The Hunting Beast founder trudged through a maze of cattail marsh, set up in a bedding area, and shot another monster buck
|Rack Report Details|
|Time of Year:||September 22, 2021|
|Place:||Jefferson County, Wisconsin|
|Weapon:||Compound bow Bowhunting|
Dan Infalt, founder of The Hunting Beast, shoots a lot of big deer. He has around three dozen shoulder mounts as proof. It came as no surprise this season when he arrowed a 7 ½-plus-year-old public-land buck he'd been watching for four year. The buck was mature — and big — in 2018. It was old enough to be on the decline this year, but still a monarch.
The buck lived its life in an overlooked spot that's hard to navigate. Infalt hunts the general area often and scouted it thoroughly two years ago. That's when he discovered a small strip of willow brush — about 20 yards long and 10 yards wide — that was full of beds and rubs. It sat on a high spot within some cattails.
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I knew the beds would be exposed in mid-October when the willow leaves fell, and the buck would not lay in the open sun, Infalt said. Because of this, he expected it to be September buck bedding.
Last year, the first time I hunted it, a bunch of does came in from the grass around the only brushy tree I could get in, Infalt said. Then, I heard a deer coming from the buck bedding, but the does got under me and started blowing. The buck turned around. I did not see it but assumed it to be my target.
Infalt says he generally only hunts a spot like this once but decided to give it one more try a couple weeks later, but as expected, the buck had vacated that bed.
Fast forward to the 2021 deer season. Infalt hunted other areas the first four days. Then, on September 22, he got the northerly breeze he needed to hunt the big 10-pointer, and a stiff, noise-covering wind for good measure. It was warm and windy, but the forecast showed both declining as the afternoon went on.
Excited about the hunt, Infalt meticulously trudged through a maze of cattails, occasionally passing small patches of dry ground. Eventually he reached his destination, which was a grassy island with a few trees located about 100 yards from the buck's bed. He hung his stand as high as possible — about 12 feet — and settled in.
As he sat there staring across the cattails at the buck's suspected location, he reflected on several seasons of hunting the deer. In 2018, I came face to face with him in the cattails and missed him with my rifle, Infalt said. I think my bullet deflected. After tagging out in 2019, I put my buddy, Joe Rentmeester, in a spot and he filmed him get out of a bed in the cattails. But he went the other way. Other than that, most intel was from glassing, shining (legal here), and trail cam photos.
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Despite the long history, something in Infalt's gut said this was the day they'd meet for the last time. That feeling proved right.
I was really worried about the does, but this time, they did not show, Infalt said. Just before sunset, I heard a deer approaching from the buck bedding. I was pleasantly surprised when it was the buck I was after and bedding where I predicted.
Infalt heard the deer long before he spotted it. Its ivory antlers brushed against the cattails, signaling the approach of a wide-racked buck. Infalt drew his bow just as the deer cleared the cattails and entered the grassy opening. The buck heard a noise when I drew back, and froze behind a bush for 30 seconds, Infalt said. I stayed at full draw until he continued walking forward.
Once the buck was broadside, Infalt took the 10-yard shot. The buck ran a semi-circle, stopped about 25 yards behind some brush, and headed back toward its bed. Then, nothing.
Knowing the hit was further back than he'd like, Infalt decided to wait until the next morning to begin the recovery. He also called a professional tracker and his dog, which followed the blood trail about 300 yards through the cattails before finding the buck. The tracking process would have been near to impossible without the dog.
The buck was an old beast, Infalt said. Four grown men couldn't carry it on a pole. It took us from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. to get the buck 1½ miles to the truck. His hunting buddies Joe Rentmeester, Scott Gagliano, Rick Kimble, and Dave Schwabe helped with the drag out.
Joe was ecstatic, because he hunted the deer with me a few times, had seen the buck, and also has trail cam photos, Infalt said. Scott said it was by far the biggest buck his dog, Max, had ever found. Rick just kept saying 'wow' over and over. And Dave just had a blank stare with his mouth hanging open. As payment for dragging, I put Dave in a different spot and he shot his first deer, a doe, then his first buck, a 7-pointer, and he did it on his dad's 80th birthday. He says he is still working on repaying the others for their help.
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Looking back on the hunt, Infalt attributes the successful outing to winter scouting, not going near the spot until it was time to hunt, and using a mobile hunting approach. He also kept hunting after several difficult outings.
You can kill big bucks on pressured public, Infalt said. This spot had 11 trucks in the parking lot opening morning. You must outwork the rest. It's a great feeling of accomplishment. But there is also an empty feeling about having the rest of the season and being tagged out.
But tagged out he is, and if you want to see how it all went down, view the action-packed hunt here.
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