20 year top five …..

WTNUT

5 year old buck +
Sorry, but just no much time to post these days. But, preparing for 2022 season and have had some time to reflect. Here are MY top five items at my farm that I believe increase our chances of consistently harvesting bucks that are at least 5.5 years of age and score at least 150 inches.

1. Cover combined with sanctuaries. You can have the best genetics, best food, and largest tracts of land in the state. But, if that MATURE buck does not feel safe he is NOT going to spend much time on your farm. I never did the calculation before, but just did using On Xhunt and 30 percent of my main farm has been a sanctuary for 20 years. However, I have noticed that as timber had matured more and more, closing over the canopy and eliminating a lot of grown cover the mature bucks don’t stay on me as much as they once did presumably due to a lack of cover in the sanctuaries. That is why we are timbering right now.

2. Only hunting when it is time to hunt. What do I mean? We never start bowhunting until at least the 20th of October. I watch the cameras and when I see the mature guys on their feet outside the sanctuaries during daylight, we start. That may be Oct 20 it may be Oct 24. Regardless that first week has always been our best chance of tagging an old guy. This may not be for everyone because the majority of folks have limited time to hunt and have to hunt when they have time - a day here and a day there. Trust me, I have been there so I feel your pain.

3. Minimize stress. This goes to the size of the antlers far more than the age of the buck. A buck that is stressed to the max trying to get too many does bred in the fall or just stressed because there are too many deer in his area is not going to reach his maximum potential IN MY OPINION. Stress going into winter is always going to happen, but if you can reduce the stress it helps. Our best solution is harvesting does. Based on using the spotting scope all summer, we are extraordinarily close to a 50/50 ration of bucks to does.

4. Food - not much needs said here. Your genetics are what they are. To get the most our of those for antler growth and to keep your bucks at home as much as possible after items 1-3 above are addressed, give them as much food as you can. I went away from growing corn and beans for the deer some years ago and it hurt even with plenty of other sources available such as acorns, clover, sorghum and woody browse. The beans help so much in summer and January to March (we don’t harvest the beans) while the corn really helps October through January.

5. Honestly, I don’t really have a fifth item that I would rank in a list with items 1 through 4. There are a lot of other things that we and you probably do that help, but I don’t think anything is in the same league as the ones above to give you the opportunity to consistently see mature bucks at least 5.5 years of age with a gross score of 150 inches or better.

P.S. While I am blessed to have a lot of acreage, one of my best friends a few counties over has 100 acres that joins a public hunting area (WMA). His property line looks like a testing ground for the Treestand Manufactures Association. He subscribes to items 1-4 above and he ALWAYS has better mature bucks than me. So I don’t buy into the proposition that you have to have 1,500 acres to have “good” bucks.

Hope this is of some value to those of you getting started.


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Triple C

5 year old buck +
LIke #2. Got the other bases covered.
 

Mortenson

5 year old buck +
Thanks for posting. I gotta ask, why does your buddy always have better mature bucks than you? What's the X factor?
 

SwampCat

5 year old buck +
Good post. Always interesting to see what works for other folks. I have 300 acres. There are 200 acres of five year old clearcuts in two blocks that join my property. One whole border is a swamp thicket so thick you cant hardly walk through it. My problem is not cover - it is getting them out of the cover and onto my place. I do that with ten or so year round food plots (wheat and durana clover) - and bait.

I know a lot of folks frown on bait - I use to - and still do to some extent - but when you have fifteen adjacent landowners - most of them baiting, you do what you have to do if you ever want to kill a mature buck. Out bait they neighbor and shoot the bucks early or late in the season. We dont typically hunt the bait - we mainly use it to keep the deer on our property - and off our neighbors - as much as we can. We kill our best bucks the first week of October or after rut.

In our area, a 150” deer is an anomaly - a freak. Our average 5 yr old buck is going to score in the 120’s. Maybe one out of six or eight 5 yr old bucks will hit 145-155. That means you have to keep a lot of bucks around to have a very few really nice deer. On my place, that means food and does - cover on my place doesnt contribute that much because cover is all around me.
 

Angus 1895

5 year old buck +
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

I think number 5 would be

Stealth when entering / exiting area. Getting to and out of your stand without spooking anything.

basically a repost of the above.
 

Tree Spud

5 year old buck +
Your #5 should be Hunter Discipline .... as in practice with your weapon, focus on learning hunting strategies & not gimmicks, when/when not to hunt, and most important is minimizing intrusion on the area you hunt. You touched on this a bit with not bow until mid October; however, there is also merit to targeting a mature buck early season when he is still in a normal pattern.

The most important on your list is cover & sanctuaries. A big mature big buck only gets there by learning to avoid human contact.

All of the above are well known and have been discussed constantly here and other places. Without discipline, you greatly reduce your odds of harvesting a mature 4-5 year old buck.
 
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WTNUT

5 year old buck +
Thanks for posting. I gotta ask, why does your buddy always have better mature bucks than you? What's the X factor?

Good question. Easy answer. He does all 4 better than I have done. His sanctuaries have more cover and he NEVER goes into his unless has to in order to recover a deer. I go into mine during turkey season and to mow plots.

He has NEVER taken time off from either supplemental feeding or growing corn and beans. I took 4 years off from beans and corn and took probably 12 off from supplemental feeding.

He runs cameras 365 days a year and is more of a fanatic about only hunting when the best deer are daylighting and even then may only hunt one day a week and then take the next 6 off.

He does not have to kill his own does either. His 12 million hunting buddies on the WMA take care of that.


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WTNUT

5 year old buck +
I will add one other thing about my buddies property. He has an old and I mean old hand cut log “building” probably built in the 1800s on his property. It is small and has a dirt floor in it. There is a man door - actually no door there anymore only the openings - on each side. Three different times he has run multiple bucks out of that building where they had been bedded in the summer on the cool dirt and in the building which is now under a huge wolf oak tree.

The first week of August he bumped five (5) - yes you read that right - bucks out of that building at one time. They feel really really safe on that farm.

I also forgot to note, he is at the age where he is far more interested in raising and watching them than killing them. He has probably not taken a buck on his farm for at least 5 years.


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SwampCat

5 year old buck +
Intrusion - entrance and exit dont really matter on my place. I live on it and I am out almost every day. I hand spread the bait in four locations every couple of days. We ride all six miles of trails every couple of days. Spraying, bush hog, planting, checking cameras, bait, hunting for hogs, predators, waterfowl, squirrels, turkeys, doves - some of this with a tree dog - day and night. Fishing, frogging, crawfishing, trapping - etc. I have an adjacent property owning neighbor full time cattle rancher who is out and about every day.

If my deer DIDNT smell me every other day, they would think something is wrong.
 

Howboutthemdawgs

5 year old buck +
Good post. Always interesting to see what works for other folks. I have 300 acres. There are 200 acres of five year old clearcuts in two blocks that join my property. One whole border is a swamp thicket so thick you cant hardly walk through it. My problem is not cover - it is getting them out of the cover and onto my place. I do that with ten or so year round food plots (wheat and durana clover) - and bait.

I know a lot of folks frown on bait - I use to - and still do to some extent - but when you have fifteen adjacent landowners - most of them baiting, you do what you have to do if you ever want to kill a mature buck. Out bait they neighbor and shoot the bucks early or late in the season. We dont typically hunt the bait - we mainly use it to keep the deer on our property - and off our neighbors - as much as we can. We kill our best bucks the first week of October or after rut.

In our area, a 150” deer is an anomaly - a freak. Our average 5 yr old buck is going to score in the 120’s. Maybe one out of six or eight 5 yr old bucks will hit 145-155. That means you have to keep a lot of bucks around to have a very few really nice deer. On my place, that means food and does - cover on my place doesnt contribute that much because cover is all around me.
On the bait subject, as you know I hate it but I’m in the same boat. I call it defensive. I put it in two big feeders in areas I will never hunt. Just try to hold them on my place a little longer. I bought 300 bushels the other day, I may have gone a little crazy!DDD8E33B-D0DE-4114-AC42-2088A11F40DE.jpeg
 
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SwampCat

5 year old buck +
On the bait subject, as you know I hate it but I’m in the same boat. I call it defensive. I put it in two big feeders in areas I will never hunt. Just try to hold them on my place a little longer. I bought 300 bushels the other day, I may have gone a little crazy!View attachment 45599
No doubt, you did go all in. I know experience varies with bait, like it does everything else. I get good use on spin feeders from does and fawns. Poor use by bucks - especially mature bucks. I have not used gravity feeders - but I know folks who do and tend to have better luck attracting mature bucks to those. I have very good luck attracting bucks of all ages to hand spread corn or utv mounted spreader. For attracting bucks especially, I have even better luck usuing some specialty feeds. Some of those are high in protein and fat - adding lbs to your deer - and possibly antler inches.
 

PatinPA

5 year old buck +
Intrusion - entrance and exit dont really matter on my place. I live on it and I am out almost every day. I hand spread the bait in four locations every couple of days. We ride all six miles of trails every couple of days. Spraying, bush hog, planting, checking cameras, bait, hunting for hogs, predators, waterfowl, squirrels, turkeys, doves - some of this with a tree dog - day and night. Fishing, frogging, crawfishing, trapping - etc. I have an adjacent property owning neighbor full time cattle rancher who is out and about every day.

If my deer DIDNT smell me every other day, they would think something is wrong.
That's how my place is. I'm surrounded by two active farms. One of which they're constantly walking their dogs, riding bikes. I'm usually on mine about every weekend. I've jumped big bucks going in to check cameras and they're right back in there the following day.
 

PatinPA

5 year old buck +
On the bait subject, as you know I hate it but I’m in the same boat. I call it defensive. I put it in two big feeders in areas I will never hunt. Just try to hold them on my place a little longer. I bought 300 bushels the other day, I may have gone a little crazy!View attachment 45599
That is one hell of a bait pile.
 

roymunson

5 year old buck +
I know several guys who make their bones not necessarily hunting ON the bait, but putting bait in a spot where they can intercept deer between bed and bait. So there's a thought.

I like your list. We do most of those things, and this year specifically we've obtained access to "lesser" farms so we can continue to hunt when we want to and not pressure the good farm.
 

hillrunner

5 year old buck +
I will add one other thing about my buddies property. He has an old and I mean old hand cut log “building” probably built in the 1800s on his property. It is small and has a dirt floor in it. There is a man door - actually no door there anymore only the openings - on each side. Three different times he has run multiple bucks out of that building where they had been bedded in the summer on the cool dirt and in the building which is now under a huge wolf oak tree.

The first week of August he bumped five (5) - yes you read that right - bucks out of that building at one time. They feel really really safe on that farm.

I also forgot to note, he is at the age where he is far more interested in raising and watching them than killing them. He has probably not taken a buck on his farm for at least 5 years.


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I'd like to see a picture of that building. That's pretty cool.
 

Bill

Administrator
Good neighbors?

I’m down with #2. Except if….you have a stand on beans that you can get to on the right wind on a cool September evening when you know your target is still doing the summer thing. That’s only happened twice for me. But I’m always hopeful for the September afternoon when the stars align. If they don’t, I don’t go.
 

Howboutthemdawgs

5 year old buck +
Good neighbors?

I’m down with #2. Except if….you have a stand on beans that you can get to on the right wind on a cool September evening when you know your target is still doing the summer thing. That’s only happened twice for me. But I’m always hopeful for the September afternoon when the stars align. If they don’t, I don’t go.
I feel like good neighbors is a luxury you have no control of unfortunately. All I can do is make my place better cause I can’t legally hunt my neighbors…
 

bigboreblr

5 year old buck +
Genetics is one thing. Th game of numbers is quite another. You you a general area wth good deer density. There are folks who get a rural place far away from any good AG. You put a plot in, you get a few loyal local deer. Without a major agricultural area, you get what you get.

Horns do little for me personally, The more natural an area is, the more I enjoy hunting it. Seeing squirrels, racoons, mink, rabbits, and pheasants while I pick out a deer to hunt is what I enjoy alot. I like getting close to the game. Like having deer a few yards away and dont know im there.
 
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