It is ironic (and you will likely think we staged it) that we were able to find the exact same two bucks I introduced in Episode 1 of Whitetail Season just a few days after filming that segment. Jared Mills, one of my producers (he produces the Illinois series on the MidwestWhitetail.com website), found the bucks during the middle of last week. We had been seeing a couple of big deer in that area and Jared finally set up in a treestand about 150 yards away and got some very good footage of them. They were moving together, a very impressive bachelor group!
It is interesting that both bucks are the same age (6 years old). I have seen them together often (at least on trail cameras) over the past two seasons and they have very similar nocturnal habits in the fall. I need to come up with a really good plan for these two deer because they have been making me look pretty stupid these past two years. More about that later, first I want to talk about the bucks themselves. You can see the two in their glory in Episode 2 of Whitetail Season.
The first thing that you are likely to notice is the fact that the buck I called “Big” (actually his name was “Big $&*@” but I try to be family friendly so I just shortened it to “Big”). Anyway, Big surprisingly went downhill from last year to this year. He was a low 190s buck last year and might break 180 this year. He dropped his G4 on the right beam and one of the deep forks. Essentially, he looks much like a bigger version of what he looked like in 2008 when I passed him up a 15 yards—he was 3½ years old that year. He is still an awesome buck and one I would be proud to shoot, but it is just interesting and a bit perplexing that he dropped score at this age.
Here in the Midwest, many bucks keep getting bigger (at least adding non-typical points) every year until they essentially die of old age. Some of them blow up in antler size as they get ultra-mature—possibly in response to reduced breeding. By breeding less they are not as stressed going into winter. Whatever the reason, age is at least temporarily working the opposite magic on Big. I would not be a bit surprised if I fail to kill him and he goes back to a full 10-point frame in 2012.
The Double G4 buck didn’t drop any inches; in fact, I think he picked up the inches that Big lost. He is probably about 10 inches bigger this year and looks to be 190 or so. He’s a true giant. It is quite a privilege to hunt a deer like this. I have only hunted one bigger in the 9 years we have owned this farm. That was back in 2004 when I hunted a big non-typical in the 220 range. Double G4 had a double row of side-by-side G4 tines back when he was 3½, thus the name. He has a very impressive typical frame and was the buck I most wanted last year. He was already a giant then. I got photos of him until about mid-October 2010, but never saw him all season and never got any more photos even in the late-season. I am not sure exactly what happened to him last fall, but I am certain I will hunt this buck a bit harder in October than I did last year.
I will keep bringing you more about these two deer, my history with them and how I expect to use that history to hopefully put me in the right place this fall. Come back again next week when I start to unfold these strategies.
It has been my experience here in the Midwest that bucks generally keep getting bigger (or at least adding non-typical points) until shortly before they die of natural causes—like this buck did.
This is what Big’s right side looked like when he was 3½ years old. His antlers reverted back to this structure again this year.
Big’s sheds from his 2009 (chewed) and 2010 racks show that he was (and remains) a true giant even though his antler score has actually dropped in 2011.
Be sure to check out this week's video.