Let Them Grow
Friday Oct 23, 2015
Do you want to see more big deer when you hunt? There’s just one simple thing you can do as a hunter to more consistently see bigger deer. It’s not minerals, it’s not feed, it’s not a super fast bow, or a fancy broadhead. It’s you and your decisions. It’s all about letting them grow.
There’s one consistent factor for deer to be able to put on the inches anywhere and that’s age. If a deer doesn’t have the opportunity to grow and reach it’s potential then it will never be the wall hanger we dream about every single day sitting in the office. If a spike never has a chance to live longer to be anything other than a spike, how will we know if he’ll ever be a Booner?
We all have different standards and different situations, but as a hunter we should strive to grow each season. Set goals as a hunter, take in your situation and do your best to meet them. For me, the goal is to harvest a mature buck. It’s that simple. My definition of a mature buck is a 4-½ year old. While it could be argued that 5 ½ is the peak of maturity and antlers, in my situation and most of yours we do not have the luxury of letting 4 ½ year olds walk.
There’s more than one excuse out there and they’re common in too many deer camps. “If I don’t shoot him, the neighbors will.” Or “I needed some meat in the freezer.” While all this happens, you’ll never get the bucks on your property if you fall under traditional thinking. If you aren’t the difference then who will be? This is an age-old battle with a mindset ingrained in uneducated hunters. If you want to see bigger deer consistently, you will make the effort to learn and pass on deer that you once may have shot.
“The trophy lies in the eye of the beholder” is a saying from years past that still holds truth. There are circumstances when a buck that is less than mature is taken on our farms. Kids and first time hunters, who are still learning, usually always get a free pass to harvest whatever may come by. It’s extremely important to introduce kids and adults alike to our sport, which is much more valuable than letting one walk. Yet as a seasoned and more experienced hunter, you should aim to do better each season. That is, of course, if you want to have an opportunity at a buck bigger than you’ve previously harvested.
Food plots, minerals, and bedding all have their place and each of these will help you next season. Don’t underestimate the importance of these factors, yet nothing will beat a balanced age structure.
What’s the best thing you can do as a hunter? Learn to age a buck on the hoof. Study the difference in the 2-½ year olds and the 4-½ year olds. There are some great tools available today. There are also a couple of examples I’ve created from bucks I’ve had a history within this article.
The difference between 3 ½ and 4 ½ is the toughest and easiest to mistake on the hoof. Like anything, practice and studying videos and trail cam pictures will help make you more confident. From experience, the jump from 3 ½ to 4 ½ is the most productive in antler growth and the most important one. This is where 120 class deer reach 150 and the 140 class 3-½ year olds grow into B&C caliber bucks.
Next season, be patient, that’s what it’s all about. Let it all unfold and enjoy your time in the wood, don’t draw down on the first buck with antlers. You’ll likely be rewarded with an experience and trophy that will stay with you for years to come.
For more information about Legacy Land Co., visit www.legacylandco.com, or call 888-311-LAND.