How Do You Feel When You Lose A Deer?

blood leavesMike: I’m sick. I shot a doe the other night but couldn’t find her. I looked all night and for the next day and half. Some blood at first, but then nothing. I feel so bad I’m going stop hunting for the rest of the year. Just wanted you to know, because I can tell from your TV show that being ethical and respectful means a lot to you.–John

John: A lot of people who are going about hunting the wrong way would have poked around a little bit and said, “What the hell, it’s just a doe, I’ve got more tags…” But you didn’t and I applaud you for that.

Losing either a doe or a 10-point buck is hard, but it happens, even when you seemingly do everything right. I am not afraid or ashamed to say I have lost some deer over the past 30 years. It makes you feel like s—. It brings a tear to your eye. It should or you shouldn’t be hunting.

But John, shake it off and get back out there this weekend. Don’t let this eat at your insides and wear you down mentally. Don’t let it make you less confident the next time you get ready to shoot. Pick a spot on the deer’s side, loose that arrow smoothly and confidently and follow-through with the shot. Drill that next animal, find it stone dead 70 yards away and you’ll feel good again.

I wish everybody I knew took the killing of a deer as seriously as you do. Good luck my friend. You can hunt with me any day.–Hanback

“Ultimate Hunting Rigs” Tonight on BIG DEER TV

florida swamp buggy

In January I traveled down to the Lake Okeechobee area and filmed a hog hunt out of this wicked swamp buggy, just one of several rigs you’ll see on this all-new episode.

rigs suburban

There’s this lifted camouflage Suburban that we used out on the Oregon high desert, as well as a vintage Toyota Land Cruiser customized for, of all things, gopher shooting…

rigs aev 3

New custom models too, like these AEV conversion rigs.

Hunters love their trucks, and you gear heads will love this show. Tonight, Wednesday, 7 PM on Sportsman Channel (605 Direct TV) set your DVR.

Big Deer’s 2017 Moon-Rut Hunting Guide

full moon buck compress2017 rut moon phases: Full November 4…last quarter November 10…new November 18…first quarter November 26

As I have said time and again here on the blog and on BIG DEER TV, I am neither a scientist nor an astronomer. But I am a whitetail hunter and have been doing it for 40 years, more than 30 of those professionally. I’m also a moon fanatic. Over the years I figure I’ve spent between 880 and 1,000 days in a deer stand in November, during every imaginable moon phase and all waxing and waning days.

My journal notes and personal observations say that there is definitely something to the November moon and how it impacts the movements of rutting whitetails.

My 2017 predictions:

I like the way this November’s moon sets up. For starters it exposes the seeking phase of the pre-rut, when bucks start to prowl and expand their range for the first hot does. Halloween into the first week of November is a good time to bowhunt in any season. This year, with the moon waxing toward full–91% visible on November 1 to 100% bright on November 4-5–the hunting should be especially good.

If you hunt that first week of November, keep in mind that deer movement will be best near food sources in the afternoons. If a cold front sweeps into your hunt area that week, better yet.

During the full moon week of Nov. 4-11, the best buck movement will shift to the mornings. While it flies in the face of what many scientists and hunters believe, I love hunting a full moon in early November because in my experience, the deer rut hard all day. You’re apt to see a shooter on his feet at 8:00 a.m.…11:00 a.m.…2:00 p.m….any day this week, so hang on stand as long as you can.

For vacation-planning purposes:

If the land you’ll hunt has crop fields and food plots, I’d suggest you hunt the first 5 days of November. Hunt stands near the feed and focus on the afternoons. A stand on a slightly elevated ridge 100-200 yards off a corn or bean field would be a hotspot either afternoon or morning.

If the land is mostly woods with mast and greenery for deer food, think about hunting a little later, say November 5-12. Historically, if you check the record books, these are the very best days in any year to kill a monster buck. Set your stands back in the woods along trails and travel funnels—especially those with smoking-fresh scrapes–and hunt bucks seeking to hook up with does near bedding areas in the mornings.

Again, if you can hack it, stay on a deep-cover stand all day. I expect some giants to fall from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. during the big moon November 5-10.

Buck movement and rutting activity will vary some according to local conditions and weather, but for the very best chance to shoot a giant I say hunt sometime in the Nov. 2-12 window. But go when you can. You still have a decent shot into the new moon of November 17-18, though in most places the best rut will begin to slow down.

If at all possible hunt ground with minimal or no pressure, which I know is difficult. But even moderate human intrusion can turn mature bucks nocturnal and blow up your moon opportunity.

Hunt hard and safe, and good luck.

BIG DEER Girls Go For Bucks

MD danny lexi

MD dan lexi

BIG DEER blogger Dan has been watching 30-plus bucks all summer, including the 2 studs above. He writes in an update: None of them have dispersed yet, and there are more bucks showing up… I got over 4,000 pics this past week alone and saw several new bucks!  Some of the regulars were back that I had thought moved on.

I’m certain that they will separate and move away very soon, but I’ve never had this many bucks stick around this long. Or, maybe I’m wrong and they will stick around for the whole family to chase all season! This could be an awesome year for us. 

Today is the bow opener for Dan. He’s taking his daughter, Lexi, right after school this afternoon. She made me promise I wouldn’t go Friday morning without her, Dan says.

As you read this, they will be on their way to the stand, or on post.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Longtime blogger Scott sent me this email:

Hi Mike: Checked the cameras last week and still have a big 8-point hanging around, and got this 10-pointer too (above). Second time he’s showed up all year. Not a regular but lives somewhere in the area. I’ll take my daughter Shelbie on the youth hunt in 2 weeks so we’ll see what happens!—Thanks, Scott

These 2 dads are doing it right, and I’m proud of them. Best of luck Lexi and Shelbie, can’t wait to see the pictures!

 

How to Deal with a Hunting Egomaniac

egomanicMike: My hunting buddy is a pretty good guy and a great hunter; he’s into conservation and getting kids involved and all that. But he’s obsessed with killing more deer and bigger deer than anyone else. Every year he gets hung up on being the number one deer killer in our parts. Is there anything you would suggest for me to do? I haven’t known him all that long, and he’s shown me some good hunting spots. But damn, sometimes I can’t stand to be around him and his ego.

BTW, I don’t care about numbers. I simply want to put some doe meat in the freezer and wait for a buck that is mature, like I have seen you do many times on TV. Thanks (name withheld so as not to PO my buddy).

Anonymous: I’ve been in all kinds of deer camps/clubs/lodges across America for more than 30 years and have run across a good many egomaniacs like you describe. While a few of them have turned out to be decent guys like you say your buddy is, most have been a——- with a capital A that I have no time or use for. Our lives and hunting time are too short; I want to hang and hunt with people I like and respect.

I’ve tried all sorts of approaches with egomaniacs–complete avoidance…cold shoulder when I’m in the same room listening to them brag about how great a hunter they are…politely confronting them and saying man, it doesn’t matter how many deer you kill or if yours is bigger than mine… No matter, I usually still never like these guys and never have a good time around them, so I avoid them.

Your case is a different though because you like this fellow some, and he has found you some good hunting spots. I suggest you bite your tongue and put up with his BS as best as you can for now. When he gets on your nerves too much, get up and leave–go hunting, go home, whatever. The next time you see him things ought to be better.

I don’t know how old this fellow is, but at some point in every hunter’s life the hunting becomes more important than the killing, though it takes longer for some people to get there. Hopefully soon your friend will start to realize that it’s not all about rack score and numbers of deer whacked and stacked, far from it. By then you’ll know him better and you might be able to talk this thing out man to man without blowing up your friendship.

Good luck, dealing with rude and arrogant people is never fun and never easy.