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. On 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.
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.
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.
Adam Hays is one of those hunters that defies what most hunters would consider exceptional. By capitalizing on three 200 inch whitetails he has done what nearly every other hunter will never do. Putting yourself in this type of club is nearly impossible. How did he do it? For most of us we probably will never completely grasp what he has done to accomplish this feat. Realtree sat down with Adam to pick his brain on how he accomplished this task: read the details here.
Hunting is not just putting yourself in a tree stand, hunting is much more than that. Adam makes it very clear that scouting is a key part to locating whitetails that top 200 inches. The scouting starts in the off-season looking for shed antlers. Patterning the large bucks with a spotting scope and from observation stands Hays learns the little details he needs to put everything together. As the season nears Adam prefers a certain time frame in late October to harvest these animals. The moon charts play a serious role in the days selected to hunt these giant bucks in late October. Sometimes calling techniques lure the bucks in and in other occasions it’s about being in the right place at the right time.
Why late October? Many hunters, not just Hays prefer to take mature bucks before the rut kicks in. After the rut kicks in the action of these animals can be highly unpredictable. Harvesting a buck before the rut takes off allows a hunter to have some sort of predictable pattern to follow with regard to buck movement.
Realtree produced another great article on Boone and Crockett bucks a while back. Check this article out for a few more tactics on how to take down giant whitetails.
It’s often a struggle to see mature deer let alone harvest them. While Michigan has mature deer there are far many more immature bucks. Tony Hansen had his eyes set on this mature buck for some time. His encounters with this buck where documented and this had been his primary target over the past few seasons. This story has a few ups and downs along the way, but in the end Tony gets it done. Harvesting a 6 1/2 year old buck in a state like Michigan is an awesome feat. Michigan allows hunters to harvest two bucks and season and many hunters in the state shoot young deer. Therefore I tip my hat to Tony on this awesome accomplishment. Trophy bucks are often hard earned and the story they leave behind is always memorable.
Check out Tony’s surprising hunt —here–.
This footage is part of the Realtree hunting video series. The footage is great, and the stories the hunters provide often great insights into the challenge and strategy to harvest a mature buck.
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.
Having the right stand location is often the difference between filling a tag on a mature buck and walking away empty handed. For Paul Marshall and Scott Reinmann of Midwest Whitetail they have the location game figured out perfectly. They’ve found a pinch point between two bodies of water that is yielding a mature buck every year for the past four years. Some of the bucks taken out of this location are absolute brutes of bucks. Another factor that consistently leads to mature buck harvest’s is waiting to hunt this prime location. This is their first hunt of the year in this location.
—Watch— this spot provide a buck yet again.
The single most important factors to harvesting a mature buck are on display in this hunt. What are those factors:
- Scouting in the off-season to find the right type of funnel to hunt during the pre-rut and rut
- Hunting a funnel that allows a bow hunter to cover the entire funnel
- Waiting to hunt the stand until after Halloween
- Playing the wind
These factors when put into play in the perfect location should lead to success almost every year. Does every hunter have this type of spot? Not likely, but alterations to land can be made to make this more of a possibility. Scout to find these types of locations and alter the terrain when necessary.
I am blown away by the bucks taken out of this exact location over the past 4 years.
Ohio is one of those states that continues to produce trophy bucks. The one buck per year rule is certainly something that allows bucks in Ohio to reach maturity. Those regulations along with other factors make Ohio one of the premiere locations to tag a trophy whitetail deer.
Brain Madison made the trek to Ohio Trophy Buck Outfitters with the intent of harvesting one of these giants. After a few hunts this season in late October he knew he’d have some great opportunities. Brian moved his stand after observing buck movements during previous hunts. The stand movement paid dividends, watch this episode of Deer Hunter Fan to see all of the action unfold.
Keys to this hunt:
- Untouched location – Brian had the privilege of hunting a location with little to no pressure prior to his arrival
- Observations – after seeing the activity Brian moved into the right location
- Entry and Exit trails – sneaking into the stand is something Brian did very well and he also snuck out well after a shot he was not thrilled with
- Waiting Overnight – sometimes this is the wisest approach when pursuing a wounded animal
Split brow was a deer Dr. Grant Woods laid awake in bed thinking about. He had been chasing this deer for years. Numerous Reconyx surveys revealed this bucks territory to Dr. Woods, but no actual encounters with this buck had ever taken place. As the buck aged Dr. Woods hoped this would change. Last season sheds of this mythical deer where found. He had lost one of his main tines and had also lost one of his eyes.
Watch this —episode of growing deer tv— to see how the hunt unfolds.
What makes this hunt so special:
- This is the trophy deer on the farm
- This animal is incredibly elusive
- Dr. Woods has spent numerous hours attempting to pattern this buck
- This is the first hunt in this stand that was hung during the summer
- The buck is a warrior with only 1 eye and it survived the worst outbreak of EHD in recent years
I hope you enjoy the hunt as much as I did. And hopefully your trophy hits the ground soon! It’s about that time.