Today’s guest blog from Brian out in Southeast Oklahoma:
This buck first showed up on my game cameras October 21st. Didn’t know him and had never seen him before. Then he was on camera again the morning of October 29 at 6:00 a.m. I hunted that evening and saw some younger bucks and does but no mature bucks. One young buck was pushing does around and grunting and roaring, so I knew they were rutting in the area. When I slipped out I left most of my equipment in the tree so I could slip in as quietly as possible the next morning.
The wind was iffy the morning of October 30th. It was warm but I had that feeling that I needed to be there. Shortly after daylight I heard him coming through the timber behind me and got ready. The buck popped out into the field at 10 yards. He caught my wind and started to leave fast. He got behind some cedars and I thought he was gone. Luckily he stayed on the edge of the field and stopped to look back one last time.
He was quartering away hard, but I made the shot and he only ran about 70 yards before going down. I was self-filming the hunt, and in my panic I didn’t hit the record button! I was bummed I didn’t get the shot on film but I didn’t let it get me down because he’s a great buck and it was a great hunt.
I was thankful and blessed to have the opportunity to hunt and take this buck. He’s my best blackpowder buck to date and my second best buck overall.– Brian Hodge, Caddo, Oklahoma.
This is one of the coolest Tweets I’ve read in a while. Jerry @ BG_Two tweeted:
My dad will be 70 next year and he got his first bow buck last night! He was shaking like a little kid when I got to him. I wouldn’t trade that moment for anything. He had a goal to get one before moving on to a crossbow and we did it together. I am still pumped!
This is just tremendous and makes me happy, way to go guys.
Got this from Travis:
Hi Mike: Thought you might be able to shed some light on this. We took this deer October 19 on the Texas/Oklahoma border north of Dallas. As you can see it’s still in velvet! That’s not normal for around here. Any insight on this, and does this change how we plan for the rut?
I emailed back: Did his nut sack look normal or small? If a buck injures his testicles (or if they didn’t drop as he grew) it affects his hormones and a buck might not shed the velvet. Let me know.
From Travis: I finally heard back from my buddy. You called it. The testicles were small and not near what you’d expect. And in a strange coincidence another friend shot this Colorado mule deer buck (below) last week and it was in velvet too! Wouldn’t you know it, his nuts were smaller than grapes and it had nipples. This is a weird world.
Weird yes, and here’s the explanation.
Commonly called a “stag,” the oddball buck retains the velvet on his antlers due to low testosterone levels. Scientists refer to this condition as cryptorchidism and it’s rare. It can result from a birth defect or disease that causes a buck’s testicles (one or both) not to drop normally. Or, a buck may injure his nuts, say on a wire fence (ouch). Cryptorchidism can occur in whitetails or mule deer.
A stag buck is different, and he doesn’t engage in the seasonal rituals of normal bucks. Cryptorchids don’t rub or scrape in the the rut. They lack the chemical stimulation to express dominance or individualism. Their necks don’t swell. A stag doesn’t shed his antlers; they remain in velvet year-round.
A cryptorchid buck is rare, and if you shoot one I’d mount it and have a taxidermist preserve the velvet antlers.
No, a stag buck in velvet in October or November is an anomaly and his presence has no effect on the normal rut.
In Oklahoma researchers fitted bucks with GPS collars and monitored their movements.
They found that in early fall, most bucks stick to small core areas and have a maze of crisscross patterns.
But from late October through November, those same bucks showed longer and more linear movements. The researchers surmised that by traveling in straighter lines, bucks can cover more country faster, and maximize their chances of contacting estrus does.
To capitalize this season, as bucks begin to roam farther and in straighter patterns, expand your hunt area, too. Scout and hang more stands in long, linear travel corridors, like river bottoms and long ridges. Rotate hunt those stands for a week and you’ll see bucks on the move.
Big shout out to Big Daddy, who has stuck with me on the BIG DEER blog since I launched it 10 years ago:
Mike: Got this guy October 16 from my place in Potter County. This is my 40th archery buck in 40 years from Pennsylvania, which is a 1 buck per year state. Good hunting, Terry Murphy, a.k.a. Big Daddy.
Way to go Big Daddy, one heck of an accomplishment sir!