By Mark Kenyon:
I am Captain Ahab and he is Moby Dick. For those not well versed on classic literature, Ahab was the captain of a whaling ship obsessed with the hunt for one single whale, Moby Dick. I similarly am obsessed with killing one single deer. His is name “Leaner”.
As some of you may recall, I have several years of history with this buck Leaner and I laid all of that out in detail in a past post.
This year so far, Leaner has been quite visible again. I have seen Leaner feeding in the evening three times, and have gotten trail camera pictures of him twice.
The first time was at the end of June, and he was with his running buddy (another GIANT) on the NW side of the property I am hunting.
Now a month later, I’ve had another Leaner sighting. This time almost in the dead center of this property near a food plot. And this time in broad daylight!
Now that I’ve gotten a good look at Leaner, almost fully grown, I’m even more excited than I was before. He’s put on more length, more points, and more everything than I was expecting. Earlier this summer we were assuming he’d be a main frame 10 pointer and with stickers at the bases. But now he’s actually a main frame twelve pointer, with those stickers at the base and flyers coming off of both G2s- making him a 16 pointer! In my book, he is an absolute STUD for Michigan. I’m guessing somewhere around 150″ and change. Needless to say, given the many times I’ve seen him and the numerous trail camera pictures I have of him, I have developed quite an obsession.
Leaner is my “Moby Dick”. And I will kill him.
That said, how and why is this relevant to you? This is relevant to you because there are things that I have learned about Leaner through the use of trail cameras that will dramatically improve my chances of eventually killing him. And I want to share with you a few examples of how you can use cameras to help you do the same thing in the hunt for your own “Moby Dick”.
4 Clues From Trail Cameras That Will Help You Hunt A Single Buck
1. Identify Your Moby Dick: The first step in the hunt for a single deer is discovering him and clearly identifying him. While in the field encounters can certainly help you learn a deer, trail camera pictures are a much more permanent recording of that deer, what he looks like, etc. If you’re able to capture trail camera pictures of your buck, use them to understand all unique identifiers of this buck (antler characteristics, scars, etc).
2. Age: For many hunters, age is one of the most important factors in determining whether a buck is a target or not. Trail cameras are probably the #1 best resource for aging a buck. If you can get multiple shots of a buck, you’ll able to take the time needed to examine the deer’s body for the characteristics of what age he might be. Look at the size of the chest, tarsal gland staining, a swayed back, a fat belly, etc.
3. Understand Core Area: This is one of the most important pieces of information you can garner from trail camera pictures, and it has been very helpful in my hunt for Leaner. I’ve gotten pictures of Leaner in four different locations on this property, and have seen him 6 other times all in the same general area. Having these pictures and sightings so consistently in one general area has helped me understand, very clearly, where this buck’s core range is. If you can record similar pictures or sightings in an area, take note, and make sure you plan your hunts carefully around this. Being zeroed in on a core range can help you identify key bedding areas. Once you have that, you can then plan out hunts to get near them. Another thing to consider is that if you feel you have a good idea of a buck’s core area or bedding areas, you may have a good chance at harvesting him before the rut. Those last days of October can be a great time to kill a buck still in his core area, before he begins roaming in search of new ladies.
4. Understand Daylight Activity: There’s been a lot of talk the past few years about understanding whether a buck is nocturnal or not, and the risks of wasting time on a deer that isn’t moving in your area during daylight. Trail cameras can greatly assist in understanding if a given buck is prone to daylight movement or if he is a nighttime ghost. Luckily for me, Leaner has been the most active buck I’ve seen on this property during daylight. I’ve seen him numerous times during the day, and have gotten many trail camera pictures of him in daylight as well. This tells me that he is a very huntable buck, another reason why I am focusing my attention on him.
Trail cameras can be a lot of fun, but they can also be very useful. If you have your heart set on a single buck, they in fact can be invaluable. Be smart with your trail cameras, don’t spook deer when using them, learn from the photos you get, and then go kill your “Moby Dick”!