John’s Note: Longtime deer hunter Michael Ahlfeldt of Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania, took his bow buck of a lifetime in 2010. To accomplish this goal, he first learned how to locate a piece of property with the potential to produce a trophy bow buck, how to manipulate the habitat on that property to hold a trophy buck, how to find that trophy buck and hunt him, and how to successfully take that trophy buck. This week, Ahlfeldt will show us the steps he took that you can follow to take the buck of a lifetime with your bow.
Because Michael Ahlfeldt knew he had two trophy bucks on the property he was hunting in Ohio and 5 weeks of vacation, he dedicated those 5 weeks to hunting two huge bucks – Big Louie and Captain Hook.
On the afternoon of November 2, 2010, when Ahlfeldt arrived at the Ohio property, the landowner told him that he’d seen a big buck coming out of the bottom and going across the hill, headed toward the green fields they’d planted, following four does. This was also one of the pinch points Ahlfeldt had identified as a possible stand site. So, instead of hunting that afternoon, Ahlfeldt went to the pinch point and set-up a tree stand to hunt from the following morning, instead of that afternoon.
Getting into his tree stand before daylight, Ahlfeldt’s hopes were high for taking either Big Louie or Captain Hook.
Just at daylight, Ahlfeldt spotted nine does headed toward a bottom with tall grass. Two bucks were following them, but he didn’t get a shot. That afternoon, he hunted from the same stand and spotted one buck coming-up out of the bottom. After night fell, Ahlfeldt took his stand down and moved it to the bottom where he’d seen the deer, believing that if the deer followed that same trail the following day, he’d be in a position to take a shot with his PSE X-Force Bow (www.pse-archery.com). Not only did he put-up his stand in the dark, but he cut the limbs he needed to cut to get a clear shot. Once his tree stand was set up, and the limbs cut, he returned to camp and went to bed.
“The next morning, I woke up and took a shower with Hunter’s Specialties’ Scent-A-Way Soap (www.hunterspec.com),” Ahlfeldt says. “Then I sprayed down with Scent-A-Way Spray and went to my tree stand. At first light, I could hear deer moving in that high grass, over 6 feet tall, out in front of me. For some reason, I looked around behind me and saw a small doe coming off the hill at the pinch point where I’d set up my tree stand the day before. As I continued looking, 30 yards behind the doe, I saw Big Louie. When I spotted that big deer, I had to turn away from him and get a grip on my emotions. I was as excited as a kid coming down the stairs on Christmas morning and seeing mounds of presents under the Christmas tree.
Big Louie came to within 18 yards of my stand on the back side of my tree, slightly downwind from me.
The doe stopped in front of me and began to test the air with her nose. Not only had I sprayed down with Scent-A-Way Spray, but I also was using Hunter’s Specialties’ Fresh Earth Scent Wafers as a cover scent. Even though the doe smelled something different, she didn’t know what she smelled, or where I was located. So, the doe walked past my tree stand. As soon as Big Louie got behind a tree where he couldn’t see me, I drew my PSE X-Force. I needed him to walk about 3 to 5 more yards for me to have a good shot. Big Louie stopped in the same place where the doe had stopped and looked right at me. But I already had my X-Force at full draw and knew the speed of the bow. I thought, ‘It’s now or never,’ so I released the arrow.”
The arrow flew true to the buck, hit right behind his front shoulder and came out low below the buck’s heart. Big Louie ran about 40 yards, before Ahlfeldt heard him fall. “I was so excited that the only way I could stay in the tree was to text my buddies and tell them what I’d just done,” Ahlfeldt says. “Then, I began to wonder if that really was the deer I heard fall or something else. I texted one friend about my fear, and he texted me back to get my butt out of the tree and go see if I could find blood. When I reached the ground, I found blood sprayed all over the ground. The buck fell in the thicket, and when I measured his antlers, he green scored 195-7/8 Boone & Crockett. The PSE X-Force had done its job. I knew the money I’d spent on my PSE bow was some of the best money I’d ever spent in my hunting life.” The taxidermist said that Big Louie was only 4-1/2- to 5 years old. But this taking of Big Louie wasn’t the end of the story for this hunting lease.
No one was in the camp except Ahlfeldt and the owner of the property when he took Big Louie.
The landowner was really excited that Ahlfeldt had taken the buck. The next day, Ahlfeldt’s friend Steve Bosley drove up to the property, and after he and Ahlfeldt had done some scouting, Bosley decided to put-up a tree stand in an area they’d named Big Oaks where trail-cameras had taken quite a few trail camera pictures of Captain Hook. Big Oaks was only about 200-yards away from the spot where Ahlfeldt had taken his deer.
That afternoon, Bosley got into his tree stand around 2:40 pm and texted Ahlfeldt that he had on his tree harness and was in the stand, and everything was quiet. Ten-minutes later, Bosley called Ahlfeldt on the phone and said, “I just shot Captain Hook. He’s dead. I’m so excited! I can see Captain Hook lying on the ground. Bring the four wheeler, and come get me and this deer.” Bosley only was in his tree stand for 10 minutes. If Bosley had been just a little later getting into his tree stand, he probably would’ve spooked his buck of a lifetime. The taxidermist said Captain Hook was 6-1/2 to 7 years old and scored 182-4/8 B&C. Ahlfeldt reports that they’ve seen two 160 B&C bucks on this same 235 acre property and one buck the other hunters say will score more than 200 B&C points. These big bucks apparently recently moved into the area, because there were no prior trail camera pictures of them.
To learn more about deer hunting, you can get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks, “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” “How to Take Monster Bucks,” and “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” or to prepare venison, get “Deer & Fixings.” Click here to get these books
About the Author
John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors.