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Scoring Early on a Trophy Whitetail Buck

Scoring Early on a Trophy Whitetail On 9-18-2008 I crept into a white oak on the edge of a green soybean field in Northern Missouri. This field had been producing multiple sightings of several outstanding trophy whitetail bucks. I had correctly scouted the area and knew exactly what was going to happen as long as the weather and wind cooperated, not to mention if I could keep my wits about me upon shot presentation. At 6:18 PM several does and a couple great whitetail bucks entered the field and began casually making their route toward my ambush site. My heart began to pound fiercely. My brow began to bead with sweat. I slowly grabbed my bow and began to prepare for the shot in the event they traveled within bow range. Sure enough after what seemed like an eternity they found themselves within 25 yards of my setup and unaware of my presence. I drew and luckily sent a 2 bladed Rage Broadhead into the heart of a 150 inch drop tine buck that I collect shortly after. My work of properly preparing for an early season archery hunt had paid off. Certain tactics and products are needed to score big on trophy whitetail deer early season. The Whitetail deer may be the most difficult animal to pursue in North America when one is looking to take a record book whitetail deer. For archery hunters it is common knowledge the easiest way to harvest a record book buck is during the rut. Thus one would assume harvesting a whitetail deer of trophy caliber is the most difficult during the early portion of archery season. In the following narrative I will set forth early season strategies and tactics as well as offer a little insight on selecting the correct outfitter for an early season hunt. The greatest locations are Pike County Illinois deer hunting, Missouri deer hunting, Iowa deer hunting, Kansas deer hunting, and Nebraska deer hunting. It is in the Midwestern Agricultural belt that the whitetail record books are being re-written. Even in these locations early season trophy whitetail deer hunting may be a challenge if the proper preparations and precautions are not taken into consideration. My recommendation for harvesting a record book whitetail would be to book a hunt with an honorable whitetail outfitter like IMB Outfitters. IMB Outfitters is located in each of these aforementioned locations. One great aspect of hunting trophy whitetails during this time period of Mid September and Early October is the fact hunts are cheaper, making things a little more affordable for today’s whitetail deer enthusiast. Without preaching a sermon, I would remind one that many times hunters will try and book a hunt with the cheapest whitetail outfitter they can find. This is a huge mistake. If you pick the wrong outfitter and then experience a bad hunt you haven’t saved any money. You have lost all your money. Therefore book with a high quality whitetail outfitter like IMB Outfitters. To prepare for the harvest of a record book whitetail buck during the early season there is a vast amount of preparation that needs to occur to score big. 1. Hunting an area where record book whitetail deer reside is the first step in the achievement of this goal. Obviously trying to take down a monster buck in Florida during early season or at any time is near impossible. However when one travels to Pike County Illinois or Iowa, or Missouri to deer hunt, then the first step in the harvest of a record book has been correctly taken. One must place him or her self in area where big whitetail deer are abundant. In an effort to choose the correct location all a whitetail deer hunter needs to do is obtain the latest edition of the Pope and Young Record Book. The Pope and Young Record Book actually ranks the States in accordance to the number of entries submitted. By employing such research it is easy to see where today’s whitetail deer hunter needs to travel to in an effort to harvest a monster buck. 2. The second step in harvesting an early season trophy whitetail buck is to make sure you book a hunt with a reputable whitetail deer outfitter, or gain access to the highest quality land tract in the area chosen. Many outfitters and landowners often represent their farms as the “best” in a certain area. Real estate agents are the worst at this. Today’s whitetail industry is producing a breed of whitetail deer outfitter that can speak volumes about quality on the phone but in reality the majority of these whitetail deer outfitters are running hunts on the family farm and a few cheap leases out of bunkhouses and exaggerating about the quality of the hunt. Look for a quality outfitter. Of course in response your first thought may be, I wanna save money and book with a cheaper outfitter. A cheaper outfitter is cheap for a reason. They lease average quality leases, provide average services, and normally provide a below average hunt. Most often times a good outfitter will have a wonderful website, a wonderful brochure, present a very personable honest conversation on the phone, and be a little more expensive. Why? These whitetail deer outfitters have spent extra money to obtain the highest quality land tracts, and provide the highest quality service to the hunter. Believe me, after being in the hunt industry full time as a whitetail deer outfitter I know if you want to be the best it takes the almighty dollar to get the job accomplished. 3. Now its up to you or the whitetail deer outfitter to scout whitetail deer relentlessly 365 days a year. Here at IMB Outfitters in the Summer of 2009 we paid more than a half a dozen guides to film and observe food sources during the last two hours of light every night of the week. As a result we have presented a video highlights page which can be viewed on our website at We were able to successfully pattern and film over 130 record book whitetail bucks in a mere two week time span. As soon as the video footage hit the internet our followers literally locked up our internet server two days in a row watching the videos. At that very point everyone that had booked hunt knew we were doing our homework and successfully patterning and preparing our hunters for the season. It was hard work and took money to pay the guides to do this. Most outfitters, don’t do much more than find some deer trails, hang some stands, and let the season take its course. Here at IMB Outfitters we take pre season whitetail deer scouting very seriously, and know it’s the key to presenting our hunters with a quality whitetail deer hunt. 4. Watch the food sources. Here in the Midwest as you might assume it impossible to watch a standing corn field prior to season. We know early season whitetail deer movement centers around green soy bean fields, clover, and green food plots. Thus quality optics from companies like Nikon, and spending evenings watching different locations on these food sources is essential to success. When scouting for whitetail deer never get close. Myles Keller once said, “Don’t scout from a hunt stand.” The point is that Mr. Keller was making was that you need to stay far away from your deer when scouting yet close enough to view them. Never sit in a stand to scout, as deer will associate danger with that tree stand before the season even starts. Hunt from tree stands, but scout from vantage points of distances no closer than 200 yards in location you will not be detected. 5. A new tool in the hunt industry is the infrared game camera. My opinion after 13 years of Outfitting in 5 States is that Stealth Cam is far superior to any other game camera company in the World. Cameras are a great thing but need to be implemented correctly, placed in the right locations, and one needs to know what expectations to have from the implementation of game cameras. a. First off I know a guy that has dozens of cameras as do I, however he is so impatient that he checks them every 48 hours. This is a huge mistake. Remember each time you travel to and from your game camera you are leaving scent and spooking deer even if you don’t realize it. Let cameras sit at minimum of 10 days before checking them. b. Place cameras along heavily beaten down whitetail deer paths, scrapes, and field edges that are showing a vast amount of tracks. c. While game cameras are one of the greatest inventions of today’s hunt industry remember they often times reveal bucks you didn’t know where in the area, however they NEVER tell the whole story. For example: Last summer I purchased a half a dozen game cameras from Stealth Cam and placed them in and around a woodlot to obtain photos of deer in the area. Sure I got some great photos, but game cameras do not replace scouting with optics. On 8-10-09 I watched 101 whitetail deer walk onto on of our food plots in Pike County Illinois. 13 of the whitetail deer would have easily made the record books. Needless to say the infrared cameras did not capture the photos of all these deer. You must scout to be successful during the early season. A great need for infrared cameras does exist. They do tell a part of the story we don’t often times get to see while scouting. When purchasing a game camera for whitetail deer scouting I would select the following: STEALTH CAM: Prowler High Definition *H.264 Video Compression *1280 x 720 High Definition Video *Records full audio *3 video settings: HD, D1, VGA *54 IR Emitters for 30 foot range *5-300 second adjustable video clips *8.0 Megapixels Still images *3 Still image setting: 8 Mb, 3 Mb, 1.3 Mb *Burst Mode shoots 1-9 images per triggering *Time/Date/Moon/Temperature stamped on video files *64 Mb built in memory *Accepts up to 4 Gb SD Card *12 Volt Aux Power Jack OTHER STEALTH CAM PRODUCTS THAT ARE VERY EFFECTIVE INCLUDE: Sniper, Rogue, and Nomad Stealth Cam products can be viewed at 6. After extensive scouting with optics from long distances on food sources and the implementation of game cameras to pattern trophy whitetail deer it’s now time to hang your tree stands. To put this simple and short be sure and hang the stand in the “right tree” and not just “a tree”. You never want to be right above the whitetail deer trail but you want to stay within bow range. “Get in and get out”. This means go in during the middle of the day very quietly and hang the stands where they need to be and then leave it alone. Don’t return to that area for a week or so, and then begin watching the deer from a great distance again. This will keep your eye on the prize. Try not to penetrate the nucleus of the trophy whitetail bucks core area on early season hunting. Wait for him at the food source or risk running him out of the area. From here its all about wind direction and patience as well as making the shot count that is afforded to you. Early season whitetail deer hunting can be very productive when performed in the correct manner.

Darrin Bradley

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