Longtime blogger Jeff Herrmann filed this recap of his 2012 season:
I do not have access to private land here in New Jersey, so I am limited to hunting public land. If that were not challenging enough, I decided to limit my hunting to a compound or crossbow last season to take advantage of opportunities where gun hunting would not be allowed.
The season started off well with several decent bucks on my cams. When I say “decent bucks” I am referring to public-land bucks in NJ which are hunted for 6 months a year. On the public properties few bucks live past 2.5 years old; average rack scores often top out in the 100” range.
I hunted 2 to 4 days a week throughout September and into October. I was running 6 trail cams, moving them regularly to cover prime travel routes across 400 acres. By mid-October I still had not located a single mature buck, or one that would score above 110”. Nevertheless, I stuck with my plans.
I made another camera move on a Sunday afternoon. I took the next Wednesday off to hunt, and checked the camera early that morning. As I approached the cam I heard deer running off, and was greeted with the unmistakable stench of mature buck. Sure enough the cam confirmed I had located a “shooter”. By that afternoon I had my stand in place.
He did not show that evening, or for the next several days. I was determined to catch him on his morning travels, but never saw him. One morning I checked the cam and was disappointed to find that he had already passed by at 5 am.
I hung with it, and on a Sunday morning I pressed my luck, knowing I only had a small window to connect before his pattern was likely to change with the rut coming on. He walked in an hour after the sun rose. I shot him at 25 yds broadside. He is my best NJ buck to date. I believe he is 4.5 years old, and I am having that confirmed via tooth aging. He scored in the 120s, has an 8 point frame and an extra 3” beam growing out the left side of his skull.
As if I had not worked hard enough to harvest this buck, after he was down I had to single- handedly pull him 3/4 of a mile out of the woods. It was all absolutely worth it. To me, nothing is more satisfying than taking a mature buck, all by myself, on heavily hunted public land.—Jeff
Jeff, great hunting and persistence, that’s how ya do it. Way to go man.