Searching For Sundown

It’s been a 5 year back and forth battle – matching wits with Sundown had proven more difficult than ever. Will it finally come to an end?

Searching For Sundown | S1

It’s 2019. A new year brings a new set of challenges in the Search for Sundown. As last season came to a close, the giant Kansas whitetail sustained what could prove to be life threatening injuries during a vicious peak rut fight. With virtually no intel Casey sets out to see if Sundown is even alive.

Chris Keefer

Casey Keefer

the days of the good old "mystery hunt" are over.

3 factors of intel that lead to success

For many hunters across the country the days of the good old “mystery hunt” are over. I remember a time when I used to set out on any given hunt having absolutely no idea what deer I might see – and if I’m being honest, I kind of miss those days. Anymore, we’ve got all of the tools at our disposal to seek out, find and set up our success – more so than we ever have. So let’s take a look at the top 3 pieces of intel that I rely on.

Mapping Software:

This is where it all starts. Any hunt I go on, no matter where it is, starts with a good look from the eye in the sky. You can learn so much. Read the layout, read the timber, read the travel routes, read the food sources…find the water, find the bedding, find the flow. Aerial maps are a wealth of information…

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The Fall Podcast: HuntWise Hunting App

Low Light Filming Gear

Hunting With a Cameraman

Being able to hunt in some of the most awe-inspiring locations in the world and capturing on camera every single hunt I’ve been on for the past, call it 15 years, has been one of the greatest honors of my life. But, in full transparency, it’s also a gigantic pain in the ass! And one that’s really hard to explain, unless you’ve lived it!

There’s no doubt that capturing the essence of any given hunt on camera is thrilling. For the crew here, it’s not about the animal or the kill-shot. It never has been and it never will be. It’s about the story that takes place when we’re out there. Whether it’s deep in the mountains or on the edge of a midwestern cornfield, the story always comes first. So….here’s what that means…the actual process of filling my tag comes dead last. I can’t tell you how many opportunities we’ve passed up on over the years because the light wasn’t quite right…all of them most definitely after legal hunting time – but before our cameras could actually capture what we were doing. We all know that deer are crepuscular in nature – unfortunately for us, cameras are not. There was Sundown for Chris in Kansas, there was a 175” stud in Iowa that I held full draw on for 30+ seconds at 12 yards…

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"they're going to start a straight up donnybrook with whatever deer crosses their path"

How To: Read a Bucks Body Language

If you mention the rut to any whitetail hunter our imagination can run wild. Images of chasing, scraping and fighting abound. But many times, when you pay attention to a bucks body language when there just “being a deer” you can start to learn more about your surroundings, the time of year and quite possibly any given bucks status in the pecking order. Here’s a few things to look for:

1. Attitude

just like humans, each buck is unique and has his own personality. Some are a bit aloof and others look like they’re going to start a straight up donnybrook with whatever deer crosses their path next. Younger bucks like to live on the edge of their existence – constantly looking and listening. Older bucks approach cautiously, not always, but most of the time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat and watched deer in a food plot and had this play out :…

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The Fall Podcast: Advanced Deer Hunting Tactics With Casey Keefer

2 Things that Will Make or Break Your Stalk

In my opinion, stalking a mature whitetail with a bow in my hands is hands down one of the most exhilarating ways to chase a whitetail. More often than not, it ends in complete failure…but man is it fun. When it works, it brings a whole new level of excitement and it’s a challenge that’s well worth trying sometime – but before you do, there’s a few things to consider.

1. Wind

this should go without saying, but wind is everything. Getting the wind in your favor is the most crucial aspect, because you have to beat a deers nose, but there’s more to it than that. Wind also helps you beat a deers ears by creating extremely helpful “wind-noise”. What’s wind noise? Well it’s many things…it’s the rustling of the leaves on the ground, the swoosh of the treetops and the grasses blowing back and forth and it’s the howl in the air –

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"Sundown had no idea we were here"

The Fall Podcast: Coffee Call - Is It Shed Season Yet?

No Way…We Found It!

There’s not many things as exciting as that moment when a plan comes together and you arrow an gnarly old buck. The memories you make while doing it and the clean meat you acquire make it all the sweeter. But the season only lasts so long, and once that tag is punched it’s over until next year. So, let me fill you in on a dirty little secret…next to finding a buck with an arrow, finding a shed from a buck you’ve been after is almost just as sweet…albeit without the benefit of the meat.

Each spring as hunters, we head to the woods in search of all kinds of stuff – paper trails left by deer from the fall, signs of life in the spring and plenty of “what if I just” type projects, that can fill the spring calendar right full of habitat improvements and days spent in the field. During any single one of these trips you should keep your eyes peeled for sheds. I absolutely love shed hunting…especially when I’m looking for the sheds of a buck that was on my hit list but outsmarted me.

Usually I try to pair shed hunting with some other sort of activity. I control predator populations. I scout for turkeys. I search for morels. Hell, sometimes I even just wander the woods and take it all in. If you think anticipation is high when you head in to check your trail cameras, you should try heading into the known core area of a buck you’ve been chasing long after the season has closed…when his antlers have freshly hit the ground. When you do find his shed, or sheds if you’re luck, it’s just as exciting as the moment of truth…and what’s even better is that you now know he’s made it through the winter and he’ll most likely be back again this fall – and ready to match wits with whatever gameplan you can come up with.

 

"he simply vanished...surely he was dead."

What a Rut Injury Means for a Buck

We’ve all seen the pictures and heard the stories of 3-legged deer…deer that go on to live a long life. For an animal that at times, can seem so flimsy, deer really are tough animals, especially from the fall through winter. Often times during the rut, major injuries can occur – broken legs, gouged out eyes and gore wounds – to name a few. So how detrimental are these injuries to a buck? That’s a great question full of tough-to-say answers. In the case of Sundown, a mature 7.5-8.5 year old buck I was after in Kansas – all things pointed to him not surviving the winter.

At our last known observation of Sundown, Chris encountered him in a stand we call the Beat Lab – and there is no doubt that another buck absolutely worked him over. Sundown was stiff enough and sore enough that he could barely walk. As a matter of fact, for the majority of the sit, he laid out in front of the stand just under 100 yds – and literally licked his wounds. He was a bruised and beaten buck that was teetering on the edge. He had no ability to move about like normal let alone the desire to get up…

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