Lifestyle

A Late Season Muzzleloader Hunt

This is a guest post by Conor O'Brien.

It's day two of a three-day late season muzzleloader hunt and I am gearing up at Performance Outdoors lodge in West Central Illinois. My plan is to dress for a long afternoon hunt in the high 30's at the truck and slip in on my QuietKat. I will need to cover roughly half a mile of bedded deer habitat to reach the secluded one-acre fall attraction plot by a river bend.

QuietKat

Being self-guided, but with an outfitter, I have the option to use a QuietKat and gain advantages in a few different ways. One of them is moving quickly past bedded deer in some thick CRP downwind while never breaking a sweat, allowing my scent control to work to the fullest while on the QuietKat. Arriving at my stand on the southeast corner of the food plot I see the northwest wind rustling the thick beets, turnips, and radish leaves in front of the tree stand.

No time wasted putting my layers on and toe warmers in, I did that at the truck. Muzzleloader strapped to my backpack, I am climbing the stacked ladders to the lock on nestled in the crotch of a white oak. From there I peer down at my QuietKat that is laid down in the heavy goldenrods and stinging nettles and know it's out of view from ground level.

The whitetails start moving an hour before sunset. The button bucks are playing on the thin ice in the river, and the does are staging on the edges of the food plot nibbling on the stinging nettles. The outfitter shows me some mature bucks that call the back end of this property home, one being a recent trail camera picture of an old gnarly eight point that palmated, twisted, split, curled that might break 130". The other shooter is a true sense-of-the-word monster. His nighttime trail camera video created voodoo magic over a scrape, with his crown of about eight stubby brow tines and slick 10-point frame towering straight up like flames twisting towards the moon.

As I was able to settle into my stand and get my muzzleloader primed and rested across my lap, I waited. My back left was the tight riverbend only 20 yards away, and front right was northwest with the wind on my right cheek. As the golden hour ticked away, I had made my mind up that any mature whitetail was going to try and get down wind of this food plot before entering.

My theory was right. He started way to my far right, cutting the wind all the way to the end of the food plot. He must have been bedded between my truck and the treestand but never heard me slip past. I knew if he came all the way behind my tree he would wind me. I was able to shuffle my feet and turn right and use a bow hook as a shooting rest.

He was calm and doing his thing like every evening before. Taking his time he moved into 50 yards and presented a broadside opening in the heavy river bottom vegetation and .50 cal hit its mark. Snow plowing to the edge of the food plot, I was able to watch him expire. It is the towering 10-point with a mess of brow tines!

A huge key to the success of this hunt was the QuietKat electric bike, which got me to prime location quickly, quietly, and scent-free. I truly enjoy the hunting grounds at Performance Outdoors Outfitters.

www.performanceoutdoors.com | (800-996-0477)

www.QuietKat.com | (970-328-2399)

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A Late Season Muzzleloader Hunt