2 years, 80 trees stand sits, over 350 hours, more emotions, hard work and preparation than I can begin to explain. “Sideshow” finally made the mistake that I had been eagerly waiting on for so long. I can’t explain this feeling, and wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’ve watched this deer over the past 3 years, finally decided last year he was a shooter and hunted him hard for 2 years!
Way to go Chris, great job!
Great guest blog from Ohio hunter Gary Bendele:
November 8, 2018 is a day I will never forget.
It started out like so many other November days, as I spotted deer cruising fence lines and creek bottoms in Fayette County, Ohio.
I saw a little buck cruising a fence about 3/8 of a mile away. I wanted to know exactly which deer this was, so I grunted and rattled at him. It was dead calm and the rattling caught his attention right away.
As the buck started coming my way, a huge buck stepped out of the timber and seemed mad that the little buck was there. He postured up and started out toward the inferior buck. I video my own hunts so I was just content on getting some nice footage. All of the sudden the Triple Brow Buck was pushing the little buck down the creek right toward me!
Two days before I had missed a 150s 10-point, so I told myself calm down and make it count this time. The little buck passed and I ranged him at 14 yards. I clipped my release on and waited, but not for long.
Triple Brow was trying to catch up with the little buck and passed by at 7 yards! My shot was right on. To my amazement, the big buck turned and walked super slowly to 63 yards and just stood there. I could see he was hit well, so I elected not to shoot again. He walked 30 more yards and bedded down.
I thanked God and turned the camera off. I sat in my stand and texted my buddy Frank Justice, who said he would take off work to help me get him out. I didn’t walk out to the deer, but waited on Frank.
When we finally walked up on Triple Brow, there was no ground shrinkage! I realized which deer this was right away–I had night trail camera pics of this buck for the last couple years, but no daylight sightings or pictures.
Boy had I misjudged him. Every picture I had of the buck, he was right on top of the camera–I could see the brow tines but I didn’t realize how big he was. He’s a 14-pointer that grosses in the 180s and will net in the 170 range. My first Booner and a lifelong dream for me.
I am so glad I missed that 10 point a couple days before. I would rather be lucky than good!
Thanks to Frank and everyone that had a hand in this harvest and recovery. And thanks for your Big Deer site.–Gary Bendele
P.S You did an article on me and the “Ghost Buck” in 2015. Triple Brow came off the same farm and from the same tree, it’s been a good one for me.
By now the rut is winding down in most areas, and there’s been pressure in the woods—people stomping around, riding ATVs, shooting guns… A bunch of bucks have been removed from the gene pool, and the survivors are spooky as stray cats. You’ve hunted all day without seeing a rack, right? Well, keep the faith and stay out there. More old deer than you think still cruise your woods into mid-December, hoping to hook up with one of the hot does of the season. You might score big yet.
One good thing about the post-rut is that 75 percent of the “rut hunters” who were in the woods two or three weeks are long gone. Some of them got their bucks; others have lost interest or had to go back to work. Whatever, there’s less competition. Hunt mid-week and you’ll have the woods to yourself most days, especially after Thanksgiving. Deer will move best on days when there’s less commotion.
Key on Rubs
Cruising bucks are tired and battered, but still running on testosterone and still rubbing, so keep hunting your best stands on ridges with heavy rubbing sign. Alternatively, if you notice a bunch of fresh rubs in a creek bottom or along a field edge one day, hang a new stand there and hunt it for a week. A cruiser is working the area and he might be back one day in shooting light.
Working toward his doctorate in wildlife biology at the University of Georgia years ago, top whitetail scientist Mick Hellickson conducted an intensive three-year study on the movements and behaviors of mature bucks. Part of that research project produced some groundbreaking research on antler rattling.
“If you are interested in rattling in big numbers of bucks the peak of the rut is far and away the best time,” says Hellickson. During those wild days, 65 bucks responded to 60 rattling sequences—a 108 percent response rate. “But the first weeks of the post-rut, when old bucks cruise for the last hot does, are prime for trophy hunting.” This is the phase when Hellickson and his team rattled up the most mature bucks. Of the 29 bucks that responded to their 51 post-rut rattling sequences, 10 were 5 ½ years plus, and another 10 were 3 ½ to 4 ½.
So don’t give up on your rattling too soon. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind. Rattling works best on a still, chilly to cold morning, when a buck can hear your horns almost a mile away. The best spot to set up is downwind of one of those scraped/rubbed/thick-cover ridges or bottoms we talked about earlier. Sit in a stand until 11:00 AM, and rattle and once or twice every hour; toss in some big grunts for effect. Again, it is apt to work best on a Wednesday or Thursday, when nobody else is in the woods.
Late Scent Trick
Everybody tries scents during the rut, but sometimes they work better the first two weeks of the post-rut. Think about it. During the peak, estrus does mist the woods everywhere. But later on, when there are only a few hotties left, the sweet scent of just one might bring a buck running. I lay a doe-in-heat trail into all my late-season stands, and then I hang wicks to float more lure in the woods.