PORTSMOUTH, N.H. - This past November, Jake Miller accomplished what many hunters can only hope to accomplish in a lifetime. And he did it in eight days!
In the heart of the whitetail season, Jake pulled out all of the stops, while also filming and producing for "THE HUNT with Greg & Jake," which airs Mondays at 1 p.m. ET on Outdoor Channel.
In November, Jake and cameraman Chad Calhoun pulled onto a 300-acre parcel of land in Indiana sight unseen and, of course, without a guide. Having never hunted this property was the first challenge. The second was that the landowner loved to cruise around on his ATV before dawn each day.
Although big bucks were showing up on cameras pretty much every night, daylight hours revealed a property seemingly void of life. After working the tract of land hard, strategizing, and then re-strategizing (plus squeezing a little cooperation from the landlord to abstain from his raucous morning ritual), Jake found himself in a tree stand with a Maxima Red arrow knocked and pointing right at his quarry. The arrow flew true and, after 10 days of hard hunting, Jake and his cameraman had got it done with a beautiful Indiana buck on the ground.
After taking a half day to celebrate, cut up and cape Jake's trophy and then repack their clothes, the two Wisconsin boys were on the road and headed straight to a 15,000-acre chunk of hunting property in southeast Kansas.
Upon his arrival in Kansas, Jake met up with the property manager, David, who was scheduled to leave. After a quick tour, David looked at Jake and Chad with a smile and said, "There you go boys ... have at it!" Attacking that much land without a guide or extensive local knowledge guaranteed an uphill battle. Jake was left with only his instinct and previous experiences to rely on.
"After diligently studying satellite images of the property and reviewing photos from several Reconyx cameras, we were forced to make a decision," Jake said. "We had to trust the patterns that our Reconyx cameras were picking up, and then try to position our Ameristep treestands in spots that would provide us with the greatest chance for success."
As luck would have it, Jake's gut instinct paid off. Just 1 1/2 days into his Kansas bowhunt, he arrowed a buck appropriately nicknamed "Hollywood," because like a celebrity he most only came out at night. Once again, Miller had put himself in the right place at the right time.
"You just have to love those times when you trust your instincts and past experiences and get a payout like this. I am certainly blessed," Jake said.
Then it was back on the road west to the eastern plains of "Colorful Colorado," as the welcome sign proclaims. Again, hunting a chunk of property for the first time without a guide, Jake again took to the challenge.
"We did what we always do. We show up and start right in with the homework. We put out our Reconyx cameras and consider just about every possible scenario. And then we try to put ourselves in a situation that most likely is going to pay off," Jake said. "That's why we love this game so much. You just never know what's going to happen."
From the start Jake noticed that both big whitetail and big mule deer bucks were spread out across the prairie, chasing does well out of reach of a bullet, let alone an arrow. Watching those deer while sitting on his tree stand situated in a river bottom, Jake held out hope that not all the big bucks were strewn across the plains. He knew one could eventually emerge from the thick cover in the bottom.
Then, on day two while being distracted by the action in the distance, the buck that Jake was waiting for suddenly appeared from the thick cover and started working its way straight toward his position. Jake waited for the right moment and locked his Mathews Creed XS on the target. Seconds later an NAP-tipped Carbon Express arrow zipped through 30 yards of Colorado air space and another big whitetail buck was down!
Over these eight days of truly Do-It-Yourself bow hunting, on properties that had to be studied and scouted on the fly, Jake took down three very mature bucks in three different states.
"Luck played a role here for sure. But in my line of work, luck is a product of putting your time in, scouting, and hunting hard," Jake said. "When it all comes together like this, it truly is an incredible feeling."
Watch the events unfold this summer as "THE HUNT" premieres another breathtaking season on Outdoor Channel.
"The Hunt with Greg & Jake" Show Page