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 the final two steps in a 10-step series to help you kill the biggest, best buck of your life. (Click here to see the seventh and eighth steps.)
Don’t Get Stuck In A Hunting Rut
Trophy bucks get old by being cagey and mixing up their patterns so you and other predators don’t hone-in on their whereabouts. Take note, and don’t get stuck in a hunting rut. Be flexible and switch up your hunting strategies to take advantage of weaknesses you see in a buck’s defensive strategy. This means if you’re a stand hunter, you need to consider other hunting tactics and locations to use if new situations arise.
You should be open to still-hunting, deer drives, aggressive stalks and moving stands to take advantage of a buck’s lifestyle changes. Pre-rut deer hold true to their homeland tradition, but as the rut explodes, bucks roam. You might lose a buck and have to aggressively scout to regain the upper hand on his whereabouts. As the rut wanes, bucks may adjust to a different food source to survive winter, again forcing you to switch strategies and maybe even hunting areas.
Being timid will allow you to watch and admire a buck from afar, but aggressiveness can put that buck on the wall. One hunting season I had a hunch about a corner stand that so far hadn’t even produced a credible squirrel sighting. At midday I left my No. 1 hunting area—disappointed about the slow morning—and crossed to the far side of the property and the corner stand. An hour later I was tagging a brute of a whitetail that I called into 18 yards after only minutes in my stand.
Don't be shy when trying to kill a mature, monster whitetail. Getting aggressive is often essential.
Fight The Urge To Kill Young Bucks
Keep your vow. I fight this devil every year, and struggle to pass on bucks that most hunters would love to tag as I keep searching for a giant. If this devil lurks in you, keep this thought in mind: Every young buck you pass could be the next trophy on your wall. It takes a minimum of 4 1/2 years for a buck to gain 90 percent of his potential. At 5 1/2 years he’s everything he’ll likely be. Yes, character and mass can definitely change for another couple years, but a 5 1/2-year-old buck is typically done cooking.
If you’ve done your homework, managed your land or hooked up with a credible outfitter, passing a young buck is a guarantee. It’s also a guarantee you’ll see older bucks the following year, and a guarantee you’ll have the opportunity to eventually tag a bruiser, maybe even that day. Sure, your hunting partners might already be texting and Tweeting about their bucks, but by holding out, you’ll eventually get the treat of reveling in a true lifetime achievement—shooting your own monster buck.
I had that experience in November of 2008 when I shot my biggest buck to date—a 207-inch gross-scoring whitetail. It took nearly 3 weeks of hunting and three separate trips to the property, but by passing on numerous other bucks and holding out to the end (I shot him on the last weekend of the season), I was profoundly rewarded.
Your dedication is bound to pay off with a rewarding monster whitetail if you give it your all.
Good luck on the road to your best buck.