By Mark Huelsing
Just last week I was saying that, so far, my scouting and trail camera photos weren’t showing me the quality of bucks that I was hoping to see. Well, on the day that article was published I was able to pull a card from a camera that had been hanging in a new spot, and I was ecstatic to see this bruiser buck!
I admire an animal like this, not because of his rack, but because of his instincts and elusiveness that have kept him alive this long. You see, this buck isn’t on a big farm. There are no food plots around, there is no agriculture to speak of, and there is very little undisturbed habitat to shelter in. The property that I spotted this buck on is a relatively small one, but it is part of a larger system of dense, steep timber, that is interspersed with residential development.
Though it is all private land, there are very few large tracts, and there is an unbelievable amount of pressure when the orange army invades for rifle season. I sat on a neighboring property on the opening day of firearms season last year and counted 70+ rifle shots before 8:30am. In addition to hunting pressure, this area receives a lot of general disturbance – from dogs running loose, to predators on the prowl, to trespassers that unfortunately don’t respect land rights.
It is a tough place to hunt and an even tougher place for whitetail bucks to thrive.
All of these factors mean that most buck activity in this area takes place at night. Though the photos of this buck look like they may have been taken at midnight, he is actually on camera around 7:30pm, which meant that I would have had a good margin of shooting light on that day. But each day that passes is shorter, and by the time my season starts in just a couple of weeks I may not have shooting light if he is on the same schedule.
The way I see it, I have three real chances of connecting with this buck…
- Catch him at the end of shooting light in the first few days of the season, when he leaves his bedding thicket and begins to transition to water and food
- Identify a food source in, or on the very fringe of his bedding thicket, and catch him moving in the daylight when he visits that source. This is obviously a huge risk.
- Catch him cruising near the rut.
Will this bruiser of the big woods outwit hunting pressure again? Or can I find a way to get in close on him?
Let the games begin!
– Mark Huelsing is a regular guy with an irregular passion for bowhunting and the outdoors. If he is not bowhunting, then he is planning towards it, training for it, and writing about it at SoleAdventure.com