By Mark Kenyon

There are a lot of guys and gals these days that want to kill big, mature whitetail bucks. Most hunters spend an enormous amount of time reading about big bucks, watching videos about big bucks, and talking about big bucks. What’s interesting though, is that while there are hundreds of thousands of hunters who dream of killing big bucks, there is a much smaller group of hunters who are actually killing them. I’d venture to guess that something like 5% of the hunters out there are killing 95% of the big, mature bucks.

So what’s the secret to the success for this 5%?

The answer to this question can be found in the opening lines of John and Chris Eberhart’s excellent book, “Precision Bowhunting”.

“What’s the secret to killing mature bucks … ? The answer is easy and is absolutely no secret: work very hard and hunt extremely smart.”

We read hundreds of magazine articles and books, we watch hours of hunting shows and instructional DVDs, and we attend seminars across the country, trying to find the secret to killing big bucks. But when it comes right down to it, success depends on this very simple act.

The act of getting off of our a** and doing the work.

You don’t need the big expensive gun. You don’t need the 1,000 acre farm. You don’t need the newest doe pee, buck grunt or scent eliminating invisibility cloak. And you most certainly don’t need some secret tactic. Real success on mature bucks involves quitting the excuses, quitting the talk, and just doing the work.

Unless you’re brand new to hunting, I’m sure you know the basics of hunting deer and even how to hunt mature deer. The basic principles are heralded everywhere.

The majority of us know what to do, but why do so few actually have the success they dream of?

It’s because most of us are really good at excuses and really bad at taking action.

We don’t have time. We don’t have the money. We don’t have the land. It’s too hot. It’s too cold. It’s too far away. I’d rather be fishing. I’d rather be turkey hunting. I’d rather be on the boat. I’d rather be drinking beer. I’d rather be watching football. It’s too hard. It’s too much work. It’s too difficult. I’ll wait til later.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve put off knocking on doors because I had something else I had to do. Or how many times I’ve procrastinated on hanging stands until August or later. Or how many times I’ve slacked on my archery practice. Examples of my own faults are plenty. I’ve done it and I’m sure many of you have too.

Excuses are easy, excuses make us feel better about ourselves, excuses ease our guilt for not doing the hard stuff. I’m as guilty as anyone.

But guess what? If you want to move from the 95% into the 5%, you’ve got to quit the excuses and start taking action.

You know what to do and now is the time to start doing it. Make the time. Deal with the challenges. Make the tough choices. DO THE WORK.

This year is your year. Actually go out and do the spring scouting that you know you should be doing. Actually hang the stands early in the year, like you know you should. Actually get out there and practice with your bow or gun all through the spring and summer. Actually knock on doors this summer and get permission on new land. Actually save the money this year to take that out-of-state trip. Actually brush in your tree stands like you said you would for years. Actually clear that access path you know you should have. Whatever it is for you, just make up your mind to finally do it. This is your year.

No excuses, no complaints, no more of that bull shit.

Here’s a quick tip, and if you can, do this right now. Take out two pieces of paper and a pen. Now take a minute to think of five things you know you should have done last year that would have led to better hunting success. Now write these five things on each of the two pieces of paper. Take one piece and put it on the post-it board in your cubicle, or tape it to the wall in your office, or your work shop, or your bedroom. Wherever you’ll see it often, put it there. Then, take the other piece of paper and give it to someone you trust and that can keep you accountable. Ask them to keep this and check in on you about these goals this summer, and then again this fall. Make sure that when your friend/wife/etc checks in on you, that you’ve made progress. You’re going to feel good about checking those goals off the list and you’re going to feel even better when you wrap your tag around an antler this fall.

If you’re just hunting on occasion to have fun or to get some meat once in awhile, don’t worry about this. Relax and enjoy yourself. That’s ok.

But if that’s not you, if you dream of something a little different, if a mature buck is on your bucket list … You know what to do. There is no secret.

Let’s quit the excuses. Let’s get off our a**es. And lets do the work.

(And please remind me to do the same!)