Monday of this week, Jessica Brooks of Barnes bullets harvested one of the hit list bucks, Large Left 10, at The Proving Grounds. Jessica made a great shot (85 yards at 30 degrees downhill) and the Barnes VOR-TX bullet literally dropped the deer faster than my eyes could follow. She shot Left Brow Taller 10 at 1:30 PM. It was a thrilling hunt that included several lessons.
I had a lot of history with the buck that Jessica killed. He had the typical race horse appearance as a three year old. He appeared very muscular and spent a lot of time cruising. It seemed he was aggressive. We were blessed to find both of his sheds from last year and they scored 146”. They were the product of a great growing season (the right amount of rain when it was needed).
As a four year old his body had filled out more. His body was larger, but not as toned in appearance (like most men change from 30 to 40 years of age). His rack was larger also, especially noticeable in more mass! His gross score was 153. That’s about a 4.8% increase. However, that increase occurred during a year with a horrible drought during the growing season. There was no rain for 15 weeks at The Proving Grounds this summer! Any increase from 2009 to 2010 is huge! Certainly it could have been more, but most deer managers must work with what the environmental conditions are.
I had more than 30 Reconyx images of Large Left 10 since September 15th. However, most of them occurred once the rutting action began. In fact, during three weeks since September 15th I didn’t capture a single image of Large Left 10. My Reconyx units captured more images of Large Left 10 than any other of our 20 hit list bucks. His personality was to move, and movers are easier to harvest. Individual bucks have individual personalities. Large Left was aggressive and aggressive deer can be harvested.
Large Left 10 provided me with much enjoyment and several lessons including:
- Most bucks continue to increase in antler size until old age – older than they usually live in wild. If you wish to harvest bucks with larger antlers, you must pass younger bucks.
- Some bucks’ personality is to travel more than others and movers are relatively easy to harvest.
- During the rut, locations between feeding and bedding areas that allow a M.D.E. (Minimal Disturbance Entry) are prime locations. Jessica’s stand was on the edge of a power line that bisects a sanctuary with a feeding area (large food plot with standing Eagle Seed beans) to the east and a bedding area created by cutting trees and prescribed fire to the west. We were able to park on the ridge, walk down 100 yards and have a 400 yard view to the valley. We approached the stand about 9:00 AM and the wind currents were predominately rising so our scent was being carried up hill. The wind was swirling some, but because of the warming air during the morning, when the wind swirled the other way, the leaves were still rising.
- Patience and readiness are critical when hunting mature bucks. Jessica and I observed a shooter buck at 300 yards – twice – earlier that day. However, the shot opportunity was not ideal. Jessica is a wise and experienced hunter and opted to pass on those opportunities. She’s practiced and capable to shoot accurately at 300 yards, but the buck was in tall grass and moving. Passing those opportunities yielded a great opportunity at 85 yards on a fabulous buck.
This was a great experience in the benefits of good herd and habitat management and good hunting skills. We knew this buck was in the area, that the stand location was ideal for the rut, and remaining on the stand through the midday had a great chance of yielding an opportunity to harvest a mature buck. Jessica had the discipline to pass on marginal opportunities and the skills and gear to capitalize on a great opportunity!
With discipline you can have the same opportunities at your Proving Grounds.
Growing Deer together,