Anyone who’s hunted long enough knows the mystical way whitetails can appear and disappear in the woods. Steve’s Indiana hunt takes that legend up a notch.

Hunting Indiana’s rifle season along the border of Illinois in the Wabash River bottom, Steve had set a blind up among a network of oil pipelines lacing their way through the hardwoods. Each pipeline had its own 20 yard wide clear cut, creating a web of paths through the forest that doubled as shooting lanes. Steve’s blind was set at a T intersection, giving him a 300 yard view to the left, front and right.

The plan was to catch a buck crossing one of these openings chasing a doe or on his way to the corn field. What ended up coming out of the timber was startling.

At 350 yards, a buck that Steve estimated to be in the 180s or 190s stepped out. He glassed the deer as his heart raced. This would be his biggest whitetail kill to date. The pressure was on.

As quickly as he appeared though, he stepped back into the woods and out of sight. Steve hit the Mad Growl in the silent woods nine times as loudly as he could. Minutes later, the giant reappeared in the woods near the cut at 60 yards. Just as Steve’s camera guy had situated the camera tripod to get footage, the buck melted back deeper into the woods.

Steve turned to blow the MAD Growl out the rear window of the blind again as loudly as he could. During his growling sequence, his camera guy whispered frantically, “He’s right there!”

Immediately, Steve spun and leveled his Winchester on the deer’s vitals. The buck of a lifetime was one trigger pull away. The crack of the rifle broke quiet of the woods and the buck dropped in its tracks. The surprises didn’t end there however.

Once the two got up to the buck they realized it was a completely different deer than the bruiser that had been playing peek-a-boo. While still a great buck, this deer was an eight pointer that scored just over 137 inches. Though grateful for the deer, Steve wrestled with the mixed emotions of not having killed the giant he anticipated. In the flurry of excitement when the deer came into range, he focused on the shot more so than confirming it was the deer he’d been watching. 

Strange and unexpected things happen in the whitetail woods. Steve’s hunt serves as just one more example of how deer can seemingly magically come and go.


As told to Tim Kjellesvik