Smokepole stalking success: Follow the bubbles

Blogger takes three public-lands deer.

The last few weekends have netted me a bunch of meat.

On the last weekend of December, I was on an evening hunt in Bayou Cocodrie National Wildlife Refuge when what I thought were two does came skipping through my thicket. I was focusing hard on the first doe in my crossbow scope as she jumped right through all three of my shooting lanes along a 40-yard trail.

I made a grunting noise with my mouth, which stopped the second deer for a brief second in the last possible hole I had to shoot through.

Forty-six yards; thwack!

The deer only ran 40 yards after the quartering-away shot. Too bad it ended up being a 1-inch spike. Not what I was looking to burn my second buck tag on, but I was happy to achieve phase two on my yearly freezer-filling mission of six.

With not having any success filling antlerless tags, I took out my muzzleloader for the Red River WMA season. Hoping to finally see something other than a small buck for a change, a change came.

Post bubbles
It was a windy Thursday morning as I crept upwind in the water’s edge along a slough.  After two hours of this, I knew it was just a matter of time with all the deer sign around.

Suddenly, I jumped a deer that stopped in the slough just 40 yards away. Noticing no horns, I squeezed.

The deer disappeared in the smoke after giving me a good broadside shot.

No blood, no hair, no sign – except for bubbles. This would be a tough deer to track if I waited. Confident of a lethal shot, time being of the essence, I pressed.

The short bubble trail led me to some land, but still no blood. I was helplessly wandering in this direction when I saw a puddle ahead. Sure enough more bubbles.

The wind, whipping strongly, was starting to blow the bubbles away, so I rushed ahead to the next slough 30ish yards away, skipping any glances for blood on the dry ground.

I knew my odds were dwindling as the little evidence of the deer’s trail popped with each gust. Walking the slough up and down, I barely noticed the few remaining bubbles floating away.

I crossed slough and ventured in that direction. Sure enough my deer was dead 50 yards away on the dry land across this slough no blood in site.

What a find!

Pre bubbles
After an unsuccessful morning hunt, I inched through another slough on a stalk, a very light wind in my face. I came across some bubbles.

At this moment, it was 50/50 on which way this deer passed. To increase my odds of success, I walked both directions of the bubble trail until I finally saw a fresh track in the leaves pointing upwind.

“Dead deer,” I thought!

With unwithering confidence, I tracked the bubbles, knowing this deer was nearby. After nearly a half hour of carefully calibrated noiseless steps at a tortoisesque pace, the well-camouflaged deer was spotted in a thicket a mere 25 yards away.

Broadside: Boom!

I quietly walked to the spot, and saw good blood. I let the deer sit a few hours, knowing I had a solid blood trail and that there was no need for a quick track on this one.

A quick 50-yard search yielded my dead deer.

With a whole bunch of hungry clients and two extended hunting weekends to go, one unlucky doe and buck are left on my agenda!

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About Josh Chauvin 117 Articles
Joshua Chauvin is a health-focused ultra-marathon runner who goes on solo manual-powered public land adventures focusing on hunting big game and large fish by using challenging methods and weapons. He enjoys self-filming and sharing the tactics and details from his expeditions to help others learn from his unique techniques.