Most dedicated hunters know all about tough hunts and perseverance. But few can top the heart-twisting tale of our Week Seven winner.
Most veteran hunters have all kinds of crazy tales of perseverance when it comes to deer hunting. Dark-to-dark sits for several consecutive days. Long hunts in scary-extreme conditions. And then there’s the story of New Mexico’s J.D. Volz, who experienced a heart-wrenching hunt that you’ve got to read to believe. For sending in photos and the HuntStand success story of a beautiful NM mule deer buck taken with his bow on Sept. 24, during the final minutes of the season, Volz is the Week 7 winner in the 2020 HuntStand Big Buck ALERT contest that earns him a sweet pack from ALPS OutdoorZ: The Quickdraw 2.0 Sling Pack (see below). The weekly win also makes Volz eligible for our Grand Prize drawing in late November (more on that below). We’re still looking for three more weekly winners so enter today!
“The attached photos are of a buck I harvested near Glenwood, NM, on Sept. 24, 2020,” Volz wrote. “This was to be my retirement hunt, and it began on the first day of my retirement from the U.S. Army after nearly 24 years on active duty. The hunt also marked my first attempt at hunting big game since a horrible motorcycle collision left me with severe nerve damage in my right leg, two lag screws running across my hips to hold my right hip back onto my body, and a serious limp. Nervous about my limp and the muscle pain that comes from compensating for the injury, I decided that hunting from a blind would be a wise choice.
“I had scouted the area the month prior to the hunt, and marked several tanks and game sightings in the HuntStand app. As I was traveling along the roads and walking into various draws, I found a few natural tanks that were not listed on the maps, and I also logged those in the app in case they held water during my hunt. I finally decided to hunt a tank that was quite a way from the highway that runs through Glenwood. The tank I chose was in a draw, about 600 yards from the nearest Forest Service road. The access was steep, which I hoped would keep other hunters from cruising past in their ATVs. “The night prior to the Sept. 1st season opener, I set up a ground blind near the tank using the HuntStand app to determine where my scent cone would avoid disturbing game at the tank, and along the trails leading into the tank. On opening morning, I checked the app again to make sure the wind was right, and headed out to the blind. I saw only some does and a herd of cows on that first day, and most subsequent days were much the same. When the app indicated a change in the wind, I moved my blind to the opposite side of the tank and saw similar activity.
“After a week, two bucks came into the tank and drank from the far side of the tank at 47 yards, but I could not get into a good shooting position. The bucks fed off and disappeared.
“I sat in my blind for the entire season with the exception of four days. I saw large bull elk, coues deer, whitetails, coyotes, and a few good-looking black bears; as of the day before the end of my hunt, not another legal mule deer came into that tank. September 24th was the last day of the hunt; my tag would expire 30 minutes past sundown. I got into the blind a little early that day to give myself every chance I could at filling my tag. First thing in the morning, a mule deer doe came in and drank, fed, and then disappeared into the mountainside.
“Morning gave way to a warm day, and eventually the sun began to fall behind the trees at the top of the mountain. Certain that tag soup was on the menu that evening, I began to load things into my backpack when I heard steps behind the blind and froze. I slowly reached for my bow and waited to glimpse…a big bull elk! I watched that beautiful bull sneak in and take a long drink before feeding off into the mountainside.
“My heart sank as sundown approached. My head slunk low and my face came to rest in my hands, as I lamented spending the entire season in one spot. Should I have moved? Should I have tried to spot-and-stalk rather than sit in a blind? Should I have driven the roads like so many others? As I lifted my head, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Creeping past the blind at a range of just 11 yards was the biggest mule deer buck I’d ever seen in person! Even as I grabbed my bow, I remained in utter disbelief at what was happening—just 30 minutes before my tag was to become void!“I drew the bow, and just before release felt the top limb graze the blind roof. I knew better than to take a shot under those circumstances, so I regrettably let down. I adjusted my position and drew again, settled the pin, checked the level, and launched the 23-yard shot. As I released, I knew the sound of my bow was far too loud. As the deer ran off down the draw, my eyes fell on the torn material of the lower window opening—I had shot through the thick fabric of the blind! I was certain I’d blown it.
“Through my binoculars, I searched for the arrow in the fading twilight but couldn’t find it anywhere. I wondered if I had hit him at all. I left the blind 30 minutes after sundown and walked over to the levy—to find a blood trail leading over the top; in the light of my headlamp I could clearly see the trail leading down the draw—I had hit him after all! Assuming the hit was questionable, I decided to first load my truck and prepare for a long tracking job.I left the truck 45 minutes after I shot the buck, following the blood trail that led down the draw over a quarter of a mile, but was pretty easy to follow. The buck was lifeless when I found him, and the hit was right where I had aimed; the blind had caused almost no deflection. I carefully deboned the buck and began the painful climb out of the rocky draw, after deciding to carry him out in one trip due to having seen several bears using the draw. I was thoroughly exhausted from the climb back to the truck, but I had done it. My retirement hunt was successful, and I carried out every pound of meat despite my injured leg. Apparently, I’ve still got it. Thank you HuntStand.”
To enter the HuntStand 2020 Big Buck ALERT contest, simply send us a few clear, high-res. digital photos (three to five) of your 2020 buck bagged after Aug. 20 (Entries accepted NOW THROUGH NOV. 26) along with a brief story of your hunt that explains how the HuntStand app played a part. Be sure to tell us if your buck was known to you or a newcomer, then describe the area where your stand sits, or where the encounter took place, as well as the fateful day’s wind and weather conditions, and of course, the blow-by-blow account of the exciting action as it unfolded. Include your full name, age, successful hunt date and state, weapon used, and also be sure to include your mailing address. Your e-mail subject line should read: Big Buck Alert! Send your photo(s) and requested info to: [email protected]Team HuntStand will choose 10 weekly winners that we began sharing with the extensive HuntStand community Sept. 25; EACH weekly winner will receive the Quickdraw 2.0 Sling Pack (valued at $79.99) from ALPS OutdoorZ (see above). This unique single-sling daypack offers quick and easy swing-around access to gear compartments. Unlike traditional shoulder straps, the single sling allows free range of motion. You’ll also find a drop-down pocket that securely carries a bow or gun, MOLLE webbing with bungee system for toting a quiver or extra gear, and a 2L water reservoir to keep you hydrated. In addition, at the end of the 10 weeks, all weekly winners will be placed in a drawing for our Grand Prize: an ALPS OutdoorZ Contender X pack (valued at $229.99; image above). Pack specialist ALPS is calling this feature-packed design the ultimate whitetail day pack; the coolness of the Contender X begins with its innovative self-standing L-shape frame, which allows you to set your pack on any flat surface. The unique U-shaped zipper provides extra-large, flip-down top access to the main compartment—ideal for easy gear access while hanging in your stand or sitting on the ground, without losing precious pack contents. The Lycra covered molded foam suspension ensures carrying comfort even when fully loaded with hunting necessities.
Good luck out there this fall from all of us here at Team HuntStand and let us know when (and how) you score with HuntStand!
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