Reader Success | Jeff Giencke

25 Nov


The smile says it all.


As a hunter, we want the best…..a big fat stinky mature buck. That’s not asking too much, right? After all I turn on the tv and all the guys shoot 180” and up. Over time we create a pattern, hunt here, bring this, leave that, yata, yata, yata. Our farm is not managed, its free range and reality is if its big and has 4 points on one antler, someone is gonna shoot it. The last 5 years in S.E. MN have been antler point restrictions. Yippee!

This year I added a wrinkle to my set up. For the second year in a row, I was taking my 9 year old son (we will refer to him as Junior) on opening day MN 2015 firearm season. Two hunters, two stands, 2 of everything. 2014 was the first year Junior sat in the tree stand with me. We were able to harvest a doe with the muzzleloader. He got his first experience at seeing a kill first hand. He said field dressing was a bit stinky, but was ready to return to the field.

We recently took our annual road trip, MN 2015. We drove up Friday, snuck in pulled a few cards and started taking inventory of what was roaming around. I was very happy with what I saw. Lots of large bucks, even a 15 pointer! In the off-season our goal was harvesting a nice buck (four points or more on one antler). 2 people in the stand is not an easy thing to accomplish, especially when your 9. In summer we practiced using our lifeline, taking our time, getting into the stand. Fine tuning our woodsmanship.




The night before the hunt we didn’t sleep a wink, the anticipation of the hunt kept us up. Opening morning arrived. We decided to park 1/2 mile away and walk in so the bedded deer would not see our vehicle headlights when we drove in. We dressed light, packed our clothes and gear in an alice pack. This is where 2 of everything is NOT a good thing.

I carried both stands, pack and firearm. Junior carried the lantern. When we got close we stopped, dressed and got a little more organized. We went in, found my pre hung sticks and receiver blocks. I hung the sticks and receiver blocks during my spring scouting. I use the millennium M100 stand for 2 reasons when sitting with my son. #1 I climb the tree and slide the stand into the receiver easily and quickly, #2 the deep comfy seat keeps my son sitting a lot longer and I feel he sits safely in it incase he falls asleep.

A couple trips up the sticks to set the stands and backpack (full of books and snacks to keep junior occupied when the deer activity is slow). Now it was time to clip junior into the lifeline and follow him up the tree. It was pitch black out. We practice a lot in the offseason in the back yard climbing, but I was sweating bullets on his ascent. We made it up safely.

Some people might think I am nuts, but we sit 20 feet up when we sit this stand. We were hunting the leeward side of the hill, hoping to catch bucks cruising the thermal tunnel. I need to be this high to get my scent above the thermal tunnel, otherwise scent plunges down the bluff. We were sitting at 6am. Now I am sweating big time and exhausted. Ready to die, I sat quietly and thought to myself “It will be a miracle if we see a buck with this much commotion and scent”.

20 minutes past, Junior says “dad there’s a buck”. I said “ya right, your telling stories and have buck fever. Junior said “It’s right here I can see its rack, it’s an 8pt buck. I slowly turn and can now see a deer at 20 yards. yup, he was right. The buck was an 8pt, just inside his ears. We allowed the buck to pass and continued our hunt looking for a better buck.

I like to grunt and rattle on opening morning. Junior asked “When can I call and rattle?”. I said at 7am. 7am arrived. This time I grabbed the horns smashed them together started to rattle like crazy. My rattling sequence was cut short when I heard “Dad there’s a deer, and another one” I froze. I never saw them sneak in. It was 2 little does. We watched them for the next 20 minutes. Soon Bambi left and shortly after 2 more does walk by, one was a button buck. He stood there for 15 minutes. Junior was a statue, I was so proud. I leaned over and asked him if he wanted me to shoot the young buck. Little did junior know I was testing him. Junior said “no, lets wait for a big buck”. I was very pleased to hear his response. I normally rattle 1 time per hour in the morning on the opener, so I was going to rattle next at 8am.

We sit 1/3 down on the hillside to take advantage of the thermal tunnel. I looked down the buff and saw a deer. I could only make out the back half of the deer and it looked big. I grabbed my binoculars to take a closer look. The deer took another step, and looked up the bluff in our direction. I saw the rack was well outside his ears and had good mass. I tossed the binoculars to my son and said “shooter”. The buck took another step, looked up in our direction again. I new he had smelled us, and it was a matter of seconds till he bolted out of there.

Ka BOOOOM!!! I shot, the buck mule kicked and tore off running down the bottom of the bluff. I quickly fired off another round to see if I could stop him. As fast as he appeared, he had now disappeared. It all happened so fast. Did I hit him? Junior says to me “Dad, you got him he jumped up, I can’t believe you got him on the first day, we only had to sit 2 hours, I’m so excited, way to go, this is awesome. I love this!!!!”

My heart ached…junior was so excited. I sat quietly cursing inside my head, I can’t believe I blew the opportunity!!!! I told my son “It happen so fast I don’t know if I hit him. He didn’t slow down or look hit. It was a 50 yard shot. I said we don’t have him yet. I said I tried my best and don’t know”. I felt like a total shmuck! I have shot quite a few bucks in my day, but letting my son down topped all of that.

I had a very bad feeling…..

10 minutes pass, “Dad I need to go to the bathroom”. Junior can you wait? “No, I gotta go NOW!” We went thru all the hoopla of getting situated to make our decent. We get down, he waters a tree, I think to myself this set is screwed up for the year. “Junior wait here at the bottom of this tree and watch me”. I wanted to wait longer, but I couldn’t. That little boy was so excited that I had to find out what happened. Half way down the hill I found the plastic wad that was wrapped around the slug. I must have been on the right path to where I shot. I got to where the buck stood. I looked for blood, hair, hoof marks…..nothing.

The cursing in my head is at an insane high. This sucks! I took up the exit route. I found a handful of hair. Hmmmm, I hit it. No blood……@%#&! Lets walk where he ran. I could see his gallop track and pushes in the leaves. I walked and followed where he ran hard down the hill. I went 50 yards, still no blood. $@&$! Now I am starting to think I grazed him……I followed the tracks to the bottom of the bluff. I found a few drops at the bottom. I looked across the ditch and there he laid piled up. He only started to bleed the last 10 yards.

What a relief! I waved my son down. We took pictures and celebrated. The shot was right threw the lungs. The buck has a 19.5″ inside spread and 8 points, he broke one point off fighting recently. I found him on my trail cameras. He’s not the biggest buck in the woods, but to us he is a big fat stinky buck.

We sat beside the buck, talked about the hunt and the prep it took to get to get there. Our hunting story has just begun, next year junior get to buy his first tag and I get to water the tree.

I would like to thank Dan Infalt for all the tips and tricks he has taught me. If you have not visited Dan’s site, I strongly suggest visiting

You can also check out the podcast featuring Dan on Wired to Hunt.

Now go make some memories and remember to bring two of everything.

Happy hunting to all!

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