timber, to the west was 400 acres of timber, some of which was on the landowner’s ground but most was on the neighbors on adjacent farms. His farm, however had a small creek bottom that connected the two timbers together and at one part it looked to only be about 40 yards wide.

After arriving at the farm I headed straight to the area. It was better than I imagined. It was exactly 40 yards across with 8 different heavily used trails narrowing down through the funnel. It took roughly 30 minutes to decide on the perfect tree for the area. I would walk down a small ditch that leads to within 10 yards of the stand and never cross any deer trails. This provided a much greater chance at beating a mature whitetail. Once you cross one deer trail you have drastically lessened your chances of harvesting a mature buck. I did find several other promising stands on the new farms but none stuck in my gut like the stand I named ‘The Ultimate Stand’

As the summer progressed, I had my Martin Silencer tuned and shooting my Victory V1 arrows extremely well. Knowing from personal experience how well HECS works, my buddy and I also picked up a couple extra suits. In my opinion, using a combination of the HECS STEALTHSCREEN Base Layer and a Scent Blocker suit it’s an unbeatable combination.

October rolled in with a few close encounters with big bucks, including one with a mid-180’s caliber buck but nothing quite fell into place. I wasn’t too worried about it yet because I still had ten days away from work starting November 4th.

This was a shot from the Ultimate Stand Sept 1.

Four days into my vacation I was faced with wind, wind and more wind and always out of the wrong direction, plus much warmer temperatures than normal.  To add to the problems, the deer movement for those days was null. My buddy, who was hunting in the same areas, was also seeing nothing. After four days of solid hunting from first light till dark with virtually no buck movement my nerves were starting to wear thin.

However, according to the weather channel on day five of my vacation things were about to change for the better. The wind would be lightly blowing and better yet it would be lightly blowing out of the north with falling temperatures all day, a dream morning. I knew the exact stand I was going to, ‘The Ultimate Stand’.  I purposely had not sat in the stand all season just waiting for the right time and now was the right time.

That night, I made sure all my clothing and equipment was scent free. I also ran a slight amount of ozone over everything to ensure there was no odor contaminant.

The alarm went off at around 4:30, still sleepy from a late night of de-scenting all of my gear. I packed my day pack with snacks and food planning to sit all day. After a quick breakfast and a scent free shower, I was off. The good part about this hunt was the drive was only 2 miles from my house. After getting out of the truck, I didn’t like what was occurring. The wind was the wrong direction compared to what the weather channel was stating. I had to commit to the hunt or go home and sleep. Besides, if the wind refused to change by the time I was ready I would just have to go to my secondary stand on the farm for a south wind. I really wasn’t excited to try my secondary stand but that was my option.

Parked alongside the road I quietly got my gear out. I’m such a scent-free freak that I refuse to wear any of my hunting gear in the truck that I wear to the stand. I began the cold strip down process and the dressing process in the pitch dark.  By the time I was putting on my HECS suit, I felt a slight breeze on the back of my neck. That was the wind I was waiting for! In a matter of seconds, the wind had switched from the south to the north. Things were definitely looking up. I was going to get to hunt ‘The Ultimate Stand’.

I got to the stand, placed the Muddy steps and climbed up. After hanging my bow it was starting to get light as a slight breeze blew directly into my face. Within minutes I had three doe’s walking through the funnel almost directly under me and then disappeared into the timber to the east. Great start! Now let’s see if we can keep it up.

Thirty minutes passed with absolutely no movement, I was beginning to feel like this was going to be just another day with no big buck movement. My mind was whirling with thoughts. “Where’s the rut? I don’t get it, it should be happening.”  Suddenly I was jolted back to reality buy a slight movement to my right in the timber. It was definitely deer, more than one and they were walking my direction. I couldn’t see any antlers at that point but then I caught movement. There was another deer trotting after the does and this one had horns.

I couldn’t tell how big he was but by now things were starting to fall apart. He had turned the does in the opposite direction and was heading back into the large plot of timber to the west. I pulled out my grunt and hoped for the best. I still had no idea how large the buck was but sure didn’t want him moving away if he turned out to be a shooter. I gave out a quick grunt and he threw up his head and looked in my direction. Well over 140 inches, a definite shooter.

After two more quick grunts I had him convinced there was another buck under my stand tending a hot doe. At that moment he began that slow yet beautiful walk that only a big mature buck has. One-hundred yards, seventy yards, down through the creek bottom out of my sight and then back up the bank in sight again. He got within range but there was no shot opportunity.  My heart was racing like I just finished a four minute mile.

At that point, I’m thanking God for allowing HECS suits to be invented. In the past my adrenalin would be flowing so hard that I was putting out such huge amounts of electromagnetic energy that any wild animal around would sense that something wasn’t right and either become visibly  nervous or just turn and walk away. With the invention of these suits that doesn’t seem to be an issue anymore.

This shooter buck remained as calm as possible. I  came to full draw while he was behind a cedar at about 15 yards scanning the area for the intruder.  In my head I’m thinking, “Two steps forward and I will have him at 15yards broadside. Can I get any easier shot?” Well…..right after that thought was over the buck took two steps, stopped and sniffed one of the stumps from the tree I had cut off while setting the stand. This gave me the opportunity to  settle my pin on the crease right behind the shoulder and release.

The arrow passed through him and he had no idea had happened. As he ran off I could see blood pouring out of him. I knew he wouldn’t get far.  When I quit shaking I carefully took my time to getting down from the tree and walked over to the arrow,  it was solid red. Not willing to take a chance I decided to go ahead and back out. Besides, I was hungry and a hot meal had a great sound to it.

Once back at the house I found my son was getting ready to leave for his college classes. I explained the situation and he immediate said, “Dad, you and I both knew that spot would produce a big shooter and sure as heck it did. I’ll be out of classes at noon today and if you can wait till then I’ll help you find him.” I thought that was a good plan so when he returned we had a quick lunch, got everything together and began the search.

Blood was easily trackable, until he got into the tall grass. At that point it became almost impossible to follow other than a speck here and there. After about 2 hours of looking for blood in the grass with no luck, we went to phase two of the search. We knew the direction he had gone and knew, with that hit,  he couldn’t be far.

We separated and again took up the search. Our rule is, if you find blood yell at the other person and don’t move until the other one arrives so you don’t lose the blood. About ten minutes later the yell came from my son’s area, “I’ve got blood and lots of it.” I soon realized it wasn’t  just blood, but a dead deer. He had  gone about 200 yards and died.

Careful planning, the right place, the right equipment and a great buck.

After a lot of pictures and good memories for my son and I. We loaded him in the truck and took a trip to the landowner’s house. I thanked him several times for giving me the opportunity of hunting on his farmland. He was thrilled and again reminded me of how respectful I was. The rest of the afternoon was spent calling my buddies and celebrating with a glass of ice tea and a steak for dinner that night.

After the required drying time for the official Pope and Young scoring, he was officially scored at 150 inches, even with a broken G4. Had he not broken off the left G4 he likely would have scored around 159, but that didn’t matter to me. I once again I had been blessed by God with another great Kansas buck.

For the next Evolution of Concealment be sure to go to: HECS STEALTHSCREEN Tomorrows Technology Today.


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