South Dakota Shed Hunter Up to 70 Antlers and Counting

sd kelly shed 1

Update from our expert, Kelly “Shedhunter” Kirsch:

Mike: Walked 17.8 miles on Saturday, it was very warm, and picked up 15. One real nice set, maybe in the 160s. I found the antlers about ¾-mile apart.

Sunday I hurt, so I used the Quad to cover a sunflower field and picked 12 more. Total for the year is right on 70 sheds, not a bad start.

SD kelly 3

Take a look at that sunflower field. A lot of people I run into that think that antlers have to be knocked off by tree, fence post, or something. But there’s really nothing like that out here in places. Sometimes the antlers just fall off, and I have watched bucks hit the ground with their antlers to remove them.—Kelly

10 Ways to Improve Your Deer Hunting Land

chainsaw

(Photo: Matt “Flatlander” Cheever)

Scatter food plots of about one acre across your ground. Design and build them to take advantage of thick cover and the predominant winds in the area in fall deer season. The closer you plant to a thicket where a mature buck can pop out to feed with his nose in the wind, the better the chance you’ll see him in daylight hours.

Give deer a salad bar. Plant 60 percent of your plots with a perennial like a clover/chicory mix that will provide a steady food source for three to five years. Plant the other 40 percent with a fast-growing, tasty annual like oats or wheat.

Planting 1,000 yards of logging road is like putting in a one-acre food plot. Old roads are already open and easy to access, so it’s a no-brainer. Clover tends to grow best on north-south roads that get 3 to 4 hours of sun each day, but plant and fertilize as many sections as you can for maximum food and edge for deer.

Check sunny road edges for blackberry bushes and other briars and brambles. Deer love ‘em! Fertilize the browse once this year with 10-10-10 to make it even sweeter.

Mow your plots (and planted roads) two to four times this summer to stimulate new clover growth and to help kill grass and weeds. Mow when the plants get about 12 inches high. Don’t cut too low, just clip off a third to half of the plants.

If you’re in a hot, dry region, plant some of your plots up against a western edge of tall trees so they won’t burn out. Also, leave three or four large trees out in the middle of a plot to provide some shade and cool the field down.

Scour old farm fields and clear-cuts for hidden fruit trees, like wild apple, persimmon, etc. Open up the trees by clearing away tight brush; prune a few limbs and pour some fertilizer over the roots. A tree should make some soft mast just in time for bow season, and you’ll have a new honey-hole.

For a long-term investment, plant a double or triple row of pines along a county road and on the western edge of a field or food plot. In a few years, the pines will shield deer from cars. The taller and thicker the trees grow, the safer the does and especially the bucks will feel moving and feeding in daylight. The pines will give deer shade in summer and a wind break in winter.

One of the best land improvements doesn’t take a drop of sweat. Study an aerial photo, pinpoint some of the thickest, roughest cover and terrain, and designate it a buck sanctuary. No hunting, no walking, no nothing in there year-round! A good sanctuary is so gnarly a buck feels safe and hidden if you walk or drive an ATV by at 50 yards. Leave 20 to 30 percent of your total hunting land as a sanctuary.

Strap a chainsaw to your ATV, hop on, and ride the property lines. Stop and saw trees and logs here and there 20 yards or so inside your boundary. Establish a trail that wends the entire perimeter. Use the trail for 90 percent of your access when planting and mowing, scouting, and going to and from your tree stands. By not driving and walking all over the interior of your ground, you’ll hold more deer and more big bucks.

Oklahoma 20-Point Buck

Robert Nichols, who creates the best amateur deer-skull art I’ve ever seen, says:

Ok nichols 2016

Hey Mike: Just wanted to share. My youngest son, Ethan Nichols, shot this buck on 11/23/16. The rack has 20 points total! Ethan had been watching this deer since early August and had a lot of trail cam pics of him. I’m super proud of him. You did a blog on Ethan’s first deer 2 years ago, and it made his hunt even more of a success to him. Thank you for that, and thanks for checking this one out.—Robert from Oklahoma

Virginia 2016: Wayne Mills Bow Buck Nets 172 6/8

VA wayne mills 2016

Excerpt of the story Wayne Mills, who lives and hunts in north-central Virginia, told me one day last fall, read the whole post here:

On Friday, October 21st we had a cold front moving in and forecast for winds to swing from the SW to the N after the front came through. I got in the stand about 2:00 p.m. and waited for the shift in the wind. By 3:30 the wind had started blowing from the north. At 5:15 the birds alerted me, and I looked toward the ruckus to see a deer moving through the brush about 40 yards away, coming out of the bedding area.

I saw a rack… It looked unusual. I saw that it had good mass and spread and attached my release to my bowstring and no longer looked at his rack. The buck continued moving along the trail and passed 17 paces from my stand, offering a broadside shot.

I shot him as he walked and it was a good hit. I watched him go down. When I got to him I was awestruck….I couldn’t count the points. He is a main-frame 12-point with split brow tines and stickers coming from his bases on both sides. All told he has 22 points, 21 score-able. 

Wayne told me yesterday that he just received the final official score. The giant netted 172 6/8 non-typical, making it one of the Top 10 P&Y bucks from the great state of Virginia. I hope to film a segment with Wayne and his buck for my TV show soon.

Oklahoma 2016 Deer Season: Top Big Deer Year!

Ok 2016 ocktor buckOne day last August I blogged: From what I’m seeing and hearing this has the potential to be the best buck season across America since 2010.

It was, and here is a good example.

From Paul’s Valley Democrat: Oklahoma’s 2016 deer season is well on its way to revamping the record books.

Alan Peoples, chief of wildlife with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said: “I have the privilege of seeing a bunch of big deer racks pass through my office every year and I’ve never seen this many at one time.

Several monstrous non-typicals from the bow season have been reported so far, including Travis Ocker’s 245 2/8” beast from Comanche County (photo top).

More racks scoring from 180 into the 190s have been certified by the wildlife department, and huge racks taken during the state’s firearms season have not begun showing up yet.

ok 2016 scott and me buck

I can vouch for the good hunting there last year. Our group of 5 arrived in camp in western Oklahoma the day after Thanksgiving. The rut was still rocking, and although we didn’t shoot any monsters, we went 5 for 5 on solid bucks. You’ll see the action on a 2-part episode of BIG DEER TV on Sportsman Channel later this fall.