By July 1st, I’d estimate that a buck has achieved 80-90% of his antler growth. When I flip the calendar to the seventh month, I know it’s time to start scouting.
In my experience, there is no better way to increase your odds of killing a great buck than by finding one preseason and focusing all your hunting efforts on that buck. You may come up short—and I usually do—but your odds are far better than just showing up blind hoping your research pays off.
I wrote back in the blog post Thinking Too Big about narrowing down units to the best buck country. While research is very important, nothing is better than actually scouting your area. You can’t afford to waste valuable season trying to figure out where to hunt—you just lose too much time and energy. If you live too far from your unit to scout, then hunting it for several years is your next option. I find very few hunters are willing to do that and look for greener pastures every year.
If I’ve found a good buck the previous season, I always start my scouting by looking for that buck. Why go anywhere else? I already have his home address and he might return to the same area. More often than not I don’t find that buck again, but not all is lost. Big bucks are attracted to certain types of habitat and terrain. If one big buck has lived there, chances are great that another one will take up residence there, too.
If you’re new to the Rok Blog, you likely missed my 2013 Live Hunt for the buck I I dubbed Jalapeño. You can review that entire Live Hunt here Idaho Archery Buck Hunt
The buck called Jalapeño
Jalapeño is the best Idaho buck I’ve seen in years. I first found him in September of 2012. I’ve lab-aged all the big deer I’ve killed the last twenty years so I have a feel for a buck’s age. I estimate that he was four-years old the first time I saw him and around 180″ gross. There were two bigger deer in the area so I didn’t give him much attention.
When I scouted in 2013, I never found those other two bucks (told you I often don’t) but that four-year old buck was back with a vengeance! I estimated he was around 200″—putting on over 25 inches in one year. It seems in good habitat that if a buck has the genetics, he’ll experience great growth between his fourth and fifth year as this buck demonstrated. I could be wrong about his age, but either way, I think he could be even better this year.
I’ve been to the area once so far. I glassed a few hours but never saw a single deer. By the tracks, I can tell the deer are just starting to show up. I staked out a few trails and saddles with my Spypoint cameras.
While I may not see Jalapeño again, I’d be crazy to look anywhere else until I know if he made it back or not. And who knows, maybe another great buck will show up.
Subscribe to the Rok Blog at the “Subscribe to blog” link above right, just under the Fitness/Other links to follow my scouting trips, hunts, and more this summer. Let us know in the comments section below if you’re scouting for mule deer this summer. Best of luck if you are.