Illinois Late-Season Bow Buck

IL flat 2019 jan

Today’s guest post from Flatlander, longtime friend of BIG DEER:  

Hey Mike, reporting in on the last week of the Illinois archery season. We’ve had 10 inches of snow dumped upon us, and the deer are still a slave to their stomachs.

I’ve been playing cat and mouse with a buck we’ve called “Captain Hook” for his unique brow tines. He was elusive during the pre-rut and disappeared for almost 6 weeks.  Most recent trail cams at Christmas revealed he was alive and back, moving among our food plots.

Cold temps and flooded low ground had deer on their feet on the warmest part of the day, when I had a close encounter with Captain Hook on New Year’s Eve. A doe below my stand didn’t like what she saw and blew the buck out of the area. Fast forward to this past Saturday night and the big 10 came in again only to wind me from several hundred yards. I’d apparently gotten sloppy on my ritual of scent control.

I went home and washed everything and stored it an ozone container…scrubbed my boots and even cut my hair short and scoured my body before the hunt. I went in as scent free as humanly possible.

An hour before sunset 33 deer came by including 6 nice bucks, one amazing 12-pointer in the mix but no shot.

The last deer to move through was Captain Hook, following a one horn buck in to the sugar beets. This was his one and only mistake this season, and it was my best day afield this year!

As you always say, “Hunt hard and stay after it. Success will come if diligent!”

Good luck to all in the coming year and God bless, Matt “Flatlander” Cheever

Way to stick with it Flatlander, congrats man!

Why Some Bucks Shed Antlers Early

SD shed 1I am hearing reports of bucks shedding their antlers early this year. What causes this?

QDMA biologist Kip Adams points to a couple of things. “Nutrition is important, as bucks in good physical condition generally retain their antlers longer than those who are nutritionally stressed,” he says. “Widespread early antler casting (in your area) may signify a nutritionally stressed herd resulting from too many deer for what the habitat can support.”

Kip says that in northern states, mature bucks typically shed their antlers earlier than younger, smaller deer. “(Older) bucks skip many meals during the breeding season, and those that rut hard may be in poor post-rut condition… even when abundant forage is available for deer. These bucks are choice candidates for early antler casting.”

 

Michigan: Hunter Shoots Illegal Deer, “Wife Made Me Do It”

From USA Today:  A Michigan hunter caught shooting an illegal deer at first denied doing so, but then confessed and put the blame on his wife…

“The honest-to-God truth is that my wife wants deer meat and if I come home without any she’ll get really mad at me,” the hunter told the conservation officer.

The hunter was cited for killing a spike buck in an area with antler-point restrictions.

No word on how he and his venison-loving wife are getting along.

Indiana: 180-Inch Homestead Buck

IN ben andrew 2018Thanks to Ben Andrew for sharing his tremendous 2018 buck from central Indiana.

“Sentimental buck right here,” Ben said. “Shot off the homestead where I grew up, and where my dad taught me years ago with a muzzleloader. Place where I got my first buck 25 years ago.

“My father is my lifelong hunting buddy. He’s getting into his middle 70s, and still after it with me. Unfortunately the land around us is up for sale.”

How much longer Ben and his dad have to hunt the home place is unknown. Many of us face similar uncertainties these days, but we have to stay with it and hunt hard while we still can.

Tale of the tape on Ben’s massive buck: 6-inch bases, 20 inches wide, 14 points, 21 inches of mass on each side, and 11-inch brows. Green score lower 180s.

These are my favorite buck stories, bittersweet but straight from the heart. Great buck Ben, best of luck to you and your dad.

Hunt Tactics for Winter Bucks

iowa lyla 2We have 2 more days to hunt deer this season in Virginia…if you’re still hunting too, try these tips.

Afternoons are always best in late season. Deer move straight from their beds to a cornfield or beans or a thicket or a pasture with weeds–anywhere they can find last scraps of food. When you hunt  a food source, the wind can’t blow back toward a bedding cover or travel lane out, and it can’t swirl out into a field where the does will pop out first. Set up downwind of a trail or funnel where your scent will blow back into a dead zone in the timber where no deer will hopefully come out. If just one doe winds you and starts blowing, you won’t see a buck that night.

Go for perfect access. With deer stressed and wired in winter, access to your stand is critical. Try to slip into and out of a spot without a single deer seeing you. If you can’t use something like a ditch or creek bank to cover your moves, don’t risk it. If you bump one doe you’ll spook a bunch of deer. They’ll blow out of the area and they’ll probably change their pattern. Sneak to your stand early in the afternoon—at least 3 hours before dark—so no deer will spot you.

Watch hidden fringes, like the edges of pine, cedar or honeysuckle thickets. Bucks love to run those green edges between bedding and feeding areas, moving in little places where they can browse and feel some security,.

Play off the pressure. The last couple days of the season, you might hear people making a last-ditch drive on an adjacent farm or woods. If so, hike up a ridge or hill and watch thickets on your side of the fence (stay inside your property and be extra careful where you aim and shoot). There is good chance some does and maybe a buck spooked by those other hunters might jump the fence and come flagging your way.

Imagine the look on those guys’ faces when your gun cracks and you score a buck at the buzzer!