Killing a mature buck is a process. It often begins before the season and typically it will take strategic planning to get the job done. Obviously there are exceptions to every rule, but luck will not bless the unprepared hunter season after season. To consistently kill mature bucks there a factors that will play a role in your success or lack there of.
How do you kill a mature buck year after year? Put in the work, period, end of story. If you fail to put in the work it’s highly unlikely you will kill a mature buck on a regular basis. Killing mature bucks is hard enough; don’t fool yourself that it is easy.
After browsing a few articles and watching a few videos I was blatantly reminded of an important aspect of being able to kill a mature buck. That buck HAS to move during daylight from time to time on your cameras. If it fails to move on your cameras throughout the pre-season and into the season don’t set yourself up for failure, find another buck that does move during daylight. There will be times that a nocturnal buck will move during the day, but bedding areas and rutting activity are likely to be the only exception that causes this. So plan wisely if you have your heart set on a nocturnal buck.
Struggling to believe me that nocturnal bucks are tough to kill. Check out this video from Dr. Grant Woods of Growing Deer TV. He has a similar perspective on the matter. Dr. Woods isn’t alone on this perspective; Bill Winke references the idea of only chasing bucks that move during the daylight numerous times in the material he produces.
Why are these professional hunters making a recommendation not to chase some of the best bucks you have on camera? Consider the fact that a trail camera works 24/7. Last time I checked no hunter spends 24 hours a day and 7 days a week in the same spot waiting for a deer to pass. If that camera only shows that buck moving during even hours in the location of that camera it’s highly unlikely that pattern will change. Bill Winke and myself have wasted entire season’s chasing deer that are nocturnal. If there is a remarkable buck that appears to be nocturnal don’t give up all hope, but target other deer and only hunt the nocturnal deer when conditions are perfect and make every effort not to alert this already cautious deer of your presence.
If you’re hunting state land or a property that already receives a lot of pressure go for the kill and pursue this buck near his bed, while this is a risky move it may be your only chance of killing this buck that primary moves during the cover of darkness. If you’ve had a nocturnal buck on camera for years it may be worth taking the risk and trying to hunt that buck in its bedroom. Obviously a key to being successful with this tactic is that the buck resides on your property. Having a realistic picture of these nocturnal bucks will save you a lot of headaches. Heed this warning that killing those deer will be a real challenge.
At the end of the day use your best judgment and find a way to get the job done or target other deer. While I say that you shouldn’t pursue nocturnal bucks NAW whitetail seems to run stories of hunters harvesting deer they never expected to see. So success can be had, but it’s likely to be to 1 in 100 hunters. It’s much more likely you’ll kill a deer that shows daylight tendencies. Good luck pursuing that trophy this season. Remember wind direction, time of year, weather patterns, moon phases, and all the other strategies you’ve read about when pursuing these elusive animals. Above all be sure to enjoy every second of your opportunity to pursue a trophy whitetail.