Are the big bucks gone? They have disappeared. It seems as if the rut has slowed to a crawl on our hunting club here in Georgia. I went deer hunting two full days this week and although I saw plenty of deer, I didn’t see one racked buck.
Where Have The Big Bucks Gone
Have your big bucks gone too?
This is a picture I got of two does in food plot.
This food plot is beautiful.
The bucks have had a lot of pressure on them during the long season and they are worn down from rutting and they are staying in the thick stuff and mostly moving at night. I think the week I was in Illinois bow hunting, the rut peaked at our club, so now I will focus on hunting food plots and hope to catch a big buck slipping in for a evening meal or try to catch him heading back to bed early in the morning. I have seen a lot of does and fawns in the food plots but no Mr. Big. Once all of the shooting starts and the rut peaks it seems as if the big bucks we get on trail cameras are nocturnal and hard to find. I’m thinking by seeing a lot of does in the food plots, maybe one will come into heat and I’ll catch a buck following her. With the cold weather upon us, the browse and acorns will eventually be scarce, and the food plots will be more and more in demand. We have a lot of food plots on our club so the deer have plenty of food to last them through the cold winter. We also have feeders that we often get trail camera photos of our big bucks visiting during the middle of the night. We don’t hunt the feeders but since we have added them you can tell a difference in the deers feeding patterns. Now that the rut has slowed I will definitely be focusing more on the food plots and bedding areas and trails leading to and from.
What about where you hunt? Are the deer still rutting? It is interesting to get feedback on the rutting activity in other hunters properties.
When we were in Illinois I was amazed that we weren’t seeing much big buck sign(scrapes and rubs). We knew there were big bucks in the area but I was expecting there to be big rubs and scrapes everywhere. Maybe the hot weather we encountered when we arrived had a lot to do with it. The big ten pointer I harvested was huge. He was definitely the biggest buck I have ever taken. He was well over two hundred pounds and had an unbelievable amount of fat on him. Maybe that’s why they just don’t move when its hot. When the weather changed and got colder you could definitely tell, we started seeing more bucks immediately. The first morning it was nice and cold is when I rattled in the ten pointer. I think we were there right at the beginning of the rut and while we were there the bucks were in full rut at my club in Georgia. Then when I came home the rut was winding down. The does that were not bred or didn’t get pregnant will come back into heat in about twenty eight days. Although by then the bucks urge to breed has decreased, studies have shown that sperm production in bucks is almost half of what it was in mid November, in December. Not that they won’t breed they will, but survival becomes critical and rest and food are their main concern. They need to gain some of the weight back that they have lost from the rut, in order to survive the winter. Therefore, I will be concentrating on hunting trails to and from the bedding area to the feeding areas.
I just returned from my first Illinois bow hunting trip, and was lucky enough to take my first big buck deer hunting with a bow.
Illinois Bow Hunting
We arrived in southern Illinois on Saturday November 1,2008 during the afternoon. And were greeted by very warm temperatures. We immediately unpacked and headed for the woods. We were all excited to be in Illinois bow hunting. My three buddies and I did some scouting and hunted that afternoon. My buddy Brad shot a big doe that evening and we saw a few deer. We took the deer to the local deer cooler that night and there were several big bucks hanging in the cooler. We were pumped. We hunted very hard all week and saw a lot of does and several small bucks chasing does. But the temperatures remained very warm during the day and in the upper forties in the mornings. We just weren’t seeing the sign or big bucks. We found a few scrapes and rubs here and there but nothing that really got your blood boiling and made you think a big buck was in rut in the area. After hunting hard all week in the warm temperatures we decided to extend the trip a couple of days because we knew there was a cold front coming in and the does should be going in heat any day, they were so close we could tell by the smaller bucks chasing.
After a rainy windy Thursday ,Friday brought cooler temperatures and even though we were all exhausted from hunting hard all week we weren’t giving up even though we were so tired physically and mentally. Thursday morning my buddy Mac saw ten bucks chasing a hot doe all morning and he saw several nice bucks and he saw a big buck that would have been a shooter but he was broken off just above his G-1 on his left beam. So he let him and a fairly nice eight pointer walk by at about twelve yards. We were reluctant to come down from the stand but did and returned to the room and regrouped for the afternoon hunt. That evening the temperatures warmed up and we only saw a few does.
My first Illinois bow hunting trip turned out to be memorable.
Friday morning the temperatures were in the upper thirties and we knew it should be a great morning. I was so tired it was all I could do to get out of the bed, I had been fighting some type of stomach virus for a couple of days and I was weak and drained. But I didn’t come to Illinois to be sick. We headed for the woods early and got in our stands well before daylight. I was hunting a spot where there were several fresh scrapes and some really nice rubs near a big hardwood ridge where it met a big thicket near some pines. There were loaded persimmon trees all around and plenty of honeysuckle and white oaks all over the ground. I put out doe in estrous urine and mega tarsal scent and was about twenty feet up a pine in my new TREEWALKER climbing stand. I was pumped, early November 38 degrees and I was on the edge of my seat. It was just one of those magical mornings every deer hunter dreams about. I walked up on two does right were I was going to hunt. About 6:50 I decided to make some racket. I gave a few grunts and a couple of bleats then I got my rattle bag and did about a minute rattling sequence. After about fifteen minutes I gave a few more grunts and bleats and did a more aggressive rattling sequence. I then settled in and and sat very still and scanned the area. Then about sixty five yards in front of me I saw horns coming across a hardwood draw. My heart started pumping, I got my bow and got ready. The buck was kind of going away from me so I hit my grunt a couple of times and he turned and started heading straight towards me, like he was on a string. He came in to some thick stuff about thirty five yards away and I couldn’t get a shot. I had to compose myself and be patient. He was coming to an opening about thirty yards away and had his head down eating acorns taking his sweet time. I didn’t want to draw to soon so I waited until I saw his horns come out from behind the thick stuff and I came to full draw. I had ranged a pine at twenty three yards about seven yards directly in front of where he was now standing. I put my thirty yard pin just behind his shoulder and let it fly. He ran off back the same way he came. I think I hit some small limbs that I had not seen. I was shaking I wasn’t sure what had happened, I couldn’t tell if I made a good shot or not. I got my cell phone and called my buddy Mac who was hunting near by. I told him what had happened and told him I was going to wait a while before getting down and checking. A few minutes passed and I decided to give a few more grunts and bleats. Then my phone vibrated it was Mac, I was telling him I wasn’t sure what happened, then while I was talking to Mac I saw the buck coming back for more, I couldn’t believe it, I hung up on Mac and got my bow and got ready again. He was working his way further away from me so I grunted and he turned and came straight to me again. He took his time and finally came back where I had just missed him. He stepped into an opening a thirty yards and this time I put the thirty yard pin on his vitals and smack, he wasn’t as lucky! He walked about five yards and I could tell he was hurt, he walked another five yards and started getting weak kneed, then he walked another five yards and laid down and expired. I was so excited, I had just harvested my first big racked buck with a bow. My PSE Stinger with Beman ICS Bowhunter 340 carbon arrows tipped with G5 Montec 100 grain broad-heads did a number on him. I called Mac and gave him the good news. It was down to the last hunt of our trip and I had taken a mature trophy whitetail in southern Illinois. It’s a memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life. The big ten pointer was huge, I have never been hunting outside of Georgia and have taken some heavy bucks, but this deer was like a horse. He was easy 250 pounds live weight, what a brute. He had a torn ear and scars on his neck and obviously wasn’t afraid of a good fight. I am very blessed to have had the opportunity to be able to hunt such a magnificent animal and enjoy the great outdoors in such a beautiful place. If you get the chance to go bow-hunting in Illinois I would definitely recommend it.
Trail camera photos can help you figure out big bucks feeding patterns.
Well it looks like the big bucks are coming along just fine. I received an email of some trail camera photos at our club. It looks like the supplemental feeding and food plots are providing good nutrition for the deer. There are some really good shots of some trophy bucks.
Trail Camera Photos
It looks like these two big bucks are eating good!
This is one of my best trail camera photos.
It looks like a full moon! This buck is showing off for the camera!
I got this trail camera picture of this buck feeding during daylight hours.
This is Rosco a big buck that is very elusive.
These are some real good shots of some mature whitetail bucks. It looks like it is going to be a good upcoming season. I can’t wait to get out and get after some of these great bucks.
Do you use trail cameras to scout your deer hunting property for trophy bucks? Have you got some good shots of big bucks this summer? Aren’t trail cameras a great tool for helping us deer hunters figuring out mature whitetail bucks? I think it is so cool to see hunters get trail camera photos of big bucks and then harvest that buck by using the photos to pattern the buck and figure him out. Have you ever used trail camera photos to help you pattern and harvest a trophy buck? If you have some trail camera photos you would like me to put on here send them to me and I’ll gladly do it.
It wont be long until deer season is here. I am already fired up about it! How about you?