To consistently shoot trophy bucks, you need to understand their habits.
This means knowing where he eats, drinks, beds, travels, scrapes and hides.
This may sound obvious, but you need to hunt in an area that holds a trophy buck! It doesn’t matter how good a hunter you are or how great your equipment is, if there isn’t a trophy buck in the area you want to hunt, you’re not going to shoot one!
So the first step is determining if there is a trophy in your area.
There are several ways of doing this:
- Scouting for sheds
- Setting up a trail cam
- Talking to locals, farmers, rural mail carriers etc
- Driving the roads at dawn and dusk and watching with binoculars
- Scouting for large rubs and large tracks
Your chances are higher of finding a trophy buck in an area if the area has:
- Light hunting pressure
- Low to moderate, rather than high deer numbers
- Buck to doe ratios of about 1:2
- In areas where high numbers of antlered deer are taken each year, there are large numbers of does to bucks, and the bucks don’t have to engage in competitive behavior and are therefore more difficult to attract with calling and rattling
Once you have located an area with promise, the next step is working out his food, bedding and travel movements.
Trophy bucks have become the size they are because they have not behaved like younger and smaller bucks. Their behavior is usually:
- More clam and reasoned
- Quieter and less energetic
- Travels less and usually moves at night
- Has some hiding spots where hunters overlook him
So he is different to most of the other bucks, but not impossible to catch out, especially during the rut. During this time he is still vulnerable to scents, calling and rattling.
He doesn’t travel far when spooked, and lies low in places most hunters wouldn’t look because the hollow, or thicket, or swampy patch doesn’t look big enough.
Your pre-season scouting should have identified these hiding or loafing spots.
During the rut, he doesn’t get too caught up in the hype with younger bucks and doesn’t pursue the does with as much energy as the younger bucks. This means when you see a buck pursuing a doe, there is a possibility the big bruiser is in tow but some distance back. Having the discipline to pass up the smaller buck and seeing what else is following can be rewarded with a trophy.
The work involved in patterning your buck may extend over a few seasons, but will be worth it when you admire the rack on the wall.
So the key to successful trophy hunting is preparation, knowledge of your buck, and discipline and patience.