Do You Want To Shoot and Harvest Bigger Bucks?
I can tell you almost all hunters would love to shoot bigger bucks, but few are willing to put in the effort required. Patience and hard work are both needed to harvest mature bucks every season. By no means am I just a trophy hunter because my family truly enjoys the harvested venison I fill the freezer with each year. I’m a hybrid hunter; I enjoy the challenge of mounting a big buck on the wall every season, and also the need to put meat in the freezer to feed the family. The typical size of the deer and antlers differs all across the country. Some areas are known for massive Boone and Crockett bucks, while others will never reach that potential. So here are my secrets to harvesting larger, more mature bucks no matter where you hunt:
Early Season Scouting
Utilize game cameras set up on the food sources in order to get a better look at your deer. I run game cameras all year long, but during the late summer months when the bucks are growing it is most important. I am able to view the bucks growing to their full potential, and know what times of day they are on the move. If you have good daylight shooter bucks on camera, there is a good possibility of an early season harvest.
Minerals, Food, and Water
This is a major step in ensuring a healthy deer herd. Minerals are needed most during spring and summer months as the deer are growing bigger racks, and it helps to significantly improve the health of does and fawns. Search for a product with low salt content; ideally a 2-1 ratio of Calcium to Phosphorous to build stronger bones. Deer like to eat a variety of foods at different times of the year, so try and plant different options to keep them healthy and happy year round. Corn is the most commonly used feed; while deer are definitely drawn to it, there is not a lot of protein or fat content in it. Instead, try mixing a protein feed with a number of grains containing 20% protein and 8% crude fat with whole corn to beef up your herd. Of course deer need water to survive, so the availability of abundant water is extremely important to have nearby. Having all three of these available will keep deer in your area. Not to mention, you will also pull bucks from your neighbor’s property and keep them coming back for more.
Quality Deer Management
This is the hardest part about shooting bigger bucks, but also the most important. Whitetails need to live at least 4 years to show their true potential. No matter how much you improve your hunting property, if you shoot them early you will never have consistent big bucks. If you shoot a buck before he matures, your bucks will never grow larger. Shooting young bucks is the number one factor limiting trophy buck size. We decrease our trophy opportunities every time we take a young buck. If venison meat is the ultimate goal, harvest a doe or two, but do not compromise and take a smaller buck. You should selectively harvest mature deer after they have been allowed a few years to breed, which will increase the quality of the deer herd on your hunting land. DO NOT shoot them before they reach their full potential, especially when you are willing to put in all the hard work, if you are truly after that massive big boy. With time and dedication you can turn your hunting property into the best in the area. It may sound like a lot of work, but when you shoot that big mature buck you will most definitely feel a sense of accomplishment.
Patience is a virtue of a true hunter. The more time a hunter spends afield with strong ethics in a good habitat with abundant deer (close to 1:1 sex ratio), and well dispersed buck age structure, the better chance a person has to harvest a trophy buck. Even under the best conditions, most deer hunters will not be blessed with an opportunity to harvest a trophy buck every hunting season. This is why the sport is called hunting.
Good Luck this hunting season, and let’s see your trophies in the comments section!!