Target buck vs. Any buck

Discussion in 'Deer Hunting' started by BowHunter20, Jul 26, 2017.

  1. shaman

    shaman 10 pointer

    Our camp is situated on 200 acres in SW Bracken County, KY. I recently did some figgerin' using the log I keep at camp. See this:

    Buck Weather

    The article is centered on what the stats say about the ideal weather conditions under which we encounter bucks. However, in making this compilation, I confirmed my suspicions that, at least on our ridge, we're either going to bag a buck in the first few hours of The Opener, or else it's going to be a long slog.

    We are situated in an area of extreme hunting activity. I figured one time there was probably 1 hunter per 20 acres on The Opener in a circle that was somewhere around 10 miles wide centered on my stand. Yikes.

    Based on an estimated density of 45 deer/sq mi, my 200 acres has at most 2 mature bucks on it at any time. They're floating on and off the property constantly, and they may be off in another county within 24 hours of us sighting them. That' makes for a lot of fun, but there aren't enough really big ones out there to dedicate a whole season.

    Yes, we've had some real monsters on the property. Occasionally one of them takes up residence. Occasionally we get to see them. However, odds are we are not going to get one in our sights. The reason is two-fold:

    1) These fellows are past the point of being overly randy during the rut. As a result, they're less likely to make stupid mistakes while chasing doe.
    2) If they've picked our property to hole up, it's because they've gotten us patterned better than we've patterned them.

    I'll never forget a trip out on New Year's Eve a number of years ago. I had been delayed pulling the camo skirts off the treestands, and I took a brief stint of warm weather to go out and get them all down. I was hiking with my Beagle back to my son's stand, when Lily went running ahead. There was our old buddy, The Chandelier, bedded directly beneath my son's ladder stand. The buck and the dog had a hard time figuring what to do. They just stood frozen for a bit. Finally the buck raised up and trotted off about twenty yards and stood behind a cedar and watched us. The Chandelier used to show up in September, hang out until late October and disappear. We'd not see him again until the next year.

    So how do I answer the OP's question: Look, we can make ourselves miserable trying to chase The Big One. On the other hand, we can enjoy deer camp and do the best we can to keep the doe happy and hope for the best. Playing Ahab, pursuing The Great White Whale, is not a fun proposition. I've been there. I've done it.

    Another way to look at it is to go back to statistics. In 2013 there were an estimated 821,731 deer statewide, post-season. Let's just round that up to an even million in 2017. If you figure half of what's out there are doe, and half of what remains are bucks less than 6 months old, by the time you get to 5.5 years and older, you're talking about maybe 16,000 monsters statewide or about 1 per 3 square miles. You've got to be feeling might lucky to go against those odds.

    I will say one other thing. If you are really into big bucks, that last weekend of rifle season and the December ML season is a good time. Our freezers are already full, but like that sighting of the Chandelier, I see a lot of large bucks as the season wanes. If you're afraid of eating tag soup. Be patient. You may still have a chance.
  2. elkaholic

    elkaholic 12 pointer

    Jan 12, 2012
    Pendleton County
    4 years ago I passed on a 145" 11 point 3 times waiting for my target buck. He was a huge non typical with a double main beam. I never layed eyes on him till February while he was in my hayfield. I had a ton of pictures of him at night, but none during the day. I searched a lot for his sheds with no luck, but I did find the skull from the 11 pointer not far from the road behind my mother in laws.
  3. JDMiller

    JDMiller 12 pointer

    Jun 12, 2005
    " Between the Rivers "
    There's two words involving deer hunting that I take displeasure in hearing spoken is the phrase "target buck".

    Its one of those phrases that I don't ever remember hearing said before trail cams and a gazillion hunting shows on the outdoor channels. Before that we just hunted and simply made decisions of shoot or not shoot as the opportunity arose. We might have seen a certain buck glassing fields or had an encounter of some sort before season... but mostly it was a hunt by hunt surprise. Being the majority of bucks taken ...most of us didn't have a clue they existed to a certain extent and put a little more anticipation as you just didn't know what you would see.

    Now we have months ...even years of trail cam pics of certain bucks. Heck...we even give names and ask others to judge & score for some pre- approval of others that its OK to harvest. We tout specifics on social media that were going to take this or that specific buck.... then when reality hits and the hunter succumbs to taking a lessor racked buck....the excuses flow. As I've heard the words cull or management buck used as justification for harvesting other than the "target buck"...not to mention a variety of other reasons. Which my take is just simply own it as I've never harvested a deer that wasn't a trophy in some perspective regardless of rack size.

    Which I don't want my statements here taken out of context ....nothing wrong with using trail cameras, self imposing restriction or simply being selective to meet personal standards. I do that myself and like many have went seasons empty handed just because of my own personal expectations. Ultimately it's your tag and your decision... but when you start cornering yourself up to a specific buck.... publically proclaiming to that effect.... I just don't perceive your doing yourself or the sport a favor.

    I guess to each his own.
  4. KY Swamp Beagler

    KY Swamp Beagler 12 pointer

    Feb 20, 2011
    the swamps of western KY
    I remember the good ol'days of deer hunting when you didn't have a clue what was out there. Deer camp was a buzz of what ifs and anticipation was high. The rut was in full swing and come hell or high water you were going hunting. You slipped in your sleeping bag and fell asleep with dreams of a "good buck". Shooter buck, target buck, B&C, P&Y, lull, BBD, DRT, etc. never entered your mind.

    I agree with JD. I don't believe we have done our image any favors. I finished A Sand County Almanac last night and damned if it's just as pertinent today as it was in 1948.

    I'm hunting slick heads and a "good buck" this year and by that I mean I want to eat deer hearts.
    bondhu likes this.
  5. rockhousehunter

    rockhousehunter 10 pointer

    Oct 18, 2013
    West Liberty, Ky
    I agree. I do use trail cameras and the main reason I like them is because if a buck comes through rather quick there is a chance you recognize him from prior photos and know whether that's one you'd be happy with.
  6. Monster01

    Monster01 8 pointer

    Dec 9, 2013
    I live in the mountains and most of the time if u get a chance at 120 plus deer u have seconds to decide if he's what ur looking for or not.
    I harvested a true giant by luck when I was seventeen the 5 years following that I hunted 80 plus days a year daylight to dark and enjoyed a 4 course meal of buck tags every year . After that I broke the ice with my first archery buck in Sept . A small 2 year old . I was as happy with him as anything I'd ever killed . But since then I've killed several nice 120 plus deer and I'm ok with not punching a buck tag if I don't see a deer I want .
    I love picking out a buck and exclusively trying to harvest that one deer but that doesn't mean I'd let 125" deer walk if I had a chance . Unless we're talking super giant once in lifetime deer then I suppose the situation would be differnt. But if my target buck is a 140" 10 point Im tagging the first 125 I see.
    That's what makes me happy.
  7. nateb440

    nateb440 8 pointer

    Nov 8, 2011
    For me I had beginners luck on my farm. I shot a nice 150 10 pointer with my ml. Next few years I passed on a lot of nice bucks knowing there were bigger deer in the woods. After 4 years of not shooting a buck I finally shot one that looked decent and for my first bow buck was an accomplishment I can appreciate, but he was a younger 8 probably 120 maybe 125. I think I just got a little impatient and pulled the release. It's in the past and I'll be waiting out on a mature buck from now on.
  8. Huntin' Fool

    Huntin' Fool 6 pointer

    Oct 17, 2014
    Easy to see there is no wrong answer here. I use the early bow season to try and harvest a doe as to ensure myself that I have meat in the freezer. I hunt hard for trophy deer after that time frame. If the last weekend of gun season doesnt produce a shooter buck, I will gladly take another doe to get some more meat in the freezer.

    I'm 30 years old so I grew in the era where monster bucks have always been on TV. I give my dad grief when we look at the racks he shot in his younger days. A bunch of 6-8 point basket rack deer, but I love listening to him tell the stories of those deer he killed and he was obviously proud of those deer at the time. I find it funny because I think I have helped make him more selective over the years. I remember being 14-15 years old passing up small 8's that he would have shot years before. For me it is much more fun when I have that "mind set" that Im not shooting anything small. If you have that "mind set" before hand, you can just sit there motionless and actually watch the buck in his natural environment do his thing. For me, knowing that I could have taken that deer and he never knew I was there, well thats as good as shooting the deer. Makes me feel like the ultimate predator to let one walk by not aware that I was watching him.

    Good discussion!!
    BowHunter20 likes this.
  9. Zforzachariah

    Zforzachariah Spike

    Jul 7, 2017
    East BumbleF
    I like to target one specific buck because 9 times out of 10, I will see another shooter buck and get to kill it. Always seems like when I hunt one deer, you see the ones you are not after but they are great deer. Its too easy to get caught up with only killing a 140" or bigger and "target" bucks. I'm there for the hunt. Yes, I want to shoot the biggest/oldest deer on my land, but if a hunt unfolds and I have a 130" deer come out and the way it happened or unfolded was unusual, you bet I am going to shoot him. I like to look back at memories and enjoy my time in the woods. One of my favorite hunts I took my wife and wanted her to shoot this really big 6 point that had not had eye brow tines for 2 years. We were sitting on the ground with a small blind out of logs and bushes I made. All of a sudden, you hear 2 bucks going at it locked up 15 yards behind us in thick stuff. They fight for 15-20 minutes and stop and one starts grunting and steps out. My wife was so shook up she couldn't shoot and wanted me to kill it. It ended up being a 115" 7pt but that hunt was something she had never seen or experienced. It was one of my favorite thus far. It didn't matter the size that day, but of the experience we had. We laughed and stood in amazement at what unfolded 15 yards from us. That's what it is ultimately about.
    BNewNKY46 likes this.
  10. Chimpy

    Chimpy 8 pointer

    Jun 29, 2004
    Wilder, ky, USA.
    I agree that hunting was more fun when I had no clue what might show up, but it sure is a lot easier to sit in 20 degree weather if I know a 180 inch buck is on the farm, so I do like trail cams as well. As far as target bucks, I have a few every year, but would gladly adjust for a different, larger buck. I am fortunate to hunt a couple farms where it's not uncommon to see 2-3 different 125-140 inch bucks each time out, so sadly a 140-150 inch 10 point doesn't get my blood pumping anymore, but I do enjoy watching my youth hunters harvest them. I have 2 bucks after this year - either I'd be happy with, both between 180-190 inches. Of course I've never laid eyes on them, and doubt I ever will, but until then I will just shoot does
  11. Cornpile

    Cornpile 12 pointer

    Dec 1, 2006
    Kornfield County,KY
    I dont run cameras,so when I hunt I kind of just hunt.Im not really looking
    for any buck in particular,just a buck I like. Ive seen some great bucks over
    the years and was able to take a couple. I have got to the point in my hunting career
    that I look for a 140 or bigger deer.I went three years in a row and didnt take a deer.
    Now though, Im getting up in age and just enjoy being out there. I love those brisk frosty
    mornings and the sound of gun shots ringing out. The silence and the sounds of the woods.Pure enjoyment to me....
    Ive passed on lots of bucks over the years.
    I know the buck I want to shoot when I see him,thats just how I have always hunted.....always will
    KY Swamp Beagler and bondhu like this.
  12. Bone_Chaser

    Bone_Chaser 8 pointer

    Sep 12, 2014
    Whitley Co
    I've been on a good roll the last few years, have killed a decent buck 11 years in a row. 10 of which came from zone 4 counties and the other from public land. I will hold out for a 4+ year old deer through rifle season and then lower my standards a bit around late muzzleloader but twice I have let an arrow fly at 3 year olds. Of those last 11 deer 5 were 150+, 2 were 4 year old 8's, and the remaining 4 were 3 year old 8 pointers. Each was just as enjoyable as the other and the memories just the same, the only difference in a 105 and 150 is bragging rights to most... But I also understand the self satisfaction some true die hard hunters wish to achieve that only a mature buck provides.
    bondhu likes this.
  13. buckfever

    buckfever 12 pointer

    Oct 25, 2002
    Harrods Creek Ky, USA.
    I've got a somewhat different view on hunters that eat tag soup after unsuccessfully chasing their target buck.

    At the most fundamental level, the hunting community sumblimely measures a hunter's "success" by whether they fill a buck tag. The next unwritten rule to measure success is the size of the buck. This innate peer pressure to just fill your buck tag is silly if you goal is to chase and kill "big" mature bucks.

    I see nothing wrong with a hunter bucking conventional wisdom (pun intended), holding out for a deer he wants, and refusing to fill a buck tag For no reason other than to fill a buck tag.

    I'm certainly not immune from it. I shot a buck last year to fill my tag so that I could focus on hunting with the kids. It turned out the buck I shot was one of the bucks I was hunting anyway, which I didn't know when I shot it, but it bothered me that I felt some internal pressure to fill my buck tag.
    KY Swamp Beagler likes this.
  14. JDMiller

    JDMiller 12 pointer

    Jun 12, 2005
    " Between the Rivers "
    I think we're spitting hairs between our views on this subject as I don't take issue of being selective, holding out or whatever words best describe. I also agree that pressure to fill a buck tag is alive & ever present with all of us to some degree every season. I'll be 50 next month and have always felt the pressure ... which I'm doubtful it will ever go away.

    What's probably lost in translation concerning myself is the increased sentiment to proclaim a specific target buck every season. Expressly public proclamation of it with social media as I see no purpose in it and just significantly increasing the peer pressure involved.

    This is where I see we're not doing ourselves or the sport a favor. Which at that... it's evolved to not only saying this is the specific buck... we ask for public opinion, score and whatever else to get some degree of peer approval that it's OK and meets everyone's expectations & standards.

    So just to reiterate.... it's not the act in itself of hunting a specific buck, holding out or eating tags. It's the obvious peer approval that's evolved from it.
  15. kyduck1

    kyduck1 6 pointer

    Apr 9, 2012
    Personally I enjoy the game of trying to pick out a specific deer and figure him out. The majority of the time it doesn't work out for me and I'll see another deer during the rut and put my tag on him. Of course it also seems my target buck normally is gone by then as well for some reason or another.
    I've been in both shoes of not even seeing a racked deer in my younger years to prancing around town with the tailgate down carrying a basket racked 6 pt to now a few 150's on the wall. It's a different time and a different game with technology but in all honesty it's the hide and seek game with a particular deer that does it for me through most of the season.
    bondhu likes this.

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