Deer Stories - North Dakota OPENING DAY Buck with Jake Fleischman

Show Notes

If you've followed along with Southern Ground Hunting, you probably know that we're suckers for September opener whitetail hunts. Travelling out of state for that first hunt of the year is pretty much the only thing we think about all summer long. This week, Jake Fleischman is joining us all the way from Wisconsin to share a success story from opening day in North Dakota. 

Show Transcript

[00:00:00] Hey, thanks for tuning into this week's episode of the Southern Ground Hunting Podcast, where you're gonna hear a valuable hunting based conversation that's tailored for us southern folk. If you love what we do and would like to support Southern ground Hunting, you can visit Ground Hunting, or you can click on the link in the show notes below.

We'd love for you to join the Southern Ground Hunting community today. Again, that's Ground Hunting. You can also support us by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. It helps more than and we greatly appreciate it. And now let's get to the show.

All right, everybody. Welcome back to the Southern Ground Hunting Podcast. I'm joined by a Northern brethren. Jake. Jake, dude, I'm gonna be honest with you, I'm not even gonna try to pronounce your last name. Can you tell us how to pronounce your last name? [00:01:00] It's actually Fleischman. Okay. Like the vodka, but it's spelled a little different.

It's one n not two, so it's the most Wisconsin last name I've ever heard. In my entire life. Big time. German last name. Okay. So as soon as you as soon as you sent me an Instagram message today, I was like, there's no way. This guy's from the south, a hundred percent not from the south just by your last name.

So Jake, dude, welcome to the show. Super glad you're here. I'm glad to be here. I listen to your podcast weekly. As soon as it drops, I'm listening, so it's a pleasure to be on. Fantastic, dude. We appreciate that. And here's the deal, guys listening. We are trying to do a better job of sharing just super relatable hunting stories.

We talk a lot about tactics through the season and that before and after season type stuff. We talk about that a lot. And in the summertime it's tough to do but there's a lot of guys out there just like you, Jake, that have great hunting stories [00:02:00] and this one doesn't take place particularly in the South.

But. All you had to do was tell me that first I'm not gonna give it away, but that first sentence that you led with the scenario of this story and the timeline and things, and I was my ears perked up. And the state that you did it in I have gotten the opportunity to hunt this particular state up north.

And I love it. I think it's a great state especially for deer. And so my ears perked up. I was like, yeah, dude. Let's get you on. And so Jake just kick us off, dude tell us a little bit about what the things that led up to choosing the location of this hunt without giving away too many details choosing the location, scouting, things like that.

So this was like a trip that me and a buddy wanted to go on for a couple years. And I'm a huge follower of some YouTube guys, like DIY Sportsmen in the Hunting public. Those guys around that [00:03:00] timeframe were out in North Dakota quite a bit. And it just, from their videos and the stuff that it seems like they were doing and learning just really interested me.

So me and a buddy decided that we wanted to go to North Dakota for an opener. This was, I believe 2020 season. And We just, we're from Wisconsin, so it's a lot of wooded. It's pretty flat, so it's like North Dakota, but there's so much more timber in Wisconsin. And I just just the fact that you can glass so much more and see so much more.

It looked, it just seemed like a different kind of hunting and something that we wanted to do. And we both wanted to try to fill a velvet tag, that's on every. Deer hunters bucket list, it was two birds, one stone kind of thing. And yeah, once we decided where we were going and that we wanted to do an opener we decided this like a year ahead of time.

So we got all our vacation from work set aside for that opening week. We were gonna go down a day before season and do some glassing and some walking around, boots on the ground. And it was just [00:04:00] totally. Outside of what we've ever done before. So we were just really excited to go out there. And then you mentioned like the preparation.

We did I guess we didn't do any scouting trips out there at all. I wish we would've, but it was just more the map scouting picking some spots on a map that we wanted to check over that day before, and our plan was to go there and just see where everybody else was on him and just.

Tried to hunt some spots. That opening day where we didn't see a lot of pressure, so that was our plan going in. We were open-minded. We're just gonna go in there and get in there and start hunting and see what happened. Okay. So public land, this is what we is, you already said that this is a public land trip.

Yep. Did you have did you have any prior intel about any of the areas? Because cuz North Dakota is not a public land rich state really when it comes to whitetail hunting. And did you have some prior knowledge of an area from somebody else? Kinda what was your thought process in [00:05:00] choosing all that?

I guess I did DM some people just that have hunted there to try to get that had a success there and see what they said. But as far as looking on a map we were just looking for, we knew it was dry out there that year too. And from the people I talked to said that the key is just gotta be by water.

Yeah. In some form or fashion cuz it's, especially when it's dry out there, early season. And that's kinda what we did. We just looked, found some spots that weren't, without giving too much away in the spots, more the eastern side of the state where there's a little bit more tree cover and diversity there.

So that's kinda what we were looking for. Some diversity and some water. And then found a spot where we could camp and be in driving distance, easy to scout and go back and forth to some different spots. And that's all we were literally looking for at first. That's, that, and that's a great tactic.

I think looking at North Dakota, especially for that super early opener. I believe it's Tony [00:06:00] Peterson. He's had some success there. And he talks a lot about. Hunting over water and finding water. He talks about hunting water holes specifically, but you've gotta find the water for that time of year.

And I've noticed that the same way whenever whenever we were there two years ago for the opener it was yeah. Freaking dry. And like it looks, it's It almost felt as if you were wa like, I'm from West Texas, everything's really dry in West Texas. And it was like that, like it was just dusty.

All the time, just dirt blowing all over the place. So I know exactly what you're talking about. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to look at a map of North Dakota and say, oh, it looks like there's more green on this side of the state and more brown on this side of the state. So I don't think you give away a whole lot there.

But dude that's, at its very basic that's a good thing for if somebody's looking to hunt one of these early openers. Finding the water is a great idea. All right so getting closer to the trip Y'all figured out where you [00:07:00] wanted to be. Y'all figured out the area that you wanted to be in.

I think did, was there any did, was there any moments where you got to the place that you were gonna hunt and you moved to a different spot or any of that type of like wrenches that got thrown in your plans? Yeah, so when we got out there, we drove through the night after work one night cuz we were both, we both, me and my buddy worked in a factory.

So it was as soon as we were done working first shift that day, we hopped in the truck and we went all night. I think it was like 11 hours or something like that. And it was crazy like when we pulled into North Dakota and we were like an hour away from where we wanted to be and it was cracking daylight in the morning.

And it was, we looked and we're like, where are we even going? Are we in the right spot? There was no trees. It's like we're just driving into nothing. It was crazy. It was like overwhelming at first. How flat and nothingness there is. What's he say on that part on Dumb and Dumber? Like I imagine the Rockies would be more rocky than this or something like that.[00:08:00]

It was the app. Yeah. A little different. It was exactly like that. Yeah. I think we might have quoted that exact thing when we were driving. Yeah. And those are the things like I, I know you've mentioned earlier that you wish y'all wish you would've gone and scouted early. Because you do find yourself in those situations, I can't tell you how many times I've been on an out-of-state trip with something in my head.

Like I'm thinking it was going to look a certain way. And basing all my plans around that only to get there and it's oh crap. This is a water hole or this is a swamp. And I think that happens more times than not. Yeah. You can look at so many maps and go to so many different places, be, and be doing it for 30 years and it's, you're always gonna learn something.

It's always seems to be different than on a map in person. Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think OnX map scouting kind of the development of that has Has given us a lot of [00:09:00] benefits for sure. Absolutely. It's given us a bunch of benefits. But what I find are the people who the people who are pretty consistent in any state they know how to Do they, they they don't just base everything on what they see on that map.

Does that make sense? Like they're looking more closely at things like terrain can be a little more true. In your online mapping. So if you're looking at topography sometimes it'll fool you, but that can give you a little better idea than if you're just based in a clump of woods and saying, that's probably open hardwoods because I, for example, we Turkey hunted in Tennessee this week, this past weekend for the last weekend of the season.

And. We saw a place on the map that looked like it was gonna be big, giant hardwoods like, like perfect for a Turkey. What we ended up finding when we got there was that pretty much everywhere on this flipping place was covered in Mountain Laurel. Mountain Laurel, and thick, nasty [00:10:00] junk briars, Not and none of us ever heard a gobble, right?

So we get there and then we had to change all of our plans last minute because we were basing everything on what we thought we knew, but Right. We didn't. Obviously we did not know. And like I said, I wish we would've scouted, but the more and more I think about it and how it played out, looking back on it, I honestly think that I wouldn't change it because I feel like the places we did get out and walk and put on miles that first day before every place that we found the buck sign, it seemed like there was a stand hung here, or there's trucks parked, like people can see that too.

If we would've went out there like in the spring and scouted, not saying that we wouldn't have fallen some good spots just putting on the miles, but. That spots we found sign. We also did find the people too. So going in there fresh, not knowing anything, I think honestly, at least for me, helped me be successful, yeah, that makes perfect sense. It's [00:11:00] hard to, it's hard to argue and say you should have done things differently when. We're telling a success story, right? So like it worked out, it's hard to say. You should do something different. All right, so let's get into the weeds on this thing.

So you go out there, things are maybe a little bit different than what you expected. Now did y'all get there and it was opening day? Is that kind of how it worked? It was the day before actually. So day before. Okay. We got there on a Thursday. I think that year it was a Friday. It opens in North Dakota, it opens at noon, I do believe, on opening day.

So then it was that morning too of opening day. We were driving around also trying to, cuz we, at that point in the morning, we still had no idea where we're gonna go. So it was just a we're close to here. Looks pretty good. We're just gonna dive in here at noon. Were y'all looking more at the like I know in, in North Dakota, especially on the eastern side of the state, you can have some, you can have some like glassing style hunts.

Not a whole lot of big, [00:12:00] giant trees. Or you can have some areas that is heavily wooded. Were y'all looking more in the more open country? Is that kind of where y'all were trying to concentrate at? Honestly we gravitated towards obviously wanted to stay by water. We hung in some areas we knew there was like a river and there's a lot of cottonwood them thicker areas there.

And we honestly just wanted to find, A lot of people told us too, you wanna find the beans. That's what they really like out there. Cuz there wasn't much corn at all that year. It seemed we hardly found any driving around for two days. And then there was some beans, but not really any places that we really wanted to hunt.

They were just white, bigger fields in the middle of nowhere with some beans. But we focused on if we could find some green fields. That was like, the one rare thing we did find was like there was a couple alfalfa fields or like just hay fields that were green and we thought like we hung in that air to start.

Cause we figured, green next to water, there's gotta be at least deer in here. And [00:13:00] we did glass, a couple smaller bucks. That morning, next to the water, next to those green fields. So that's where he started or gravitated back towards. So you started putting together that first morning, putting together maybe some consistencies and that's, I completely understand what you're saying.

Having been there when you go to a new place like that okay, look for beans. All right. But that bean field looks like it's. There's no reason for a deer to be in there. Yeah, I learned a lot about cattail marshes out there and how often the deer are actually living in those things.

And you never know it, a guy from Alabama goes up to North Dakota and sees a big cattail marsh it, look, it doesn't. Look like deer habitat to us. But then right in the evening you see these giant bucks stand up out of the cattails and walk into the beans that they've been sitting there all freaking day.

And so there is, there are a lot of differences differences in that. But you were trying to find these these green fields or alfalfa [00:14:00] fields or things like that. F Were you finding, that there were a lot of deer around them, or were y'all finding that maybe it was a little bit more difficult just to find?

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All one word. S G H U. Yeah, from the vehicle we didn't really see much for deer. We seen a couple there in the general area where we ended up hunting that first night. We did see some deer like in those bigger bean fields.[00:16:00] But out there, it seemed like one other thing that I noticed right off the bat was those deer, it's wide open.

They have rifle seasons out there and they get shot at from vehicles sometimes I would assume. So they, they make it a couple feet off the tree line and then that's as far as they get out in those fields. So yeah, they pop out here and there and they go back. They don't move very far out in the middle of nowhere.

And it seemed like when they did and they were crossing a field, they were running, like they didn't stand out in the open for very long. So we just wanted to find some fit cover. I noticed you haven't said anything about any pressure. Were y'all deal, was that a big, huge factor in what you were dealing with, or not really?

Yeah, that was probably the biggest factor other than wanting to focus next to this that those green fields in the water. I think the next thing was we wanted to go to a place that we didn't really see any pressure, but we just drove around until we found a spot we wanted to dive [00:17:00] into that.

There wasn't anybody already there, but we got in pretty early. We got in there right at noon. We wanted to get in there before anybody else. And maybe our truck being parked there would deter somebody from walking in if it was a smaller piece, which this one kind of was. It was getting into that first night too, if you want me to dive into that.

Yeah, absolutely. So I'll start with we drove around the spot and then. I gave my buddy since he was driving around all day, like first divs where he wanted to go, and then I would just see where I could go from there. Either just walk in a different way or take the truck around to the other side.

So he found a spot he wanted to get into, walked in from the backside where we seen those bucks. It was like a, it wasn't really a greenfield, but it was just like a hay grassy kind of rolling hills. Right off of the, like the four wheeler trail. It wasn't really a. High traffic road and then you could probably see maybe four or 500 yards.

And then the tree line, and there was quite a bit of a buffer of thicker cover between the back of those like grassy hills in [00:18:00] that river. And he just dove in there. He was gonna work his way in there, see if he could find some fresh sign to set up on. Okay. So then when I time out real quick.

Yeah, go ahead. That was y you said set up on, were you guys planning to ground hunt? Saddle hunt? You can really do both pretty effectively in, in North Dakota. It can be a great state for spot and stock. What was y'all's, what was y'all's setup going into this thing? Yeah, I guess we were hanging hunting.

I just recently started saddle hunting in the last couple years, so at that point we were using hang guns and sticks on hanging hunt. But yeah that first night we were just wanting to get in an area and see if we could see something and then move in on it. Yeah. It wasn't like a, yeah, I'm gonna find where this deer's laying at and I can sneak up on him and kill him.

His bed. Like it was just more of a observation type thing. Yeah. That first night where our plan was. So that was our goal going in that first night. I guess it just gets eyes on something moving and it gets better. Yeah. [00:19:00] So at that point he gets outta the truck, I take over, I drive around to the other side kinda where we seen those bucks, and I had no idea where I was gonna go at this point.

So I was like, I'm just gonna go in an area where when it gets dark, I, he doesn't have to wait two hours for me to drive back and get him. So I just wanted to stay close to where he was at. So I looked on the map and I'm like the other side of the river from where he's at, there's a greenfield and the wind sets up perfect cause it's blowing away from the river where the, I think those deer probably laying and that thicker cover next to the river.

And it the road wrapped around and it went way up top and it dropped off down to the river. And you could see that whole, it was like a old growth alfalfa. Like they, you could tell they planted it like five or six years ago and it was just like a hayfield at this point. They would just, there was hay bales on it and everything, but there was little patches of green alfal in there.

And I was like, once I drove around and seen it, I'm like, this is just a, go in there [00:20:00] and see what I see. But it did, I, in the back of my head, I said, huh, it's green. They might come out here tonight. Like right off the parking lot in that spot. It like you walk in and it drops down to river level there and there was an a feel open field there and you couldn't see it from the road, which I thought also those deer might be a little more comfortable with those hay bales out there and not being able to see it from the road.

They could come out of that cover and feed a little bit and go right back and wouldn't even be seen there. So it was a little overlooked spot and the only reason I really walked in there was so I was. Generally close to where my buddy went in. Yeah. Was just like a, see what happens.

Didn't really expect to see anything. And that's how it works though. I noticed on the map. Yeah. That's how it works. Every time your buddy got to choose where he wanted to go. He got to, he got first dibs on it and you're just like, eh, might be a shot in the dark. Let's just go out here half-heartedly and and probably not see anything.

That's how it [00:21:00] almost always works. Yep. So I guess I'll keep going here. Absolutely. So I walked in, stand on the back, have everything, and I didn't do as much pre-season prep either as like we all do, you shake the rough stuff that first hanging hun, and it's just yeah, it's just, I was sweating.

It was hot. It was, the bugs were awful. Every tree that I wanted to get up in was covered in vines. It was just a nightmare. You just described every reason people should not hunt early season. Exactly. Mosquitoes, poison ivy. I think in North Dakota, I don't think the ticks were too terribly bad by that point in the year, but my gosh, dude, it.

You're talking about a real struggle. Early season hunting is brutal. And I would say if you're not the kind of person that practices their practices, their set up pretty decently before season. [00:22:00] You're not gonna like early season, early, early September openers. It sounds like he learned that day like crap should have figured this one out.

After that, every, the last years, the two years since I've practiced a lot before a season. Cause yeah, I did not want that to happen again. Yeah. No sir. So you get in there you look for a tree and everything's like vine and terrible relatable right there. Yep. Yep. So it was like a little 90 degree, like there's just a strip of trees on the fence lines and they go, it went this corner of the fence line went out into this greenfield with the hay bales and there was like a couple trees and some brushier stuff that kind of jutted out into the field like halfway.

And I figured if I could get in there somewhere up and the wind was going straight back towards the. The corner of that field away from the river where I thought those zero were gonna come from. [00:23:00] So I just wanted to get up in that strip of trees so I could see, I could shoot to my right, shoot to my left into that field and just have the widest area where I could shoot, and cease something. I wanna just get up there and observe really. The wind was good for it, so I didn't think anybody, anything was gonna be like behind me cuz there really wasn't much for them to be in. But anyways, after two hours, I get up in my tree and get everything situated and it starts to rain.

So I was like, perfect. This is just, this night's just getting better and better. So I sat that out. All my stuff got a little wet and it was probably two hours before dark at this point. And I just happened to look behind me where I didn't think there was gonna be any, anything calm moving around. And this little six pointer came right from the river, like I thought.

And he just booked it across the field behind me. Out in the middle of nowhere, just took off. I don't know where he was going. I was like that's a good [00:24:00] sign, a buck. But he wasn't where I thought he was gonna be. And I don't know if he caught my wind or not, but he was moving the whole time, so I don't think he did.

So I wasn't really worried about it, so I just kept sitting there. And then I looked to my left all the way across the field. And I seen two more deer, so I threw my binos up and it was a, like a two and a half year old, eight and like a smaller 10. And they were like sparring on the corner of the field, which was pretty sweet in velvet or, and I'm like, shit.

Those, I think the six pointer that ran across the field first was in velvet, yet the two that were sparring were just out of velvet. So they were hard horned. Yeah. And I went out there for a velvet deer, but hey, if something walked in front of me that was hard horned, I'm not gonna pass that up.

So I wasn't, I was pretty, pretty pumped cuz I seen three more deer than I thought I was gonna see already. I saw two hours before. Yeah. [00:25:00] Dark and I was like, it's getting, it's looking up. So yeah, I watched them spar for a while and then, It was weird. Oh, the wind died down and then they were a little bit more on edge.

Yep. It seemed like when it was windy, they didn't, they were out in the field. They could see anything around and they were pretty content what they were doing, but the wind died down and they kind, got a little fishy and then they started, they ran right at me. So I get my bowl ready and these things are booking it across this field, at me.

And about 70 yards away, they took a 90 and then went down into the river. I don't know if they were just running around having a grand all the time. It looked like there were no rhyme or reason really what they were. They're excited about opening day. Yep. So they go down into the river and I was like I've seen three bucks.

Didn't really expect to see nothing I was pretty excited, honestly. And then there was a couple doughs came [00:26:00] out, started feeding and at this point I was actually confident that there was gonna be something coming in Ang and at that point I see all these deer and I'm like do I hold out for something a little nicer or the first thing that walks past me, am I gonna shoot?

At this point there's a bunch of deer piling out into this field and I'm like, there's probably a pretty good chance that something with horns walks within. Range, or at least within 40 yards where I'm comfortable shooting. Okay. So had you had, do you hunt public land in Wisconsin? Or was this just a new thing?

I know you said it was your first out-of-state trip. How, what was your like experience with public land hunting at this point? I actually did hunt outta state prior, but it was more, it wasn't, that was my first time in North Dakota. Okay, gotcha. I've hunted public in I, when I was younger I went with my dad on a couple trips to Nebraska or Missouri or a couple other spots.

I gotcha. [00:27:00] More wooded area. Typical Midwest rot hunt. That was my first early season velvet hunt. Yeah. So as far as as far as when I'm hearing this, I don't know. Whenever I go on a anywhere on public land, the last thing that I want to do is hunt in a greenfield, right?

And it's not because I think a greenfield is a bad place. It's because. As a southerner, you get these ideas that there's no deer on the green fields because that's where everybody hunts is on those green fields. But I like this story particularly because what you've been able to do is take advantage of it being open in day.

Later on in the season, even a week later in the season, a greenfield might be the worst place you can hunt. But opening day you're able to see deer act like deer. In the green food. Yep. And take advantage of it. Just, and not to jump, go ahead. Not to jump too far ahead here, but like you [00:28:00] said with that, the pressure in that spot, that was a big factor.

Why there was deer or daylighting in that, that early, at least in that field, because without jumping too far ahead in the story in the next, I stayed after I was, The next couple days when my buddy was looking for other place to hunt, he tried to hunt that spot like three days later and there had been guys in there every day.

Huh. And he didn't really see much after that night. So the pressure did play a big factor in that. Absolutely. Like you said. Absolutely. So you got all these deer out there, they're coming towards you. You're like, what the flip do I do? Do I hold out? Do I. What, like what was your expectation going in, were, when you went to North Dakota, was it, I'm gonna shoot the first legal deer, or was it, I'm gonna hold out.

My biggest thing was I wanted to try to get a velvet deer and something with Iraq not a spike, but yeah, something like even a, or something with velvet and six or eight points. That [00:29:00] was my only, that was what I was gonna try for, but, I had no expectations at all. Okay. All right. So tons of deer coming towards you in the field.

You're trying to figure out what your standard's gonna be, what happens next? Yep. And it was tough too, cuz there was so many doze and fawns piling out too that it's like I can't move. So it's just, I didn't even know what to do. I was like overwhelmed by the amount of deer that I saw, like I was just, Amazed honestly.

Cuz I've hunted private land in a couple different places and deer don't come out that early like that. It was almost like shock. So I had a lot of things running through my head at that point and then deciding what size of deer I would pull back on at that point. So then at that point, I don't know what it was, it started raining again like an hour before dark.

And then it seemed like when it started raining, it was deer. They didn't like it for whatever reason. And then they worked their way back off into the woods [00:30:00] and I'm guessing, laid down. But then the rain stopped again. It was probably 45 minutes at that point until last light or last shooting light.

And then I see a really nice buck actually stand up. In the cover, right? He was maybe 10 yards off the field in some tall grass underneath like a willow tree. And he stood up and walked out straight to my left, perfect for sitting down and shooting like right perfectly in the lane that I had, but he was probably like 80 yards out and he was just speed there.

So then I pull my binoculars up and look at him and he was really nice. He was hard horned, but like a really thick 10 or 11 point. And then I was getting, at that point I was getting a little nervous cause I was like, he's there, just tempting me at 80 yards, just feeding. And I was just hoping he'd work my way a little more, but he just almost gave me too time, too much time to think about it.

I think you probably know all that is. Yeah, absolutely. And you just think about it too much. But [00:31:00] yeah, so he fed a little bit and then for whatever reason, the deer were acting really weird. And then he fed a little bit and he picked his head up and looked around and then he like just sprinted back off into the woods.

I don't know what he saw or what he, if he smelled something but he didn't like something, so he took off. And then I was like, dang, all those deer left. He left. I might not see anything else the rest of the night. So then I sat there for about 15 minutes longer. At this point, it's probably 25 minutes to last light late.

It was getting a little darker at that point. And then there's some dough started coming back out in the field. And those two bucks that I seen earlier that were sparring are what I, at least I think were the same two deer were chasing each other around. They came back out and they started working towards me.

And then at that point I was trying to make a decision which one of those, if they came close enough if I'd hold out for one of 'em or if one came in front of me, [00:32:00] if I'd shoot one or the other. And. I was brought up in Wisconsin to not pass up on opportunity. If you're gonna shoot that on the last day, you're gonna shoot it.

So I made up my mind pretty much right then that if either of those deer came, gave me a really good shot, like within 30 yards, that I'd probably shoot one of those two deer. And they weren't really getting much closer. And then it was like getting pretty late, maybe 10 minutes before last light, and they started chasing each other around again.

So then I just stood up and got ready to pull back in case they ran out in front of me. Maybe I could stop one of 'em. And that's what happened. That smaller eight pointer or a basket rack eight, the bigger out of the two bucks trotted out like 35 yards quartering away from me.

And I didn't even need to stop him. I was Dr. I drew back before I even got to that point and I was ready. It was like 35 yards, quarter in away shot. Didn't know if I hit him or not. So I [00:33:00] wasn't using a lighted knock or anything like that, and it was pretty dark. But yeah, I let an arrow fly at him.

He took off into the woods, back towards the truck and I called my buddy and I snuck out of there, got to the truck, called my buddy and went to pick him up. And then we were gonna go back and look for the deer Now. Was this your I thought I heard you say this is your first public land buck. Was that right?

Yes. Okay. First public land bull buck outta state. Okay. Okay. Yeah, I got, that's a big, that's a feat. Yeah. I believe you know when your first bow buck is a big deal, your first public land deer, that's a big deal. But then you go outta state and you do it on your own with a bow on public.

It's just, that is a cool feeling cuz it's not your you're on visitor's team. You know what I'm saying? You're a visitor at that point. You're not this, it ain't home. It's not your home field. And that's, that is a amazing feeling. What was going [00:34:00] through your mind that you just made it happen on opening day?

In a brand new place? Were you feeling pretty confident? What? What was going through your head? Honestly, I'm one of those people that until the deer's laying in front of me and have my hands on 'em, I'm always doubting something. Yeah. So I was nervous cuz I couldn't see the impact. It wasn't really light enough, but I was at least very confident that we could get on deer at that point because until then it was like, We didn't see anyth anything for deer, and I wasn't expecting to see anything.

I was texting my buddy while we were in the tree. He wasn't seeing anything, so we were down in the dumps until I let an arrow loose and I was like at least there's deer in this area, and a lot of good ones by the looks of it. And there was probably more that I didn't see, so I was at least confident that even if I missed that deer, that my buddy could get on one or I could get on one again.

So I was super excited. At the same time, I was a little [00:35:00] doubtful on the shot which I shouldn't have been. And yeah, I was just confident we were starting to figure, not figure things out. Cause that was a, not a lucky thing, but a surprising situation. So at least good first day had confidence that we, yeah, that's a heck of a first day.

All right, so didn't know if you hit it or not. Were you like, is there a percentage that you could say, were you like 75% sure it was a good shot or 5% sure it was a good shot? I was pretty confident I hit the deer just based on the sound and the way he took off, took the tail and took off low to the ground.

Everything looked good after the shot. As far as the dearest reaction to it And I guess as far as, I had no idea it was probably 50 50. Like I'm like, I held good. The release was good, it felt good, but without seeing it, I was still 50 50 on the, like where I hit the deer. But as far as the way [00:36:00] the deer took off, that made me feel a little bit better.

And when I just hit the deer. So Joel, did you say you waited how long before going and trying to track it? I waited until it was like dark, like probably 20 minutes after light. I let my buddy know or asked him if he was, let me know when he got out to the road so I could pick him up.

So I snuck out of there. I made a big loop around where that deer went, and looped around the other side of the field and took the long way around to my truck. And actually this story gets quite a bit better. As I walk up to the top of the hill and it's like you could bar, you could see outlines of things like, it wasn't like pitch dark.

Yeah. Cause there, it seems like when it's so wide open, you can just, with the light of the moon, you can just see a little better. Yeah. But I get up to the top of the hill and there's probably 145 inch 10, like right next to the standing, right next to the truck just looking at me. And I was [00:37:00] like, I could just tell by the frame that this was a really big deer.

I don't wanna put a number on it or anything, but I've seen enough deer in frames that Deere to know that this is a really nice deer wherever you hunt. So yeah, that was cool. I didn't care that, it is what it is. I just, I'm not, this deer was four times bigger than the one I shot, but I could care less.

That was just cool to see a deer like that. Yeah. But he, that deer, the bigger one had to have been battered right next to the truck. Which was crazy. There was hardly any trees there or anything right next to the parking lot. And that thing was, had to have been right there and he stood up and was just speeding out right in front of the truck.

Didn't care at all. That's crazy, man. And it's crazy when you go out there anywhere really in that kind of North Dakota, South Dakota Nebraska, Kansas, you see these big wide open spaces with not very much cover seemingly. And you're like, how could a deer even live here? And then right there around evening time or first thing in the morning, it's like they just what's the game? Whack-a-mole where they just [00:38:00] pop up outta nowhere. Just appear outta nowhere. Yeah. It's crazy. It's crazy how well they can hide. And how a big, giant buck with 140, 150 inches of antler can hide that antler so well.

It's crazy. Yep. Yeah, they know where they gotta be to not be seen. That's for sure. They don't get like that. That's right. Besting. To say it like that though, being having a little bit of brains, there's gotta be a little part of you though that was like crap. I mean was are you telling me there was no part of you that was like, oh man.

Absolutely. At that point I was hoping I missed the deer and knew it for sure because he stood there long enough. I could have knocked an arrow and probably shot him right next to the truck and been laying. Within 50 yards of the truck, which would've been crazy, but yeah. I was pumped either way.

Jake funny story, I shot a Jake and it was an accidental Jake this year here in Alabama. Yeah. And I was when I went up to him, I grabbed him, I was like, okay, whatever. [00:39:00] It was actually my last Turkey of the year for Alabama. It was my tagout bird. And I was like, eh, that kind of sucks.

So I was, but I was fine. So I'm walking out of the woods. Yeah. And I'm walking down the road. And literally in the middle of the road stood there for a solid five seconds. Long enough for me to shoot is a gobbler, a long beard just standing there. And I was doing fine. I was like, you know what?

I'm just happy to be alive until that gobbler walked out in front of me and stood there long enough for me to shoot. That never happens, right? Like, how many times has that ever happened? No. So I know the pain. I think that's a similar, you're content, you're good, you're happy, you're excited. But then that happens.

You're like, shut up. I wish I could have, I wish I could have just never seen that deer, never seen that gobbler. Yep. It's, I've had that happen more times than I'd like to admit that same situation. So it's all good, dude. All right. So you're getting out of there you've been teasing it, acting it wa you, you had nothing [00:40:00] to worry about.

Yeah. So actually when I got to the truck, somebody, there's a truck coming down the road and this was not a very highly traveled road, so I was like, there's probably either somebody hunting or I didn't exactly know, but they started stopping as I got to the truck, I was putting my stuff away in the truck.

Al already told my buddy that I was on the way, gonna pick him up. I didn't tell my buddy at this point that I even shot at anything, so I was leaving him in the dark. Gonna surprise him a little bit, but. Cause he didn't have that great of a hunt, so I figured it was better that way.

Yeah. But it was actually the game warden pulled up as I'm in the, getting myself in the truck. And if you've ever dealt with any of those game wardens out there, that was probably the coolest game warden I've ever talked to. He was super about getting people out there. Enjoying hunting out on public land.

Like he was telling me some areas to focus on yeah, there's some, some good deer over here, or focus on this or this. [00:41:00] He was super helpful. And then when I told him I shot at a deer, he was like, wanting to help me drag it out. That's cool. It was a cool experience talking to him for a little bit, but he actually waited there at, I went and got my buddy told him that I flung one.

Yeah, at something. I didn't tell him even what it was. I just said it was a decent one. I like to play those kind of games. It's one of those, you're that buddy with your best buddy. Yeah. So he was the dark. I just said it had eight points. I didn't tell him how big, whatever, I pick him up.

So then he was pretty jacked up for me without even knowing just that I shot at one opening night and we get back there. He gets to meet the warden. We talked to him a little bit and he actually followed us down there. He's I wanna see this thing. He was like way more confident that I got the deer than I was, which was cool.

He was a super cool dude. If I knew his name, I'd say it, but I don't really remember what it was. No, I don't need to say it. Cause then nobody else needs to [00:42:00] know. Nobody else needs to know. Like people be looking up game warden names in North Dakota, for this place where you shot, where you saw 80, 87 deer on the opening day.

I think all there though, they, the wardens have multi jurisdictional maybe, so they, they cover a big areas. Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, we go down there, we kinda, we go down to where my stand was. Because we wanted to find the arrow. I had fallen the arrow, I guess I forgot to mention before I left. And there wasn't great blood on it, which is another reason I wasn't too confident.

There was blood, but it wasn't like bubble. You couldn't tell if there was bubbles on it or it wasn't super dark red. It was just like light blood, but it was a full pass, which was a good sign, so it's still 50 50 on it. So we went down got back to where I stucked air on the ground there where we had first blood and we started, I was looking at the [00:43:00] ground, trying to find where he went in the general direction.

And then we walked probably like 10 yards in the game. Warden taps on the shoulder and he goes, what's that? And I look up and not 30 yards into the field. The deer was land. You could see half of rack. And instantly I was like, yeah, that deer he only went like 40 yards, but there was enough of a little elevation change in the field where when he ran that way, like he, Dr.

He probably died within 20 seconds of shooting him. But I couldn't, I had no idea. And I, and the funny thing is I walked within 25 yards of that deer and I walked out that night back in the truck, like he was dead right away. Such a good feeling, man, but yeah, that's such a good feeling. Yep. When you know, you put a great shot on a deer like that oh man, I cannot wait to experience that again.

That's the reason I love these stories, man, because when I hear [00:44:00] 'em, I relate it back to similar experiences that I've had. I think if you've been bow hunting long enough, people have had those perfect shots that they thought were bad shots, and then they find the deer. 30 yards away. You're like, I had nothing to worry about.

I love those moments, like they're so special. And now you're tagged out on opening day, bro. What are you gonna do now? Just go do tourist stuff or what? At that point, I was instantly, I turned my buddy and I said, before I even put my hands on the deer, I said, now it's my time to help you get one.

It was, my mind was on to helping him fill his tag, like immediately. I didn't even give myself really time to enjoy the moment. I guess we did later once we got it drug out and took him care of, but yeah, it was definitely a confidence builder that we actually maybe knew what we were doing or were more in the game than we thought we were.

So it was. It was great. That's so cool, dude. That's awesome. [00:45:00] And congrats man. Congrats on a great bug opening day. I love those. I love those moments when you feel like it happens to every, to all of us where you're like, I don't know what the heck I'm doing. I shouldn't even be in the woods. And then you get just a little bit of luck and.

It all, it's all worth it. And that's what it's all about, man. So congratulations on a awesome buck. Now since that point, have you done any more out-of-state out-of-state deer hunts? I actually drew, this wasn't last year, it was two years ago now, I believe. I drew Kansas and hunted all walking in public out there for a week.

That was a really good experience too, and that was the reason I wanted to go there was based off that North Dakota hunt, just that open western country. Yeah. I think everybody from the Midwest goes out there once is addicted one way or another, so Yeah. That's something I'd like to do at least every couple of years, just to, just being able to experience that.

I [00:46:00] didn't fill my tag. I ate very expensive tag soup, but it was a really fun experience. We've seen some really nice bucks out there, Gor. And I was, it's Gourmet. Gourmet tag soup Gourmet. Yep. It's not SpaghettiOs. It was top of the line. High class. Yeah. Oh, man. But yeah. Didn't fill the tag there, but was the very last day I was fully drawn of a really big buck which left me with with a sour taste in my mouth, wanted to stay longer, but I had to work the next day.

So it's one of those, one of those tough things, but, man, Jake, congrats again. Thanks for coming on the show, man. Sharing this story. If I'm telling you it fired me up, it got me in deer mode. It's worth it. At least that, and so guys listening to this I hope it did what it's supposed to do.

It's supposed to get you fired up here. Good hunting story that gets me fired up every single time again, Jake, thanks for coming on the show, man. Yeah, I [00:47:00] appreciate you having me. It was a blast.

Hey guys. Thanks for listening to this week's episode of the Southern Ground Hunting Podcast. You can keep up with Southern Ground Hunting by following us on Facebook or Instagram or subscribing to the YouTube channel, and you can be sure to check us to pick up some of our merch, read some blog articles, and all that good stuff.

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