By Mark Kenyon

If you’ve followed my journal entries this season, you know I’ve been in near-constant pursuit of the buck I call Holyfield, but always one step behind or a few hundred yards too far away. I’ve captured hundreds of trail camera pictures of him and had NINETEEN in-person sightings! But to this point, he’s evaded me.

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-10-33-10-am

Still, I have hope that things are going to change soon.

Where Things Stand Today

I last hunted Holyfield exactly two weeks ago, on the evening of November 8th. Since then I’ve been hunting in Ohio and Northern Michigan and spent some much needed time with family. But in between that last hunt and now, a major factor has come into play. The Michigan gun season. Fortunately, Holyfield has survived the first week.

img_2248

Last Wednesday, the day after opening day, I spotted Holyfield in the middle of a large CRP field on my hunting property at mid-day. And then last night, while not able to hunt, I was able to get out for some last light scouting and again I saw him. Much to my dismay, if I’d been in my blind, I’d likely have my tag around his antler.  As about 30 minutes before dark I watched him head out into the bean field on my property by himself, loop around into the CRP and then circle back in towards my food plot. There would have been plenty of shot opportunities with the shotgun. It was frustrating to realize I’d missed a great opportunity, but encouraging to at least know that he’s alive and still spending daylight hours in this area.

The Plan Moving Forward

That said, I usually leave this area alone during the firearm season, as I like to keep pressure to an absolute minimum, hoping to encourage deer to take up residence on my property when they’re pushed off other spots by gun-hunting pressure. But, with Holyfield daylight active in my prime spot, it seems that I should take a well planned crack at him. So that’s what I’m doing tonight. I’ll be sneaking in and hunting the Redneck Blind I have set up over this food plot system and to be honest – I’m pretty excited about it.

Since I stopped hunting here in early November, we’ve had a few good frosts and that’s made my large Winter Greens brassica food plot much more attractive to the local deer. It seems that there’s a lot more activity in the plots now than there was when I was hunting earlier this year, so that’s good news.

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-12-08-19-pm

Additionally, on top of my sighting last night, when I look through my DeerLab profile of Holyfield from 2015, I can see that the vast majority of daylight trail camera pictures of him last year took place from the last third of November through December. And as far as location, most photos of him at this time of year were focused up towards my front food plot system. In fact, almost exactly one year ago, with conditions somewhat similar to what I have today, Holyfield made a daylight appearance at this location.

screen-shot-2016-11-22-at-12-35-03-pm

With the mid-30 degree temps, a high barometric pressure and this sighting/photo intel all in my favor, tonight seems like it could be a good one. But if not, the plan from then on will be to keep pressure very low and hunt just a few specific evenings from now through late December when the wind, temperature and other factors again line up. I’ll be looking for cold fronts, snow, high barometric pressure, daylight sightings/photos and moon rise/set or overhead/underfoot times that coincide with prime-time. I have good late season bedding and great late season food – I just need to keep pressure low and make those few careful moves at the right times.

If I stick to just a few strategic strikes when conditions are right, assuming Holyfield doesn’t get killed by someone else, I think I’ll have a shot. We’ll see …

This story was brought to you in part by DeerLab, which was founded by a Wired To Hunt reader/listener. If you’re interested in checking out this tool, DeerLab is going to offer a special extended 30 day free trial for Wired To Hunt audience members, including the ability to upload/analyze 250 photos (rather than the usual 50) within that trial period. Visit DeerLab.com/w2h to check it out.