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.”

 

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!

 

Indiana Big Buck

IN Jason buckToday’s guest blog from BIG DEER blog fan and our friend Jason Lough:

Hi Mike: It was opening weekend in Indiana and I was excited to share another weekend of deer hunting with my Father, as it’s something we look forward to every season.

We put cameras out every year to determine the quality of bucks on the property so that we have an idea of what to expect. Based on the camera pictures and our scouting this year, we knew we had a few good bucks in the area.

 Opening day came and I set up in our best stand in a funnel. I began to see deer early in my sit. The does and small were chasing and rutting hard so I knew it was a good opportunity to catch a good buck cruising.
About 8:30 I had a nice 8 point come within 25 yards of my stand, but based on our scouting I knew there were better bucks in the area.
It was quiet for about an hour and all of a sudden about 10:30, over my right shoulder, I heard a loud crack and figured it had to be a deer larger than a doe coming through the woods. I looked and noticed a doe heading my direction, and behind her what appeared to be a buck. As they got closer I could tell this was more of the type of buck I was looking for, and with my binoculars I confirmed this was a great deer!
The buck was chasing the doe hard and grunting all the way as he came toward my stand. The doe could have gone multiple different directions, but luckily she brought him down a trail 45 yards from my stand. Watching the doe closely in order to not make any sudden movements to spook her, I waited for the buck to enter a small window we had cleared earlier in the season. Once he entered my window, I rested my crosshairs just behind his shoulder and pulled the trigger. He bucked, took off and I immediately pumped in another shell so that I could get another one in him to ensure a quick and ethical kill.
The buck went about 60 yards and while I couldn’t see him, I heard a familiar crash that has so many times resulted in a successful hunt. I immediately called my Dad and told him I just shot what appeared to be a nice 10 point and was climbing down to confirm my buck had indeed expired. A few minutes later, I found an easy to follow blood trail that led me right to my deer. What I found was my second best buck ever and another one for the Indiana record book.
I was pumped, my Dad was pumped and we shared another awesome day together dragging out a great buck on opening weekend.–Jason
P.S. This is the same stand from which my Dad killed his giant buck last year, it grossed 169 (below).
in ed lough