Tennessee hunter Stephen Tucker, who killed the former hunter-taken record non-typical buck in 2016, talks strategies for patterning velvet bucks on crop field edges during the early season
Serious deer hunters have probably heard of Stephen Tucker. The soft-spoken farmer from Middle Tennessee shot a 47-point non-typical whitetail in November of 2016 that was, for a few years, the largest non-typical buck ever taken by a hunter. Tucker killed that buck with a muzzleloader on a small farm within the city limits of Gallatin, and I got to know him while covering the story for Field & Stream.
Tucker didn’t retire from deer hunting after 2016. Arguably, he got more serious about it. Back then and to this day, Tucker has said he’d rather duck hunt than deer hunt, and that’s part of the reason why he enjoys hunting the early season in Tennessee. He prefers to fill his tags before waterfowl season opens. But Tucker also likes hunting predictable deer over food sources — and he’s become especially fond of the Volunteer State’s 3-Day August archery season. First offered in 2018, the season falls on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during the last weekend in August.
Tennessee’s regular bow season opens in late September, long after bucks have shed their velvet. Frequently, that's after they’ve dispersed from their summertime bachelor groups, too. But the August season is for bucks only, and it falls at a time when deer are firmly in their summertime patterns. It's hot out, but if you have designs on killing a velvet buck, the Tennessee season might be one of the country's most overlooked opportunities.
Tucker has been successful at it. Since that inaugural season, he’s killed big bucks two of the three years (last year’s season was mostly a wash-out, due to the remnants of Hurricane Laura). In this Realtree Outpost Podcast episode, Tucker and I talked about his strategies for finding and hunting early season bucks. We also relive the glory days of 2016, and what it's like to shoot a world-class whitetail.
I enjoyed the discussion, and I think you will, too.
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