Trail-Cam Tuesday: Illinois Ugly Buck

IL zach ugly buck

Our friend Zach just got this picture of “Ugly Buck” (my name and term used with affection) with a lop-sided rack and a crazy brow tine. I love character racks, and this buck is a great shooter.

Zach has history with Ugly.

“I missed this deer last year at only 5 yards, he was right underneath my stand and that’s the one shot that no one ever practices,” he said. “I got a picture of him this year on 4th of July but hadn’t seen him since, until now. Come on October!”

This is at least the fourth shooter that Zach has on his land, good luck buddy.

zach 3 bucks

Trail-Cam Tuesday: Big Bucks North to South

pa daddy 2

Mike: Last week I sent you a picture taken from my ground blind of a target buck for this year. This guy showed up the other day too. Unlike most the deer I hunt, I have never seen this before…poof, he just walked into my setup. Goes to show that no matter how much time you spend on a piece of land, a big buck can stay hidden.

What is your guess on his score and age? I say 3 1/2 years and 155-160 gross. Terry “Big Daddy” Murphy

kim WI trail cam

Hi Mike: I was at my property last week, so missed Trail Cam Monday last week. Here is one for this week. Buck on the left is “JR,” a 5-year-old; on the right is “Bob,” a 3-year-old. Bob is one of my wolf attack survivors, not much of a tail left.

The season is getting close, and I haven’t seen the “Boss” yet, but he is always late to the show. With last year’s mild winter, he should have made it through to be 7 years old. Good luck,  Kim from Wisconsin

GA trail cam monster buck

Our friend Jay posted this buck on Twitter, wow! One of the biggest I have seen so far this year, and walking down South. More proof that 2016 should be a great rack year across the country.

Good luck, and send your pictures.

Trail-Cam Monday: 2016 Deer Season Weeks Away, Good Bucks Showing Up!

cam monday pa

From longtime blogger and friend of BIG DEER Terry “Big Daddy” Murphy: Mike, here is a picture taken from my ground blind on one of my food plots last week. I have been after him for two years, this will be my target buck this season here in PA

zach 3 bucks

These 3 bucks have a great story. Our friend Zach set a camera in a 3-acre block of woods where he had never put a camera before, “but I had always wondered what was in there,” he said. Well, he got these images of the impressive trio in just a few days. LESSON: Set a cam in a spot you have never scouted or hunted before, you might find a new hot spot!

cam monday ks bucks

Pair of great bucks from Kansas, on or near a ground where I will be hunting in early December. While I would love to get a crack at one of them, the 4 months between now and when I wil be out there is an eternity. But at least I have a good idea of the buck quality this area can produce, and the 2 shooters tell me it is gonna be a fine rack year in the Midwest and all over.

cam monday alberta

alberta sheldon synchro feed bucks

My buddy Sheldon is growing and attracting some killer bucks on his farm in Canada. The 2 bucks “synchronized eating” is one of the coolest cam shots I’ve seen in a while.

va cam bucks 1

cam monday va 2

cam monday va 3

After a slow early summer, these bucks started showing up at our mineral sites in late July. “High and Tight” 10-point approaching the Ani-block is a cool deer. I expect a few bigger deer to appear on the scene as late summer and fall progress.

Now that we have a good idea of  what kind of rack year 2016 will be here in VA (good if not great) we’ll start tracking the bucks with cameras moved to food plots, ridge points, edges, funnels and other spots where bucks will travel on natural movement. By law here, you must pull all minerals and attractants out of the woods by September 1 prior to each hunting season. LESSON: Read and know your state regs.

cam monday big bear

Back in July we had this big boy stake claim to one of our mineral sites. Not surprising, because of the 12 cameras we checked one day, 10 of them had images of 12 different black bears! Three cameras had been played with, bumped and pulled on, as evidenced by the picture below, but not bitten. I believe curious bears are attracted to your scent when you set and check a camera, another reason to spray your hands scent-free and maybe wear rubber gloves.

bear eye

The bears did not surprise me though. This summer I have hiked and rucked more than 200 miles in Shenandoah National Park, which is only 30 miles or so from this hunting farm; on at least 75 percent of those walks, we have encountered bears, and most days multiple bears.

The black bear population has exploded in Virginia and I see a potential problem looming, especially in very busy Shenandoah Park. In fact the problem is already here. Several trails were closed temporarily in the Park this summer because of aggressive bear behavior, and just 2 weeks ago on Dickey Ridge Trail a female bear w/cubs killed a dog on a leash that a guy was walking. (I hiked 10 miles on this same trail one day last week and saw 3 bears.)

Nobody enjoys observing bears in the woods and along the trails more than I do; I am not scared of them, but I respect them and give them space. Like all predators, black bears must be controlled. While there is obviously no hunting in the National Park, the surrounding lands and counties should offer bear hunters good to great opportunities this fall. I predict maybe a record-breaking bear harvest in 2016.


Deer Season 2016: What Kind of Year Do You Predict in Your State?

trail camera bucks alberta

My friend sent me this fascinating photo from his farm in Canada. He’s been watching the buck on the right all summer, and the 6×6 on the left just showed up. “Good sign,” he texted, “cause the really big ones up here generally don’t show up until late October.”

BTW, since I received this picture smack in the middle of the Rio Olympics, I caption it:

Whitetail Olympics, Synchronized Feeding, the Canada bucks take the gold!

I am heartened to see the nice bucks up North, where the 2015 winter was relatively mild. After some lean times, I think this could be the best rack season in years in western Canada.

How about where you live and hunt? What kind of rack year do you expect? What predictions are you hearing from your state’s wildlife agency? What kind of bucks are showing up on you and your friends’ trail cameras?

Please let me know below because I’ll be putting together a pre-season prediction blog on the upcoming 2016 season, and your specific info will help me out.

(Hint: From what I’m seeing and hearing early, this has the potential to be the best buck season across America since 2010.)

Deer Racks: What Causes a Weak-Side Antler?

md dan uneven rackOur friend Danny from Maryland sent this picture and asked this question:

Is there any chance this deer’s antlers will eventually even out? Or will he most likely always have an uneven rack based off his genes? He doesn’t appear to have suffered any injury to cause this.

The vast majority of whitetail bucks grow even or largely symmetrical and typical antlers. Although the buck in this picture may not appear hurt now, there is a strong likelihood that he sustained some injury earlier this year.

“I think the buck in the picture was injured,” says QDMA biologist Kip Adams. “His left antler looks normal, just minus a brow tine.  His right antler has a good-sized brow and then 3 stubby points, which are very common from an injury.  I’m guessing the injury was to his antler but it could have been to the body.”

Kips notes that the pedicle, or base, of the weak side antler looks fine “so I’m guessing the injury was to his antler, and that suggests if he survives to next year he will not carry the injury with him. He’ll be easy to follow this fall with his unique rack. Good luck in the woods.–Kip