Date: October 31st, 1997
Time: Within an hour of first light
Conditons: Misty, near the backside of a cold front, light NE winds, 30s
Weapon: Mathews Ultra Max
Location: SE of Cass City, MI
Hunting and Habitat Design Strategies That Contributed to my Success in 1997, READ HERE:
*Morning Sneak Tactics for Mature Bucks
*Deer Stand Rotation Strategies
*Cold Front Hunting Guide
"2015 Whitetail Rut Forecast"
1997 Michigan Archery Mature Buck Success Story
From the late 80s until I moved to the UP of MI in 1998, one of my favorite Summer activities was to drive to the "Thumb" area of Southern MI near Cass City, and watch the bucks move into the fields during the evening. A couple of lawn chairs, snacks and a good pair of binos were the tools of choice, and a few rows of corn or an overgrown ditch bank was our "blind". A familiar pattern would repeat itself over and over again, as we would watch the large bachelor groups of bucks starting to break apart from mid-September through the middle of October. If we didn't continue to watch the fields through October, we just never knew which buck, would end up in which small woodlot or bedding area. We quickly learned that because of all of the possibilities, we needed to have stand locations set to "capture" those disperssing bucks at the latest by the middle of Summer. It was in one of those pre-set July stand locations, that this buck eventually met his fate!
Over and over again I watched as the wide 9 point exited his 2 acre bedding area that was located behind a small home, and into the fields to his North to feed during the evening hours. His pattern stayed true during the entire month of October, and I was hopeful that the stand located directly West of the home site in the SW corner of the 2 acre bedding area, would pay off. The only problems? I couldn't hunt the stand in the evening hours because I would potentially spook the deer on the way into the stand. I also couldn't hunt during early October because he would most likely already be located in his bedding area. And to make matters more difficult, my access had to be as follows:
*I would have to wait for a NE wind after a cold front
*My parking location would have to take place 3/4 mile north of the river, with the river serving as my access point into the woods
*After walking to the river, with the buck potentially feeding in the open fields to the West and adjacent to the road, I would have to turn West and travel 1/4 mile along the riverbank, which was behind and to the South of the bedding area and ag fields.
*After walking West for a 1/4 mile along the rive, I then needed to travel approximately 300 yards back and into the NE to access the stand at the SW corner of the bedding area.
While listening to the marine weather forecast (yes kids, no smart phone then!) during the morning of October 31st, I finally got the wind I needed to use the stand. I was excited to sit in the stand but I was also a little nervous because I hadn't visited anywhere near the stand since July. While using the light from the ag fields to the North as my guide, I could eventually make out the treestand silhoutted against the sky. As daylight approached I could hear a buck making a rub on the outside of the woods! I remember being so full of anticipation and when a 1/2 hour passed and I finally saw his approach, I don't think I would have been any more excited if he was a 200" deer! As he began to curl into his bedding area from the Northwest, to the south, and to the East while making a final turn to the Northeast, I let the arrow fly from 20 yards away and 22' in the air. He piled up near the field edge, but I still remember how sore my back was from dragging him just 50 more yards to the truck! He body was big, he was almost 19 inches wide...and I was standing over my best archery buck I had ever taken, located within a heavily pressured hunting area of Southern MI.
*If you can appreciate the tactics used to harvest this buck nearly 2 decades ago, than I am confident that you will value my "Whitetail Success By Design"series of books, which are the most highly reviewed whitetail habitat and food plot books available on Amazontoday.
Those early years of hunting whitetails in high-pressured Southern MI ag areas gave me a wealth of hunting experience. With no patch of cover to hunt that included more than 15 acres, I quickly learned that when a woodlot was accessed, was more important than the stand location itself, or even if a big buck was in the area or not. If a woodlot was accessed and hunted the right way, the hunt would often end up in sucess because the deer were constantly being pinballed around from patch of cover to patch of cover, in search of an ever changing sanctuary area. Even just 5 acres of unpressured daytime bedding haibitat could potentially attract an entire herd of whitetails totalling more than 20 deer! These early year harvests formed the basisi for all of my hunting activities today, as well as what I write about in my books and suggest to my clients.