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

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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.

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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.

Whitetail How-To: Hunt a Buck Rub

Mature bucks feeling the rut not only thrash trees with their antlers in November, they also see and veer over to smell, lick and rack other rubs that rival males have made.

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In Iowa one November day, Brian LaRue looked up and saw a monster coming. Sixty yards out the 22-pointer stopped and mauled a sapling, then looked toward Brian’s tree and lugged on in. The hunter drilled the 222-inch non-typical with an arrow. “I’m convinced he saw the big rub on the other side of my stand and was making a straight line for it,” Brian says.

That’s the rub behind Brian and his beast in the picture above.

My buddy Luke Strommen read that post and got to thinking: What if I fake a similar scenario and see what happens?

Luke went out and dug up an aromatic cedar post that literally hundreds of different bucks had rubbed for 60 years on his Montana ranch. He moved the post a mile to an alfalfa field by the Milk River, and sunk it in the ground near where two big trails snaked out of the brush. He the hung a tree stand 20 yards downwind of the manufactured rub. He would rest the spot awhile, then come back to hunt it around November 12, prime time for bucks to be on their feet, moving and rubbing.

A week later, Luke sneaked along the river bank in the dark, and climbed up into the stand. When the sun came up, he would watch for a buck sneaking back to bed from a long night of feeding and checking does out in the nearby alfalfa.

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When the sun rose, look what he found. Sometime during the week that Luke had rested the stand, a buck(s) had come along and rubbed on the cedar post until it snapped in half! “When I got down and investigated, there were several sets of big tracks in the mud around the post, so different bucks had come to check it.”

Deer hunting is all about being in the right place at the right time. Had Luke been in the stand, and had it been daylight, when a buck came in to smell, lick and rub the post, he would have gotten a bow shot.

So you might want to hunt near a fresh rub, or make or move one and hunt it this November.

 

Indiana Bow: Bleat Calling Bucks in the Rut

I got this email from Kenny from back in 2014:

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Mike: I watch your TV show all the time and want to thank you for the great information on deer hunting. I watched the recent episode “10 things to know about the whitetail rut” and took your advice. I hunted every day from November 8th to the 11th (Veterans Day); you said in the show that these were the best days of the season.

I grunted, rattled and used a bleat can, as you suggested in the show. I called in and shot the biggest deer of my life! Shot him from a ground blind at 28 yards with my Hoyt Faktor. –Thanks again, Kenny Kyte from southern Indiana

P.S., I’ve already scheduled my vacation for November 8-11 for next deer season

I got this email from Kenny last month: 

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Mike: I was unsuccessful in 2015. But on Veteran’s Day 2016 I was able to use your rut tactics once again to be successful in the deer woods. I was able to call in this buck not once, but twice. I had been in the stand for about 35 minutes and hit the bleat call. He came right in, but I didn’t have a good shot, so I let him walk. I waited about 30 minutes and hit the bleat can again. The buck came running to me! I didn’t let him get away for the 2nd time.

Needless to say, I’ve had my best days in the woods November 8 to 11…2 bucks in 3 years on Veteran’s Day. Thanks again for the advice.–Kenny

 

BIG DEER TV: Fall 2016 Hunting & Filming Recap

As 2016 draws to a close, it’s a perfect time to recap my fall hunts that will begin airing in July 2017 during season 6 of BIG DEER TV. Thanks to Remington Arms, Trijicon, Wildlife Research Center and Sportsman Channel for their amazing support. And a special and heartfelt thanks to all of you who watch our show and read this blog. I hope you have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017.–MH

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In September I traveled to South Carolina and hunted with Will (left) and Ethan for a few days. These kids are bravely battling cancer every day and I hope and pray for them. One evening Ethan shot this buck, and we all gathered round the skinning shed. Lots of laughs and tears that night.

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From there we traveled to Taos, New Mexico. It had been a few years since I had hunted elk, and I was raring to go…until I hunted a couple of dry days and figured out that no elk had yet made their way down from the high country to the lower elevations where we hunted. We gave it our best shot, hiking hard for 10-12 miles every day, to no avail. I don’t know how much if any of the footage we shot will air on TV…a shame, because the Rio Grande Gorge country is magnificent.

In late October I trekked out to the Milk River in northeast Montana. It was my first trip back to my old familiar hunting grounds since 2010, when a combination of EHD and flooding devastated the local whitetail herds, killing more than 90 percent of the deer.

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For 6 years I kept in close contact with my dear friend Luke Strommen, until we finally decided to try another TV hunt. Luke shot a doe (above) and then a buck later in the season, though not on camera.

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After hunting 3 days, I knew that while the herds had come back well on this section of the Milk, it would still take years before it gets as good as it was from 2006-2010, when Luke and I killed a bunch of good bucks with our bows. But I did find this amazing deer trail, and that evening hunted off the ground at the far end of it. I was lucky to shoot this 4X4 with my Remington muzzleloader. I figure it will take 2-3 more years for the age structure of the bucks to be as it should be, and I have fingers crossed that the Milk River will be spared EHD for years to come.

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I can’t imagine what early November would be like unless I was shivering in a ground blind for 10 hours a day somewhere in the remote bush of north-central Saskatchewan. Except last month when I hunted there, the temperature soared into the unheard of mid-50s! (I have hunted this country when it’s been 70 degrees colder.) This time I hunted out of a rustic camp with my old friend Trevor, with whom I had hunted elk 30 years prior in B.C. Turned out to be a fantastic reunion, as I got my Saskatchewan mojo back and shot a beautiful mid-150s buck. There is a twist to the story, but you’ll have to wait till next summer to watch.

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I hurried back home to hunt the second week of the Virginia blackpowder season, which is typically peak rut. My friends Jack and Cecil and I had gotten pictures of good bucks all summer long, and as the rut approached we found some big rubs, including the largest cedar I have ever seen thrashed in VA. We hunted a week hard, and never saw a shooter…we had hit the dreaded “lockdown” phase dead on. BTW, there are recent stories floating around that lockdown–when bucks hole up with does and don’t move–might be a myth. Don’t buy it! Unfortunately it’s real, and the buck hunting is downright difficult if not impossible.

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But there was a highlight from Virginia. One of our friends, Alex, who hunts Jack’s farm had a big bear amble beneath his tree stand, and he drilled it with his bow (unfortunately not on camera). Our black bear population is exploding.

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The day after Thanksgiving I hopped a plane to Oklahoma to hunt with my good friends Scott and Joni at Croton Creek Ranch. We had 4 guests in camp, and the hunt was epic. Although it was late November, we hit the rut just right. I stalked and shot an old 8-point we named “crabclaw” as he tended a doe and ran off young bucks.

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The next 3 days, everybody in camp tagged out. The highlight was Chuck Wahr’s beautiful 150-class 9-point. I had hunted that deer 2 days and had seen him twice before I tagged out. Chuck picked it up from there and shot what Scott figures was the biggest buck on the ranch last fall.

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I pulled a rifle tag for southeastern Kansas, and headed out there on a semi-guided but mostly DIY hunt, a fine way to do it. It was warm for 3 days and we didn’t see much. One afternoon I decided to bag the tree stand and brushed in a blind in a cedar-thick staging area near a bean field. I stepped back, examined the blind and thought it looked like a great spot. Three hours later I shot a cool buck with 6 points on one side.

Looking back, the fall of 2016 was a fun and successful year, and it’s not over yet. Well, 2016 is, but in January 2017 I’ll be heading down to south Alabama for one last hunt, hoping to hit the rut right again, hoping for one last buck and another new and interesting episode for BIG DEER TV.

Thanks for watching, and again Happy New Year!