Buck harvestedBu k arvestedinunforgettablehuntingtale
MONSTER BUCKS Buck harvestedBu k arvestedinunforgettablehuntingtale
For Cadott resident Mitch Gunderson, his 20th birthday present came a day late in the form of a monster buck he harvested Sept. 14 during this fall’s bow season. Mitch has hunted since 2010, but has never gotten a buck like the one he shot the day after his birthday. “I wasn’t even going to buy a license this year,” Mitch said. Then, Mitch went to his uncle’s land to help with a few things and his uncle told him there were a lot of nice deer out there. Mitch watched the 30-acre land while he was there for about three hours straight, and an hour before dark, bucks started coming out left and right. During that time, Mitch spotted 27 deer, with 14 bucks all together. “It was like I was hunting a farm, I was just kind of mind blown, actually,” said Mitch. He was so excited, he called up his fellow Cadott friends, Carson Christenson, 21, and Kaden Christianson, 18, who were in North Dakota on a hunting trip, not taking the time change into consideration. Mitch kept calling the two until Carsen finally picked up, just so the phone would be silent, telling Mitch they were still in the deer stand on Once Kaden returned from the trip, he and Mitch hung two stands on the 30 acres, and put a couple cameras up, filming what would turn out to be Mitch’s monster buck. Originally, the group thought they would see the massive buck on the north side of the farm, but the night before opening day of bow season, Mitch and Kaden sat on the opposite end of the field.
The two had off work Sept. 14, and when the wind switched back to the right direction, they quickly hung a stand where they thought a big buck would appear, even though they didn’t get to the land until 4 p.m.
“A few minutes later, we already had deer,” said Kaden. “It was a great night.”
A nice 8-pointer came out, but Mitch decided to pass on it.
“There were three bucks that I saw that night, that were the biggest bucks I’ve seen in the deer stand and I knew they weren’t the ‘big ones,’” said Mitch.
Kaden told him to go ahead and take the 8-pointer if he wanted it. Mitch couldn’t decide if that was “the one,” but went ahead and pulled back his arrow for a shot. However, his arrow squeaked and the buck spooked, running into the forest.
“So, that made the decision easy, which, I’m glad that happened,” said Mitch, adding that they just weren’t seeing the massive bucks they had on film. “I was starting to lose hope and it was starting to get dark.”
Then, Kaden spotted the monster buck and told Mitch to nab it. At first, Mitch, who was turned in a different angle, couldn’t see the buck.
“When I saw it, I was like, oh yeah, that’s a good one,” said Mitch.
The buck walked out in the clearing, but had five deer in front of him. Despite that, Mitch managed to draw back without the other deer seeing him and startling the buck. The monster buck then began following some does and Mitch thought his dreams were shattered, but at the last second, the buck found something on the ground that caught his interest and started eating.
Mitch took the shot from 30 yards out and when the proverbial dust had cleared, the buck had an arrow sticking in his shoulder, but the shot didn’t appear to be deep, as the buck ran off.
The hunters quickly watched the footage Kaden had captured, since he was filming the experience, and walked over to where the buck had stood.
“There was decent blood right at the shot,” said Kaden.
The two followed the blood trail for a little way, but as darkness fell, they made the decision to back out. Once they got home, they re-watched their video footage over and over, where it became apparent that the arrow went in and hit the other shoulder, then popped out, proving it was likely a killing shot.
Mitch said he didn’t get any sleep that night, as he didn’t want to leave an animal out in the woods, wounded, to suffer.
“Especially a buck of that caliber,” said Carsen.
With the dark on them at that time, Mitch does not second-guess the decision to call it a night.
“It was a smart decision to back out,” he said.
The next morning, he and Kaden picked up the blood trail again and soon discovered the dead buck. The wounded deer only went about 100 yards and started circling back behind the stand.
“If there were no leaves, I bet you we could’ve seen where the deer landed from the stand,” said Mitch.
Unfortunately for Mitch, overnight, coyotes had eaten a quarter of one of the back haunches.
“It would have been neat to weigh that deer, you know,” said Mitch.
As it was, downing the buck took a near perfect shot, with the rack of the animal ending up as a big 9-pointer, with a score of 130 5/8 inches. The three friends estimate that the buck probably would have weighed at least 200 pounds dressed.
Last year, Mitch found a deer in a ditch that had a 13-point rack, which he thought was big.
“The buck (rack) he found, fit inside of the one (this year’s kill),” said Carsen. “It’s a big deer.”
At the beginning of the hunt, Mitch had said he was not going to shoot a buck, “unless he’s going on the wall.” Carsen and Kaden tried to tell him you can’t just go out, and expect a trophy buck every time, but Mitch was determined.
“It was not so much about, I want to shoot a deer this year,” said Carsen, “I want to shoot the deer.”
It’s a good thing Mitch got his trophy when he did, as a short time later, his bow broke while he was sighting it, something he’s never had happen before. Luckily for Mitch, like Carsen and Kaden, he has a Mathews bow, which is made locally in Wisconsin, where the company has great customer support and offers replacement if anything goes wrong.
Unluckily, it might be awhile before his bow is fixed, as parts are in high demand and short supply, on account of shutdowns with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although 2020 has thrown many for loops, and continues to dish out some terrible things, it was a perfect year, in terms of hunting. The three friends agree they’ve never seen anything like the number of bucks/deer during bow season, and the same with turkey hunting. The young men say there were an insane amount of toms out in one field.
“You’re not going to get a better year, I don’t think,” said Mitch.
Also new to them this year, the friends are part of Tag’em Outdoors, which started social media pages and YouTube videos this fall, showing their hunting experiences, even if a deer or turkey is not harvested. The three don’t hunt on game farms, all deer are free-range, with most of the action taking place on public hunting land.
“You gotta outsmart the deer and you also gotta outsmart people,” said Carsen.
“You have to put in the work, too,” said Mitch. “This is a year-round thing.”
Bow hunting involves running trail cameras, scouting, finding deer sign, managing scent control, creating food plots and learning about wind direction. While luck sometimes plays a factor, it’s more about the time hunters are willing to put in to be successful. For the three friends, it’s like Carsen and Kaden’s dad always says, that the day deer season ends, the next deer season begins.
The group agrees bow hunting is even better than gun hunting.
“It almost takes away your true outdoorsmanship,” said Carsen. “Don’t hunt it harder, hunt it smarter.”
“None of that really matters with a gun,” agreed Mitch.
With Tag’em Outdoors, the group hopes the venture takes off as a true business, but if it doesn’t, the three want people to enjoy watching the footage they capture.
“Then, you always have that memory,” said Kaden.
“We’re doing it because it’s fun,” added Carsen.
The videos are shot with a Canon Vixia camcorder and an EOS 60D DSLR, equipped with a Rode mic and wind muff. They also use a GoPro in their filming efforts. The videos capture the friends’ successes, but also their failures. If one of them makes a bad shot, it will be shown.
“This is real, we’re not faking this,” said Mitch. “We’re going to show you what really happens.”
Although Mitch has gone hunting during gun deer season, his true passion is bow hunting. It may come from the fact that the three were on the Cadott High School archery team, with instruction from Carsen and Kaden’s dad, Scott Christenson. Mitch said Scott has helped them in so many ways and that his instructions go through their heads when they pick up a bow.
With varying temperatures, weather and work schedules, the friends agree that you have to make every time out count with bow hunting.
“This is what I love to do,” said Carsen. “It’s really hard to shoot a deer with a bow. It’s a huge accomplishment.”
Carsen was happy to get an 8-pointer while on his North Dakota trip, while Kaden harvested a pronghorn antelope. As for Mitch, his dream of a trophy buck during bow season, exceeded his wildest expectations.
“I’m never going to forget it.”