Hunting > Whitetails

Where B&C Bucks Are Coming From (Page 2)

Hunters registered more Boone and Crockett Club whitetails during the past 10 years than in any decade before. Some of the hotspots will surprise you.

Okay, why was Hellickson smiling? Not only is he an Iowa native, he’s part of a hunting cooperative in Union County that currently covers 4,000 acres but has been as large as 9,000 acres since its 1996 launch. This single cooperative produced six of the county’s nine B&C entries from 2000-09.

“The biggest thing we do is selectively harvest mature bucks,” Hellickson said. “We also do year-round habitat work in the woods, maintain food plots and bring in friends and family members to help with the doe harvest every year. The bottom line is you have to let bucks reach older ages. Whether it’s rugged habitat, selective harvest or restricted access, the only way a buck can make B&C is to avoid a bullet or an arrow for at least four to five years.”

Hellickson said though it takes longer for South Texas bucks to reach such proportions, several make it each year for three reasons. “Maverick, La Salle, Webb, Dimmit and Kleberg all produce B&C bucks because they have large, private ranches with really light hunting pressure,” he said. “About 30-plus percent of the bucks on well-managed ranches reach 51/2 years and older.”

Dr. Joel Helmer, a geographer and whitetail addict at Nebraska’s Concordia University, echoes those thoughts. He created a wall-poster map for the Quality Deer Management Association that shows the distribution of bucks in the Boone and Crockett Club and Pope and Young Club record books.

“Because you’re dealing with such rarities to begin with, it doesn’t take much to influence the record books,” Helmer said. “Most counties cover a large area, but sites that produce record-book bucks are usually relatively small parts of a county with specific habitat and management differences that set them apart. In some cases, it literally can be one family or one group of hunters putting that county on the map.”

With more hunters following herd- and land-management programs that benefit deer, and with the flexible and adaptable whitetail prospering across diverse landscapes, we should expect to keep adding pages to the B&C’s record book in the years ahead.

“More bucks are making the book from New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New England than ever before,” Balfourd said.

Hellickson agrees. “Deer hunting is the backbone of hunting in the United States, and it’s now giving people more reasons to connect with the land by managing it for deer.”

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