John's Journal...

Deer Hunting with Greg Miller

The High-Noon PhD Buck


Greg MillerEditor’s Note: Greg Miller of Bloomer, Wisconsin, outdoor writer, seminar speaker, television host and one of the most-widely-recognized deer hunters in the nation, has used Hunter’s Specialties’ products for many years and has taken many trophy deer in his lifetime. According to Miller, “In my family, deer hunting is a tradition that’s as rich and as important as the blood that runs through the veins in the men of the Miller family. I’ve been hunting whitetails for about 42 years. Although I hunt deer with a wide variety of weapons, bowhunting is my favorite way.” This week we’re going to talk with Greg about some of his most-memorable bucks he has taken and tells about in John E. Phillips’ latest book, “PhD Whitetails.” To learn more, click here.


Click to enlargeI was hunting in Alberta, Canada, with an outfitter by the name of Terry Brikholz in an area much like a power-line right-of-way in the United States. This region had less than 1 inch of snow. While sitting on this line, I could see some wheat fields in the distance. Terry had told me that some really-big bucks were feeding in those wheat fields at night and in the early morning. “They usually would start coming back from those wheat fields later in the morning,” Terry said. “If you didn’t see any deer at first light, you shouldn’t get discouraged. Just keep watching that area.” About 1 hour after daylight, I watched two huge bucks about 400- to 500-yards away and behind me. I really started feeling sorry for myself. “You should’ve been up where the bucks crossed instead of down here where you’re not seeing any deer,” I told myself. At 9:30 a.m., I saw a doe and a fawn coming across that region within shooting range – about 200-yards away as I looked at them through my scope. I got off my stool, propped my rifle on it and had a rock-solid rest. I knew that if a buck stepped out behind that doe and fawn, I could make the shot with my Ruger .300 Win. Mag. that would drive tacks. Since the doe and fawn weren’t acting like a buck was behind them, I relaxed and looked behind me again to see if another buck might be crossing that cutover region.


Click to enlargeWhen I once more looked back, I spotted a monster-sized buck walking into the cleared land and following the doe and the fawn that had now left. I put my glove under my gun to give it a steady rest, looked through my scope and saw the buck walking away from me. As big as he was, I didn’t want to take the shot at him as he walked away. I’d seen from the tracks in the snow that the doe and fawn had gone into the woods, so I thought to myself, “If that buck stays on their tracks, he’ll turn broadside just before he moves into the woods. That’s when I’ll take the shot.” Once the buck reached the point on the trail where the doe had turned into the woods, he turned and quartered-away from me. I lifted my head off the stock and whistled as loud as I could. The buck stopped and started looking in my direction. I fired and missed him. As soon as I jerked the trigger, I knew I’d missed the deer because I didn’t squeeze the trigger. The outfitter, who’d been sitting in his truck, heard the shot. When he came walking over he asked, “Well?” and I explained that the deer would score well over 200 points if I hadn’t missed him. Terry and I went down and tracked the deer far enough to know that I hadn’t even cut a hair on his hide. I was very upset. I’d just blown the shot on a huge buck and felt almost physically sick. I felt so bad about blowing my chance of a lifetime.


Click to enlarge“We have a couple of options now,” Terry explained. “You’ve hunted hard for several days. We can go back to camp, eat an early lunch, take a break and start hunting this afternoon. Or, I know of a few places where we can rattle and see if we can call in a buck.” We decided to go rattling. Terry and I had worked out a signal that enabled him to notify me if he saw a buck since he’d be looking in one direction, and I’d be facing the other. “Greg, if I clash the antlers together three times hard and fast, then you know to look in my direction,” Terry said. “This means I’ve seen a buck you haven’t spotted yet.” At the first two places, we stopped, rattled and completed two rattling sequences, but we didn’t see any deer. At the third place, I heard the signal. Right after Terry began his third rattling sequence, he interrupted it by clashing the antlers together three times. I saw him throw his rattling antlers down and dive under a blown-down tree, using it for a hiding place. When I looked up to where Terry had been sitting, I saw a trophy buck walking straight at Terry. The buck circled to the right above where Terry had been sitting on a little hill to get downwind of his position. The 10-point buck with three stickers already knew exactly where the rattling was. When I saw him again, he was 25 yards in front of Terry and about 50 yards in front of me. As the buck turned broadside to me, I fired a shot. However, the deer didn’t know where the sound had come from, and he ran straight for me. I had to step back to keep him from running over me. I could see I’d made a good hit. Because he couldn’t go very far, I didn’t even try to get off a second shot. I heard the deer fall about 30 yards past me just out of sight. Terry came running up to me and asked, “Did you hit him?” I replied, “Yeah, I hit him. He’s piled-up over the hill.” “That’s a 180-class B&C deer!” Terry yelled. I yelled back, “I know!”


Although this gigantic buck scored 180-3/8-B&C, I knew this buck wasn’t the one that I’d missed earlier. That one was much bigger and a non-typical. I learned from this High-Noon PhD Buck that I:

* might have to hunt for several days and pass-up some bucks that would score 130 to 150 B&C for the opportunity to take a really-good buck;

* couldn’t shoot a 180-class buck if I shot a 130-class buck first and filled my tag;

* needed to listen to my guide;

* couldn’t give up on a hunt until it was over; and

* could take bucks in the middle of the day. As I looked at my watch right after I shot this buck, the time was high noon.


To learn more about “PhD Whitetails,” click here.


Tomorrow: The Highway PhD Buck

Check back each day this week for more about "Deer Hunting with Greg Miller "

Day 1: The Hungry PhD Buck
Day 2: The UPS PhD Buck
Day 3: What Miller Learned From This UPS PhD Buck
Day 4: The High-Noon PhD Buck
Day 5: The Highway PhD Buck


Entry 371, Day 3