Shot Opportunites at Legal Bucks?


5 year old buck +
I was thinking that back through the last 45 years I have averaged 2 shot opportunities at a legal buck during the rifle season. I usually hunt 7 to 12 days.

During the bow season, I have averaged about one shot opportunity at a legal buck per year.

I am not talking about button bucks.

I hunt central and northern Minnesota'

Please identify your general hunting area when you post your experiences.
You already know mine!

And I refuse to hunt MN this year to have the sad experience most will have!
Stu-what were your experiences at the two locations in Wis?
Here in central KY we have a one antlered deer limit per season, so getting an opportunity at a legal buck during gun season is frequent. You might get one or more opportunities each day if you are at a good spot. The problem is getting to see the nice 3 year old deer again that you pass shots at. It has worked for me before, but most of them disappear and you never see them again. I could show you many pictures of deer ready to blossom in one or two more years, but after gun season they are just gone.

I suspect poaching is bad around here too but can't really prove it. If you keep purchasing tags, you can keep killing does here, which might be fine in the heavy ag areas of the state, but in my area it hurts the herd numbers. I noticed a big drop in the herd a few years ago when that started. Even in this non ag area, we have plenty of food to support a larger herd, but it never seems to grow. I feel for you guys in the really bad areas right now and wish I knew how to help you. I hope your efforts that I see you talk about work for improving your hunting.
Same here in MN..a guy would think such a rule would create a better buck herd...but it certainly has not done so here.

Stu, do you think its poaching? I suspect around here in late summer when big bucks become visible in the fields for a few weeks that a lot of them get shot then. May not be as bad as in the past but I know that mentality still exists.
On average, one sighting and opportunity at a legal buck per gun season for me.

Just started bow hunting a couple years ago in hopes of increasing my buck sightings. It has worked with 2-3 opportunities per season.

The above is referencing legal bucks, one antler of at least 3". As far as 8 or more points, maybe 1 opportunity every couple years. At least I have nowhere to go but up from here :cool:.
NH-I'm not stu, but road hunting and poaching are way down where I live. There just are not enough deer for legal hunters and for illegal ones.

Excess doe permits are the problems here. In areas not far away, winter and wolves are the problem. And in Sw Mn., winter cover is lacking.

There is illegal tag sharing which is a problem, but it really does not matter when we had 5 or 7, or 8 doe tags. Just too many does were killed either way.
I need to ask... Whats a "legal buck"?

Visiting forums for years there is a very large disparity in what people think is a "shooter buck".

Once I know what a legal buck means, I can then answer the question posted at the start of this thread.
I pass quite a few small bucks during the year. Maybe average 1-2 good opportunities at bucks 2-4 yrs of age in MN
Connected on average every other year......including this year.

On my Iowa farm....multiple chances when I get a tag (which is hard)
I'm sure we have poaching here, but I don't think its statistically significant on a statewide basis.

I don't pretend to understand the situation or for that matter understand a great deal about herd management in general. But, if there is enough food in an area to support a bigger herd, then it just makes sense to me that cutting back on doe harvest would also help increase buck numbers over time. That looks to me like the situation you guys may be in. The same is true in my area, but for whatever reason, it just isn't as bad here (for the moment). I don't know how that will change here over time. I do know that when the unlimited doe killing started, the numbers went down; however, it seems to have reached a level and stayed fairly constant for many years. My land is better this year than it has ever been, but I can't say I see much of a difference in does and buck availability over recent years.

I'm just happy to finally have my own place to hunt now and know I at least have a chance at a good deer. Most of my life has not been that way. If my son could get a good deer next week it would be the icing on the cake for me. That would get him started back again. He lost interest a few years ago when our hunting places were poor and quit deer hunting for a good while. That is one reason I have worked so hard to build up my place for deer hunting. For me, "yes" but more for him than anything else. We are doing it together next week, and I won't be pulling a trigger until after he gets one. My fingers are crossed for him.
Ok, I knew what legal buck meant for MN, but I was wondering if the question posed was asking about older bucks for some reason. Is a legal buck the same thing in all states? I have no clue.

Oh man,,, how many "legal bucks" have I had chances at over the years with a rifle? No clue, but quite a few. After 35 years hunting the same property, I would sure hope I have seen a number of them. I will say the last 5-10 years have plummeted for deer sightings in general. Including young bucks.
Lots of oppritunities on small bucks in south/east/central Mo. This is the second yr in a row I have passed a good 3 yr old buck and now second guessing myself. My place has SO much cover its just really tough to hunt. An their is a white oak about every 10 yards. Just tough hunting/patterning the big boys. I will get a 4 yr old though if its the last thing I do!!! haha
That's my goal here...give me that type of hunting and I'd be pretty pleased.

Stu- yep despite my complaints I've had some good hunts especially with the bow.

In my opinion I should be able to harvest a 3 year old (like this year) every MN. With changes I know I could pass 2.5/3 year olds and move up to 4 year olds.

Considering I have close to 500 acres of good habitat and multiple food plots on different farms it should be better.

Your farm looks like a buck factory!! With some state reg changes it should pump out a 3 year old Todd County bruiser ever year!!

I know first hand that the area produces big heavy deer!
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This is terrible, but I can't remember the last year I had a shot at a buck. Maybe four years ago?
HAAAA>...... Last time I shot at a buck on our farm in OTC??

2002 baby... Yep. I can remember it clearly. 12 frickin years since I have shot a buck on our land.

I am beginning to wonder if I stink that bad. I have run out of theories.

But I never give up. Take a week of my vacation every May and spend it on the land planting plots, and doing a laundry list of items in hopes this is THE year I am back on the board. And many weekends through the late spring and summer making trips doing maintanence on all sorts of things out there. Not much fishing gets done any more.
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cant do it man... cant do it.
I am one stubborn SOB. And for some reason I keep the faith. It runs thinner and thinner every year, but I will never give up.
Answer is get the goddam population up so people dont have to hammer the first damn deer they see! Or if they hammer the first deer they see, there are still some deer left behind to grow older. This is pure insanity going on.

Is our harvest guideling shoulder mount? Nope! Not even close.

If we employed that, we may as well quit hunting. With archery if there is a 2.5, its all fair game. With gun, 2.5 minimum is also game, but personally I wouldnt shoot one. My son is 17 and wont either. My Dad, shit he just goes out to hunt now. I dont think he would shoot unless he saw a heartstopper buck.
We just all agree a 2.5 is fine, and nobody will get grief if they shoot it.
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12 years blb? That's friggin' nuts. I'm not sure I could stick with QDM principles for that long and not start shooting yearlings o_O
I'm sure my record would be that way if I did not shoot a yearling for the table. I want to eat venison and a buck is often the only legal target.
A huge part of the problem in MN (as I see it) is hunter mentality. You're perceived as being "less of a hunter" if you don't get your buck...any buck. Every year our total harvest is comprised of more than 50% antlered bucks (think it was 53% last year). That means does and fawns make up the rest of the harvest. I'd think to improve our buck herd we'd need to drop that to around 40% or thereabouts. Problem here is that our doe herd can't handle the additional pressure. Its time for deer hunters here to start eating a lot of tag soup for a few years IMHO

stu-I am confused by this post.
What needs to be dropped to 40% or less-the buck harvest or the antlerless harvest?
In my part of PA, a legal buck must have at least 3 points on one side. So far this archery season, I have had one shot opportunity at a legal buck in three hunts. Averaged over the past several years, I would say I have 4-8 opportunities in archery season and 2-5 opportunities in firearms season. I don't have trouble filling my antlerless tags, which is part of the reason I hold out for 3 year old+ bucks, so most of my opportunities at legal bucks are passed.