North Dakota Velvet Bow Buck

The first buck of 2017 on BIG DEER blog! Guest post from North Dakota native and bowhunter Kelsey Deutz:

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We had a couple of years of history with the buck we call “S-10.”  My husband, Nick, hunted him last year.  He was very visible on camera but never came within bow range during the daylight hours.

In 2017, we first spotted S-10 about a month before season opened.  We were so glad he made it through the year. He blew up!  Once again, he was very visible on camera, and Nick had seen him on the hoof a few times just after sunrise in the weeks before season opened.  We set up a couple different blinds in different parts of the area he was living in so we could play the wind if necessary. You always have to plan for the wind in North Dakota.

The week before the season he had been in a very consistent pattern every night.  He would venture out of his bedding grounds and head to feed around 7pm like clockwork.

I headed out to the blind by myself around 5pm on opening day.  I watched some does and fawns filter in and out.  I watched a fawn nursing at 8 yards from the blind. It was very eventful right off the get go!

Shortly after 7pm, I noticed something walk by the blind and come out on the right side of me.  I assumed it was a doe, but I glanced over and it was him! He walked out and I ranged him at 24 yards. S-10 stood there facing directly away from me for what felt like an eternity. Which was a blessing because it allowed me to gain my composure before the shot.

The buck very slowly started to turn broadside and I patiently waited for the perfect shot.  Finally, the opportunity arose and I took the shot at 24 yards.  He ran off to the left of the blind and crashed into the rushes.

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I waited awhile in the blind before I pulled the chip from our trail camera we had set up and snuck out to give him some time.  I got back to the farm and checked the pictures to see if there was any evidence on there.  Our Moultrie had captured the shot!  It looked pretty promising!  We let him sit for a couple of hours before we started searching.

We looked for a few hours into the night but decided to leave it until morning light.  I didn’t sleep a wink and was eager to get everyone up at the crack of dawn to continue searching.  We got back on the trail shortly after sunrise and found him within 15 minutes!

I’ve been hunting whitetails in North Dakota for 17 years and this was the closest I have had to a textbook hunt. S-10 followed the script perfectly!  As hunters, we all know it usually doesn’t work that way.—Thanks, Kelsey

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For Kelsey Deutz , her husband, Nick, and their two young kids, hunting is way of life. Through their Hunting Traditions website and Instagram they share their love of North Dakota and its wildlife, and encourage hunters across the country to engage their entire family, young and old. A great message and our kind of people, way to go Kelsey!

 

Will Summer Bucks Hang Around This Fall?

MD dan lexiA popular question this time of year: Will the bucks I’ve been watching in fields and getting on my trail cameras this summer stick around when hunting season opens, or once the bachelor groups start separating will the bucks disperse and disappear?

According to Penn State’s Deer-Forest study, more than half of the small-antlered yearlings (18 months old) you’ve been seeing will hit the road from mid-September through early November. The adult bucks, however, won’t be going anywhere, which is good news. Very rarely does a mature buck have a different home range during the breeding season from one he used all summer.

However, it might seem like the big bucks disappeared.

First, the bachelor groups break up. And then during the rut, the home ranges of the bucks will increase by 2 to 5 times. If a buck has a home range right now of a square mile, come late October he’ll be traveling an area of 2-5 square miles.

So you might or might not see him for days or weeks when you’re on stand. It just depends on where he is in that 2-5 mile radius while you’re in the woods.

But just the fact that one, two or more shooter bucks are still hanging in your area gives you a fighting chance of seeing and tagging one the next couple of months. Good luck.

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

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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.

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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!

 

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD): Should You Eat The Deer Meat?

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Map: Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance

This fall you shoot a whitetail or a mule deer in an area where CWD is known to be present in the deer herds. How do you handle that deer…should you eat the meat?

Research has shown that in an infected deer CWD prions may be present in tissues and body fluids, including blood and muscle, but they are most prevalent in the brain, eyes, spinal cord, lymph nodes, tonsils and spleen. Thus, it is recommended that hunters in a CWD area wear gloves and bone out harvested deer (or elk). Take extra precautions when cutting around or handling organs where CWD prions are most likely to accumulate.

Biologists have told us for years that there is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted from deer to humans. But now, meat from deer contaminated with CWD may be more dangerous than originally thought, according to ongoing research conducted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the University of Calgary.

At this point in that study, 2 test animals that were exposed to CWD by being fed infected meat have become infected with CWD.

The implications here are enormous and game-changing. The CWD Alliance now says on its website: Public health officials recommend that human exposure to the CWD agent be avoided as they continue to research the disease. Accordingly, hunters are advised not to eat meat from animals known to be infected with CWD.

If you shoot a deer in a known CWD area, you don’t know for certain if that individual animal is infected with CWD. It may be or it may not be. Experts now say to have your animal tested for CWD before deciding whether or not to eat it. Contact the state/local wildlife agency for info on procedures and submission locations.

Sounds reasonable, but how practical is it for most hunters, especially those in the backcountry? How many hunters will go the extra step to have the meat tested? How is the test conducted, how long does it take, how much of a hassle?

Lots of questions that lead to big dilemmas. Every good hunter wants to kill and process an animal cleanly, and feed the venison to his family. Every good man or woman protects his family at all costs; if there’s the slightest risk that deer meat can be harmful, he or she will discard it.

If you so throw out a deer, is that considered wanton waste, which is illegal as it should be in virtually all states?

Then there is this. Even if you get your deer tested, the CWD Alliance says: remember, while disease testing is an important tool for detecting CWD, it is not a food safety test.

I say research where you are hunting, and know if CWD is a potential risk in the area. If so and you shoot a deer that looks, acts or smells in any way sick, obviously don’t risk the meat. If you shoot a deer that looks and acts normal, have it tested for CWD and go from there and make your decision—safety first