Whitetail Hunting: The Buck That Got Away


Reader Submitted on 10/3/09

I headed out bowhunting thinking that the cool weather might make for some great whitetail hunting. I had a 2.5 year old spike buck come in Saturday morning walking down a cross-fence on our property. He walked within bow range and shot at him at 18 yards. As luck would have it, I hit a wire on the fence and the arrow went straight up into the air!

At this point, I’m thinking, “Man, what’s the chances of that?” Well, the young buck calms back down and starting feeding on some protein pellets I had thrown out. He then gives me another shot, this time slightly quartering away and 30 yards out. The shot looked good, so I let one fly! Just before the arrow gets there, the spike jumps and it sticks him about half way back and high on the boy.

I watched him run across the pasture and into the woods along the creek, with my arrow sticking out of him. I knew it was not a great shot, so I gave him 2 hours and then me and my hunting buddies went looking. We found my arrow where the buck went into the creek and followed a blood trail for about 75 yards. The blood trail was pretty steady, but then it just stopped at the creek bed where he crossed.

We looked most of the day Saturday for that spike and never found anything. I have felt like crap the rest of the weekend just wondering whether he is still alive or not. I assumed it would happen sooner or later while whitetail hunting with a bow, but it sucks losing a buck. I just wonder if he will be able to shake it off or what.

Best Feeder Times for Whitetail Hunting in Texas

Question: I hunt in North Central Texas, what are the best feeder times to set for morning and and evening during the general (gun) season? Thanks for your help.

Answer: For most of Texas, a good rule of thumb would be to have your spin feeder run around 6:45 m and about 3:30 pm. Some hunters prefer a bit later in the morning and in the evening, but the times mention above work well. When a feeder goes off, some deer wait for the noise of a feeder and then come right in. These are typically the younger and smaller deer, which most hunters are not after. These early deer want to get there before the big bucks kick them out, especially later into the evening.

In my opinion, it’s about trying to get the bigger bucks in early enough in the eveing with enough daylight to see the antlers on their heads clearly. If you can get the does to come in early in the afternoon then its only a matter of time before the older bucks come following closely behind, particulary during the rut. That is, if there are any bigger or mature bucks in the area.

Although most hunters prefer an evening time later than 3:30 pm, you’ll be surprised at what you will see during the early afternoon. Early feeder times are great in the morning, except that on a cloudy morning you may have the deer (especially if you have a high deer density) consuming most of the feed before you can see them. From my experience from hunter around feeders, the larger bucks tend to be there very early in the morning, so the early your feeder can go off, the more likely you are to have larger bucks come in. Of course, they may finish eating before you can see well, or legally shoot.

Minnesota’s Camp Ripley Produces Monster Buck

Camp Ripley produces another monster whitetail

When it comes to great whitetail hunting, Minnesota has a reputation for producing some great monster bucks. Although the current nontypical record is over 225 inches, resident Scott O’Konek did his best to threaten that record. And it sounds sad to to say he came up short, because he bagged one heck of a big buck, but his deer did not make the cut. However, I would have a smile a country mile wide if I had even seen this great deer, much less tagged it after putting a well-placed arrow through it.

Source: Scott O’Konek may have rewritten the Minnesota record books when he tagged this 32-point buck around 9 a.m. on Oct. 15, the first day of Camp Ripley’s annual two-day archery hunt. Bolstered by good mass and long brow tines, the big deer’s green score—conservatively measured at 228 nontypical—would be more than enough to dethrone the current state-record archery buck, a 222 5/8 nontypical taken in 1992 by Gary Martin a 226 3/8 nontypical taken in 2008 by Ben Spanjers. O’Konek’s deer weighed 192 lbs. field dressed, and the highly symmetrical rack netted 183 7/8 typical.

Deer Hunting Joke: Search for the MONSTER Buck

Monster Buck Track

We used to deer hunt with a guy that always went way overboard with what ever he was doing, and whitetail hunting was no different. To make matters worse, this guy would talk non-stop about the huge bucks that he was hunting, yet he never killed anything. A good friend of mine had found a mule deer shed in Colorado with an astounding 34 inch main beam and a 16 inch tine and a 12 inch tine on it, so the idea was hatched.

A fellow hunter in our camp was very good at carving, so he carved us a huge deer track that was attached to a long pole. You can see where this is going. The footprint was an inch longer than any whitetail buck track that anyone has even seen. So we had the huge antler and the huge track, our deer hunting joke had legs (literally).

So the huge shed was left within 20 yards of his deer stand, and it took him several hunts in that stand before he even noticed it. I mean, really? Open your eyes, dude! To sweeten the pot, we made rubs on trees that were 18 to 20 inches in diameter and several scrapes that were 4 to 5 foot across. And, we of course lots of HUGE deer tracks.

This guy obsessively hunted what he called the world record 6 point the entire season before he received a tip on where his monster whitetail buck could be found. Needless to say, he got a lot of whitetail hunting in that year, and we got a lot of laughs. And he took it pretty good, too. That kept him quiet for a little while.

Whitetail Rutting Activity in Schleicher County

11/20/09

I went whitetail hunting North of Highway 190 between Menard and Christoval last weekend. I observed lots of really healthy deer, bucks and does. The area we hunt had a bluetongue epidemic about three to four years ago, so we still do not see as many 4.5 to 5.5 year old bucks as all the hunters would like. As other hunters I know have stated, the deer look great and it should be good year in Schleicher County. They received much more rain than a lot of the State, so there was abundant food. Antlers and body condition should be well above avergae.

I saw both mature and immature bucks all weekend, but never saw any rutting activity by the deer. I even used some doe in estrus scent just to see if I could get any reaction, but nothing. The mature bucks I saw completely ignored the hot scent and ignored the does themselves, too. The big bucks were still more interested in pushing the others away from the feeder and filling their bellies. Most years, the rut kicks off with the first major cold front in early November.

We will see what happens this year. A lot of things have gone good this year, so we can only hope for the best. If any of you guys hunt out here, drop a line so we can see how the hunting is going.

Where Have All the Bucks Gone?

Question: I have 13 different bucks on game camera on my property and have not been seeing any of these deer on our lease. In all, we have 900 acres with 8 guys whitetail hunting on it. I shot a nice 9 point first week in October with my bow, and opening day of the general season another guy shot a nice main frame 10 with 3 kickers. It was a nice buck, but those are the only 2 bucks that have been seen and killed by hunters on our lease.

I just had 2 new bucks show up on camera in the last week, but we just aren’t seeing them while hunting. Most of the photos are at night of course, but one buck showed up during the day time (on camera). I have tried grunting, rattling, can calls, but have had no luck.

We have 900 acres and the lease next to us has about 1,600. The one to our north has 500 and then there are several other lease properties with about 200 to 300 acres of food plots. Will we see any bucks?

Answer: If you’ve got bucks on camera, then they are around. Whitetail bucks can stay under the radar very well, but they lose their cool when the rut kicks off. When they start rutting, you will see those bucks moving around, as well as chasing does. I know it may be hard to believe that with all the different bucks you have on camera that you are not seeing them, but just give it time. The neighbors may have them using their food plots at night, too. However, the rut will mix things up. Just be ready when it happens, and hope your whitetail hunting turns out good.

What Time Should I Go Deer Hunting?

Question: What time do you usually get into the woods or your deer stand on opening day? I live about 30 minutes from the property that I hunt and am curious on when I should get in my stand for optimal whitetail hunting?

Answer: Opening day is typically the best day of the year as far as the element of surprise goes. I like to get there at least 45 minutes before daybreak, which is about 1 hour and 15 minutes before official sunrise. The earlier the better really, just so the hunting area can settle down. Often times, white-tailed deer will “creep” into an area well before sunrise so that they have firsts on a food plot or at a deer feeder.

The worst feeling in the world is walking up to a stand and hearing deer running off. I would also have nightmares that it was a monster buck running off, so now I get there early. To give you an idea of what deer really har, make sure you listen good on opening morning. Listen to all the noise other hunters on neighboring properties will make. You will hear vehicles starting up and driving on the roads, car doors and tailgates slamming, and people talking, and radios off in the distance.

The trick is for you to get into position first, so that they will scare the deer out of their hunting area when they move in too late and the run into yours. So, about 1 hour and 15 minutes before official sunrise for optimal morning whitetail hunting.

Do Turkey Decoys Calm Whitetail?

Can a turkey decoy improve your deer hunting?

Question: I have tried different types of deer decoys over the years. From my experience, most of the whitetail deer I have observed seem to lockup once they see the deer decoy. Deer seem to know something is wrong. However, while turkey hunting I have had deer come in to my turkey decoys several times. Although a little skittish, deer seem much more comfortable and inquisitive about the turkey decoys. They will most often almost touch them. I think I am going to give them a try next time I head out whitetail hunting. Has anyone tried them for deer?

Answer: That’s a new one, but you really never know! Hunters commonly use deer decoys when deer hunting to lure deer in for a closer look. Bowhunters commonly use decoys to get aggressive bucks to come in and do battle. As such, many bowhunters use buck decoys, but some will also use doe decoys with added scent to make mature whitetail close the distance.

In the waterfowl world, confidence decoys have been used for years. If we take a note from them, then turkey decoys may have the same effect on whitetail deer. The turkey decoy may act as a confidence booster for whitetail. As most deer and turkey hunters know, turkey are about 10 times more spooky than your average whitetail.

I think you may be on to something here. Give your turkey decoy a shot because I surely don’t think it will hurt. Good luck with your experiment and whitetail hunting!