EVERY BIG BUCK IS SOME WHERE 24 HOURS A DAY
Article by G. Merriam
Hunting is a sport of physical ability and knowledge, but successful hunting is obtained when you obtain a consistent display of those two items and your ability to provide those and similar detail in other attributes. The more astute you are at executing those attributes t the more often you will get your buck and the larger they will be.
Knowledge can be your ability’s during the ground work, weeks before you ever put your boots on. It includes the boots you wear being waterproof and warm, yet not clumsy. The rifle you shoot and its accuracy and accessories down to the bullet type and weight you select. Your ability to shoot fast and accurately without even a moment’s notice, and the range time you took to get that way. Big bucks got big by outsmarting every hunter before you; this is no more than a game of chess with uncharted moves that change every time for both players.
Physical ability isn’t always your ability to leap tall mountains in a single ability but can even be you ability to quickly get your rifle off your shoulder, on target and taking a successful shot.
My whitetail hunt in Kansas a few years back is a good example, a big buck in my area that I had been watching before the snow and cold snap had disappeared from the face of the earth. After a morning in a cold tree stand. With very little movement I was certain that the 4” of snow, with scattered flurries and the temperature down in the single digits had put the big bucks down into an energy conservation mode where they only eat once per day, in the evening about 3PM the warmest part of the day. All morning I had seen does and fawn with an occasional small buck in an area with a high deer concentration but not my buck which had been a regular prior to the December opening morning.
I had hunted this situation before and had changed my tactics and done well with a heavy 14 point that watches over my desk in the office, and greets me every morning when I come in to work.
Big bucks have a lot of bulk and insulation. In addition it consumes a lot of energy just getting the mass from bed to food and back to the bedding area. During January and December hunts the bucks are worn down from the rut cycle and are in a rebuild to survive and energy conservation mode. Their stomach can hold enough food contents that they can eat enough in a 45 minute feeding in an agricultural field plus sticks and required digestive fiber to only trek out of their warm safe bed once every 24 hours.
The rest of the time they are in their warm beds chewing their cud and making heat by moving there meal from one stomach to the next. Minimum energy expelled, maximum energy received. This and nocturnal activity is the major reason you seldom see the biggest bucks in the area.
The does could do it but because of the fact that the fawns don’t have the mass to do so they are out morning and evening with the fawns and a few young bucks that haven’t learned the trait or don’t have the bulk either, plus they weren’t as affected by the rut as the more mature bucks. I was heading into heavy cover to play a game of cat and mouse but not without some experience in doing this successfully in the past.
First I walk into the largest local woodlot with the wind in my face at a spot I found a heavily used trail going into the woodlot which would take me into the area as quietly as possible with minimal low hanging limbs, which block human sight and making noise as you pass through them. I would watch for large track leading away from the main trail that I was following.
After more than 30 minutes and about 200 yards I saw what I was looking for. A path in the snow leaving the main path that only had big tracks. I crouched down to be less obvious and get well into the limb visual level a buck could be 10 yards or 200 yards at this point, but away from this major through fare traffic. How far didn’t matter there was a buck somewhere at the end of these tracks. I traveled painstakingly slow for about twenty minutes when I spotted big bucks antlers distinguished from tree limbs because they were the only limbs that didn’t have snow on them.
The buck was looking straight away from me, and into the wind. His head was still, no movement whatsoever. I didn’t know if he knew I was there and took on the common stealth hold that big bucks do so well. Or then again had he dozed off in his fortress of woodlot oaks and cover, which usually he could hide in easily but this time because of him being the only thing in there that wasn’t covered with snow stood out like a beacon in the night.
The buck was still well hidden by the trees between us and at a distance of about 50 feet give or take a tree or two. What I had for a target was a series of deer pieces broken into different shapes and sizes by limbs, twigs and leaves that had forgotten to fall off earlier this year. A scope is the only way for the human eye to focus cleanly and find a clear bullet path in this thick timber.
I had learned many years before about carrying a rifle over my shoulder while it was snowing and having my objective lens get covered with snow blocking its view when I needed it the most. I had my scope covered with a product that allows you to see through the lens caps. Now that idea isn’t completely new but the glass quality is. Many manufactures will provide a set of scope caps and put a cheap piece of plastic for show in each cap. There is the problem with other scope caps, you have a scope with $400 worth of ground glass optics and you have to look through 2 pieces of cheap for show plastic so you loose optical quality, at close and long range.
These special “Shoot-Thru” were made to be shot through because they are carbon glass like your eye glasses. In addition the minimal rim around the lens edge doesn’t hold snow very well. Also the ability for them to cool quickly and take on the outdoor temperature to not allow snow to melt slightly building a snow adhesive area is not there like the rifle scope. As I put the rifle into shooting position the snow that had fallen on the lens cap just rolled off cleanly. So cleanly I was not hesitating to take the shot through the See-Thru scope caps.
Additionally they are ordered to match the dimensions of your scopes objective and Ocular lens.
I was able to see the buck so clearly I could see the where deer hair ended and the gnarly texture of the antler at the base turn into smooth antler after the brow tines. I wanted a vertical shot window because I knew that my bullet would leave the rifle 1 inch below the crosshairs of the scope. I didn’t want to take the chance of catching a branch and blowing the shot.
I found a window that gave me a front shoulder shot with a 3-dimescial view of the deer’s body would allow the bullet to go into the shoulder, pass through the body and exit just in front of the hind leg.
At the shot the dead silence of the snowy morning was shattered. Recovering from the recoil of the 7mm Magnum rifle I saw the buck lunge from the bullet impact and then collapse and that big rack finally materialized into one picture instead of many small windows through the tree limbs.
All scopes are made recessed from the objective lens as a shade for cross sunlight glare. The Shoot-Thru lens allows you to take advantage of the lens shade but not the negative side of providing a perfect cup for rain and show to come at rest. I am a firm believe that the worse the weather the better the hunting and I spend a lot of my hunting time in bad weather conditions.
This is one thing that makes me so successful on big bucks. A hunter not equipped with the correct equipment could have gone through the same situation just to find when he was ready to take a shot the scope lends was full of snow. If you have ever tried to clean the inset objective lens on your scope in the field it won’t come clean with snow and water lingering on the lens making a difficult to impossible blind shot trying to match the visible part through the scope with the mesh of limbs and leaves in the woodlot.
I look at it as a cost of less than ¼ of a box of rifle ammo I had what I needed at a time I needed it, after spending all morning in a prime tree stand that did not produce.