By Chris Eberhart:
It was the seventh day of a ten day public land prairie whitetail hunt in western North Dakota. I was hunting with my good friend Dan Maurer. Dan is an avid bowhunter, cowboy lutheran pastor, and the proud owner of a hunting cabin out in the middle of nowhere. On the morning of October 9th I was up very early, with a long walk and potentially an all-day hunt ahead of me. Just as I was about to step through the door Dan stumbled out of his room. Groggily he said “Hey, I have to tell you something. I just dreamt that you shot a huge buck with all kinds of points, and it’s body was so big it reminded me of a rhino.” My reply was dismissive, “Okay Dan, that’s great. Now get up and go hunting.”
Two steps out the door and I had already forgotten about Dan’s premonition. I was optimistic about this hunt. Two days earlier I undertook a long scouting foray out into the prairie. The hunting area around the cabin is honest prairie, where one is just as likely to encounter mule deer and pronghorn as whitetails, and there isn’t a river bottom within forty miles. Most hunting is done from the ground, by hiding behind buffalo berry bushes. My scouting took me a mile and half deep into the public land. There I discovered small patch of aspens right at the point of a deep thick draw. A host of runways crossed the patch and led into the bedding. Numerous shaggy rubs put an exclamation point on the natural funnel. On the edge of the aspens that I found, to my surprise, a poplar big enough to hunt out of, trees of this stature are very rare in this terrain. Recognizing this as an excellent spot I immediately prepped the tree for my Ambush Saddle.
With the drive to the public land quickly behind me, I began my walk. It was extremely dark, there was no moon, and thick cloudcover blocked any ambient light. I arrived at my tree an hour before first light and expediently settled into my Saddle. As daybreak arrived I couldn’t help but wonder at the fog. The air was so full of moisture the fog was actually more like a mist, and I couldn’t see forty yards. I was just thinking that I would have to be high alert, because the deer will be on top of me before could react, when suddenly standing in my shooting lane a mere twenty yards away was a huge buck. A split-second glance was all it took to decide, “big enough.”
The buck was ghosting steadily by, so hurriedly I pulled my bow from its hanger, attached my release, and drew. The few seconds this took was too long, and by the time I was at full draw the buck had crossed just out of my shooting lane. So I let back up. This must have made some noise, because just past my lane the buck froze. He was now standing a mere ten yards away completely blocked by understory. He stood motionless for what seemed like an eternity. The buck had two possibilities, either he could continue on his chosen path which would give me a nine yard shot in two more steps, or he could turn and walk straight away, disappearing into the draw. With a quick flip of his tail the buck took a step forward. Immediately I drew, anchored and selected a hole to shoot through. The buck took that second step, and though my only open shot would put my arrow a touch high on his chest, I decided that it was now or never.
Crack!!! The buck folded to the ground, initially falling straight away from me, but in a rolling flash was back up. He bolted under my tree, and within two seconds collapsed in a crashing heap, only twenty-five yards behind me. I have never seen a deer die so fast in my entire life!
Back at the cabin I showed Pastor Dan a quick photo of the buck. The first thing said was, “That’s the buck from my dream, you got the Rhino buck!” It was only then that I remembered his early morning vision. I guess when your hunting partner has other worldly connections you should listen when he has a premonition.