After Season Report: Is World Record Buck Still Walking In Wisconsin?

WI new wr buckLast October I posted this amazing photo and asked this question: Is this the new world record walking in Wisconsin? Rumors were flying that this massive 8×8 might gross 220.

Obviously nobody got him last season—the story and pictures would have blown up the Interweb and rocked the hunting world. I wondered if anybody had seen him or possibly had an encounter with him, so I asked the fellow who got this photo for an after the season update.

I had no idea it would turn out to be such a fascinating story.

Hi Mike: Unfortunately my only sighting of “Ghost” on stand last season was on opening day and he was a little too far and in too much brush for a shot. The one time when I could not hunt in September I got a cell cam pic of him standing right in my shooting lane. I would have had the wind in my favor and it would have been a chip shot…

That was before the news of him hit your blog.  After that he was around but avoided my camera during October.

I hunted exclusively for him all season, and in November I only had one afternoon that I could not get out early from work and hunt because a rare November storm was coming through. The storm was supposed to last all afternoon and into evening, but it broke early afternoon so I was late getting in. The buck had come through looking for does and had walked past 3 of my stands and worked scrapes in front of 2 of them before crossing to the neighbors. I was a half-hour late. 

Actually, the previous season I had similar bad timing.  I thought the buck had moved off my property for the fall, so at the end of October, after waiting for this buck for 4 1/2 weeks and him being a no-show, I went after a big public land buck and tagged him on the first hunt. Had I waited a day, I might have had a chance as Ghost showed back up 3 of the next 4 days. After that, I didn’t see him again until Christmas Day (I had no tag) and walked within 25 yards of him bedding on my back ridge. He was an 8×8 then too, and grossing over 200″ at that time. 

Two seasons ago, when the buck was a 3 year old in the 170s, he was at my place frequently during the fall, seen tending does in the daytime. But I had an Iowa tag and was spending my time there.  I kinda wanted to avoid seeing him then so I would not be tempted to shoot so I hunted away from home, lol.

Luckily, my daughter’s boyfriend, who lives across the road, decided not to take a head shot at the buck that rifle season, otherwise we would not have the story we have now. 

Ghost pretty much lives on my property from April to July, and I have watched him since he was a yearling. He will be 6.5 this year. We’ll see him in our backyard a number of times. Once late July hits he starts to expand his range and as we get into September his range starts getting even larger.

He has been spotted as far as 2.75 miles away to the NW, back to 2.75 miles SE and then 2.5 miles to the SW, so his range is huge and very unpredictable.  He pretty much does the same thing in weekly blocks, but where he is from day to day can vary by miles, and it’s rare he does the same thing repeatedly.

If you wait for a trail cam picture of this buck, you are probably too late.  My stands are not the only ones he’s walked by in broad daylight either. Many neighbors have also had bad timing, especially one other landowner on whose property the deer likes to frequent from late September to mid-October. My son labeled the buck the Ghost a couple years ago and that name has been very fitting. 

More interesting this past year, he had two buddies with him (I don’t think his offspring) that were 1 or 2 years younger, and both were typical 12s. There was even a point last year where all 3 were seen in the same field.

One would have grossed in the low 180s but had busted his G-4 in October before he was killed by a bow hunter a couple miles from my farm. The one I call ”Junior” (picture below) has been around my place a fair amount and I labeled him Junior for a good reason—the same exact frame as Ghost, just with shorter beams and both G-2s are shorter than the G-3s.  This is the first year I’ve noticed him so I do not have his age pegged. He’s in the mid-170s, and if he is a 3 year old then he’s a little bigger than Ghost was at 3.

WI update ghose this is Junior

There seems to be a rumor every couple weeks that Ghost has been shot or hit by a vehicle, but he is alive and well (Junior is alive too), as he was seen late last month.  I’m sure I’ll see him again before too long once I begin work on my spring habitat projects.

Previously I had wanted to keep everything about this buck somewhat quiet, but my area is not conducive to poachers seeing him due to the way the hills lay. Also, the land in the area is now locked up from other hunters (even those with big pockets) within a couple miles so I’m not so worried about it like I was before.

In a twist of events I have an opportunity to buy an even better hunting property long term with a smaller house, which makes sense, as my kids are getting older and I now have my farm for sale. I’m hoping I do not sell until I have my 2016 bow tag punched, but if the right individual wants a very good chance at killing what I think will be not just an archery world record as Ghost was last year, but the overall record then buying my place will be a great opportunity for him or her.

What is even more exciting is that if Junior follows the same path as Ghost then I could very well have two typicals on my farm over 190″ and maybe both over 200″.  

Hopefully this story has a fitting end come September!


Early-Season Bowhunting: 4 Top Spots for Trail Cameras

va trail camera 4

If you’ll be setting out or moving cameras this weekend, try:

A small clearing in the woods 50 to 75 yards off an alfalfa, soybean or clover field. Mature bucks like to hang up in these areas in late afternoon before moving out to a field at dark.

Any bottleneck of thick cover on a deer trail that leads to or from a feed field.

Back in the woods toward a bed area where two or more drainages with thick cover come together. Oak trees dropping acorns nearby make the set even better.

Having spotted or photographed a big buck in a field or food plot, sneak in and set a camera on the nearest creek crossing, swamp edge, pond edge, etc. in the area. As summer deepens, mature bucks spend a lot of time hanging out near water in low, thick, shady areas.

4 Shooter Bucks on Trail Camera!

il cam bucks

Got this from our favorite hunting couple:

Hey Mike: Ellie and Zach here from Southern Illinois. Sorry we haven’t posted anything in a while. We just moved back from Pennsylvania two weeks ago from Ellie’s Internship. Soon as we got home we had the chance to set out one camera before our wedding (September 12th). When we finally got to check it, we found out all of these guys survived and we will be going after them in a month!

Wow, 4 great bucks. Numbers 1 and 2 are probably the most mature, but I like #3.

Good luck guys on the hunting, and the wedding. Congrats!

Trail Camera Photos: Big Bucks in Daylight!

trail camera monster mitch 1

Mitch on Facebook says: My top hit-lister “Zeus” is starting to show up during daylight… I know he is 6.5 based on history with him. I hope this is the year we get to bring him home in the truck!

Nathan emailed the unique buck below and said: Mike, love your show and website. My buddy and I picked up a new lease and had this big guy show up on camera. We call him Dagger! Is it unusual for a mature buck to show up in daylight this time of the year?

In dagger trail camera buck 2

IN dagger trail camera buck 3

It is not unheard of for bucks like these to be visible in daylight in August. Some bucks are simply not as nocturnal as others. I told Nathan that he needs to hunt Dagger asap when his bow season opens. The later we progress into fall and toward the rut, and the more a buck feels the first hint of human pressure, the more likely he is to go nocturnal overnight.

Great bucks boys, good luck!