Preparation and meticulous scouting go a long way in the taking of many trophy bucks. But, most hunters live in the real world and don’t have unlimited free time to scout and hunt. Kentucky bowhunter Kevin Hill is a great example. He hunts on a small farm close to his home and simply didn’t have the time to scout his area prior to the early September archery opener. So, in hopes of funneling a little extra deer activity toward his stand, he constructed a homemade feeder, filled it with corn and placed it, along with a Trophy Rock, near his stand. He hung a trail camera nearby.
Two weeks later, on a Saturday, he checked the trail cam and to his delight, there were 27 pictures of a big non-typical buck, all but four of which were snapped during daylight hours. “For the most part, the buck was by himself. I captured just a glimpse of one other little buck in one picture, but he definitely wasn’t part of a big bachelor group,” Hill says. “And, he was virtually the only deer hitting the bait. I think he was keeping everything else run out of the area.”
The photos were being captured both in the mornings and in the evenings, and Hill knew there was no time to waste. He was in his stand at 4 on Sunday morning, hoping to avoid bumping any deer from the bait by arriving extra early. A doe and fawn passed underneath him that morning, but the big buck didn’t show.
Hill wasn’t able to hunt Sunday evening or Monday morning, but he was back in his stand by 4 Monday afternoon. “At around 7, I glanced up and noticed two bucks coming toward me. One of them was actually a non-typical, and I initially thought it was the big buck I’d been waiting on. But they suddenly stopped, got a little nervous, and eased off,” Hill says. “I couldn’t understand how I’d spooked them, but of course I assumed that I had. But that’s when I heard another deer walking my way from my right.”
The approaching buck was the big non-typical Hill had been after. He suspects the territorial old buck simply intimidated the other two into leaving.
When the buck stopped broadside at 20 yards, Hill drew his bow, took his time and made a perfect double-lung hit. The buck scrambled 50 yards before crashing. Best of all, Hill was able to capture his hunt on home video. He says it will appear on season three of the Real World Whitetails video series.
Any bowhunter can learn some lessons from Hill’s great buck. For one, provided it’s legal in your area, baiting is a fast, effective way to get deer into bow range, especially during the early season. It was a perfectly legal hunting strategy for Hill, and the best way for him to make up for lost scouting time. Secondly, when a big buck is showing up at a food source in the early season, whether you’re seeing him on your trail camera or by glassing, it’s time to hunt him right then. Your odds of killing him will only decrease the longer you wait.