Once you decide to target a real monarch—the buck of a lifetime—it means putting all your chips in the game. It means making life-altering sacrifices. You have to be dedicated, focused and determined. Are you ready? Here are steps three and four of a 10-step series to help you kill the biggest, best buck of your life. (Click here to see the first two steps.)
3. Hit The Books, Find Your Buck
To shoot a trophy you need to hunt where trophies live. Your best source of information comes from records kept by the Boone and Crockett Club. They are the main scorers and record-keeping organization for big game, including whitetails. The Pope and Young Club collects records for archery trophy kills, but has lower minimum scores for acceptance. Nevertheless, both can be valuable—I just prefer B&C because it shows the biggest of the big.
B&C’s website offers interactive services to track down states with the highest number of entries, and even targeted details on what counties produce the biggest shooters. Listings include species, year, state, county, province and the name of the hunter.
As you research or confirm your hunch, be sure to keep track of dates because records for B&C go back to the 1800s. Some states that were hotspots in the 1940s might be deserts today, so check for current listings. One thing you’ll see is that the number of entries for big bucks is growing. Why? Because private landowners are increasingly managing their properties to help bucks reach maximum antler potential. The states still regulate the seasons, but in the heart of big-buck country most land is private, and managers have the last say regarding what gets shot behind their gates.
It also doesn’t hurt to back up information with local contacts and on-site scouting reports. State big game biologists, conservation officers and even county Natural Resources Conservation Service personnel can update you on what’s happening currently in a specified region. Get all the information you can before you make your first on-site scouting trip.
Do your homework to find where trophies live by the numbers.
4. Gear Up For Battle
Nostalgia is great, but if you’re setting your sights on a trophy buck, don’t rely on your great grandfather’s trusty, rusty rifle. And if your last big archery purchase was a dozen aluminum arrows in 1990, you might want to look at all the new improvements in bowhunting gear.
Remember, you’re committed to killing the best buck of your life, so you can’t skimp when it comes to equipment. Money comes into consideration again, but do your research and purchase wisely to ensure you have the best gear to hunt during the season you’ve chosen. This means purchasing modern hunting tools, high-quality optics and apparel, new treestands, easy-to-use ground blinds and other essential gear to increase your odds.
What do most hunters overlook? Accuracy and scent elimination. Centerfire rifles, muzzleloaders and shotguns are more accurate than ever before due to machining refinement, optics enhancements and ammunition developments. Archery gear has a similar story with technologically advanced bows, arrows and broadheads. Don’t cut corners. If that special buck offers you an extended-range shot, be equipped to take it.
Regarding scent: Everything you take to the field—equipment, clothes, daypacks and your body—needs to be clean and free of odors. Store gear in scent-free containers and only expose it in the field. Don’t overlook small items such as your hat, gloves, the wrist sling on your bow and even your watch. There are plenty of companies out there with detailed advice about scent control and products to aid your odorless mission.
Be prepared to drop some coin on gear to up the odds of killing your best buck.