I have a few Reconyx images of bucks at The Proving Grounds that have already shed their antlers. Typically, the better the health of the buck the longer into winter they will hold their antlers, so I like seeing mature bucks in February and March still with antlers. Trail camera images from this time of year provide a simple index of deer herd health from year to year when comparing the dates when most bucks have shed their antlers. That’s the management side of those images.
The pure hunter side of me asked why wasn’t I able to see those bucks on the hoof during season? What do I need to change about my hunting techniques to observe and harvest these mature bucks during the fall archery and/or firearms season? Looking back, it’s extremely obvious to me that it’s easier to produce mature bucks than it is to harvest mature bucks. This is true on my land, and most of my clients’ properties.
So how can I improve mine and my clients’ opportunities to observe and harvest mature bucks? First mature bucks must be present. Second, after studying my habitats and the habitats of other hunters, I’m convinced one of the most overlooked techniques for harvesting mature bucks on a regular basis is simply making the commitment to approach the stand, blind, etc., in a way that doesn’t alert deer in the area to the presence of the hunter. This may be the least glamorous and most difficult task of the hunt. Stalking the stand while controlling scent as much as possible and hunting during a favorable wind yielded my cameraman and me three mature bucks this year.
I’ll be writing more about harvesting mature bucks during 2011 and displaying those techniques this fall. Most folks can produce mature bucks. However, there’s still a huge gap between the amount of folks producing and those harvesting mature bucks on a consistent basis. I want to be counted amount those that regularly harvest mature bucks. How about you?
Growing Deer together,