So you want to shoot bucks?
Priority number 1: Have a good spot
If we want to be successful hunters we need to go where the deer are. Being where they aren’t won’t do us any good.
If you don’t have a good spot, then you need to forget everything else until you do.
We can look at places like Boone & Crockett for their data for where big bucks have been shot, to start.
And we can see that lots of big bucks have been shot along the northern half of the Mississippi River and in South Texas. But there are problems with this. Firstly, how many people register their bucks? Secondly, many places may have more hunters than their surroundings and have more results because of that rather than just having more big bucks. And this map is out of date.
But we can still learn things from this map. Lots of big bucks are shot along the Northern Mississippi River; so if you live in Ohio or Kentucky we may surmise that along the Ohio River might be quite good too. And it’ll be lots closer than Eastern Illinois if you live in Kentucky.
If you live in Louisiana you’ll note that the place to be is along the big river and not along the coast. Northern Missouri looks better than Southern Missouri. And so on.
While you can improve the quality of the deer in your area with better cover and food you will also be limited by what your area can produce. I have no doubt that Northern Michigan has deer there, but it cannot seem to produce big bucks.
One other thing to remember when picking land is that if all of your neighbors shoot all the bucks that they see, then they’ll never get big. My uncle recently discovered that his neighbors shot 10 small bucks this past year. When that happens no bucks are left to get big. If all the neighbors shoot small bucks, then they may not ever get a chance to get big.
If you are in a place where there don’t seem to be any big bucks, then you’ll need to go as far out into the most impenetrable cover that you can find. If you’re the only hunter around then you’ll have your pick.
When all the neighbors shoot big bucks, you’ve got a chance. When they don’t you’re not likely to either.
The best specific location will be to find land in the thickest densest stuff in the area. Particularly when there is hunting pressure.
Years ago, my dad knew that as soon as the woods filled with deer hunters on opening day all the deer would run to the nearest marsh. After opening day, the guys in the marsh did well and nobody else saw anything.
If you can find the marsh that is surrounded by agricultural fields, then you may have a very good spot, even when there is minimal pressure.