By Mark Kenyon

A 20″ wide ten pointer, with the body of a brama bull. Or maybe it was a tight and tall racked three year old that had been gracing your trail cameras for months. Better yet, it was a double drop tine giant, with a scar across his eye and two bare patches on his back – symbols of old battles won and past hunters evaded.

No matter what your dream buck looked like – I’m guessing there’s a 95% chance you didn’t kill him last year. So why is that?

While it could honestly be one of millions of different reasons, I’ll bet that most of our mistakes would fall under one of the three high level “dream killers” I’ve listed below. I’m certainly guilty of these crimes myself – but hopefully both you and I can find a way to avoid these pit falls in 2012 and finally kill the buck of our dreams.

1. The Buck Of Your Dreams Doesn’t Live Where You Hunt: This is a simple, but strangely common reason why many folks continue to come up short in the quest for “the big one”. Last year, I didn’t work hard enough to find new properties – and it resulted in me having to hunt one location nearly all season, where I knew there wasn’t a great chance of seeing “giant” bucks. As should have been expected, I never saw or killed a giant buck!

We need to be realistic in our assesment of the areas we hunt and the opportunities they afford. If you’re trying to kill a certain quality buck, you need to be hunting where those kinds of bucks live. If you’re looking just to kill a “mature buck”, that might be possible in most any decent hunting area in the country. But if you’re looking to kill something above and beyond, you’re going to need to be a little more picky about where you’re chasing whitetails. The change needed might be just a move down the road, a trip up state, or a drive across the country. But as simple as it sounds, you can’t kill em, if they’re not there. If all fails and you can’t relocate, it’s time to reset expectations.

2. You Hunt Too Hard: This one may seem counterintuitive, but as the saying goes – too much of a good thing can be bad. When I say hunting too hard, in this case I’m referring to hunting too much in general or too often in the same locations. Do either one of these and you’ll be sure to put pressure on the deer herd and alert Mr. Dream Buck of your presence. We’ve all fallen prey to the temptation of hunting that “one stand” over and over because we saw a nice buck there last year, or because it’s the easiest to get to, or because it’s always been our favorite. Unfortunately, this is a recipe for disaster.

What’s the solution? Have as many options as possible. Plan the timing of hunts. And then execute flawlessly.

Every time you hunt in a given stand, you are exerting pressure on a deer herd and big bucks will take notice. That being said, acquire as many different locations to hunt and place as many stands as possible and then determine when the optimal times would be to hunt each area. When you finally do hunt a certain spot, be sure to be as “low impact” as possible. Be quiet, scent free and stealthy when you enter and exit your stand location. Pressure is one of the greatest defeaters of big buck dreams, but with some self control and careful planning your high hopes can stay alive.

3. You’re Not Paying Attention To The Details: It’s easy to do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve woke up from an afternoon nap late and was too lazy to take a quick scent free shower before hitting the woods. Or maybe I decided to trudge back along the field edge after a long day of hunting, knowing I’d spook a few deer, but being too tired to care about the “little things” like that. How about neglecting the sharpening of broad heads or the waxing of a bowstring?

If you’re chasing “THE” buck, mistakes rarely can be afforded. Every T must be crossed, ever I must be dotted. Big, mature bucks (those are the ones in your dreams, right?) don’t take kindly to us hunters in general, and when we give them clues of our presence or miss an opportunity due to some other mistake, you can usually count on them hitting the road. The margin of error when hunting this kind of animal is razor thin, so every effort to manage details is crucial. Most of us know the basic do’s and don’ts of deer hunting – but this next level requires an entirely new level of proficiency. Equipment must be checked meticulously. Squeeks must be taken out of treestands. Scent must be eliminated from even unlikely items such as watch bands, bow wrist slings, and binocular straps. Routes in and out of treestands must be planned for cover and brush eliminated for stealth. And so, so much more must be accounted for.

As they say, the devil is in the details, and this couldn’t be more true than in deer hunting for big bucks. When preparing for and actually then going hunting this fall – don’t settle for just doing “good enough”. Instead work as hard as possible to do everything to the T. Plan everything carefully. Prepare for the worst. And don’t ever gloss over the details.


Mine is a four year old with an average spread, but long tines. I’m talking 14 inch split G2’s. Lets give him split brows to boot. He’s a main frame ten pointer, but with those splits we’ll call him a solid 14. On top of that his neck and chest give him the look a whitetail world’s version of a Dodge Ram pickup. I can picture his dark brown forehead, with bark still clinging to the bases of his brow tines and steam pumping out of his nostrils – almost in sync with the beat of my heart.

I can see the buck of my dreams right in front of me – and this year, there won’t be any reason for me not to succeed. How about you?