20 year top five …..

I have been on my land for 35 years, and you nailed it. If I had a #5 it would be water. 3 of our largest bucks have been taken at a pond. We have 3 on our place and during a drought when creeks are dry, that doe that is getting tended will go to water and bring the buck with her. She is stressed and will have to drink. The 2009 (I think) Indiana Record book for Deer, has a photo on the inside cover from our farm of two bucks tending a doe that is in a pond. She would not leave that pond for an hour due to her stress.
I have also gotten trail camera evidence that after tending a doe, that buck will many times hit water as soon as they part ways, before he starts the hunt for another doe.
I have neighbors with water, but only on one side so my ponds are hit from the South and East first for a mile when creeks are dry, its a big part of why I set all day near a pond in the rut.
The buck in the photo was shot wile drinking a couple years ago his "crown" made him a target buck that year, and is a memorable hunt because he swam across the small pond after being shot.


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That's a cool buck - negative tip to tip spread?
That's a cool buck - negative tip to tip spread?
Yes, he crosses over 2nd one like that in the last 7 years we have gotten tags on, so we call them Kings. for the crown appearance. They both carried a lot of mass out to the tips also? Here is a game camera photo of one we tagged, got this photo from a neighbor I had no photos on the hoof of this one.


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The biggest takeaway I wish I knew when I first started hunting was the “just off” wind. Rarely will a big buck go far during daylight if the wind is perfectly wrong for him. He’s not stupid and can be patient when the situation calls for it. So if the wind is at his back, he’ll meander and take his time, and not move much until he has the advantage of darkness. I would sit a food plot with the wind “perfectly” in my face, and see only does and maybe young bucks.

Enter the tactic of hunting the just off wind. That buck gets out of his bed, and has the wind quartering into his face, not perfectly in his face, but his sniffer can get the bead on most anything in front of him so he feels confident to move a bit further during daylight. He can scent check the field before working his way out to work a scrape or get a bite. And at last light he makes an appearance and is vulnerable to an arrow from a perfectly positioned hunter.

Allowing the deer to think he has the wind perfectly in his favor, but you’re juuust off, your wind is just barely out of the scent stream that he can detect. I’ve taken advantage of this scenario twice in 3 years, and I’d hate to know how many opportunities I missed by not hunting a stand because the wind was “wrong”. Maybe I needed to move the stand just 20 yards, or set up an obstacle to protect my scent stream. Now I set up my stands counting on and waiting for that just off wind, which for better or worse means I’m hunting less but more successful.