And a Few Reminders, Too
If you have information on bucks from past years — use it. It’s extremely valuable. Bucks won’t always do the same thing from year to year. But sometimes they do. I took trail camera information from the 2017-18 deer season and that gave me a great advantage going into 2019.
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I ran trail cameras from the summer of 2017 until spring of 2018. I learned a lot about Big 8 during that time. I made note of every daylight appearance he made on trail cameras and recorded the date, time, temperature, weather, direction of travel, etc. These things taught me a lot about how he used the property and where I should make my stand and when to do so. When I started re-learning and scouting in the summer of 2018, it gave me a great starting point that I wouldn’t have had if I didn’t scout year-round.
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I knew there were a few things lacking. Not that I couldn’t tag the buck without having added them. I probably could have. But I thought they would help. So, I put in a micro kill plot and a watering hole (in strategic locations) early in summer — and then stayed out until the season arrived. Trail cameras proved these things definitely helped increase my odds for success.
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I also glassed from afar — but not like I should have. If I had, I wouldn’t have had the problems that I had come opening day. I would have known that the buck hadn’t really changed patterns and that he’d just shifted slightly. But more on that momentarily.
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I wouldn’t have known a fraction of what I knew about this buck had I not used trail cameras. That’s a scary thought. In fact, I only laid eyes on the buck twice — the day before and the day I killed it. Trail cameras taught me 95 percent of what I knew about the buck. But they also deceived me, albeit briefly.
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How did they deceive me? My daylight sightings (on trail camera) of the big hoss went cold. Right before the opener, he was only hitting my cameras at night. I opted not to hunt the deer the first three days of the season because of this. I moved some cameras around and luckily gained a little more intel on the deer. Not like I wanted, though. I finally decided to hunt on the fourth day of the season even though I didn’t have a great pattern on the buck. I lucked out and saw the buck coming out in an area that I didn’t have a camera set up, but only about 60 yards away from one — just out of its range. I almost shot the deer that day (from my observation stand), but he skirted just out of range.
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The next day, I did a hang-and-hunt in a spot I thought would give me a decent shot at killing the deer. I lucked out. And I got the shot of my lifetime. But it wasn’t easy. And I could have just as easily botched the shot if I hadn’t prepared.
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I got so worked up as the deer eased within range that I almost couldn’t draw my bow. I had to close my eyes to calm my nerves and peek out every few seconds to see if the buck had made it within range. As mentioned, I made a great shot. And had I not practiced with my archery equipment so much throughout my life, I doubt I’d have made the shot that I did.
To see more about this great specimen, and what he taught me about deer, deer hunting, and life, check out the filmed hunt below.
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