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.

Illinois Coyote Hunt: 5 Critters and a Shed

Longtime BIG DEER blogger Scott from MI and his buddies made their annual trek to coyote camp, and he recaps their awesome hunt:

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Hi Mike: We headed out about 9:30 am Thursday morning Jan. 26th from Michigan and made the 6-hour trip to northwest Illinois, to a place along the Mississippi River.  The normal gang was along for the hunt, good friends John, Ryan, Mike and Jason. My dad Russ did not make the trip this year but I told him I would keep him posted with the play by play if we got some action.

The weather was pretty good, mid-teens at night and mid-20s during the day. Winds were a little stronger than we would have liked, about 15 mph average with gusts over 25 mph but the direction was ok. The wind was not too bad in the lower areas where we call. Those bottom lands had almost no snow, but we had a good couple inches of fresh powder on the hilltops and sides.

Mike and I decided to make our first set at Jessie’s draw, a spot that has produced coyotes almost every year we have hunted it. It’s a large ravine that runs the better part of a mile downward from the hilltop. We made our way to the stand location, sneaking in behind some pines so as not to be spotted by any game that was down below.

We set the Foxpro between us and Mike started with some coyote vocals, then rolled into some distress house cat sounds. Going back and forth between the two for 28 minutes I was thinking nothing was going to show. But then a coyote popped out, scaling the bottom of the hill about 100 yards away. Soon as it cleared the brush I gave a mouth bark to stop it and put it down with my T/C Venture chambered in .243, with a 70-grain Nosler ballistic tip that Mike had hand loaded for me. It was a nice-size male, good way to start the day.

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For our 3rd set of the morning we went to another part of the property that has produced for us in the past as well. As we were approaching our setup we noticed something moving across the hilltop about 600 yards away. Turned out to be a coyote heading down into the draw we were just about to call. He hadn’t seen us, so we made the decision to get into position quickly and see if we could call him in before he got too far away.

Mike set up on the closest finger coming out of the large draw and facing the coyote. I looked over the next finger back, in case he tried to flank us. Mike ran the same coyote howls and then some distressed cat sounds with the Foxpro that he did earlier. About 15 minutes later I heard a shot. After he finished the call I walked over to see a guy grinning from ear to ear. Mike had just scored his first kill with his new Cooper rifle chambered in .204 Ruger. The coyote had come running right to him along the hilltop and he was able to stop it with a mouth bark at 40 yards; he put it right down with a 35-grain handload. It was a large male that weighed in at 45 pounds! I sent dad text messages telling him that we had scored on a couple.

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The winds picked up in the afternoon and we didn’t have any more luck the rest of the day. That night we found out that we had gained permission to hunt a large piece of property where we used to call a few years back ago. Excited to hear this, we set a game plan for the next morning.  John, Jason and Ryan would try to cover as much ground as they could with the wind direction we had.

On the first set John and Jason set up on a point overlooking the intersection of two large ravines. John set out his Foxpro and started calling with a TT Frenzy rabbit distress. About 5 minutes into the call a yote came running right in. John gave a mouth bark to stop him at 80 yards and took him with his Tikka .223 using 55-grain Hornady Vmax ammo. Another nice male coyote.

On their 3rd  call of the morning John and Jason made their way down the steep ravine and back up to another nice ridgetop. They set up in a new spot where they could see a good ways off. John started with the TT Frenzy again and about 3 minutes in, a coyote came running in from the bottom. John gave a mouth bark to stop and when he squeezed the trigger the gun dried fired.

scott jason

The coyote, now on alert, took off running and Jason was able to crack off a shot at about 50 yards and put it down with his .22 Hornet. It was a nice-colored female. Jason has been 4 for 4 with that gun since he’s had it. The 35-grain Hornady Varmit Express does a good job on the predators.

After hearing from John that they had called in two within an hour using the TT Frenzy sound I said to Mike, “I guess we better try some rabbit sounds!” The wind had switched directions a little on the way to our next set so we decided to call a tall ridgetop overlooking a huge valley with a power line clear cut running through it. I placed the FoxPro call between Mike and me and started with the TT Frenzy. It wasn’t much past a minute and I caught movement out of the comer of my eye. I turned to the right and saw a coyote trotting down the finger toward me, trying to get downwind. The critter disappeared in the ditch between us.

In a slightly controlled panic, knowing the yote may catch our scent soon as it popped up, I spun around and tried to pick the spot where it might show. A few seconds later it appeared 40 yards farther to my right than I had thought. I gave a mouth bark as soon as it cleared and took the shot. The animal disappeared and I wasn’t sure if I had hit it. Mike and I walked over and saw it lying 15 yards down the ditch. That was number 5 for our trip! I texted Dad to let him know we had just killed 3 in about 2 hours.

Ryan was not able to have any luck getting a yote, but did find a nice heavy shed antler while walking in to make a call. We left it for the property owner that had given us permission to hunt the property again. Hopefully 2 dead coyotes and a shed antler on his property will earn us an invite back in the future! We had another great hunt and are already looking forward to next year.

Thanks Mike and keep up the good work!–Scott from MI

Iowa Muzzleloader: Lady Smokes 240” Velvet Buck!

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Hi Mike: My wife, Lyla, harvested this buck with her muzzleloader near Osceola, Iowa on December 22, 2016 at 3:30 pm. The deer known as “The Freak” has 26 scorable points, an inside spread of nearly 24 inches and main beams 27 inches plus. He was 6 1/2 years old.

The Freak lived most of his life on a 4,300-acre farm located 10 miles south of our farm and managed by Steve Snow. Every year in mid-October the deer would come back to our farm, except for 2016, when our first picture of him was on Nov. 2.

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The Freak remained in velvet last year, we believe, because he was wounded by a neighboring bowhunter the previous year.

This is a great story on how we put all the pieces together on this buck’s life, until Lyla harvested him. We have not had the buck scored, but estimates from Steve Snow and others are that he is in the 240-inch range or more. Could he be the largest free-ranging buck ever taken by a female muzzleloader hunter in Iowa?

We watch your TV show religiously and thought that this was an intriguing story like the ones you often tell. Thank you, Dave and Lyla Nennig

Thanks Dave, great story and amazing buck! This could well be the highest green scoring buck ever shot by a lady not only in Iowa, but the entire United States. The largest velvet buck shot by a woman for sure! Way to go Lyla, and thanks for your support.

Kentucky Kid Shoots 169” Buck

KY millsOne day last November Jordan Mills hunted on family property near Lily, Kentucky in Laurel County. He left home about 1:30 PM and was in his tree stand by 2:20. Jordan had patterned the deer in this area and knew they traveled along an abandoned logging road in the afternoons.

It was windy and cold, and darkness fast approached. Jordan decided to try his Extinguisher call, and he delivered two loud grunts. Immediately he heard deer walking behind him—6 does but they were not looking in his direction.

A yearling fawn began to stamp her foot, and all the does looked directly away from Jordan. Then he heard a loud, deep grunt from the direction the does stared. Jordan had to turn completely around in his stand to see what was up.

A buck was downwind from his tree stand, and Jordan immediately saw it was a mature buck. The deer continued to advance down the logging road toward his stand, ambling to about 40 yards, broadside.  Jordan pressed the trigger of his 7mm Rem. Mag and made perfect shoulder shot. The buck ran about 30 yards and collapsed.

Jordan thought he had a nice buck, but did not realize the actual size of it until he got to the deer. He rushed home and got his father, who has supported and guided Jordan’s deer hunting passion from day one.

Together they went to the big deer out of the woods. Dad took one look at the buck and said, “Jordan, most hunters hunt their whole lives without killing such a trophy.” The buck scored 169 4/8.

Maine Deer Hunt: Teamwork for a Great 8-Pointer

I have hunted the great state of Maine exactly once. We covered hundreds of miles and explored the magical big woods for a week and saw two moose but not a single deer, not even a doe. We traveled around and filmed everything we saw and everybody we met, and put together a TV show. It was a hit, and the episode remains one of the most popular we have ever produced for Big Deer TV.

Today’s guest blog is from Kevin McKenna, who hunts in Maine every year. Although Maine is one of the toughest places in America to kill a deer, especially a good buck, Kevin’s post has me longing to go back again, maybe next year.

maine bucl 2016

(Dan, blue shirt on right, and Dave; Kevin snapped the picture)

Hi Mike: This is a little back story of me and my friends Dan and Dave. We all met at MT Chase Lodge in Shin Pond, Maine. The three of us have hunted here between 18-28 years: Dan with his dad, who can no longer hunt as the years have crept up on him, and Dave, whose hunting partner Charlie passed away awhile back. I hunted here with my dad, Larry, who passed away in 2009. Basically we came together as the leftovers, and promised each other we would come back the third week of November every year. Dan is from Mass, Dave is from Maryland and I’m from Conn. We’ve been coming back and hunting together for years now.

Now to last year’s hunt.

With highs in the 40s and lows in the 30s, the weather was not ideal for Maine hunting. We hunt two areas that are 10-20 miles away from the lodge. We bounced back and forth during the week, and found some good buck sign in each place, but had little daytime deer movement.

We found the most promising sign on Thursday evening so we were all in the last two days. Friday morning came and each of us headed to our spots about ¼-mile from each other; we were all on stand by 7 a.m.

Right off the bat Dan had a buck grunting on a little ridge 60 yards away, but he never showed himself. I had a buck freshen up his rub and scrape but just couldn’t see him. Dave was in an area with a really big buck making tracks, but no sighting of him.

Saturday was upon us, the week having flown by, and we had one last day to make it happen. We awoke to the coldest temps yet, 29, and a pretty good fog. On our 20-mile drive we talked things over and agreed that the fog might work our advantage…maybe the bucks would be on the move a little longer in the morning.

Each of us hunted the same spots as the day before. I got my stand at 6:50 a.m. and at 7 a deer started blowing at me, having caught my wind. “What a way to end the trip,” I thought. At 7:15 the sound we all love to hear—BANG! A couple of minutes later Dan was on the radio, “He’s down!” I started doing a little jig on stand and so did Dave.

We knew the work was about to start, so we made our way to Dan. Dave and I found our friend and congratulated him on an awesome buck. The buck had come off the same ridge where Dan heard the grunt the day before and proceeded to hit his scrape, paw the ground and nose the licking branch. Dan had a show for 3-4 minutes before he figured he’d better shoot.

After pictures, the time was at hand for the inevitable drag–1/4 mile as the crow flies but more like 1/2 mile and all up hill. Well, 2 1/2 hours later we arrived at the truck, and headed off to the check station and then back to the lodge to show off Dan’s trophy. The buck was 8 points and dressed 185 pounds, Dan’s best Maine buck to date.

Love the show Mike.—Best, Kevin

As I mentioned, Maine is a tough place to kill a deer. Any buck is a good one, and an 8-pointer pushing the 200-pound mark dressed is a trophy. Not only the shooter but also his buddies revel in the hunt and the experience, and that is the way it ought to be. Congrats Dan, Kevin and Dave. I admire your commitment to keep going back and hunting together all those years in one of the most magical deer woods on earth. Maybe I’ll see you up there next year.–MH