In September of 2010, Kreager killed a giant 195-inch typical in Ohio after finding the buck with meticulous scouting, trail camera use and waiting until conditions were ideal before moving in.
In October of 2011, Kreager found a giant buck in Ohio with meticulous scouting, trail camera use and waiting until conditions were ideal before moving in.
“Yeah, it is kind of funny just how similar the circumstances were between these two bucks,” Kreager said. “But there were some pretty big differences too.”
Among the biggest differences was where Kreager killed this year's buck. It was not only on a different property, but on a property three hours from his Ohio home.
“I was hunting with Sunfish Valley Outfitters and they offer a DIY archery hunt,” explained Kreager. “So I headed down in March to walk around, put out some Trophy Rocks and hang cameras. And then I was down there probably once a month during the summer. It certainly wasn’t convenient, but that effort helped me find a couple of good bucks, and this buck was the biggest one I’d found on any of the places I hunt. So he’s the one I went after.”
More importantly than just finding the deer, however, was finding a buck that was moving in daylight.
“That’s the real key to this early-season stuff,” Kreager said. “In the early season pattern, if you’re not getting daylight pictures of the buck going to a food source, you’re probably not going to kill him. That’s just the way it is. So I start eliminating those areas where I’m not getting daylight photos.”
Kreager, who owns and operates NextHunt.com, which is a site dedicated to sharing information about guides and outfitters, stayed in touch with the folks at Sunfish Valley and waited for the right conditions to make his move on the big 12-pointer that was, indeed, moving in daylight.
“That was really tough – waiting for the right conditions,” Kreager said. “Much like last year, the critical thing was actually forcing myself to stay out until the wind was right.”
There was more to it than simply waiting for the right wind. There was some serious woodsmanship involved as well – or at least “windsmanship” learned while hunting the mountains of the West.
“It was really hard trying to decide when to go. I was a little worried I was going to miss out on that early season pattern,” Kreager said. “We had a cold front come in, which is normally a good thing. But when the front came through it gave me a completely wrong wind, and then it was forecast to be ‘light and variable.’ Which is not great. But that light and variable wind had some south to it and I needed that. Down in Pike County, Ohio, there are these big ridges and you get the thermal activity. I purposely put my stand downhill and anticipated I’d be hunting an evening sit, when the thermals should be pulling my scent downhill. In fact, that’s what saved me I’m pretty sure."
With the thermals working their olfactory magic, the giant 12-pointer made an appearance, but he wasn't traveling along a logging road headed for a food plot as had been revealed in Kreager’s trailcam photos.
With the wind slightly marginal and the evening temps scorching, the big buck showed up from an unexpected direction. Eventually the buck circled and offered a 20-yard shot and thanks to the thermals, Kreager wasn't detected.
Kreager’s Hoyt delivered a lethal arrow and Kreager had pulled off an impressive back-to-back Booner feat.
Kreager’s buck tops 175 inches and features long beams, excellent mass throughout and a classic 6x6 frame.