Jake Mersberger's NE Public Land GIANT Whitetail

Show Notes

Hunting season is one week closer, and to get you fired up, we've got an awesome success story from Wisconsin native Jake Mersberger. Jake grew up hunting southern Wisconsin. In recent years, his job has required him to move and travel, which has opened up opportunities for him to chase whitetails and turkeys in several different states. In 2022, Jake headed to Nebraska where he was able to catch up to a GIANT 12 point on public dirt.  Enjoy!

Watch the video of Jake's hunt.

Jake's YouTube channel. 

Connect with Josh and The Wisconsin Sportsman Podcast on Instagram.

Connect with the How to Hunt Deer Podcast on Instagram.

Show Transcript

Josh Raley: [00:00:00] What is going on everyone? Welcome back to another episode of the Wisconsin Sportsman Podcast, which is brought to you by Tica. This is your home for all things outdoors in the Badger State. And I'm your host, Josh Raley. I'm sitting here recording this right now on August 28th, um, when I'm sitting here doing this intro.

And man, we are just dazed away at this point from, from the big kickoff, right from the big, uh, kickoff of deer season. And, uh, you know, I've been a guy that typically tries to make it happen on opening day, especially when I was in Wisconsin. Uh, temperatures were a little bit more friendly, even if it was hot, it wasn't gonna be, you know, 90 plus.

Uh, but man looking here in Georgia, it's gonna be [00:01:00] 90 degrees on opening day, which our opener is September 9th. So, uh, I've got a, a hot persimmon tree that I am thinking about. Uh, well, I say it's hot. There's not a lot of deer sign around it necessarily. Um, and it's starting to drop so it could heat up here pretty quick.

I've never seen a cluster of persimmon trees not turn really hot as soon as they start dropping, so I'm keeping my eye on it, but man, at the same time, it's gonna be 90 something degrees that day and I honestly just don't know if I can get super excited about getting out there when it's, when it's 90 out.

But what all of this does mean is that whitetail season is right around the corner, and I am getting fired up. I hope you are too. I hope you, uh, you know, have got one that you're chasing. Hopefully you've been able to find something either through scouting or with your trail cameras or, you know, whatever the case may be for me.

It's been a, a little bit of a different year. I've got a lot of irons in the fire with Habitat Consulting and. Working on my real estate license right now and [00:02:00] kids with birthday parties and starting school in August here in Georgia. Man, it's been a, a weird, weird, weird summer, but I do have high hopes that I'm going to be able to locate a buck.

I'm actually looking forward to being in Wisconsin in, uh, in mid October, mid to early October, let's say this year, and I'll be getting some cameras out while I'm there. I'll be doing, obviously, a bunch of on the ground scouting. I may be doing a little bit of hunting, but it's primarily a scouting mission to set me up for when I return November 1st through the 12th.

So I'm gonna be there for. You know, 12 days during the Rutt, and hopefully I can make something happen. But we've got an awesome episode for you today. I was able to catch up with Jake Berger. Now, if that last name sounds familiar, that's because his brother Josh Berger, has been on the podcast before. He is actually the Taxidermist who did my buck from 2022, and he's done a, a Turkey fan for me before, guy's.

He does excellent, excellent work. But, uh, Jake is his older brother, and Jake actually now [00:03:00] lives in Minnesota, but he grew up in Wisconsin and southern Wisconsin, hunting the same area that, that I currently hunt. Uh, but Jake over the last couple of years has really gotten into travel hunting. Now, with his job, he has to do quite a bit of traveling, and that has allowed him to span, you know, three days here, five days here.

Hunting in a lot of different states. And so we cover, you know, not only what it looks like for him to kind of schedule those things out, what are some of his favorite states to visit, but we also talk about a stud of a white tail that he was able to harvest last November in Nebraska. The deer is an absolutely beautiful 12 point buck.

Uh, if you go to the website, sportsman's empire.com or find us on Instagram, you can see a picture of that deer at the Wisconsin sportsman, but an absolutely beautiful deer. And we get into not only the hunt itself, uh, for chasing down this buck, but some of the strategy that went into it, beginning with [00:04:00] his, uh, post-season scouting the year before, how that developed, got him to the piece of property where he eventually landed, and how he ended up shooting this buck in a.

In a spot that maybe wasn't too far from what people would consider a high pressure area, right? Like this buck was not too far from the camp. Uh, but you know, Jake was able to find out what he was doing and capitalize on it. And luckily he got out there and uh, and got it done. And there's a lot, honestly, that I learned from this episode whether it comes to, you know, how do we think about and process our own pressure that we're putting on an area?

Uh, how do we think about the way bucks move during the rutt? Like whether we can pattern them during a specific portion of the rutt or if it's just, you know, everything blows wide open and who knows where in the world a deer could be. We talk about the use of trail cameras on public ground. We talk about sharing intel with other hunters.

We talk about how to approach an out-of-state hunt and figure out, you know, exactly what you can expect and anticipate for [00:05:00] the area. And we even talk a bit about calling on public land. You know, the big. Uh, advice today is either, you know, basically don't call on public land. Like if you're gonna rattle at deer, they're probably not gonna respond.

If you're gonna grind at a buck, he's probably not gonna respond because everybody out there is doing it. Well, this buck that Jake shot, he rattled and called that deer in. So, uh, obviously there is some value to it and there's a right time and a right place. And so, yeah, we talk about all that good stuff in this episode and you can actually go and watch this hunt.

So I would encourage you, after you listen to this episode, go watch the hunt on Jake's YouTube channel called Stealth Bow Hunter. I'll have a link to that down there in the show notes. So if you're like, oh man, I can't remember what that was, just look at the show notes, I'll have a link there. He not only has that deer hunt on there, but he's got some Turkey hunts on there as well.

So lots of great content coming from, from Jake. So go check him out. Stealth Bow Hunter on YouTube now. I hope you enjoy the show. Get ready to share your hunt this [00:06:00] season with the Ttac cam Solo Extreme point of view camera featuring one touch operation weatherproof housing, and mounts To fit any style of hunting, the Solo Extreme is sure to make filming your hunts foolproof and hassle free.

The Solo Extreme features up to eight x zoom image stabilization technology that takes the shock out of the shot and lets you capture crystal clear wide Quad HD 60 frame per second footage. And you get all of this in a compact camera that weighs under 13 ounces from now until August 31st. You can get the Solo Extreme and a stabilizer mount for just 1 49, 9 9, and of course you get free shipping with that.

To learn more or pick up your Solo Extreme today, head over to tcam.com. OnX Hunt is always striving to help make hunters more successful in the field each season. OnX has just released a bunch of new features to help you on your next hunt. These features include new aerial imagery options like leaf [00:07:00] off, recent imagery updated every two weeks with historic lookback and imagery on demand.

On top of that, OnX is reinventing the trail camera market by syncing your Hunt app with multiple cell camera manufacturers and helping organize and analyze your photos right there in the app. You can try OnX Hunt free for seven days, or go to OnX maps.com to learn more, hunt and comfort this season with camo from Hunt Worth.

They make high quality technical camo at a fraction of the price of other brands. My personal favorites for the early season include the Durham lightweight pants, which are rugged and durable with just the right amount of stretch where it counts. And the Shelton mid-weight quarter zip hoodie with built-in face mask to make building out your kit simpler.

Their website now features their new system builder. This tool will help you grab the right camo no matter what season or species you're hunting at. Hunt worth gear.com. All right, on the line with me today, Mr. Jake Merz Berger. Jake, man, [00:08:00] welcome to the show.

Jake Mersberger: Thanks for

Josh Raley: having me. Absolutely. I really appreciate you coming on.

I've talked with your brother a number of times. He just happens to be, uh, my taxidermist. So, you know, hi. His phone call is the one of the ones I look forward to the most and, uh, you know, spring typically. But, uh, man, Jake, I'm, I'm glad you, you could come on. We're kind of doing a little bit of a, of a, of a series here to get folks jacked up for, for dear season, and one of the things that we're covering is people's success stories.

And, uh, I posted on Instagram a while back and just said, Hey, anybody got a good buck story that they wanna come on and share? And your brother was just like, you gotta, you gotta get in touch with Jake. Like, I'll give you his number, you gotta talk with him about a buck that he killed in Nebraska. So before we get too far down that road though, of this Nebraska buck, and, and he's told me a little bit about some of the, you know, the quality of the deer that you've seen on this property and whatnot, and the [00:09:00] success that you've had.

So I'm pumped to hear more, but first we gotta know a little bit about who is Jake Berger.

Jake Mersberger: Awesome. Awesome. Well, you know, again, thanks for having me. So I've, uh, I've been born in for three, seven years, um, and, and exclusive bow hunting. So I cut my teeth back in the day and it's, it sounds funny. I'm sure my brother didn't share this story, but, uh, I, I'm the oldest, uh, of the family, so for us, It wasn't about racks, it was about feeding the family.

Right. And so my, my first deer interaction was 12 years old on the side of a highway with my dad to see if that deer was, uh, was still, was still, uh, able to be eaten. Right. So, wow. You know, and, and that was my first gut job as well. Um, so that, that's how I grew up. It was more of a, Hey, I'm gonna, I'm gonna show you the ropes.

If anything goes bad. If you're like, my dad was a corporate, uh, worked at Oscar Myers and, and would get laid off, I. And [00:10:00] so for him it was, you know, how do you provide for the family? So that, that's how I, yeah. So that's how I grew up. So, you know, back in that day it was, uh, these, these, you know, 40 pound biter stands and, and, uh, no range finders, no trail cameras.

And it was just kinda like, Hey, this is, this is, this is how we're doing it. Um, so I, I really gotta, you know, give a shout out to my dad because he taught me as well. And, and in the importance of why I'm saying this, I don't shoot at a deer if it's an unethical shot. Right. He put that in my mind. It has to be broadside, it has to be relaxed.

And he, he put that ingrained it in my mind, and I think that's helped me become a better hunter. 'cause you see a, a, a lot on these, uh, shows and that, that they're taking front shots or just they're, they're almost. Overexcited, right? So they're trying to make it happen where I'm, I'm a little more patient.

If it walks, it walks. That's how I was trained. Like if, if it walks, it walks you can you, if you got on it once, [00:11:00] hopefully you can get on it again. So, yeah, so I've been doing it for 37 years. I got into filming, uh, probably, right? I was like 24 years old. And, uh, my brother and I had some good luck. We did the Campbell Outdoor Challenge together, uh, down in Illinois.

Uh, we ended up winning first place, third place. Um, and then from there I've been just kind of self filming, uh, since then. Um, and, and I don't wanna say I'm a wannabe, right? But I enjoy, I enjoy filming my hunts. I enjoy seeing where I actually hit. Uh, and just being able to relive that with my

Josh Raley: family. Yeah, absolutely.

And you've got a YouTube channel, right? I do,

Jake Mersberger: yeah. Stealth, stealth, bow hunter. Uh, you know, so how, how do you, how do you, how do you relate to your, to your kids? Right. So my 14 year old loves, loves YouTube, wants to be a, uh, celebrity influencer. And, uh, it was kind of his idea. I was like, dad, all you do is you film your hunts.

Let's work together. And I'm like, absolutely. Let's, let's give it a try. And, and so he's my director. I've got a 14 year old that's my director that, uh, [00:12:00] is on me if I don't post shorts and, and, uh, good footage, dude. He's,

Josh Raley: he probably does as good or better of a job than most of the people in the industry.

So, I mean, if we're just being honest there, I mean, if he's, if if he's out there and watching it and consuming the content, he's, he's probably able to make just as good of a call as a bunch of others.

Jake Mersberger: Yeah, absolutely. He's, he is extremely vocal. If I, uh, if, if I don't perform well, let's just say that he

Josh Raley: keeping you in line, man.

That's awesome. Very good. So, uh, man, one of the cool things I just wanted to point out, like, so you've been doing this for a long time. I don't know how old you are, but you were certainly hunting the area, uh, way before I came along. But interestingly enough, you and I have history hunting the same kind of, uh, Gym of an area.

I mean, the whole area is pretty just, just special. So I've talked about it on the, on the show before without, you know, trying to spot burn or anything like that. But I am curious to hear about, you know, maybe one, your [00:13:00] experience with that area. We won't say where, but your experience with the area and what are some of the things that you think maybe makes it what it is?

Jake Mersberger: No, yeah, that's, that's a great, uh, call out. I, I think the area that we're talking about, uh, is, is unique, right? So you're looking at, uh, familiar, it's, it's marsh into some, uh, some oak flats in that. But other than that, it's, it's predominantly a, uh, sportsman's paradise. So what that means is you've got people that are, that are.

Walking on trails. You've got, you've got pheasant hunters, you have bow hunters, you have this mix of people that, that, uh, it's extremely high pressure. Um, and so back in the day when I haunted it, it was, uh, hey, you know, I was, I was, my dad used to say just f y i at any time someone with a dog can walk through, right.

It's just, yeah, it's, it's a major pheasant area and, uh, just know that, but that being said, it, it's a great area that holds a lot of good bucks. Um, it's high pressure, [00:14:00] so I give anyone kudos that shoots a big deer or even gets a shot off in that area. It, it is, it is a high pressure. Um, and anytime I, you know, my family talks about it, we usually talk about a great success story with, oh, by the way, do you remember this guy that we bumped into?

Right. Um, that, you know, that's, that's the conversation. But, uh, I, I think it's a unique spot because of the marsh. Um, because of the, you know, the, what the DN R has done as well, uh, for Habitat. It is a, uh, it's a, it's a good spot, but that's all I'm gonna say. I don't wanna give your spot away.

Josh Raley: No, that's, that's good, man.

I, I, I'm always curious to hear because, um, I've run into people who understand just how special it is, and then I've run into other people who just view it as kind of like any other area. I'm like, no, you don't understand. Like, these bucks shouldn't be, this many bucks of this caliber shouldn't be here because of how highly pressured this is and the quality of the land around it.

It's not like it's, you know, got bummed public land all over the place. I mean, there's high quality private ground around it, [00:15:00] and that could be some of the, some of the power of that property too is it does have some, some decent private pieces that kind of are Yeah. Mixed in there. But, um, anyway, so tell me a little bit about how you went from hunting Southern Wisconsin.

Uh, you know, you kind of got into the filming thing a little bit. Now you're, you're hunting all over the place.

Jake Mersberger: It was forced, right? So, uh, so I, I little history of myself. So I, I worked with, uh, you know, a, uh, major retailer for, for 11 years, and I was a fix-it guy. I consistently opened up new stores. Well, with that, I had to move.

I moved nine times. So for, for me to order to, to hunt. Um, and I'm, I'm passionate. I'm a bow hunter. That's all I do is bow hunt. I, I don't, uh, I don't pick up the thunder stick. Uh, I'm not saying it's bad, but just my passion is up close and, and, uh, shooting it with a bow. So, for me, I looked at, hey, how, how do I, how do I continue doing my passion while doing a good job at [00:16:00] work and supporting the family?

Uh, so it gave me access to Nebraska, Kansas, uh, Minnesota, and, and these areas where I had to. Adapt and, and you know, I knocked on doors and, and I, I got the Heisman, you know, 95% of the time. So for me it was, it was falling back into the public land, figuring it out. Looking at, at that time it wasn't, we didn't have onyx, right?

So you're, you're walking it and I'd walk it in in the spring so I could blow it out and just make sure, you know, I had a good game plan. Uh, but I feel that's what made me a better hunter because I didn't have, I don't have the luxury of understanding the deer movement. Every year. Right. So I didn't know.

So I'm, I'm popping in, I'm a fresh guy. It's new dirt for me. I'm executing at a high level and, and, and trying to review the land and then, uh, trying to set up on the best possible, you know, scenario while making sure that I, I keep my job, which is, is the tough, you know, it's, that's the, it's the balancing piece, right?

You gotta keep the [00:17:00] happy wife happy, the family happy, but yet fuel the fire of, of the passion.

Josh Raley: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. As you think about the different states you've had the opportunity to hunt, which is there one that has like risen to the top

Jake Mersberger: for pressure or for, for like just the, this, the caliber of

Josh Raley: deer.

Uh, you know what, give me one that you say I, I wanna ask for three, right? Okay. I'll give you three categories. One would be pressure. Like is there a state that you're like, holy smokes, the pressure there is so unreal. I don't enjoy it. Two, give me the quality of experience state and then three, maybe give me the quality of deer.

Jake Mersberger: Okay, so the, the, the most pressured one by far, and, uh, there'll be folks that will, will challenge on me on this, but Minnesota Whitewater public hunting ground is by far the most pressured. I've never seen so many squirrel hunters I've never seen. [00:18:00] So I've, I've adjusted my tactics with that and guys will shoot some good bucks off that.

But you look at the, the encounters of the people, and when I say dude, I, I go in deep. I got, I got guys hunting tree rats, like still finding me and just, it's just, you're just like, how do I get away from these guys? Right. Yeah. So that was been my, I'd say my most pressured, you know, I, I changed my strategy up where I only hunted actually after, uh, After the gun season and only on the coldest days on, uh, the, the, uh, bean fields and that, that are still up.

And, and I've had some good success, I think, uh, that by far for me is, is, and I, and I put it this way, Nebraska, my last hunt last year, I, I ran into 16 out staters. Wow. And I would still, still tell you, Minnesota down there in Whitewater is, is like the next level of, just because it's, it's a great area.

It's the bluffs, it's, you know, you got your ra guys are [00:19:00] rabbit hunting, grouse hunting. It's just, it's, it's an amazing sports, uh, area. Um, so I don't mind it. It's just, it's, I've always had the worst luck there. Um, I think for a quality hunt and to get into, uh, what I feel is like one of the best for just ground public land, I think Missouri, I.

Uh, you know, I, I shot a, a good, good buck last year in Missouri. It was my first time in there, and, uh, I only ran into, you know, two guys. Uh, and they're from New Orleans. And, uh, it was a, it was a great experience, great hunt, and I had deer. I had, you know, anywhere from four to seven deer every, every, every hunt.

Um, so that was, that was amazing. And then quality, though, you gotta give it to Kansas, man. It is, it, it's, it was stupid. Yeah, it was, it was stupid. What I saw from a caliber of deer. Um, I loved the fact, you know, I, I talked to the, uh, biologist there that was actually hunting the same land that [00:20:00] I was hunting, uh, just sharing what he does in order to make that habitat the best.

And then also, you know, he had trail cameras up, so you're kinda like, you know, I, I'm pretty sure I saw like a 180. He's like, oh yeah, you saw this one. It was like, that's, that's the conversation. Um, and I, I haven't been back there in, in a few years, but that was definitely, would be like my, my highest, I mean, I had, I had two really, really good bucks, the 180, and I, I, I wanna say the one that was traveling with him was one 50.

Screwed it up, trying to film ho a hundred percent on me, couldn't get it. Like it was horrible. And then 130 inch came down and, and, you know, I ended up shooting that one instead. But it was, it's, it was an amazing spot. And I, I truly love the fact of the habitat and what they're doing to it, just to make sure it is, it is that, that piece where people are paying that money to come.

They're, you could see the r o i on the, the land and what they're doing. So I I I, I really give the shout out to those [00:21:00] guys and what they're doing. Right.

Josh Raley: Right. Man, I, I felt some of the similar stuff in Iowa this past year. I went for turkeys. Oh. And, you know, just to see what they're doing on some of that public land around where I was, I was like, man, this is, this is dollars at work here to see what's planted on the public land, to see the, the roads that are maintained, the signage that's maintained.

And I mean, Wisconsin I think does an excellent job too. Like if you've been to a lot of states, Wisconsin is nowhere near the bottom of the list when it comes to the work that the Wisconsin d n r is doing on some of these places. Um, but yeah, I, I saw that in Iowa. I want to touch on a point that you just brought up though.

You talk to the local biologist. If a guy is going outta state, I don't think you can stress that point enough. Talk to a local biologist or a local game warden, a local conservation officer, whatever they call 'em, where you're at. Um, man, when I, when I went to Iowa, I, I ran into a, um, into a game warden. He had kind of boogered up my hunt on [00:22:00] accident and, you know, we talked about it a little bit and then he was like, tell you what, man, I'm gonna send you here and I'll tell you where to go.

This is my favorite spot to hunt turkeys ever. So go back there and get one. Um, I didn't get one back there, but just such a, such a cool thing. Like they're willing to share their knowledge. Like they want people to have a quality experience. And it's almost like, especially if you're from out of state, they're like, we, you know, we know you've got limited time.

Like, let's point you in at least a decent direction or give you some information that's actionable and useful. Not to say they're gonna say, Hey, hang in that tree right there and you're gonna shoot a 180. But they can say, you know, here's what you can expect. These are some places that maybe don't get as much pressure.

So if you want to get away from people head over there, you can maybe have the place to yourself kind of thing. Um, So let's shift now and talk a little bit about this, uh, experience that you had in Nebraska. I want to hear about the buck first of all, um, that you ended up taking.

Jake Mersberger: Yeah, so the, the buck, so going back, I've, I hunted Nebraska [00:23:00] this same area the year before.

And, uh, I had some amazing experience, but I did have a couple of hunters bugger my area pretty bad to the point where, you know, it was, it was right there. I had 'em, but then here comes somebody during prime time walking with a crossbo and I'm like, oh my God, this, this is, uh, this is not happening. Right.


Josh Raley: right. Can I, I stop you there real quick. Yeah. Did you hang, was that the year that you hung some cameras and got some really good intel that first year you were out there?

Jake Mersberger: I did not hang cameras. You did not? No. Period. Okay. Alright. I went in, I, so my strategy was, I was, there was, uh, Three or four areas I wanted to hit.

So I went in there. I, I was just doing observation. It was kind of a soft hunt, right? So I wasn't, I, I wasn't sure on the area, but driving into the area, I, I had to stop. I, there was this, this. Great buck with a, with a dough in the middle of this field. So I was watching this one, I'm saying, Hey, [00:24:00] he's only a half mile away from this public land, so I'm gonna go check that out.

So I was kind of more scouting still, and I went in and, uh, I had, I was, again, this is, this is horrible to say, but when, when you're, when you're doing sales, dealers ask and dealers email and dealers text you and you gotta respond. So I'm on my phone responding to a dealer, and I look up and there's, there's a shooter sitting there.

It's just like, uh, I can't get the camera on 'em. And I'm like, damnit, damnit, damnit. Uh, so that was the, the year prior. Um, so I said to myself, Hey, here's the deal I, I need to really focus in. That was, it was a really good deer. Um, and I said, I gotta focus in on this area. So I went the spring. And I, I shed hunted and I just did a, a real in depth, uh, focus on the area and was looking for scrapes, rubs, and kind of pinch points and so on using Onyx and said to myself, Hey, I think I can shoot a really good one.

And there's a couple spots. So here's the fun part. So, [00:25:00] so Josh, I was, I was scouting during Turkey season, right? And so I was running into hunters doing Turkey at the campsite, and I was not like in their area, but I ran into the, uh, the two local sheriffs. And the sheriffs were very, very open on what they see, what they hunt, big time saddle hunters, my type of guys.

Wow. Uh, and they start showing me, Showing me pics and I'm like, alright, game on now I gotta, now I gotta double, I'm doubling in on my chips here. I'm like, okay, I I, I got this. So, yeah, so, so I, you know, I went in and, uh, you know, truth be told, I, I brought a buddy and my goal was trying to get my buddy a good buck at the end of the day.

Like, it was, it was his focus. Um, he's, he's, uh, he works retail. He is a VP of a, of a major, uh, uh, farm and ranch. And I was like, Hey, he's, he hasn't shot a good buck on public land. That's my focus. So I did like [00:26:00] doubles double areas on, hey, if he's gonna sit here, this is where I'll sit and so on. Um, so I got in early, I put out absurd amount of cameras on public land and, and I, and I just, from there I went and, and I've got, uh, I've kind of got a rhythm, so I put 'em out.

I'm looking for something now. I'm not looking for, I. If it's at night, that's great. I want him now. So if he's at night, where's he going? Where's he coming from? Is it food source? Is he going to betting? Why is he traveling at this time? Um, so, and that's how I found, uh, what I call the Husker 12. He was a 12 pointer.

Uh, and uh, I found him and he was by far the biggest buck I saw. There was another good one. Uh, but he was, uh, he was broken up pretty, pretty good. The one that was broken up was actually on, uh, daylight. And I had him coming in at 10:00 AM Oh, like in the Yeah, dude. It was right behind. This is gonna, it's crazy.

He was right behind a, uh, uh, a restroom for, for the [00:27:00] campground. No kidding.

Josh Raley: Yeah, no,

Jake Mersberger: I'm kidding. And I ordered it to the sheriffs. 'cause the sheriffs were like, dude right behind this campground's one of the best spots. And I'm like, seriously? They're like, yeah. So I was like, I'll take a look at it. And I just told 'em, Hey, you care if I just go back there and look.

And they're like, oh, go for it, man. Like we're we're, they're like saddle. They're amazing guys. They're like, we're saddle guys. We, we love, love bow hunting. And uh, yeah, if you can, if you can find something, go for it.

Josh Raley: Yeah, man. So I, I want to touch on that just a little bit. Deer that are, you know, close to the bathrooms, let's say.

Um, one of the things that it seems the more I get to hunt new places, the more I get to travel around. I do a little bit of, uh, property consulting as well. When I go to individual's property, what seems to be this recurring theme is deer. That I don't want to say that they're keeping tabs on the, the people in the area because I don't, I'm not in a deer's mind and I can't explain exactly what it, why they're there.

But man, they sure seem to be [00:28:00] sticking close to people. Um, at enough of a like distance or at enough of a, they're staying safe, but at the same time, it's almost like they want to keep tabs on people. Are you seeing that kind of in your travels generally?

Jake Mersberger: Yeah. It's, it's, it's interesting you say that because you've, you've got this, there's a stock process.

You gotta go a mile, mile plus in. You gotta, you know, get away, get away, get away. Um, and, and some of the best deer encounters that I've had or, or, or deer that I've, I've killed have been, have been close to the parking lots or close to an area where you're just like, it really doesn't make sense. Um, so whether they're keeping track of us or just understand the rhythm of, of that pressure, right.

Uh, if you will, it, it, I think there's something to be said there, but, uh, like the, the restroom perspective was, it was a restroom and then like 90 yards in deeper. Was three major scrapes in a great spot. And, and you know, I put a camera up there, I think I got five different bucks in just in [00:29:00] daylight. Hmm.

And then, yeah, and I had do hitting, hitting the scrape at night and, uh, you know, and, and, and everyone's got their opinion on trail cameras, but I, you know, my opinion is this, you're gonna be away from your family. You're spending the money, do whatever you can to, to optimize and, and execute properly.

Right. Right. So that, that's where, that's where my head's at. I know some guys are like, I never used trail cameras and so on. Get it. I started in 37 years ago where there was no trail cameras. I I, I do prefer a little bit of intel just to know if I, am I the right area or not? Right.

Josh Raley: Just wanna take a quick minute to let you know that the Wisconsin Sportsman Podcast is brought to you by tac cam makers of the best point of view cameras on the market for hunters and anglers.

They're on the cutting edge, making user-friendly cameras to help the everyday outdoorsmen share your hunt with friends and loved ones. Their new 6.0 camera has a ton of upgraded features this year, but the one I'm most excited about is the new L C D touchscreen. In my mind, that is a total game changer and one area Tcam really shines is with their mounts and adapters that are made [00:30:00] with a sportsman in mind.

If you've tried to film your hunting and fishing excursions, you know just how frustrating it can be to try to get an action camera aimed just right or get it attached to your weapon or in a good spot for a second angle. Well, Tica makes all of that a breeze with their line of mounts and adapters. This fall, I'm gonna be using their stabilizer mount on my bow with the 6.0 camera and their bendy clamp paired with the 5.0 wide camera for a second angle and to make sure I don't miss any of the action.

To learn more and check out their full line of products, head over to their website, tact cam.com and share your hunt with tac cam. Right. Well, and I hunt different, like I just hunt different when I've got decent intel on an area, uh Right. If I have confidence. And, and maybe this is an issue where I just need to work through and, you know, if I ever want to really up my game, I'll, I'll, you know, work on building that confidence without trail cameras.

But if I've got confidence that there's a buck that I want to kill in an area, I approach that area totally different. When [00:31:00] I get some confirmation, every step that I take into the timber is more calculated. Every hunt is more careful and cautious. When I'm on stand, I'm more attentive. I'm less likely to be on my phone, you know, texting people or whatever.

Like, I just, I don't know. It hones me in a lot better. It's not necessarily like the deer I killed this past year on public. I didn't have a picture of him in this specific spot. I wasn't hunting near one of my cameras, but I was hunting near enough that I knew he was in the area. And it allowed me to put the pieces of the puzzle together and say, ah, I've got him over here and I've got him over here.

I bet this is the spot in the middle, um, where I think he's gonna show up. Um, I'm curious, when you're running these cameras, you mentioned, you know, you're, you're getting those pictures and you're thinking, okay, why is he here? Why is he traveling through this? How much of that have you already worked out before you place the camera there?

Like, how much of the, the pieces of the puzzle of bedding and food and all that, are you really piecing together before you get the pictures? Or are you waiting to get the [00:32:00] pictures? 'cause you've just set cameras in good spots and then you kind of start to reverse engineer from there. Yeah,

Jake Mersberger: so, so no, great question.

So in some, some aspects, I'm eliminating spots, right? So it's a pinch point. It's, it's something where, hey, I can, I can get whatever's here, come through this area, and I can immediately eliminate it if there's nothing to, to, to what I, to what I want to, uh, to try to go after. Um, the other piece of it though, I, I, I'm big on scrapes and I run, I run.

I would say 90% of mine on scrapes. And guys, you know, there's that, there's this piece where, yeah, that great bucks come to scrapes in the beginning, but then they'll leave 'em. That's true. That being said, some of these scrapes, a lot of times the dough will be there, right? So if there's a reason why there's a scrape there and it's a bigger scrape, they're mean to me, it's high traffic, it's a high traffic area.

So I'm already looking at, hey, what possible, you know, deer box, whatever is in this area, [00:33:00] and I'm just simply looking to eliminate it. That's my thought process. Are they here, are they not? I got five days to make this happen. I am, I am executing at a high level. So for me, I'm, I'm checking my cameras. I put 'em out at noon.

I'm checking them and I'm pulling and I'm going to elsewhere. And it's, it's a very aggressive, very aggressive situation. If I find 'em during daylight, then I typically check them at night. To say, Hey, all right, so just so I don't cross paths with these guys. Um, and it's, it's, uh, it kind of, it's not a, I mean, my buddy was like, dude, we're supposed to be on vacation.

You're, you're, this is crazy. Like we're, we're 24 7 here. But that, that's the execution that you need, I feel, uh, to, to be successful and, and, and capitalize. I mean, that's, that's how I do it. Um, right. I think for me it's, it's, I eliminate areas with the, with the camera and then look for, for the big ones.

And I, and you know, I found him, he was the biggest by far in [00:34:00] that area. Um, and, and based off the feedback that I get from. Guys that have hunted that area is probably one of the biggest ones they, you know, they've seen in a, in a while in that area.

Josh Raley: Right, right. What's a, just gimme a, a, a, a ballpark number, you know, when it comes to score, just so folks kind of have a picture in their head of what you're talking about.

Jake Mersberger: Yeah. So, so I'm not a big score guy. Okay. I don't score my, my brothers does the scoring. Right. He does it, I I think it went 1 48 or something like that. Okay. Yeah. Uh, it was a 12 pointer. Uh, he was, he was good. Uh, and, and, and that was, that was it. Right. So it was, it was the, the biggest deer both times, Missouri and in Nebraska, those are the two biggest deers that I've seen that

Josh Raley: I shot.

Right. So we're talking an area or we're talking a deer that, that anybody's gonna be happy with pretty much anywhere in the country. We're not, you know, we're, uh, we're, we're up in that kind of ballpark beyond what somebody might say. Nah, he needs another year. Man, you

Jake Mersberger: got, [00:35:00] you run into 16 hunters from outta state.

You're, you're, you're, you're a pretty excited shooter, a for anything 1, 4, 5 and

Josh Raley: above, right? Right. Absolutely, man. I, I, uh, I shared with you a little bit about the buck I killed this last year and I was in the parking lot and we got 'em loaded up in the truck and, uh, a guy stops by who also hunts that area, and you could see the rack sticking up above the tailgate of the truck, you know, and he's like, oh, you mind if I take a look at your deer?

And I was like, yeah, no problem. 'cause I'd, I'd met the guy before and we had talked a couple of times, and, um, he saw the deer and he says, oh man, uh, kind of funny seeing that deer dead. I was like, what do you, what do you mean? He's like, I got a bunch of pictures of him. I was like, oh, did you? He's like, yeah, I wasn't hunting him.

So it was like almost some like buck shaming on, uh, on public land going on. I'm like, dude, it the day that a deer of this caliber doesn't get me jacked enough to shoot it, I might as well go fishing. Like, right. I, I'm gonna go [00:36:00] do something and when a four and a half year old buck doesn't make me excited anymore, you probably just need to hang it up.

Jake Mersberger: Right, right. And then, and yeah, I totally agree with that. So again, 16 guys, right? Like it was, it was incredible how much hunter pressure was there. And when I was back, I was packing him out. I had some, 'cause I, I shot him the, uh, the morning before the gun gun opener for the next day. And I had some guys that were doing scouting and they were like, oh my God, that is an amazing buck.

Like, congratulations, you know, I was like, Hey, thank you. But that's how it should be. I mean, we are, we are truly our worst enemies when we, when we really need to embrace each other and, and celebrate, you know, regardless of whatever we shoot. Like I've, I've seen a guy I walked up on, he shot a six pointer on public land in Nebraska, and I'm like giving him high fives.

You need help dragging it out. Right. Let's, let's absolutely. Yeah, it's, it's still to, to the, to the hunter, whatever they choose to go after and whatever they feel to shoot the arrow. If [00:37:00] it's ethical shot, I am a hundred percent on board and congratulate them and, and we'll do whatever I can. I mean, and, and what's the funny part is Josh, I, I'm a big helper.

I love to help. So I always talk to these guys, even the 16 guys, I was telling 'em, Hey, here's what I've seen. Here's where I've go. And they're kind of looking at me like, who's this guy's crazy? Like he's filming himself, he's on a knee bite, he's doing all this stuff. And I'm just like, all right. Yeah. I'm just, I'm just here to help.

I'm just, you know, I, 'cause for me, it's, it's all about these guys are taken away from their family, away from their jobs. You know, let, let's help each other in order for them to be successful

Josh Raley: as well. Right. Man, a, a constant theme, uh, when I'm talking with folks like you is, is I, I try to emphasize like when, and, and hopefully people will, you know, take heart when they hear this message.

I'm always trying to, like, if somebody's willing to come and talk with me. If I run into guys on public land and they're willing, willing to stop and chat and like, we can share a little bit of information and I can [00:38:00] tell that the sharing is, is mutual, right? Like I would rather like, let's have a conversation, let's talk about what we're seeing because I would rather both of us or one of us walk away with a deer, then neither of us walk away with a deer.

You know, I'm not gonna try to hold everything so closely to myself and then, you know, we all end up miserable 'cause we're just stomping all over each other and, and nobody's having any success when you can, you know, share a little bit of information and next thing you know, somebody's finding success or maybe more of us are finding success than, than would have otherwise.

Right. Uh, when it comes to these cameras, I want to, I wanna get a little bit of your, your strategy when it comes to these trail cameras a a little bit, you said an obscene number of cameras. So what are, what are we talking Maybe, maybe number of cameras and like concentration.

Jake Mersberger: Yeah. So, you know, looking at, I, I, I blitz it, right?

So I, I'll have, I think it was, uh, 13 total. Uh, but they're not cell cameras, right? I, I gotta go in and, and I'm, again, I'm filming, so I'm, I'm, I have 'em on [00:39:00] video. Uh, all of my, all of mine are on video, so I will take spots where I'm like, this spot should be good based off the sign that I've seen in the spring, based off now the sign that I'm seeing now.

And I'll put two or three up to try to gauge it, but I only put, I only leave 'em up for, for 24 hours, right? Like, I'm literally checking 'em quickly. Um, if, if it's nothing there and how I check 'em, like during midday, I carry a stand sticks on mine, and if something pops and looks good, I'm up in the tree and I'm gonna execute, uh, you know, for the, for the buck that I shot, uh, I worked him, I wanna say 500 yards.

So I had his, I had his scrapes. He was, he was kind of unique. He, he, he always would rub these bigger trees in the area and then you'd always make these bigger scrapes. And I had him on six, my cameras walking towards private. Wow. Wow. And I, yeah. So I went around, um, and it's in my video. I went around and I spent probably three [00:40:00] hours trying to find him.

And, and I ended up going back to where I put my buddy. Originally, he was 80 yards from where I shot the buck. And his hunt was spoiled by two different hunters that came through. Uh, and you know, I found again, big two big rubs. Two big scrapes, put it up. And I was like, I'm just gonna hunt this. And, and meanwhile there's this big food plot that I hunt and I don't ever put a camera up there, but I've always hunted it.

And it's kind of my like, Hey, just. Something could happen here. And I, I love decoy, so I put the decoy out. I'm rattling, I'm always aggressive out there. I had a guy pull up and watch my decoy set for probably 20 minutes, and it's like, oh, man. I'm like, and I'm like, you know what though? But the mindset, you gotta be, you have to have a good mindset the entire time, [00:41:00] right?

It's public land, right? Everyone can walk around and it's not your land. So, you know, talking to other guys that I hunt with, they're like, I'd be so pissed off, I'd have screamed that. I'm like, what is that gonna do? Right? He's there, he's, he's got his own thing. Uh, he was scouting for, for probably gun. Uh, and, and it went, you know, I didn't see anything.

That was fine. But then, then the next morning I ended up having my encounter with the, with the, the 12 that I ended up shooting. Uh, which I feel was because I, I backed 500 yards. Fall, fall, fall. And just logically said, Hey, He's not going up this steep cliff here. He can't, he has to go back around and he's just wrapping.

So I'm catching him and I was taking him from his time. He was two in the morning, three in the morning, four in the morning. Wow. This side, he has to be in this area. Yeah. Uh, and, and the unique thing with, and it was either I would say unique or funny. I put my [00:42:00] cameras out in that area. The first day. I didn't get a glimpse of him.

I got one guy walking by and I pulled him. Oh. And I said, yeah, but I just kept on going back and told my buddy, I'm like, dude, when I scouted in the spring, this place was hot. Like it was, you know, it was February, march. It just good, good scrapes, just good sign. And I was like, there's gotta be something here.

So I went back in and ended up shooting

Josh Raley: them. Yeah. What's the distance that you're putting. Um, between your cameras and I asked that. Something that I've started doing in the last couple of years, areas that I have some history with and I know are like historically good. I've gotten to where I'll put several cameras not real far from each other because I'm trying to get a fresh idea of, okay, this year, how are they traveling through here?

Like, I know they're gonna be in here, but with bow game, with bow hunting, it's a game of inches, right? It, you know, that, that 10 yards is the difference of me [00:43:00] getting them or not. Or if you're being really aggressive, you know, them hitting this scrape before they hit this other scrape is the difference between me being winded or not.

Right. And, and being able to make an effective hunt. So how much distance are you putting between these cameras? I, I think

Jake Mersberger: it's, it's all relevant of the area, right? Okay. So, so that hunt, um, like I said, I was like 13. It was absurd amount of cameras that I used, but it was, I would say every 40 yards. I had 'em to eliminate.

What, what areas? 'cause they, the unique part was this, I sat originally on this. This car hood of a scrape. And it was phenomenal. It was a major, he wasn't there though, he wasn't on that one. He cut two more trails down and was going on this other trail. And the only reason why I found that out is 'cause I had, I had a camera on that trail and I had a camera on another trail, and then on the original trail that I had him on, which was a very, like, if you looked at it, you'd be like, dude, he ain't here.

It was a very soft, [00:44:00] like trail. It wasn't, it wasn't that, uh, that highway that hunters would typically say, oh, this is it. This is it. I had a camera on the highway with the, the major scrape, and I had some bucks, but it wasn't the one I was after. And so I, I just kept on going and, and I walked and, and so when I hunted at night, like I, I would walk and check my cameras as well.

Um, and that, that last, that last the night before I shot him. I caught him on the very, very last one, uh, right before he was going into, uh, private, basically he was doing a loop coming around. Wow. Basically searching for those. Right, right. So, which was bizarre because it was, uh, November 13th or something, or Yeah.

November 10th or whatever it was. And there's, he was, they were still searching. Every buck was searching for those during that, that time.

Josh Raley: Interesting, interesting. Yeah. When it comes to your [00:45:00] hunt there in Nebraska, how many days did you, did you have, or did you hunt this property on multiple different occasions?

Jake Mersberger: No, just, just the one, just the one time. It was just a, yeah, so it was basically, uh, it was a week and, and keep in mind, so when I, when I got there, I got there early, set my cameras out. My main focus was to get my, my buddy a, a Bach. Uh, he had to leave 'cause of work. And it was like, all right, game time for me.

And then I got even a little bit more aggressive and, and I think it was a mixture of, you know, good, good scouting, but the temps also helped, attempts kept on plummeting and plummeting and plummeting. Uh, and then when I shot him, it was minus five. Wow.

Josh Raley: Okay. So it got real cold.

Jake Mersberger: Yeah, real cold for November.

I wasn't ready for it. It was, uh, it was a miserable hunt. Right. It truly was. I was, I was on stand, I think I first saw him at 10 o'clock and I was in, in the stand there from the morning. And, and, uh, it was, it was the coldest I've been in a long time. And I'm from Minnesota, so, [00:46:00] yeah. So I was, I was not expecting a Nebraska hunt and, and, uh, learned a lot about making sure you bring your, your right layers.

Josh Raley: Yeah, absolutely. I remember what I was gonna ask you now. What's your thought pro process when it comes to the pressure that you're putting on an area? You know, I'm just thinking about you're really aggressive hunting, you're really aggressive with the trail cameras, you're setting 'em up on scrapes. So I mean, you're in like high odds area that something is gonna smell where you stood and smell your hands on that camera.

Are you doing anything to try to mitigate that or, you know, how are you thinking about what you're doing? Because I know younger Josh would've, I would've put those trail cameras out and assume that there is not gonna be a deer in that area for the next 10 days because of my scent. I've changed a little bit on that, but I'm curious your thoughts.

Jake Mersberger: Yeah, so a couple different things. So I, I always chuckle when I see guys put trail cameras out without, without any gloves, right? So first of all, I'm wearing gloves, I've got scent killer, I'm wearing my boots. I don't [00:47:00] ever walk on their trail. So if I see the scrape, I'm. Like the pictures that I even have in the videos, I'm off that scrape, I'm off that trail to where they would have to really go out of their way to see my camera.

Right? And, and to me, and always, if a deer's looking at your camera, you failed. Right? That's my thought process. So for me, I always make sure I'm hiding that camera. I'm, I've got my gloves on, I'm spraying down, I'm off that trail. And, and I've always done that. I never walk on, on the game trail. I'm always at least, you know, like four or five feet off it.

I can walk. I, I don't need to be on it. Like I see it, right? Why, why be on it? Why even jeopardize that? Um, and so I will always put my cameras, and then obviously I'm public. You know, I, I was doing this for years. I, I put 'em up higher and I kind of push 'em down, uh, just to, uh, deter any theft as well. But that's, that's my secret sauce.

But if you're, if you have your [00:48:00] gloves, if you don't have your gloves, you're putting it up, you're on their trail. Well, I, again, I, I think it defeats the purpose of, of, again, you're, you're in their backyard. They understand their, their, uh, their area, and you just gotta be heightened on the sense of what they might smell, what they might see.

So that's rhyme. And, and, and on one occasion, on this past hunt, I did have one bucks literally pick out my camera and looked up, and I was like, that, you know, I thi I, to me, he was done. Right. He ain't gonna come back. I, I was, I was even thought to myself, I, I lost that one. And, and shame on me. I didn't, I didn't cover it up or I didn't do something right.

So that's, um, again, as we hunt, we're out there. We're always learning as well. Right. We're, we're always trying to improve our, uh, our skillset. Right,

Josh Raley: right. So let's talk then about this, uh, about this specific buck. Like when you found him, uh, while you were hunting, like how quickly into the hunt were you [00:49:00] able to, you know, get a beat on this specific deer?

Jake Mersberger: It was actually four days in. Four days in, okay. Yeah. Yeah. So four days in, I was, I was hunting the, what I call the, the, the car hood scrape. And uh, you know, I had, I had a smaller buck come through some doughs, a buck was chasing, and it was right on this crick line. And then on the other side was, uh, was this area that nobody went in.

It was, it was kind of far back in. Um, and he came, he came through at night and as soon as I got him, I shifted all my energy to that buck. So he didn't come to that hood scrape. He was literally on the one scrape. So then I took my cameras and I put where I thought he would go right down the line. And I picked him up on three different cameras and said, all right, now I'm on game.

At least I know where he is going. I got a good opportunity, uh, possibly to at least see him in daylight. That was my goal, just to see him in daylight, let let it go from there. [00:50:00] Um, and then, Like two days later or day? Yeah, it was a day and a half later I shot him.

Josh Raley: Okay. All right. How quickly did that, did his like movement and like your understanding of, of what he was doing kind of all fall in place for you?

Because, you know, as I'm thinking through deer from the past, I feel like there have been times where it's been really hard. It's like, where is he going? What is he doing? And, and it, you know, it was very terrain dependent a lot of times and just, there's a lot that can go into that. How quickly were you really confident that you had this deer kind of dialed?

Almost right

Jake Mersberger: away. Okay. 'cause I was, I was this crick, like, if you saw the layout, you'd be like, dude, this is like perfect. 'cause it was a, it was if he would've, if he would've went, he was going left to right, if he would've going right to left, I, I would've been lost. But since he was going the route that I wanted him to go between where the crick was and these high bluffs.

Like he was, he was basically, it was, it was a pinch point and a [00:51:00] funnel. Got it. He had to go this way. Um, where, where I thought I might have lost them was there was a, a really good trail that went towards the crick on the other side into this island. Um, but I had two cameras on there because there's a ton of tracks.

It's big tracks to eliminate that. So once I knew where he was going, I stayed on him. And then, you know, in, in my video you'll see me walk and try to find him. And, and it was to the point where I was on, I was on that last, I last night and in the morning after I sh uh, when I shot him, I was still trying to put the pieces together.

I was confident that I was getting close. But then that morning, uh, he showed up at, uh, I wanna say 10 o'clock whenever it was. And, uh, it was, uh, it was awesome to see him. And unfortunately he was, uh, he came in the only spot that I had. I didn't have a shooting lane, so I, I watched him walk [00:52:00] and, uh, I was devastated.

Josh Raley: Yeah. So walk me through that hunt then. So had you seen good action before 10:00 AM or was it just kind of a dead morning until then? Uh,

Jake Mersberger: so it was a dead, well, it was interesting. So I got in, I got in early. Um, it was super cold and I'm trying to stay focused and it was, for me, it was, I just wanna make it another 10 minutes.

I wanna make it another 10 minutes. And, uh, I didn't see anything and I said to myself, I, I think I'm in the right area. And I heard a twig snap and I look and there he is. So he is got two options. He can come right to the scrape that I'm at or he can go out to the trail. Um, that I basically came off of.

I, I was down the, I was like two or three feet from it. But getting into there, Josh, I, a lot of times when I go into my stand, the last 30 yards, I'll brush, I'll kick all the brush away. So I'm super sonic going in, right? That's, that's my thought process. He got on the, [00:53:00] the trail, which wasn't his trail, where I walked in on where it was just dirt.

And I was like, unbelievable. This is nuts. But, but backing up, I checked the camera that I had on that scrape that I was sitting, and there was a dole that hit it at night. Ah. So I still, okay, so, so now I'm, I'm digging myself. Now I'm kind of in the game. She's, she hit it like she must be getting close.

This is good. Good opportunity. And so he came out that the 12 pointer came out and it was like that, that. Uh, that situation where you're like, could I squeeze one in? Yeah, I can squeeze it in, but not, not on that caliber, a buck. Mm-hmm. And I, I watched him walk away and I was just devastated. He got to the field, I did a snort and wheeze tried to bring him back.

He didn't want it. He just kept going. Uh, and then, uh, I wanna say I waited 20 minutes and I did a rattling sequence, and he literally went around [00:54:00] me and looped and the wind, he was coming on the trail that he would've wind me within another five yards. But he, I had him, I had him, I was throwing up the wind indicator, the milk weeded.

And, and, and I just watched him come in and, and he, uh, he, two more, three more steps. I would've been dead to rides. He would've, he would've bolted. But I, I got shot him before he got my wind.

Josh Raley: Man, so you rattled that buck in. That's awesome. Yeah,

Jake Mersberger: let's, yeah, let's doing anything and everything, Josh, to get that, that bugger back.

Josh Raley: Right, right, right. Man, I, I wanna touch on that just a little bit because I think that's really important. You're on highly pressured public land. There are a lot of guys there. You're not incredibly far from other people where you are. No. Um, and you call on highly pressured public land. Everything in the hunting media says, dear on highly pressured public land, don't respond to calling very well.

Well, the, the evening I killed my buck [00:55:00] last year, I'm sitting in my stand and I hear a guy just get after it and it's like 20 minutes before dark. Right. And I'm thinking to myself, at, first of all, I'm thinking to myself, he's right where I hunted two days ago. Like, so I know, I know exactly where this dude is at, and he's in a real good spot.

I had gotten winded by another buck there. And so I'm like, man, somebody's sitting up there. That's disappointing. 'cause I had sat all day and hadn't seen anything. Like I, well I saw some bucks that morning cruising through, but had seen nothing throughout the midday and it's almost dark. And I'm like, man, it's almost over.

He starts rattling. I'm like, oh my gosh, dude, can you not just let the sun go down and just like, let me enjoy a quiet evening and my wounds. And then I hear his BOGO off like five minutes later and I'm like, no kidding. So I catch up with him. He shot the buck That winded me two days before, or three days before, whatever it was.

So, um, it worked on highly pressured public land. Then I hear this story for you. It worked on highly pressured public land. What's going into that and your thought [00:56:00] process with calling because it's not supposed to work?

Jake Mersberger: It's, well, yeah, they say that, but I've, I mean, all my ears on public land, I've, I've never deferred to not calling.

Like I'm, I'm very aggressive on the rattling. I'm very aggressive on snort wes. Um, I mean, it's, it's one of those things where it's, it's like Turkey hunt, right? Either they're in the mood or they're not. Right. Right. Take a chance. So, and that, and that was my thought process. But Josh, at that time, I was looking for, for anything to throw at him, I, I was so, I was so devastated, so downed out.

I couldn't believe that. I just let him walk and, and I was like, man, I might've been able to sn like, put one. I was like, no, you did the right thing. Let him walk. Um, and, and he came in. He came in very, very aggressive. Uh, he was bristled up. Like he was, he was like ready to, to tear something up. And, and I was just, I would think I was, again, you look at the equation, you don't know unless you do it right.

In some cases, [00:57:00] You, you, you might have a situation where you shouldn't have rattled, you should have sorted wheezed. But how do you, how do you know, how do you know what mood they're in unless you try it? And, and I've had those situations where I've, I've called and just watch 'em literally through the tail flickering off they go.

Uh, but I'm still gonna call, I'm still gonna try it. And I think for him, he was, uh, I, I think he was prime. And, and then that being said, Josh, I had from bucks to dough ratio on what I had on camera. I had more bucks to dough, right? So that was my other thought process, right? So I thought, Hey, this is, this is kind of a, a situation where, uh, these bucks are gonna be cruising, right?

It's gonna be an intense rutt. My thought process was I only had the three, three dough and, and I had eight different bucks in that area that, that were really, uh, You know, being mobile and, and, and kind of working the scrape. So I was like, Hey, let's, let's try it. And it was more, I think it was like 20 minutes or whatever it was.

You know, he [00:58:00] came in directly behind me.

Josh Raley: Right. And, and you had the one dough hitting that, hitting that scrape earlier that day. So all the more realistic that there would be some competition going on you. Yes. Correct. Now all of a sudden, um, as opposed to, and you're not, you're not just blind rattling at that point either.

You're not just popping through and trying to, trying to blind rattle something up. Not that it, not that that can't work. Just saying that wasn't your situation. Um, I want to hear your thoughts on, well, first of all, let's talk about the shot and then I want to, I want to come back to, to a question about, uh, you know, bucks and kind of how they cruise their turf during mm-hmm.

During the rutt. Um, so you make the shot, he was close. Did you drill

Jake Mersberger: him? Yeah, I drilled him. He, he probably dropped within 40 yards. Um, I, he was on, so here's how it happened. So I thought I had my main camera on him, and then I was like, whoa, he's coming. He's gonna get my wind. So I relied on my, my secondary camera [00:59:00] and I, I pulled back and he was basically coming outta the trail.

I, he runs underneath me and he, he basically, uh, expired behind, um, in insight. And it was a great shot. Uh, I was super proud of it. Uh, you know, that's the respect for the buck, like that as a caliber, you survive on public land for that long, right? We, we wanna do everything we can to, uh, make sure it's a humane shot.

And, and I, and I executed properly. Um, and then after that I, I, uh, I kinda lost it 'cause I was super excited. 'cause I just, he walked outta my life, Josh, right? He was outta my life. I'm, I'm literally down and out, almost ready to cry. I'm freezing going, what am I doing? This is, this is not good. And then, uh, it just all happened and I was.

I was, uh, fortunate for sure, man.

Josh Raley: How so? When he had kind of walked off, had your mind already drifted to like, okay, what's my next, right. What's my next step? What's my next move? Right. Yeah.

Jake Mersberger: Okay. So yeah, [01:00:00] once I said to myself, I'm not shooting, this is not, this is not a high quality shot. Um, it, it would, I would be threading what I call threading the needle.

Right? Where, you know, I, I just, I, again, back to my dad broadside, you shoot, you don't thread the needle, you respect the game. Um, so that's where he walked off. I snort and wheezed, I did stop him. Well, when I stopped him, he didn't snap his head back. He didn't look. He literally stopped flickered the tail and off he went.

I'm like, all right, he heard me. I'm gonna let him go. I'm gonna give him some time. Hopefully he gets away, uh, from this area. Uh, 'cause I wasn't sure did he smell me walking in or not. And then I, then I hit the, the, the antlers and it was a very short, um, I'm very aggressive on the first pop, and I kind of do a short one, uh, that I have in my, on the footage there.

And then I, I put 'em down and I heard I, again, I heard twig snap. And then, and during this time, [01:01:00] and this is how I typically hunt. So after that situation where the 12 pointer left, an eight pointer comes through, and, and typically in my scenario's, been all right. This one's dead because I just messed that one up.

But I let him walk and, and I was like, you know, I'm, I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna shoot him. But, but, uh, yeah, so he, he came back around and, and, uh, was able to, uh, execute.

Josh Raley: Excellent. Excellent man. Well, I wanna hear your thoughts. Um, you know, maybe this would be a good point to kind of wrap it up on, um, how patentable are you finding bucks to be?

I mean, we're talking mid-November, you know, a lot of guys may have just thought, I've just gotta get on a, a good pinch point somewhere and just put in the time. I'm not gonna try to put a bunch of effort into locating a specific animal, figure exactly out what he's doing, because who knows, man, A dough could take him anywhere.

How patentable are you finding bucks at that time of year? That's,

Jake Mersberger: that's a good question. So when you think about it, [01:02:00] so, you know, with my cameras in that I'm, my, my, my thought process is the dough. Right. So I'm, I'm looking where the doors are. That's, that's where I'm thinking. That being said, in the pinch points, I'm also, I have cameras out to make sure, um, I'm a pinch point guy, right?

I'm a funnel guy. I will, I've been guilty to sit on a stand multiple days in a good exit and entrance where you've just pounding it and pounding and say it's gonna take off or it's, it's gonna, it's going to, uh, you know, uh, execute and, and it, it might not. Um, I think from a patterning perspective, it's tough.

You've got a short window. That's why I was sup super aggressive. This guy gets, my 12 pointer, gets on a, on a, on a dough, and he is gone. He starts to chase and that whole different, whole different ball game. And I think that's why I was very aggressive on just the, the camera getting him and executing right away.

Like I didn't, like, I didn't wait. I was in, I'm like, okay. Here's where he is [01:03:00] at. And I was basically following him because at that time, I mean, you know, it's a short window, right? They, they, they, they catch the right sniff. They're out of our life. And, and so that's, that's where we really need to execute and just put everything to our, uh, to our favor.

Um, whether it's a pinch point or that. Um, but yeah, so again, it, it goes back to it was the right scenario and, you know, it was, it was, uh, it was a good hunt, but he could've easily got that dough founder her, and been outta my life. And, and, you know, we, we wouldn't be here now. Yeah, I'd have been, I would've been cursing.

Josh Raley: Yeah. Well, man, I, I think that, that it's, it's so important to understand, I mean, for you it was, you've gotta get there on the ground and understand what you're being dealt, like the hand that you're dealt right now, thankfully you were dealt this hand of bucks that were still kind of in that, in that looking phase.

You know, they're not, Necessarily chasing super hard yet or anything like that. They're, they're on the prowl. And I, I have [01:04:00] come to love that time of year. 'cause it seems like, you know, up until the, the, the sort of, everything breaks loose. Um, I find a lot of really predictable movement of like every day or every other day, he's looping back through here and then he loops back through here and he loops back through here.

And, you know, you can really, really target, um, because you can have confidence that all the bucks in that area are up on their feet, first of all. And then second of all, you can really kind of dial in like, okay, he really likes coming through here and I missed him today. He may come through here. Uh, again, um, the property that, that we've both hunted before, I had one spot where, uh, within like a a nine day window, I had four encounters with a good eight point.

And he was doing the same exact thing like time, after time, after time. I'm talking time of day. Like, I remember tr climbing a tree stand one morning, and I'm getting in a little bit late, and I was like, that's all right. He's not gonna [01:05:00] be here until like nine 30 or 10 anyway, and 9 45 here he comes walking down the trail and I'm like, it, it it, the dude was like clockwork.

But then just a few days later, it all broke loose. I never saw him again. Right. Yeah. I mean, and then all of a sudden your cameras are just showing you bucks chasing doze and, and everything's running wild. But it's like you have that little window where, you know, and, and for me it's that, that mid to late morning, you know, 10, 11 o'clock, it just seems to be where you can really find them doing some pretty predictable Yeah.

Uh, some pretty predictable

Jake Mersberger: stuff. So they're on Yeah, they're on the circuit, right? Or the, or the, the campaign. Right? Right. They're, they're, they're making their stops. They're, they're trying to figure out, you know, what, what dough might be coming into heat and, and so on. And that's the piece of it. Right.

But you're right. As soon as it's done and they're off, They're gone. Right. Good. Goodbye. Yeah,

Josh Raley: absolutely. Absolutely. Well, man, let's talk just briefly, you know, what do you got on the docket for this fall? Oh,

Jake Mersberger: well, [01:06:00] so I've got, uh, Illinois, I'm picking up Illinois. Uh, I've got, uh, some public land that I scouted again in, uh, in March.

Uh, I feel confident about it. I'm a little skeptical because of the, uh, the amount of ladder stance and the, uh, tree stands that were up there, already talked to the biologist, already talked to the, uh, the park director there on, on kind of what's going on there. Um, and so, and, and I'm, I'm doing Wisconsin.

Um, not, not in your area, buddy, but, uh, oh man. Come on. Oh, I might be right behind you. You never know. Uh, but, uh, yeah, so I'm doing Wisconsin and if everything goes well, I, I might shoot down to, uh, Missouri, but, uh, yeah, I'm, I'm giving Nebraska a break and, uh, I'm, I'm, I'm excited. I think so. One, one thing we didn't talk about, I'm, I'm, I'm a big E-bike guy.

Yeah, at my age, right? And, and it's not a, I'm, I'm not hammering through the fields or anything like that, but if you go to a parking lot and, and if I [01:07:00] can pop off, shoot down the road, you know, you know, a mile and then park it right off into the ditch and get in there, it just gives me an upper hand. So that, that's the, the big piece as well that I, that I, I really focus on.

I think Missouri helps me, uh, Illinois talking to the director doesn't sound like they're gonna make it legal to go on the, on the farm roads, which is fine. Uh, but, uh, and, and same thing, Wisconsin, but I think, you know, again, I'm, I'm 37 years upon. I've been there where, you know, miles Cler pendulum was my, my latest technology and innovation.

So I'll I take advantage of anything that's gonna gimme an upper hand.

Josh Raley: Yeah, for sure. Man, I, I, uh, I had a chance to try an e-bike for a bit last summer. Yeah. And where I'm at here in Georgia, I've got a 30,000 acre piece of public down the street. Nice. And the gates stay locked during bow season, so having an e-bike is a huge advantage.

[01:08:00] I've yet to find one that is both high quality and in my price range. So I'm still waiting, uh, on, on that piece. But man, they, it, it changes the game. I had a buddy let me borrow one for setting cameras and stuff and, and if I had had an e-bike, I think I could have had some really good hunting that year.

But you know, these are roads with a five or six mile, they're a gate with a five or six mile road behind it. Right. Well, nobody's gonna walk that in time to get to their stand. You're not walking six miles in for a white tail and turning around six miles back out that evening. That's not gonna happen.

And so, you know, I probably could have had some relatively high quality hunting. So I'm really looking forward to adding that to my arsenal, uh, hopefully soon, but we'll see. So, uh, anyways, man, thank you so much for coming on the show. Appreciate you telling the story. Why don't you let folks know where they can go watch the hunt that we've been talking about.

Jake Mersberger: Yeah, so you can go on, uh, stealth Bow hunter on, on, uh, YouTube is, is my channel. I've got, uh, I've got all my hunts, uh, my Nebraska Husker 12, I've got my [01:09:00] Missouri Hunt. And then, uh, if you're in Turkeys, I did a royal slam, uh, this, uh, past spring, and I've got all those hunts there as

Josh Raley: well. Awesome, man. Well, I'll link that in the show notes.

So if you're listening to this, you're like, wait, I didn't catch it. That's all right. Just scroll up a little bit and you'll find, uh, you'll find the link to that. So Jake, man, thank you so much for coming on the show. I appreciate it.

Jake Mersberger: Awesome. Thank you. And I wish everybody good luck this coming season.


Josh Raley: all for this week's episode. As always, thank you so much for tuning in. If you dig this show, be sure to subscribe to this podcast wherever it is that you get your podcast. While you're at it, if you could leave me a five star review, I would very much appreciate that. You can also follow along with my outdoor adventures on Instagram at the Wisconsin Sportsman, or at how to hunt deer.

That's also the best way to get ahold of me. Suggest topics, guests or questions that you'd like me to explore on the show. Big thanks to our partners tactic cam. Hunt worth and OnX, please go support the brands that support this show. And if you're looking for more great outdoor content, check out the sportsman's empire.com where you'll find my other podcast, the How to Hunt Deer [01:10:00] Podcast, as well as a ton of other awesome outdoor podcasts.

And until next time, make sure you make the time to get outside and enjoy the incredible natural resources that are ours as Wisconsin sportsmen.