Seek One’s founder arrows an early season giant
|Rack Report Details|
|Time of Year:||Aug. 25, 2023|
Although the hunt didn’t go as planned, Ellis was happy to recover his deer. Image courtesy of Seek One
Seek One Founder Lee Ellis knows big whitetails. He’s also well-known for securing hunting permission on quality land, especially in suburban areas. He’s tagged a bunch of great deer, including a 5-½-year-old buck he connected with during a recent private-land velvet hunt in Tennessee.
“I’ve had this spot for several years and never killed a deer there,” Ellis said. “But I could not figure out what deer this was from years past. He was a mystery deer.”
On the first day of the hunt, Ellis and his cameraman eased into the area and settled into their Tethrd saddles. He hoped a nearby food plot would pull deer onto the property he was hunting. “This was a small place to hunt,” Ellis said. “I had a micro food plot in there, and these deer were in the area. It’s their summer bedroom. But they maybe came through my little breadcrumb of a place once per week.”
Of course, hot temperatures rolled in. That would likely diminish deer movement. Ellis hoped his hunting spot was close enough to the bedding area to see deer on their feet. His stand location was in a creek ravine.
“It was 100 degrees,” he said. “It was so hot that I think they were spending a lot of time in that creek ditch because it was cooler. I saw the deer from the stand Friday afternoon, and all he did was drink water for about 15 minutes.”
After he saw the buck drink water in the creek, and realizing where the deer had come from, Ellis started knocking on doors again. “I was able to get a spot three or four houses down,” he said. “It went all the way down to the creek. That’s when we moved our saddles into that area.”
Ellis consistently tags big suburban whitetails. Image courtesy of Seek One
On Saturday afternoon, after securing permission on the new tract, Ellis and his cameraman eased down to the creek and got ready. Ellis settled in and scanned the area for movement.
His target buck was in a bachelor group, and the deer were traveling together. Ellis’ position was in the bottom below a ridge. Eventually, the bachelor group walked down the ridge toward him. Because the property is so small, Ellis had to set up about 35 yards from the line. Of course, the big deer walked down the hill and stayed about 10 yards across the fence on a neighboring property. Ellis couldn’t shoot.
“They worked their way down the ridge and then back up the creek,” he said. “They were drinking water, walking the creek, and feeding in a little field, continually paralleling the creek.”
Eventually, the smaller bucks came back in. Naturally, the big buck was the last one to arrive. He stopped broadside 15 yards away.
As a deer hunter, you wait for a deer to give you that perfect shot opportunity. That’s part of being an ethical hunter. “Well, this deer gave it to me,” Ellis said. “He was 15 yards and broadside without a clue in the world we were there. My camera guy was on auto-focus catching branches and stuff. He couldn’t focus on the deer.”
Meanwhile, Ellis has been at full draw for nearly half a minute with his pin on the vitals.
“No, no, no,” the cameraman kept saying to Ellis.
This buck taught Ellis several lessons. Image courtesy of Lee Ellis
After a few more seconds, the deer walked directly toward their treestand. “I took a steep-angled shot downward,” Ellis said. “The arrow buried into one lung. The deer took off running and dove into the river.”
Ellis searched until about 2 or 3 a.m. trying to find the deer. He was unsuccessful. The next morning, he returned and continued to knock on doors, finally receiving deer retrieval permission to a critical area.
After that, some additional chaos ensued. Of course, Ellis handled each challenge as best a hunter could. For the details, check out his latest podcast episode. It’s worth the listen.
“These journeys and deer are always, one way or another, teaching us lessons,” Ellis said. “This was the first time I’ve ever been in a situation like this one. We’ve been filming hunts since 2015, and I’ve never really concerned myself with having the shot on camera. Filming was always secondary. We’re hunting first and filming second.”
Now, Ellis and the other folks with Seek One run that brand for a living. It’s their job to tell stories and capture good footage. But Ellis reminds himself and others to keep first things first.
“For example, when I killed Zeus [a 2017 metro Atlanta giant], the deer gave me the shot, and I took it knowing my camera guy might not have it in the frame,” Ellis said. “The hunt was first. But as time has went on, this thing has gotten more serious for us. We’re trying to tell these stories the best way we know how. And we’re trying to get the best footage we can. I was more concerned about that than I was the hunt. I should have taken the shot at 15 yards. I care a lot about these deer. I’ve been emotionally distraught over this deal. For it to go down that way has disturbed me. The fact that I had the shot opportunity to put that deer down as quickly as possible and passed on it because the camera guy was pulling me off, and took the secondary shot opportunity, really and deeply affected me. I will never let that happen again. The animal always comes first. Filming is secondary. In that moment, I got caught up in good footage. I would rather take care of these animals than to film at all.”
To hear further recounting of the hunt, check out Seek One’s podcast.
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