We have all heard the saying “history repeats itself.” But what does this have to do with hunting big bucks, especially if we have ours in the bag? Once we have our new trophy packed in the freezer, we should look back at where it all began. Go back and scout the location of your mature buck’s paradise. There are two priceless lessons to learn there.
In suburban America, we can argue about what makes a buck big. Was it personality, location, or genetics and food availability? But as suburban deer hunters, location is the most important thing. I have found time after time that the perfect layout of land often breeds a big buck more consistently than any other theory suggests.
If we have harvested a big buck, we find ourselves in a unique situation. Out there in the woods it went down are all the fresh signs of what that buck did while we guessed at home. We can find a mature buck’s bedding area without ruining our chance at the buck now mounted on our wall. How many times have we found ourselves saying while hunting a mature whitetail, “If only I could just walk in there and see what he is doing?” It is amazing what revelations we can have when seeing firsthand what a buck was up to. As successful big buck hunters, let’s use this moment afterwards to its full advantage.
We can gather two crucial pieces of intelligence. First, we will learn the likely behavior of a mature buck and whether or not they will take up residence in our hunting piece.
The second important lesson is a more general suburban deer education. We can see firsthand what made this property a suburban buck haven. Now we get to apply these concepts to different areas we hunt. This provides critical insights into a future scenario of big buck hunting in a different area.
When the big buck is on the wall, that is when it’s time to turn it up a notch. We need to learn the lessons this mature buck has taught us. History kills deer. Don’t let a good opportunity fade away.
A.J. DeRosa founded Project Upland in 2014 as an excuse to go hunting more often (and it worked). A New England native, he grew up hunting and has spent over 30 years in pursuit of big and small game species across three continents. He started collecting guns on his 18th birthday and eventually found his passion for side-by-side shotguns, inspiring him to travel the world to meet the people and places from which they come. Looking to turn his passion into inspiration for others, AJ was first published in 2004 and went on to write his first book The Urban Deer Complex in 2014. He soon discovered a love for filmmaking, particularly the challenge of capturing ruffed grouse with a camera, which led to the award-winning Project Upland film series. AJ's love for all things wild has caused him to advocate on the federal and state levels to promote and expand conservation policy, habitat funding, and upland game bird awareness. He currently serves as the Strafford County New Hampshire Fish & Game Commissioner in order to give back to his community and to further the mission of the agency. When those hunting excuses are in play, you can find him wandering behind his Wirehaired Pointing Griffon in the mountains of New England and anywhere else the birds take them.