Noah posted on Facebook:
Shed season is still going strong. Fella on my squad stumbled upon these on the Clearwater Complex Fire outside of Kamiah, ID. I put the tape to them and got 172″ gross with 16″ of extras at the base. Fortunately they were in light grass so they’re still in awesome condition!
These sheds were found only 50 miles or so from where I will be hunting for whitetails the first week of November. It’s nice to know there are some big bucks in this country, and I hope the fires don’t cause us to cancel this hunt.
In Idaho, more than 150 fires are burning on the combined forests and nearby state and private lands. Thanks to Noah and all the guys and gals that are fighting fires all over the West.
In late summer whitetails are genetically programmed to set up their home ranges near nutritious food sources and with heavy bedding cover close by. This way bucks can pile on the pounds (up to 20 percent of their body weight now through September) while only moving short distances.
Finding bucks now is all about zeroing in on the best food sources. The top four: alfalfa, soybeans, clover and corn. If you have any of these fields on your land, or if the crops are planted on neighboring properties, you will have bucks in your woods to hunt.
It’s fairly easy to glass, locate and pattern bucks that come to feed in the alfalfa and beans fields. But setting up to put an arrow into one of those bucks in a few weeks is not so easy. Even though they have not been hunted for nearly a year, big, mature bucks are unpredictable, and many go largely nocturnal even in the early season.
Take, for example, one of the 4 .5-year-old bucks that researcher Clint McCoy tracked on a 6,000-acre property in South Carolina recently. The giant set up in a core area where he only had to move ¾ of a mile to eat in a soybean field. Clint’s data showed that he never got to the field before 9 p.m., and he was always back in bed before sunrise.
“There was only one option for a hunter to take advantage of this buck’s predictable feeding pattern: squeeze in as close to the buck’s bedding area as possible,” said Clint. “Although (the buck) never approached the bean field before dark, he was typically up and moving toward it 30 minutes before the end of shooting light.”
Clint surmised, and rightly so, that the only way a hunter could have a chance at this deer was to play the wind, push in with a tree stand closer to the buck’s bedding area and set up along the route to the beans in the afternoons.
When you hunt around fields in the early season, begin by hanging most of your stands on the edges, or just back in the brush along trails. That way you’re low impact and don’t pressure the area and the deer too much. But if you hunt hard for a while and don’t see a big deer before dark, don’t be afraid to get aggressive, sneak in closer to bedding area and hang a stand on a trail deeper in the woods.
On July 20 I first posted a huge non-typical buck that a hunter had been watching for several years. He said, “I really hope to see him this fall. He has been completely nocturnal for the last two archery seasons.” Yesterday I got the tragic news that this giant is dead. Here’s the story from Zach:
Well…this isn’t how I wanted it to end, but looks like EHD got him. This deer was a legend on our farm, and it is sad to see him go.
Three years ago, I was bow hunting during the Missouri youth season and this buck walked under my stand. He was an impressive 2-year-old. He made his way past me to where my brother and nephew were hunting several hundred yards away. My nephew actually shot the deer in the left rear leg. We jumped the buck several hours later, and he made it through that season alive and well.
The next year he showed up on camera a few times, but visits to our farm were few and far between. You could visibly see where his leg had been injured the previous year. But no one in my family physically saw him that year.
Last summer he lived almost exclusively on our farm, and I got thousands of daylight pics of him. He was a 160s class 4×6 with some trash and a small drop. He went completely nocturnal starting in September until January. I didn’t have a single daylight photo of him during that entire time frame, though he showed up in trail cam pictures at night.
This spring we never found his sheds, although we spent many hours looking. He was not frequent on our farm from May through July, but in mid-July he moved back to a small core area on our farm.
My dad and I were working on food plots this past weekend when we discovered him for the last time.
It has been a great 3-year journey with this buck. You never want to see a deer go this way, but Mother Nature is a much more efficient killer than we are. After getting our official salvage permit, we do plan to have the deer mounted. We rough green scored him at 225 1/8” gross. I doubt I will ever have the pleasure of chasing another one like him.—Zach
Initial reports I’m getting indicate that Missouri is ground zero for EHD in 2015, though I hear some dead bucks are being found in Iowa and Illinois too. I hope these outbreaks are limited, but at this point it’s impossible to know. If you see or hear of any dead bucks in your area, let me know so I can keep everybody updated.–M.H.