Reflecting on Two Months of Hunting

Hunting season often seems to fly by in the blink of an eye. Often there is little time to reflect on all that takes place. Between your own stories and the stories you hear from other hunters it all comes at you so fast it’s often hard to sort through it all. Recapping everything is virtually impossible. Boiling two months of a season into one post is far from an easy task. That’s why even a fantastic movie often doesn’t do a great book justice, there just isn’t enough time to boil all the contents of a book into 2 hours of film. Nevertheless here’s my brief attempt to highlight two months of hunting. I could run in a million different directions detailing two months of the whitetail season, but for simplicities sake I’ll zero in on some of my favorite stories from these two months.

I make it a habit to follow all of Bill Winke’s hunts. Winke often think’s through his strategy quite seriously and he does a fine job of documenting it all. Every one of Winke’s hunts can be found at his video blog. Probably the most important tactic or idea I’ve taken away from Winke’s 41 hunts this season is the value of the perfect stand. Winke has docked 15-20 hunts in his Redneck blind that over looks one of his corn food plots. The secret to Winke’s constant success from this blind is his ability to sneak through a CRP field with a cut trail and then sneak past a cedar/tree row for his final hundred yards to this blind. Watching Winke get into this blind without spooking deer is quite remarkable. Equally remarkable is the number of bucks he’s seen from this one tree-stand. Ironically the primary buck he’s been after has yet to show himself since a brief encounter in the early season. Despite Winke’s inability to connect on ‘Lucky’ he sure has had some amazing hunt’s from this redneck blind. I’ve enjoyed watching everything single one of his hunts this season.

Andy Hayes of AllThingsWhitetail took a fantastic Indiana buck after continual habit work with the help of Jim Ward. He posted a brief video of the buck after he recovered that deer. Andy and Jim Ward’s joint work on his property have allowed him to harvest some great Indiana bucks over the past few years. Jim Ward’s tactics and ideas can be found at his Whitetail Academy website. Andy credits much of his success to a water hole that was created for the whitetails on his property to have a place to drink. This allowed him to pinpoint the great ‘Iron Buck’.

Mark Kenyon faced serious adversity after being unable to find ‘Jawbreaker’ early in his Ohio bow hunting season. He’d redeem himself in due time as he took down a fine Ohio buck weeks later. It’s not the lows that define our season. How we as a hunter handle those lows is often what defines our season. For Mark it was his determination to press on that eventually led him to success in Ohio. Read all the details of his Ohio season at wiredtohunt.com. It’s a story well worth your time.

A good buddy of mine Ryan Roberts is free to hunt and free to hunt quite often compared to his previous days of playing college football. Now that his college football days are over he’s hung up the cleats and is putting in his time 20 feet up in in tree. His season had it’s ups and downs, but Ryan found a way to get it done. He worked tirelessly to put his girlfriend on a nice Illinois whitetail while putting in serious amounts of time behind the camera. Unfortunately things didn’t go quite as planned. When it came time for Ryan to take the drivers seat things played out a bit differently, and boy did they play out differently. Ryan Roberts BuckOn November 16th (often considered peak rut) he let an arrow fly to put down a great bow buck. Ryan found great relief to put a buck down a week before the gun season arrived. Just a week later Ryan found his way onto a stud of an eight point during the first Illinois gun season. When the moment of truth arrived he made a shot that would put this bruiser down. It was scouting efforts that led to success on this gun season buck. Ryan had located a great pinch point on a hillside near a creak. After telling me this was a great spot he proved it by capitalizing on his second buck of the season. Thanks to the handy trail camera he knew without a doubt that this was a good spot. Ryan’s feat of putting tags on two nice bucks in one season is no easy task. I guess he didn’t want to be outdone by his dad who accomplished the same feat. What a great season for the Robert’s family. 

Ryan Roberts Buck

My best hunting buddy proved that the early season can be a just as rewarding as those epic rut hunts we all dream of. Just into his 2014 bow season he took down his largest bow buck to date. It was his first sit in a stand we both hung. Jon had the spot all picked out and we snuck in there well before the season to hang the stand. Both Jon and I felt like it was a great spot, but all the credit goes to Jon for picking the right location. The funny thing about this stand is we did our work and trimmed some decent shooting lanes. Yet our failure to bring a pole saw almost proved costly. Somehow Jon made do of the lack of shooting lanes on the path that the buck chose to take and he made the shot of a lifetime. Having climbed into the stand myself to survey the shooting options I still am in awe he pulled off the shot he did. Nonetheless this mid October buck will sit on his wall forever. Congrats to Jon on his largest bow buck to date.

Jon Schaible Buck

Did I do all of these stories justice? Probably not, but the beauty of the hunt truly lies in the eye of the beholder. The one who gets out there and stares down these majestic creatures is the person who truly appreciates the beauty of the hunt. Congrats to all who have had success thus far this season and may lady luck bless those who are still fighting to place their tag on a buck for the wall. There is still time to get it done, it won’t be easy, but hunting is never easy.

 

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A Look Back on A Stellar Season

Midwest Whitetail has the most comprehensive collection of online shows. Each day of the week throughout the season one of their regional teams uploads a video for viewers to watch. Throughout the season I’ve come to truly appreciate the wide array of coverage Midwest Whitetail provides. The team covers the majority of whitetail hunting regions in the US. To my knowledge I don’t know of any team that covers more of the whitetails range. Midwest Whitetail is producing film just about anywhere the whitetail roams. Learning the differences of each region can be of great value to the hunter that travels to different states to hunt. Viewing hunts that take place within your prospective state gives the viewer an idea of the caliber of whitetails professionals are harvesting. More importantly it reveals tactics and stand placement ideas for different regions of the country.

Check out this — highlight real — that the Midwest Whitetail main show put together.

Much thanks to Bill Winke for putting together this great team to film hunts across all corners of the whitetail range.

Many Methods to Harvesting Big Bucks

Bowhunting.com aires a great — episode — showing the numerous methods to take mature bucks. Harvesting a mature buck is never easy, but there sure are a number of ways to harvest these animals. One proven method is with the use of decoy’s. Another unorthodox method is the backyard stalk. Rarely will a hunter have a chance to do this, but if the opportunity presents itself it may lead to a mature buck down. The late season food plot is probably the most effective method of these three to take a mature buck. In the late season mature bucks have to eat and if the food source is not over pressured good things should result. Clinton Fawcett shows us how big of a buck you may have an opportunity at. Unfortunately the buck does not give Clinton the right shot so he elects to pass. Regardless that is a phenomenal encounter for Clinton.

For those still able to hunt opportunities may be plentiful over food sources. This has been a cold hard winter for the deer. As seen in Clinton’s hunt it may be possible to see upwards of 10 bucks. Depending on location. Keep hunting those food sources during your late season hunts.

Good luck to all who still have another chance to get out an hunt.

Late Season Bow Kills are Special

Brian Madison and his crew travel to —Skillet Fork Outfitters— for some late season hunting. From what I could tell the hunting was exceptional. Skillet Fork seems to have reasonable outfitter pricing and is located in the notoriously good Pike County Illinois.

The team saw some great bucks on this outing, but it was Jake who would get it done. He passes on a solid buck and finds himself with a nice 10 point later in the hunt. His reaction after he gets the deer is what it’s all about. He has a pure excitement that every serious buck hunter has. His shot placement is superb and the animal doesn’t go too far at all. Check out the hunt —here–.

Even though this hunt is outfitted there are still a few takeaways:

  • Outfitting is an option many hunters are using these days, pressure is up, and certain areas simply don’t produce the trophy caliber animals hunters are looking for
  • Anyone looking to have their own hunting production is wise to partner with outfitters to add extra buck kill in their hunting season
  • Outfitters work hard to get their clients on deer and this episode is a prime example of that, learn all you can when hunting with an outfitter
  • Hunting the late-season can be very effective when in the right locations, you’ll often see loads of deer

A Great Late-Season Kill, Along with a Great Rut Hunt

Eric Hansen worked hard to chase this buck with the bow, but this buck did not want to go down that way. Despite the frustration of chasing this deer during the bow season his fortunes changed during the gun season. Around the November 24th time frame Eric came across a photo of his number one buck and decided to move into hunt his sanctuary area. This is an area with standing corn that Eric virtually never enters. What a buck to harvest after a long hard season. Check out this hunt —here–.

A few valuable takeaways from this hunt:

  • Hunting food sources after cold fronts come through is dynamite
  • Leaving sanctuaries is a prime way to harvest mature whitetails
  • Perseverance will typically be required to take down a mature buck

In addition to Eric’s great hunt is another awesome hunt featured on Midwest Whitetail. Garret Holt shows us what hunting on a nasty rainy day can produce. His choice to use a grunt call may have been the difference between seeing and shooting this buck.

The Legend Adds to His Collection of Bucks

This season has been another promising season for Mark Drury. On October 5th Mark began the season for Drury Outdoors with a bang as he shot a 176″ buck with his bow. This was the first buck of the year for Drury Outdoors. What a buck it was. Later in the season Mark harvested a 148″ buck on November 9th with his bow. As November pressed on his daughter Taylor harvested a 156″ 8 point on November 26th with a gun. Finally Mark capped of the season with this awesome 160″ buck with a gun. In total that’s 484″ of bone for Mark Drury. What a season!

The 160″ buck inch buck Mark harvested on January 1st was a buck that Taylor had a few close encounters with this season. Nevertheless they passed on the animal due to seeing it after legal shooting hours. Finally Mark connected on this late season buck on the first day on the new year. Persistence paid off and finally this buck bit the dust.

There is nothing to say but wow as you scour the accomplishments of Mark Drury. He has the respect of nearly everyone throughout the industry. Congrats to Mark on yet another awesome season.

Largest Buck Ever Taken on Growing Deer TV

Seth (prostaff member of growing deer TV) has put together a season most hunters would dream of. Early in the bow season Seth and Aaron put together a terrific hunt in which they both harvested mature bucks. In the late season Seth and Aaron put all of their focus toward the pursuit of stickers (a Boone and Crockett Buck). For Southern Missouri Stickers is a monster of a deer. In order to prepare for late season hunting Seth and Aaron planted soybeans during the planting season and placed an electric fence around the border of the field. They removed the fence later in the season offering a fine meal for the local deer herd. The snowfall in Southern Missouri further pushed the deer to the soybean food source. The plot drew numerous bucks and does throughout the late season. Seth continued to be patient waiting for Stickers.  On December 10th Seth’s patience paid off, check out the hunt here.

Hunting mature whitetails is an incredible challenge. Here’s a few reasons Seth success chasing this true giant:

  • Off-season preparation – Seth and Aaron worked hard to get this Soybean plot ready
  • Late-season food source – Seth and Aaron waited until late-season to open this food-plot up for the deer
  • They always played the wind when pursuing this buck
  • Using snow, cold temperatures, wind direction, and food sources they picked the perfect evening to hunt Stickers

The season is quickly winding down for many hunters, but the great stories and videos from the season continue to be released.

Belief, Perseverance, and Epic Rewards.

There are many aspects of this story that amaze me. Sometimes life throws us curve balls and at other times the story that unfolds in the real world seems to be written for the big screen. The epic nature of big bucks is what makes each big buck kill so special. For Jim Cogar his constant pursuit of Conan offers a story almost too good to be true. Conan tips the scales past the mythic 200 inch mark. Few bucks have the genetic make-up to ever reach this classification. Nevertheless Jim and his neighbors had the privilege of chasing such an incredible animal.

For Jim this pursuit appeared incredibly difficult from the beginning. Conan only gave Jim a few glimpses of himself during a night-time pictures. Despite the lack of pictures Jim stuck to scouting and continued to strive to find a way to put Conan on the ground. After late-season scouting and getting proof that Conan was still around Jim prepared for a new approach to hunting Conan. Jim’s worst nightmare unfolded when the neighbors had day-time pictures of Conan and found themselves at opportunity at Conan on January 18th. The mythic animal that Conan proved to be allowed him to live another day. A poorly placed shot left Conan with a back wound, but 5 days later on Jan. 23rd he appeared again on Jim’s cameras.

February 3rd, the final day of Ohio bow season, Jim was putting in his time. His final hunt for Conan. The hunt unravels is an incredibly strange fashion, but it nonetheless happens. Jim puts the beast on the ground and the rest is record book history. Read the entire story of Jim’s hunt here.

Important takeaways from Jim’s epic season hunting Conan:

  • Despite being 7 1/2 years old Conan was showing up on cameras 1.5 miles away, this goes against research that older bucks have smaller ranges (obviously the are always exceptions to the rule)
  • Conan appeared to be mainly a nocturnal buck, however he showed himself during daylight in the late-season (hungry deer will eventually move during daylight)
  • Jim’s family manages for mature bucks passing on younger ones, as a family they appear to be harvesting some solid deer
  • As soon as you give up you’ve lost the battle, even the last day of season things can happen
  • Stories of bucks this big and this old are something special

Sometimes Hunting Hard is the Only Way

For Alec McAlpine harvesting his buck was a long grueling challenge. He and his father hunted hard throughout the entire month of November hoping for something to happen. Finally at the tail end of November things come together. Determination is often what provides hunters with a mature buck. It took a cold front to finally get this deer on his feet during the daylight. Cold fronts and food sources are typically the combination for late season success. —Watch— this father son combination in action.

Keys to Harvesting Mature Deer:

  • Patience
  • Persistence
  • Food sources early season and late season
  • Cold fronts to get bucks on their feet during daylight hours

Reflections on Hunting 14,500 Acres of Private Land

To hunters out west this may not sound like a lot of land; however, to those that hunt the East coast or the Midwest 14,500 adjoining private acres is quite a treat. Nearly all of this land is timber or swamp and the only fields are food plots.

The Forest’s proper name is Brosnan Forest located in Dorchester, SC. The property is owned by Norfolk Southern Railroad. Twenty-nine full time staff members run and maintain the property on a regular basis.

Numerous universities have conducted Whitetail studies on this population of whitetail deer. The property is free range and no fences exist around the borders of the property. The studies indicate that the female to male ratio is somewhere around 3:1 or 2:1. Which all things considered is a pretty good ratio. When serious management began on this property years ago the ratio was 9:1. At this time trophy production on the property was incredibly poor. A 6 point was considered a trophy buck at that time. Today all guests are informed that they should only harvest an 8 point that is beyond the ears in width. Antler mass is also to be consider when harvesting trophy deer. Today the average trophy whitetail at the forest is 120 inches; a vast improvement from the previous trophies which were only 6 point bucks. A true trophy for this forest ranges between 140-160 inches. For this part of the country that is an impressive animal. Each guest is allowed to harvest one buck and one doe per visit.

A few important takeaways from this unforgettable place:

  • Rotating stands to one hunt per week is ideal and always play the wind when choosing to hunt a stand
  • Food plots with an automatic feeder can be a deadly combination
  • Getting the buck to doe ratio as close to 1:1 as possible will result in bigger bucks and a more active rut
  • Quality deer management is the right approach even if your neighbors don’t play their part, it will help your local herd regardless
  • Studies at this forest and other locations continue to reveal that mature bucks appear to roam less the older they get

My dad took this buck during our time at Brosnan Forest. It is a mature 3 1/2 or 4 1/2 year old buck with heavy mass. Really just a good management buck. Unfortunately for me I need to work on my rifle shooting, but I’ll have plenty of time to do that in the off-season.

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