When you have choices.... when to pass, when to shoot.

Aaron H

Twelve Pointer
Contributor
For the last 10 or so years my deer hunts have been focused on mature animals. I love a big rack but in my world high scoring antlers are rare- woods deer simply don't get the nutrition boost that farm bucks get. My search each year for those older deer has been challenging and at times quite rewarding. I had been watching a nice 8 point since back in the bow season and during the muzzle loader season I had passed on him a few times. That last day of muzzleloader I slipped into one of my best stands to see a buck already on the scene. There was a doe and a fawn there and just then I spotted that pretty 8 point walking in to join the doe. I looked at the first buck with my binoculars and immediately judged him to be an older deer- one that met my standards for being very mature. A quick body size comparison with that 3 year old 8 point made my mind up to take him. I noticed that he was barely a 7 point-basically a 6. I didn't wait long but long enough to get a good slight quartering away angle before pulling the trigger on my muzzleloader. The buck ran about 50 yards and stood in an open place. If I had another shot I would have taken it then but I was still reloading as he walked maybe 40 yards and fell. My photos show him first as he looked last year, larger in body and larger in antler though still a 7 point. The 2 trail camera photos following the night picture were taken just moments before I shot him. Clearly it is the same buck but not as heavy in body and further declining antlers. I will send his teeth off for aging by cementum anuli method. My own guess right now is older than 5 years. He had a recently broken jaw from fighting and tooth wear consistent with 5-6 year old whitetails. Lots of hunters hunt for a buck with great antlers, I have no problem with that but if larger antlers was my primary goal I would have taken that nice 8- if he makes another year he will really be a beauty!unnamed.jpgunnamed-3.jpgunnamed-2.jpgunnamed-1.jpg
 

Winnie 70

Ten Pointer
Aaron, he is a nice one for sure and when you get to know them and calling them by name, hope they don’t get killed,getting lots of pictures of them….guess what am trying to say is , sometimes I have found it is little sad when you walk up to him laying there and really you get that feeling of it’s over now and kinda feel sad and happy all at once…know what I mean? That one I just posted was like that and I almost didn’t pull the trigger on him because of this. Kinda like hunting out your back door at home on the deer you know. Same way with a squirrel… can’t shoot them around the house. What rifle you using…brand? You said a 308 I believe? You handload? I got a track in Chatham near Duncan not far from Harris lake have owned over 30 years that I hunt some….some nice deer up there. Killed my first turkey up there….seems like yesterday times is flying. Starting to think about turkey and it months away…like that every year about this time.
 

Aaron H

Twelve Pointer
Contributor
Aaron, he is a nice one for sure and when you get to know them and calling them by name, hope they don’t get killed,getting lots of pictures of them….guess what am trying to say is , sometimes I have found it is little sad when you walk up to him laying there and really you get that feeling of it’s over now and kinda feel sad and happy all at once…know what I mean? That one I just posted was like that and I almost didn’t pull the trigger on him because of this. Kinda like hunting out your back door at home on the deer you know. Same way with a squirrel… can’t shoot them around the house. What rifle you using…brand? You said a 308 I believe? You handload? I got a track in Chatham near Duncan not far from Harris lake have owned over 30 years that I hunt some….some nice deer up there. Killed my first turkey up there….seems like yesterday times is flying. Starting to think about turkey and it months away…like that every year about this time.
Man, I know all of what you describe. Almost my first thought when I pull the trigger on a deer is that I won't be getting any more trail pictures of that one. Some of the deer I've hunted I "knew" for 3 years. I don't understand hunters that don't feel some sadness at taking the life. Pretty much all of my hunting happens within 6 miles of home now days and I get pictures on my cameras of the same deer half a mile apart often. Some of them are killed by others hunting a mile from me. I shot this deer with my Thompson Center muzzleloader but my rifle is a .308 Winchester model 70, shoots better than me. I've never handloaded, not much of a shooter just to shoot. I do taxidermy and have done some fine bucks taken on or near Harris- a good area. Like you, I'm thinking about the turkeys a lot now and look forward to those cool mornings waiting to hear the first gobbles on the roost. Much as I love the deer hunting I'm turning more and more to those amazing birds.
 

Winnie 70

Ten Pointer
Hear you there Aaron, turkey hunting get in your blood and don’t let up. Getting them on my place here in Harnett now…saw a flock few days ago. Man that never hunted turkey has missed out on one of the most exciting things in life.
 

Eric Revo

Old Mossy Horns
Contributor
Congratulation's on a nice buck, a trophy will ALWAYS be in the eye of the beholder. There's always going to be someone, somewhere, that kills a bigger, more mature buck. I try and not let that influence my decisions at all, if I want him, I shoot him, if I want her, I shoot her....
 
Top