A new ground strategy proves deadly, resulting in the author’s most exciting hunts and biggest whitetails to date.

The stalk was perfect. Three times I reached full draw. Three times I let down. The wind was ripping, my heart was pounding, and I simply couldn’t settle my pin. This was the biggest whitetail I’d ever drawn on, and I’d crawled to within 40 yards of him. Finally, the wind calmed and gave me a small window to execute the shot. Just as I was settling my pin, the mature whitetail’s sixth sense kicked in and he locked onto me. I made the split-second decision to shoot. The alert buck ducked, and I hit him high — too high. Looking back, I shouldn’t have taken that shot, but on public ground, in a staredown with an absolute giant, the pressure got to me and I simply made a bad choice.

Bowhunting is a game of constant learning and adjustment. I learned some things that day for sure. First, taking a shot at an alert whitetail is never a good idea. Second, I was hunting open terrain that leant itself to a spot-and-stalk tactic, but even when conditions are perfect, spotting and stalking whitetails is a huge gamble. They are simply too twitchy. I had succeeded in doing so in the past, but I had also experienced some painful failures, and this was the most painful of all. I needed a new strategy. I needed something that would allow me to hunt whitetails from the ground like I wanted to, but that would also take the focus off of me when up close and personal with spooky whitetail bucks.

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