The Four Year Quest

A four-year quest…Where to begin?

2012

I believe it’s best to start with this trail camera photo that set me on a relentless quest to harvest the Michigan buck of two lifetimes. When I first captured this buck on camera in 2012, to say I became obsessed with hunting this deer would be an understatement. While I was a young hunter with respect to field experience I gave it my all that year. I hunted hard. Not too smart… but I tried to learn as much as I could to harvest this 170” gross animal. I did end up taking a 102” gross 8 point that season, but I never once saw this giant Michigan deer on the hoof.

While I considered the season a success harvesting a 100” deer, I was growing weary hunting the late season to fill my 2nd tag on this 170” buck. For my father in-law that all changed on Dec. 31st when he harvested this giant with a stick and string.

15 Point at Night

While I realized I had little chance of killing that deer, I enjoyed the season we all had pursuing him. To eventually be able to put the tape to a deer of that caliber in the hard-hunted region of southern Michigan was a thrill.

MarkStewartBuck_2012

2013

Transitioning into the 2013 season I wasn’t near as thrilled about the class of mature bucks we had, but there were still some good deer to target. Having spent the previous season chasing a trophy buck, clever and incredibly difficult to pattern, I was determined to learn more about the mighty whitetail. Over time I’ve come to realize such learning is a never-ending process. During that season I was determined to get the job done. Though I quickly began to realize how tough it really is to get the job done in Michigan. Mature Mitten bucks don’t survive for just any reason; they are smart creatures. I do believe these deer are killable, but they require advanced hunting strategies and techniques that aren’t developed in one or even two seasons.

Using the Wired to Hunt resources, watching all of Bill Winke and Grant Woods online hunting shows, reading articles and magazines; I was trying to veraciously learn as much as possible. While I consumed as much content as possible, I came to realize there is nothing that can replace field experience and time spent scouting outside of the season. Familiarizing oneself to a property and dissecting it to the point that you understand the ground close to the way in which the deer understand is critical for in-field success. I did not learn these things from articles or watching content alone. It’s been a collection of both articles and field experience that have taught me a lot about my primary hunting property, not to mention the data garnished from trail cameras as well.

As another season ended, I came to the realization I needed to add more properties to my list of options. In late December, I added an additional property in an urban environment that allowed us to harvest a lot of does. Despite the success on does, mature bucks eluded me throughout this season. I chalked it up as a season of lessons learned.

2014

Determined not to repeat past mistakes and armed with two properties, I was certain this year was going to be a year to remember. I applied my knowledge gained over the two previous seasons. The success was clear, but still I’d leave the season with two Michigan buck tags in my hand. Opening day of gun season a great friend of mine shot a 4-½-year-old Michigan buck that I had my scope on as well. Being that this friend was not 100% certain where I was, he elected to take the shot on this buck before it had turned broadside for me. We were roughly 120 yards apart and the buck was somewhat in between us. With a savage shotgun in hand, it was a shot anyone would take should the chance present itself. While we did not end up recovering that deer I was thrilled that I put us in a situation to encounter a 4-½-year-old deer. There is no one I would have rather had take a shot at a mature buck at my place than Jon. He has always been incredibly generous to me about hunting his farm. Losing an animal is part of hunting and even the best hunters experience it one time or another.

The 2014 season could be described as the season of hunting smart and not overhunting stands. I was incredibly disciplined about this. On November 3rd I had the best hunting day of my life. I had stayed out of my main property and this was one of the first days I had moved in to hunt mature bucks. After a slow start I encountered four bucks pursuing two does on the same exact trail. The tough part was that this trail was 50-60 yards from my stand. Close, but not close enough. I was still excited that one of those bucks was the buck I desired to harvest the most this season. Later that night my father and I moved into two of our best stands. While I didn’t see any mature bucks I saw a couple does and numerous immature bucks. My father on the other hand, a mere 100 yards away, had a nice encounter with another one of our target bucks.

I pushed myself to go further that year. I took my first out of state hunting trip to Ohio. A good buddy and myself hunted public land in Ohio a couple of different weekends. He was able to harvest a mature doe and I was quite happy to have some encounters with both bucks and does.

For the 2014 in particular, I was convinced of the importance and value your first sit holds in a specific stand location. This is and always will be your best chance to arrow a mature buck. While opening day of gun season almost became one of the best hunting days in my memory, I left this season with great memories, but no antlers on the wall.

2015

There is no time like the present. It is these very moments that we define both our current reality and set the course for our future. I made certain that this was going to be the best season of my hunting career. While I made every effort to do that Mother Nature had some surprises in store. What I thought was going to be one of my best seasons was unfolding as one of my worst seasons.

Here’s what I did right: 1) intense summer scouting and incredible trail camera inventory of local bucks; 2) added my list of different properties to hunt to four; 3) made the decision to hunt Pike County, IL with my father.

Here’s what I did wrong: 1) assumed that low pressure would lead to success (I failed to realize that neighboring pressure would greatly affect my mature buck movement); 2) early in the season, I failed to capitalize on putting my wife in a stand over a good 2-½-year-old Michigan buck scrape; 3) hunted my additional properties too hard early in the season, making it more challenging to have time to hunt hard during the rut; 4) got sick during the rut, which prevented me from hunting as much as I should have been during this period.

Good and bad aside I grinded out this season. Throughout the year I made it a priority to hunt smart, using trail camera intelligence to determine hunting locations, and made sure scent control was part of every hunt. I knew I needed to do everything possible not to alert deer that they were being hunted. My resolve to keep these critical details a part of every hunt was unmatched in comparison to past seasons.

Outside of one exciting cold front hunt in the middle of October, I consider that month to have pretty much been a bust with regard to mature buck sightings. As November arrived, I snuck in a few good hunts with my wife, but failed to see any shooters. With our Pike County trip approaching, I slowed my hunting down a bit in Michigan to spend some time with family. While in Pike County both my father and I passed on nice 2-½-year-old bucks as we elected to hold out for something bigger. Even though we saw bucks nearly every hunt, we were unable to get the job done on our short trip to Illinois. With no trophy in hand, I still considered this some of the best hunting I had ever experienced. Bucks were everywhere and rattling was quite effective. However, this trip proved to be challenging from start to finish. On our way to Pike County a simple cold turned into a terrible cold. Thankfully, I only skipped one hunt while in Pike County. Upon our return to Michigan I stopped hunting most of the week in an attempt to heal up as quickly as possible. With the gun season nearing my wife and I made it out for a few more hunts the final week of bow season. Sadly it was more of the same. We were seeing deer, but not the bucks we were targeting. This had me second-guessing everything I was doing. Last season staying out of my primary property until the rut had worked so well. This year that was far from true.

The arrival of gun season on November 15th left me disgruntled, as I did not see a single deer. It was the worst opening morning I can remember. Furthermore, I did not see deer on my primary property the rest of the gun season. I did everything possible to hunt smart and even got mobile with the Lone Wolf. Before I knew it the gun season and the rut were beginning to wind down. I made the decision that it was now or never. I told my wife that I had to get it done within the final stretches of the rut or my odds of killing a mature Michigan buck would drastically decrease.

I started hunting morning and evenings for days straight. Sadly that wasn’t changing my luck one bit. By the grace of God, I got a call from my buddy that he’d like to take me out to one of his good spots. This spot does not receive the pressure that a lot of good hunting spots do and the deer herd in the area seems to have incredibly high numbers. With no buck tags left in my buddy’s pocket I was going to be the hunter. Our first night out at his spot we saw nine does and four more walking out. Realizing the doe numbers were so high on this property, I knew there’d be a chance at a mature buck. The arrival of the major snowstorm on the 21st only made me more confident in our hunt on the morning of the 22nd. Boy was I in for a good surprise.

Despite a slow start of seeing only one doe way in the distance at 8:00 am, we kept grinding it out. The temps were cold and the sun was slowly breaking out to warm things up. By 9:00 am I finally spotted three does at 180 yards. The deer were primarily feeding on browse along the hardwoods edge. In time, two more does popped out into the hay field. Shortly thereafter antlers appeared. From what I could tell it was a big 6-point roughly two and a half years old. Finally I had my eyes on a buck during the gun season. After the buck had stepped out two more does entered the field. My buddy was getting excited about this big 6-point, but I told him I had a feeling that something better was on the way. Sure enough minutes after uttering those words out he stepped. With the sun shining on him, there he stood in all his glory amongst a large group of deer. I quickly put the Leupold binoculars on him. My first estimate was a 120” 8-point, then as time ticked by I went down to 110” all the way down to 100”. At 180 yards it was hard to judge his size. One thing I did notice was that he appeared to have a split brow tine.

The minutes passed with the deer feeding on the hay and the woody browse along the woods edge. Eventually the two bucks headed north into the CRP field remaining roughly 180 yards away the entire time. As they had stepped out of sight and the does eventually disappeared as well, I thought it was all but over. Then just when we were beginning to lose focus everything changed in an instant. First a doe stepped out at 15 yards from the CRP field. She worked directly in front of our pop-up tent. I expected more does to follow her. As I waited for the next doe I made the first steps to ready my firearm. Then to my amazement I saw antlers. I knew it was the 8-point from earlier and he was at 15 yards moving from the edge of the CRP into the hay field. The doe was working towards a spot in the hay field where she may be able to wind us and this mature buck was slowly following her a mere 15 yards from us. Thinking through these factors I shouldered my shotgun as quickly as possible and put the crosshairs on his big chest. Upon getting the scope on his body his chest nearly covered my entire scope at 15 yards. At a slow walk he was moving through my first shooting window in the pop-up tent. With the crosshairs somewhat where I wanted them I let one fly. Just like that this giant dropped onto the ground.

The next few moments were intense. He was still kicking on the ground and I was struggling to rack another shell into my Remington 870. My buddy with a knife on his side busted through the front of the pop-up tent and had intentions of keeping this buck down with a knife. Knowing how dangerous that was and also telling myself over and over, “You have to put another one in this deer,” I eventually got another shell into the chamber. Yelling at my buddy to step out of the way I tried to get on the deer, but just like that he was up and running along the edge of the hay field and the CRP.

At this point, I was both in shock of what just happened and quite concerned this buck had just gotten away. We resorted to calling our fathers to get some advice on how to proceed. The consensus was to go after him. Blood was present, but not exactly what I was hoping for having shot him at 15 yards. The snow made the tracking quite easy. Within 100 yards of where he had first dropped from the shot, there he lay. Finally… I had my Michigan trophy. I cannot thank my buddy Kevin enough for the hunt of a lifetime. I am thankful both to him and to the LORD for providing me with the chance to hunt a buck of this caliber.

132 1/8" Buck - 11/22/2015 - 9:45 AM
132 1/8″ Buck – 11/22/2015 – 9:45 AM

Most of us guessed him to be around 3-½ years old, a few of my buddies thought he might be 4-½. The taxidermist agreed with the few, estimating him to be 4-½ years old. I put the tape on him and he came out to 132 1/8”. He obviously crushes my previous buck of 102”. While they get bigger and inches aren’t even close to what it’s all about, I could not be more thankful. Four years ago, a 102” inch buck is exactly what I needed when I was just beginning to learning about this great sport. Today, a 130” buck is exactly what I am after. In Michigan, a 130” buck represents a deer that is at the top of the food chain. Yes there are bigger ones, but those are not easy deer to come by in southern Michigan.

 

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October – November Hunting and Harvests

Hunting: 

I’m a firm believer in pressure and not applying too much of it on the deer. So I make every effort to spread my sits out and hunt different properties. The property I hunt that has produced the most success up until this point of the season is quite large. The pressure on the deer is less due to that fact. Thankfully this large farm is surrounded by other large properties, so in all the deer probably do not receive to much pressure. On this property I’ve found a bedding area that is rather easy to access and I’m able to get in and out quietly. This specific spot has delivered solid deer movement from start to finish of each hunt. This continues to be my best tactic for these October hunts. In addition to this bedding area location there are numerous areas on the property that I continue to hunt with mobile tactics using my Lone Wolf.

My urban property has been a bit slow this year, but has produced a few good bucks moving during the daylight on trail camera. I’m hoping the bucks are moving through the area even more during the rut. Thankfully my father was able to capitalize on a solid urban 8 point on the morning of Oct. 30th. That morning proved to be an awesome morning of hunting for a lot of hunters. The bucks are starting to cruise late morning and mid-day on our trail cameras in this urban environment.

Dad's Buck - 8 Point - 10/30/2015 - Morning
Dad’s Buck – 8 Point – 10/30/2015 – Morning

I have another small property we hunt that contained standing corn for a good chunk of the bow season. It’s provided good deer movement during daylight hours but all of the movement continues to be does only so we haven’t this property too hard. There are bucks in the area; the trail camera just shows them all moving under the cover of darkness. Ironically this property is not far from the bedding area I mentioned on the large property. It appears the bucks are moving in the bedding area during daylight hours and not hitting this small food source until later in the night.

I believe it is important to mention that I’ve truly committed to staying out of my main property. It’s exciting knowing this property holds so many bucks, yet it was challenging waiting for what I called the Halloween affect. Once Halloween hits is truly seems like the mature bucks are on their feet. Due to the major cold front that hit right around Halloween I began hunting this property quite hard at the end of October which is a touch earlier then I’d like. The weather temps for November aren’t what I’d hope them to be, so this forced me into thinking that a late October strike may have been my best opportunity. It’s too bad that this year the tactic of staying out did not pay off like it did the previous year. I’ll blame that on pressure from neighboring properties and unusually warm temperatures for a good chunk of the rut. While we did see deer when we finally moved in, we have not seen the bucks we’ve been looking for. This was my most frustrating hunting at my primary property that I can ever remember.

Thankfully even though I had very though hunting at my primary property my father and I made our first trip to Pike County, IL. We did a quick four day trip to Pike County. During this trip we have numerous encounters with 2.5 year old bucks (some of which may have been 3.5). I passed on a 100″ buck and my father passed on a 115″ buck. If I would have had a chance at one of the 115″ bucks I probably would have been more tempted to harvest the animal since the duration of our trip was so short. One of my biggest takeaways from the trip was the effectiveness of rattling in Pike County. We had a tons of success drawing in bucks with rattling on this trip.

Once gun season started back home everything dried up for me. Despite using my mobile Lone Wolf tactics my primary property was simply not producing for me or anyone that was hunting it. Thankfully I have two buddies with rather effective shotgun hunting spots. One of them got me out to his spot for the first time on Saturday November 21st. Too say the hunting was good would be an understatement. Within a few hours we had seen 9 does and bumped 4 more walking out. The following morning November 22nd my hunting life would be changed forever. Despite a very slow start in which my buddy only saw 1 doe way in the distance at 8:00 am we started to see movement at 9:00 am. First 3 does, then 2 more, then a 2.5 year old 6 point, then 2 more does, finally out he stepped. When he breached the woods the sun was shinning perfectly on his rack and you could simply see the tines and this buck in all his glory. Most likely he was one of if not the primary dominate bucks in this area. After a bit of feeding the two bucks headed north to the CRP ground. Personally I thought they were gone for the rest of the morning. Yet 15 minutes after they had disappeared one of the does that had been feeding in the hay had circled through the CRP to the North and chosen to loop back south and step out of the CRP 15 yards from our pop-up tent. My expectations where that more does would be following her. Boy was I wrong. A minute after she had walked directly in front of our pop up tent he stepped out in the same spot she did. I knew right away it was now or never. I quickly shouldered the only gun I truly love and trust. My Remington 870 was bored deep into my shoulder.  The 132″ buck was 15 yards away and quickly moving through my first shooting window in the pop-up tent. Worried him or the doe would bust at any moment I quickly pup my sights on this massive deer and all I saw was a nice big body in my scope. I did my best to center the sights and let one rip. Within the blink of an eye he piled into the ground. While he still had a little life left in him the slug did it’s job and we eventually came upon him about 100 yard from where he had first fallen from the shot. Just like that I had the biggest buck of my hunting career down on an incredible snowy morning. To say my buddy and I were excited would be an understatement…we were thrilled! Endless thanks goes out to my buddy Kevin for putting me on a buck hunt I’ll never forget!

132 1/8" Buck - 11/22/2015 - 9:45 AM
132 1/8″ Buck – 11/22/2015 – 9:45 AM

Nutrition:

Food: Our food plots look good. The chicory is getting cleaned up by the deer. The corn screen has either been destroyed by raccoons or deer. The turnips, radishes, and forage oats are looking great. Hopefully these plots do their job when the time is right.

Minerals: I continue to run minerals throughout the season, but the value of them lessens this time of year. Deer still need the minerals, but since the water content in the forage they’re eating this time of year is not as high as it is in the summer the deer aren’t desiring the minerals quite as much. That being said running minerals throughout the season is not a bad idea.

Water: The water holes have finally filled back up this fall due to some rain, but I cannot be sure how much the deer are using them since I haven’t monitored them closely at all this time of year. At this point in the season they are starting to freeze up.

Trail Cameras: Wow the scrape pictures have been incredible this year. I use Tinks and Buck Fever Pre-Post Rut scents to enhance my scrapes and the activity at them. We just recently got a picture of one of our biggest bucks in the area on a scrape.

Mock Scrapes/Rubs: All of my mock scrapes are pretty much old deer scrapes that I make sure to freshen up and add scent to. Most of them are getting great deer activity. This is an effective way to get deer to stop where you want them too. All of these locations are just off of or directly on deer trails. If the deer are using the scrape well I don’t even touch the scrape in an attempt to keep human scent away from the scrape. Another idea I recently came across is to hang a large rope to act as a licking branch. The rope holds the scent better. I have not done this at this point, but plan to eventually.

Food Source Scouting: When driving to and from hunting properties I’m always looking to see if deer are out in the fields. Now that gun season has arrived I can say I haven’t seen a whole lot of activity with this type of scouting. Nonetheless I keep looking to learn whatever I can. Specifically this can be valuable in the area that I primarily hunt.

Stand Scouting and Preparation: With the Lone Wolf on my back I will continue to try and experiment new things in the late season. I believe surprising mature bucks is one of the best ways to kill them. And countless hunting experts site the first sit as your best chance to arrow a mature buck.

Shooting Practice: As I pick my bow back up in December it is going to be critical to get the Hoyt firing here and there. Getting rust in your form or your shot during the season is certainly a negative. It is also critical to make sure that your bow is firing correctly after all of the transportation it experiences throughout the season.

 

It’s shocking that the first two months of the deer season are pretty much in the books. Each and every year the deer season flies by. If it is a passion of yours to deer hunt do everything you can to make time to get out there. The experience gleaned from hunting is priceless and it is truly hard to kill mature bucks from your couch. The only exception for not hunting is if you hunt one small property otherwise it is best to keep after it. Hunting smart, changing spots, and hunting often can be a great recipe for success.

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.

 

Taking a Record Book Buck Takes Perseverance and Risks

Saskatchewan is Canada’s version of Iowa, Illinois or Kansas. It is the Whitetail destination of choice in Canada. The amount of quality whitetails in Canada is something special and Doug Broich’s choice to hold out for a special buck was a wise choice. Read the full story of —Doug’s Saskatchewan Non-Typical Whitetail Record Buck. Doug made a choice earlier in the season to pass on a fine buck that he had rattled in. This is often considered a risk, but Doug has his eyes set on the real prize that still was out there.

For Doug a number of important variables lead to his harvesting of this 243″ monster:

  • Early season stand set-up and establishing feeding areas on his property
  • Running trail cameras to determine to quality of deer around
  • Taking a risk and attempting a stalk on a mature buck
  • Rattling in a few of the biggest deer in his area, including the buck he eventually harvested
  • Being ready to reload quickly during the moment of truth

Not everything played out perfectly for Doug, but in the end he did what he needed to get the job done. Hat’s off to him for killing a buck that is absolutely incredible.

 

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.

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 Best of Bowhunting.com

This episode is a pure rush. Two pro-staffers for bowhunting.com get in done in epic fashion. Franki Clark gets it done first and then Clinton Fawcett connects on a buck himself. Each hunt provides excitement, but Franki’s hunt is something to behold. A rattling session brings a giant main frame 8 pointer in a on a string. The deer works a scrape and the rest is history. Watch this awesome hunt —here–.

These hunts offer a few important lessons on tagging mature whitetails:

  • Rattling can be very effective during the rut
  • Scrapes are often made along food source edges. Scrapes in cover often see more daytime activity, but hunting over any scrape increases the odds of seeing bucks.
  • Find hot does to find bucks during the rut
  • Always be ready to take a shot during the rut, it can happen very fast

Bowhunting.com is filled with hunters that have an incredible passion for the sport. This episode reveals exactly why these guys and all of us have a passion for this awesome sport.

Mason Puts Down A Booner

The actual footage of the hunt is short, but the history the Knopp’s have with this buck is cataloged. Watch this Boone and Crockett buck hit the ground —here–. Mason and his brother live in an awesome part of the country and seem to be doing a number of things right. Last year Mason’s brother took a monster buck as well. For the 2nd year in a row their family has put down incredible trophy bucks. Anytime someone puts down a Boone and Crockett buck it’s an impressive feat. It’s more impressive when the weapon used to harvest the trophy is a bow.

This hunt included the use of a decoy and in this case it paid off big time. The decoy not only pulled in R2 but it also pulled in a smaller buck during the hunt as well. This is a perfect example that decoys should be used from time to time, especially during the pre-rut and rut.

Takeaways from this hunt:

  • Hunting mature bucks is incredibly challenging, but in a few rare instances these deer do move during the day
  • Trail camera pictures prove that a certain buck is in the area, but it can still be difficult to pattern a buck with the use of them
  • Decoy hunting can be difference between seeing and killing a mature buck, decoys force the buck to inspect the situation
  • Persistence is often rewarding in this challenging battle of taking trophy bucks
  • There is nothing quite like tagging a Boone and Crockett Buck, they’re something special

A Hard Earned Reward

Trophy buck hunting will often be associated with hard work. Mature deer reach a certain age many times because they’re smarter then other deer. As hunters pursue trophy bucks it is often a challenge to tag these animals. Todd Graf of Bowhunting.com is no stranger to this reality. Todd works extremely hard each year to harvest mature deer. This year has been far more difficult than the average year for Todd. However through his dedication he was rewarded with a fine trophy. Check out his hunt —here–.

A few critical takeaways:

  • Never give up and keep trying new stands and new properties
  • Persevere through the bad times because the good times will eventually arrive
  • Hunting mature bucks is difficult, there is no other way to put it