Read between the lines of every big deer shot by a hunter, and you’ll find lessons—lessons that might help you shoot a dream buck. This is the first in a series of key hunting tips for the 2016 season.


Rob from Arkansas told me about the massive whitetail he shot in Alberta years ago.

It was November 29, and it was cold, around 0. Rob’s guide (Americans must by law hire an outfitter in Canada) took him to a secret spot that hadn’t been hunted all season. Trail cam pictures had shown several good bucks in the area.

Thirty minutes after daylight Rob caught a flash of hide, and then a big chunk of antler bone. He knew the second he saw it that this was a big-bodied shooter.

All he could see was a patch of front shoulder. Rob fired a bullet at that spot and the buck never moved.

Rob’s buck only had a 14″ inside spread, but he made up for it up with an incredible 50 plus inches of mass. The animal had 21 points and scored around 220 NT. The brute weighed 300 pounds.

Two lessons here:

–You already know this but I reiterate—any time you can hunt a new spot where nobody else has been hunting your odds of seeing a big deer moving in daylight go way, way up.

–Most importantly, Rob got that giant because he didn’t fool around and wait for the whole animal to pop out of the cover so he could marvel at it. The second you confirm your target as a deer…a buck…a big buck, and the instant you have a safe, open shot at the vitals, pull the trigger or trip the release.

If you are indecisive and fool around, looking at a buck too long and trying to better size him up, he’ll get away. That is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in all these years of deer hunting. You’ve got to be doubly sure of your target and backdrop–safety first of course–but once you’ve checked those off the list, take him!