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How to Kill a Boone and Crockett Whitetail Buck

Prior to beginning this article I want to make it clear that blessed is the trophy whitetail deer hunter that harvests any whitetail buck over 130 inches, and that the harvest of a 170 inch or Boone and Crockett Buck is the deer of a lifetime. With the production of this article I am in no way implying that whitetail hunters should solely focus on only harvesting whitetail deer over 170 inches, however if you want to know how to do it then sit back and enjoy reading. As a whitetail deer outfitter in Iowa, Pike County Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska for 13 years I have seen many deer hunters over my career in pursuit of Boone and Crockett Whitetail Bucks. While many deer hunters have been successful in their endeavors with IMB Outfitters in this feat, the majority fall short of the 170 minimum required of typical whitetail bucks, and 195 non typical whitetail bucks. Why? According to the Boone and Crockett Club as reported in June of 2009, only 1 out of 1.3 million deer hunters will ever harvest a Boone and Crockett Whitetail Buck in their entire lifetime. This statistic was shocking to me. While I knew the odds of taking a Boone and Crockett Whitetail Buck were stacked against us, I had no idea the odds were 1.3 million to 1 in a lifetime. Now let me give you the good news. After receiving this information I ran to my office to grab the stat books we keep in every camp over the course of the past 13 years. Our stat books reflect and directly record each hunters experience with IMB Outfitters from what stand they hunt each day to the number of deer seen by the hunter, number of book bucks seen, and number of book bucks that hunters had a chance to shoot within weapon range. After hours of math and research of our stat books here at IMB Outfitters I determined when hunting with IMB Outfitters the odds of a deer hunter shooting at a Boone and Crockett Buck with IMB Outfitters is as follows in the 5 different States we hunt: STATE ODDS AT SHOOTING AT BOONER Iowa 13 to 1 Missouri 24 to 1 Illinois 26 to 1 Nebraska 33 to 1 Kansas Hasn’t been hunted until 2010 season. Thus as you can see here at IMB Outfitters your odds are significantly decreased from the national average of 1.3 million to 1, to as slim as 13 to 1 at shooting at a Boone and Crockett Buck on a deer hunt. Many factors enter into the harvest of a shot opportunity at a Boone and Crockett Whitetail Buck by any deer hunter. The factors, fortunately, are controllable to a certain degree with a measure of wisdom and diligence by the hunter. My goal with this article will be to address these factors in an effort to educate whitetail hunters on how to enhance your odds at harvesting a Boone and Crockett Whitetail Buck. The factors to address include geographical location, restraint or settling for less than, time spent, where to ambush a Boone and Crockett buck or stand location, hunt dates, weaponry, outfitter selection, persistence or probability, overhunting, scouting, and an array of other very important factors if you really want to harvest a Boone and Crockett Whitetail Buck. GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION FOR BOONE AND CROCKETT WHITETAIL BUCKS After a thorough study of the most current Boone and Crockett Records of North American Big Game with an emphasis on Whitetail Deer studies have determined over 73% of these animals are coming from the Midwestern United States. Per definition, “Midwestern United State” is inclusive of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, and Nebraska.” Thus unlike other animals sought by hunters if you want to harvest a Boone and Crockett Whitetail Buck know that you enhance your odds at taking one if you travel to the Midwest substantially. It’s been said a million times and I’ll say it again, “If you want to kill a monster whitetail you have to go to were monster whitetail live.” That geographical location is the Midwestern United States. Like it or not when your in pursuit of the deer of a lifetime if you don’t live in the Midwest it’s time to travel there. It is fact that it’s not enough just to travel to the Midwest to deer hunt trophy whitetail deer. One must pinpoint what areas to hunt within the highest producing States. For example I watch hunters each year who “skimp” and just head to a State in the Midwest and access public ground or select a cheap outfitter and end up with a bad experience and a frown. You must know your highest quality areas and outfitters within these locations to enhance your odds at harvesting a Boone and Crockett Whitetail Buck. In Illinois, your decision for pursuing trophy whitetail bucks must be Pike County Illinois, no matter what anyone may tell you. Of course you will talk to whitetail outfitter outside the County of Pike who will claim their county is better or just as good but the stats don’t lie. Pike is your County of choice if your heading to Illinois. Iowa is divided up into deer zones the hunter must choose to hunt. By far Zone 5 is where the Boone and Crockett Record Books are being rewritten. Simply settle for nothing less when traveling to Iowa for deer hunting. If your headed to Kansas there is but one selection in my opinion which is Unit 11. (Extreme Southeastern Kansas) In Missouri you must hunt what the Missouri Department of Natural Resources refers to as the Plains region. This constitutes the Counties of Macon, Shelby, Knox, Adair, and Putnam. Nebraska’s greatest location is the Republican Zone. These locations have been the focus of our company for years due to the massive amounts of research we have done as a company. So far we have it narrowed down to what region, what state, and what county, but is that enough? No its not. Now one needs to have knowledge of what farms in these areas are the best and be willing to pay money for the ground no matter the price. IMB Outfitters has dedicated themselves to only leasing the best ground in these areas instead of just ground in these areas. Without emphasizing our company too much, I will tell you that literally each year we don’t lease farms offered to us because they don’t meet our standards, and watch our competition lease them just so they have ground to run hunters on. Many of these competitors are even higher priced in regard to what the hunt will cost you. If it’s not “awesome” then IMB Outfitters will not lease or purchase the land for our hunters to access. The process of selecting geographical location down to the last detail most often times requires professional full time investigation by a group of individuals who really know what they are doing. It’s a full time job believe me. RESTRAINT OR SETTLING FOR LESS THAN During the Spring of 2009 I had two hunters that phoned me and indicated they wanted to harvest Boone and Crockett Bucks. I told them that no whitetail outfitter could promise they would kill or even shoot at a Booner but that if they were willing to listen and be open to suggestions I could severely increase their odds at taking such an animal. I suggested they buy a “State Pass” with us wherein they could hunt on an unlimited basis in Missouri. I told them that I would need them to hunt hard, and while the “State Pass” would allow them to hunt all year long on an unlimited basis that if I were to call them and tell them big deer were on the move that they should get in their vehicle and come to camp. Having a “State Pass” is almost like being on call sometimes if you want to kill a Boone and Crockett Buck. The pair of hunters made several mistakes although both were great fellows. In late October I had several deer exceeding 170 inches patterned to a certain degree. I called the pair of fellows and told them to come hunting now if they could get away. Rather than listen to me they stated, “We don’t think we should come now. We think big deer are nocturnal now.” No matter how much I pleaded with them they postponed their visit to later in November. We will never know whether or not they would have been successful had they attended when I suggested, but Mistake #2 was critical. Upon arrival later in November when they wanted to hunt, one hunter shot a 130 inch deer and the other hunter shot a buck that was of like score. While a 130 inch whitetail deer is a wonderful animal and a whitetail that any hunter should be proud of, you won’t kill 170 inch whitetail deer if you cannot restrain yourself from shooting anything less than that. I attended a hunt in Iowa several years ago, and before I arrived I simply had made up my mind that if I couldn’t shoot at a Boone and Crockett Whitetail Buck I would simply not shoot. I call this “willing to eat my deer tag”. Of course its hard to pass up 130 inch, 150 inch, whitetail deer but you can’t shoot a Boone by shooting the first 130 inch deer you see. The flip side to this coin is I have a friend who is a Doctor. While he is a great hunter and has literally hunted all over the World he refuses to shoot any whitetail deer that won’t score high enough to make the Boone and Crockett Record Books. He made this decision 6 years ago. HE HASN’T KILLED A BUCK IN 6 YEARS AND CONTINUES TO WAIT. Point is this. When you demand to kill a Booner from an deer outfitter or simply yourself you cannot become mad if your efforts result in “eating your deertag” as know going into the hunt your odds at killing a Booner are 1.3 million to 1 nationwide. (However like I previously stated your odds at shooting at a Boone and Crockett Whitetail Buck with IMB Outfitters is around 23 to 1.) TIME SPENT OR PAYING YOUR DUES The norm for most whitetail deer hunters is to be on their stand just prior to light and hunt until around 10 AM. The norm continues with the deer hunter going in for lunch, followed up by entering back into the timber for hunting around 2 PM till dark or the last legal hunt hour in the State he or she is hunting. I would estimate that over 95% of the deer hunters that hunt with IMB Outfitter do just this. I can’t blame them either. Sitting all day long can be nothing short of mental abuse. Four years ago in our Iowa camp every Boone and Crockett Buck was harvested between 10 AM and 2 PM. Several theories surround this time period of success. Some deer hunters would tell you that big deer are smart enough to know when hunters exit the timber and move during that time. Some hunters would tell you deer feed 3 times a day and that hunters are missing the midday feeding period by not sitting all day. I don’t believe either theory. I would suggest 2 distinct advantages exist surrounding hunting all day without exit from the tree stand. #1. The more time you spend in the woods the greater the chance you have at the harvest of a Boone and Crockett Buck. Each minute you spend on stand you are one minute closer to the deer of a lifetime. For example: If you were to sit in the middle of a road trying to be hit by an oncoming vehicle, the longer you sat there the greater the chance you would be struck. Thus likewise the more time you put into a hunt the higher the probability you will get a chance to harvest a monster buck. #2. When a hunter exits the hunt location at 10 AM or mid morning and then returns early afternoon to hunt during the evening hours, this hunter is spooking deer or alerting deer to his or her presence in the area. Three years ago in one of our whitetail camps we had 3 Boone and Crockett Bucks and two 160 inch deer killed during the first 2 hours of light on opening morning. One of the men that harvested a Booner had been text messaging his hunt buddy from his tree stand. Thus his buddy who hadn’t killed knew his buddy had killed a Boone and Crockett Whitetail Buck. As a result his partner got down from his tree stand and returned to the lodge to view his partner’s monster buck. As his partner looked at the 5 mighty bucks lying side by side in the cooler, he turned to me and stated, “I want to kill a Boone and Crockett Whitetail Buck”. In response I stated, “It’s not as easy as a request. If you want to enhance your odds at taking a big buck like these I need you to let me get you down into some heavy dense timber and sit all day.” I told him that if I put him down deep in the “stuff” he would need to sit all day with a sack lunch as if he were to come out of this area midday he would “kick up” 70 deer walking out and blow up the area. The hunter replied, “I will do it. I can hunt all day.” The next morning I walked him into the area a good hour before light and got him all set up. At 8:30 AM he had made his way back to the road and against my advice didn’t sit all day, because his feet were cold. While I was sympathetic to his cold feet this was not the hunter that was willing to sit all day nor equip himself with the hunt attire needed to “gut out” an all day sit. Not only by sitting all day does one increase his odds by shear probability but one also must take into account that when most hunters exit the timber mid morning they are spooking and running deer from nearby farms onto our hunt farms that were not there early morning. Think about this, at 10 AM a half a mile away a hunter may exit the woods and scare a Boone and Crockett buck right into your hunt area so that you can intercept the animal. While I agree some hunters get lucky right off the bat I find the hunter that will sit all day more than triples their odds at taking a monster deer over the hunter that won’t. WHERE TO AMBUSH A BOONE AND CROCKETT DEER OR TREESTAND LOCATIONS FOR As a whitetail outfitter, full time for 13 years I have watched many hunters over the course of my career take Boone and Crockett Whitetail Deer. After watching the attempted harvest or taking of these quality whitetail bucks it seems deer over 170 inches are always taken in one of two locations. #1. The biggest deer in the Midwest normally are harvested in the densest thickets and bed areas on the farm. Simply put, “Big deer hide in the nastiest, densest, hard to reach locations known to man.” That’s how they got big. In theory big deer know if a hunter enters a dense thicket they can detect them as the hunter will make more noise in approaching the area by getting clothes caught up on thorns, stomping through creeks, wading through mulit rose thorn bushes, and briars. Also these areas provide a better hiding spot. As stupid as it may sound, if we were playing hide and seek wouldn’t you pick such an area to evade a hunter. #2. The second location that most Boone and Crockett Deer are taken are in locations that the veteran whitetail hunter would never think of hunting. Dumb places where only the novice or lazy hunter would access. If you really study the largest whitetails ever killed by hunters you will most often see that the hunter that does it is some novice that didn’t have a clue where he or she should be setting up. The reason for this is that huge whitetail bucks associate overlooked areas of a farm with safety because they are void of all human scent and invasion. For example: We have taken many huge deer near interstates, or in little pieces of timber that only an idiot would set a deer stand in. Thus never overlook any area of your hunt farm, and find ways to access your densest areas of the farm without being detected. WHAT DATES ARE BEST TO HARVEST A BOONE AND CROCKETT WHITETAIL BUCK? There are 3 time periods which are best to harvest monster whitetail bucks that qualify for the Boone and Crockett Record Books. a. The Rut: When whitetail bucks are chasing does they enter into a phase wherein they are in a trance of sorts. During the breeding season bucks do stupid things surrounding movement which exposes them to harvest. As a whitetail deer outfitter I would highly recommend dates falling between November 1 and November 22 if your going to hunt the Midwest for whitetail deer. b. Late Season: During December when temperatures plummet and food sources are scarce a 2nd rut begins. Between starving, being cold, and breeding some of our biggest deer are taken during December gun and muzzleloader hunts. With a little bit of snow this time can be nothing short of some of the best hunting available for Boone and Crockett Whitetail Bucks. c. Early Season: The first 5 days of the archery season in late Sept or early October coughs up many a big buck. Why? Deer are routinely on summer feeding patterns. Here at IMB Outfitters we have patterned the big bucks all summer long and know just what they are going to do during the evening in regard to accessing food sources. Evidence of this lies on our video page. Look at all the videos we filmed just in the Summer of 2008 as a result of scouting summer months. We literally had so many downloads of our videos we had to put them on a special program to prevent internet viewers from shutting down our website due to bandwidth usage. SELECTING A WHITETAIL DEER OUTFITTER IN THE MIDWEST TO KILL A BOONER WITH Just days ago I received a phone call from a hunter that wanted to harvest a Boone and Crockett Buck. After I spent almost an hour with him on the phone planning the endeavor he told me he would call me in a couple days. After two days had passed the hunter called me back and stated, “I have my choice down to 2 whitetail outfitters in the Midwest.” In response, I asked “Who is the other whitetail outfitter your thinking about.” While I cannot state who the other outfitter was in this article due to issues surrounding slander and defamation I asked the hunter if he was around his computer. He stated yes. I then told him to go to the other whitetail outfitter’s website and tell me how many deer over 170 were on the website. His answer was “Zero.” I then told him to go to our website at I literally told him not to look into the photo gallery as it wouldn’t even be fair to the opposing whitetail outfitter but to simply pick any 3 pages of our website at random and count the number of Boone and Crockett Bucks he viewed on only 3 random pages of our website. After several minutes of examination he stated, “Oh my God.” I replied, “I’m not telling you that you’ll kill a Booner with us however if the other whitetail outfitter was consistently harvesting deer over 170 inches don’t you think their might be at least one on his website. The hunter booked on the phone with me right on the spot with credit card right over the phone. We have been in business for 13 years however over the past 7 years or so I have seen two types of whitetail outfitters spring up all over the Midwest. (Both of which are bad choices.) The Redneck: This type of Whitetail Outfitter is not dishonest. He’s the country boy running hunts on the family farm or the family’s friends farm. The Redneck normally possess’s a below average lodge, with below average food. Personally I don’t need a fancy lodge or lobster for dinner as long as I’m on trophy deer or with an whitetail outfitter that has my but on quality ground and trying hard to place me on a trophy whitetail buck. The major problem with the Redneck Outfitter is that they simply aren’t experienced enough to know how trophy whitetail bucks travel across a given piece of terrain. Bless their hearts. They have the best of intentions but they just don’t know how to manage a hunt camp nor produce consistent trophy deer harvests. Believe me after being in business for 13 long years I can tell you that the first 2 or 3 years I was in business I was just beginning to “cut my teeth” in the industry, and made many foolish mistakes I would never make now, as a seasoned whitetail outfitter. He can also be identified by the amount of acreage he possess’s, unless of course he lies on the phone and tells you he has more than he does. The Redneck Outfitter can also be identified by a small sloppy 2 to 4 page website. His prices will be cheaper. You might even save some money by booking a whitetail deer hunt with him, but after you spend your vacation time, your travel, your gas, and get your hopes up all year, you will soon discover booking with the Redneck is a complete waste of time. Often times the consumer will identify the Redneck and still hunt with him all in the name of saving money justifying it with this premise, “I”ll still be hunting in big buck country and maybe I’ll get lucky.” Consider other alternatives. Your success depends upon a solid choice of whitetail outfitter. 2. The Factory: The second type of Outfitter is what I call “the Factory.” This choice is worse. This is the outfit that runs as many hunters as they possibly can with one motive…………! The more hunts booked the more money they gross. One such outfitter runs an ad in most of the top whitetail specialty magazines bragging about the fact they own a half a dozen lodges in one area. Why would an outfitter have a half a dozen lodges in one state or area. Simple answer……………….to house as many hunters as they can at one time. This outfitter will over hunt stand locations and farms, literally raping their hunt area of the majority of their trophy animals. Watch out for ads that brag about large numbers of trophy deer killed over their existence, or too many lodges in one area. I know of one whitetail outfitter in Illinois that has 4 or 5 lodges in one county. Why? This enables the whitetail outfitter to run up to 100 hunters per week. Crazy! At a location such as this you enter camp not as a person but rather just a financial contributor to a program solely focused upon making money. Lodges may be great, food may be wonderful, but the hunting is poor due to over hunting and a lack of care of the hunter. With this outfitter, I’d just get plain mad knowing that nobody really cared about my outing. The Right Choice: A minority group of whitetail outfitters fall into this class. This is the whitetail outfitter who is running a good camp. They are sometimes hard to identify unless you know what to look for. The Right Choice will have good guide to hunter ratios, good amounts of ground, big quality websites put together well. They will call you back promptly or respond to emails promptly. They will send quality brochures. They will spend an ample amount of time on the phone with you. I’ve always said if an whitetail outfitter will present a good website and a good brochure, while having a good conversation with you on the phone they will normally take care of you in camp also. However still more evidence needs to be presented. Why IMB Outfitters is the Right Choice IMB Outfitters is the right choice of outfitters for a Trophy Whitetail Hunt. A number of factual, verifiable facts exist to show IMB is indeed the “Best Whitetail Outfitter in the Midwest” as their slogan claims. 1. IMB Outfitters has been in business for 13 years without interruption. The hunt industry is relatively a small arena. Any whitetail outfitter that has thrived throughout 13 years of business, through terrorist attacks, economy declines, natural disasters, and massive amounts of competition has to have positive attributes and solid foundational hunt strategies that have continued to succeed year after year. As a general rule you just can’t last in an arena as small as the hunt industry without repeat success. 2. IMB Outfitters is sponsored by over 2 dozen major hunt companies in the industry. Household names like Mossy Oak, Mathews Bows, Nikon, Hunter Specialties, Goodyear Tires, Thompson Center Arms, Horton Crossbows, and many more as seen on our sponsors page. Why is this important. These Fortune 500 Companies do NOT attach their names with a whitetail outfitter that is shady, below average, or unethical. 3. IMB Outfitters possess’s over 60,000 acres in 5 states giving its hunters the freedom to choose a variety of locations to pursue trophy whitetails. IMB is located in the greatest location in North America to pursue trophy whitetail deer. Forget Canada, the biggest bucks are right here in the States. IMB is located in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, and Kansas. Not only is IMB located in the best states but after thorough research we are located in the best counties on the best farms within those states. Most of our landowners have been in business with us in excess of 10 years proving IMB treats their landowners well. In turn you can be expected to be treated well. 4. IMB Outfitters was chosen by Peterson’s Hunting as one of the top 44 Hunt Outfitters in the entire World. Not just whitetail outfitters but rather chosen out of the top 44 outfitters in the entire world. 5. IMB Outfitters made North American Whitetails Hall of Fame in 2008. 6. IMB Outfitters normally sports a 3 to 1 guide to hunter ratio. This means 1 guide only places 3 hunters in the woods daily. At some hunt camps outfitters have guides place over 5 hunters in the woods daily thereby decreasing the quality of services offered to hunters on a personal basis. Believe me the last thing you want is to have one guide putting 5 or 6 hunters in at one time. Guide to hunter ratio’s are very important. 7. IMB Outfitters has been fondly represented by the industries top sports writers, hunt television celebrities, outdoor television networks, pro staffers, and major hunt website for over a decade. IMB has hosted numerous Outdoor Writer’s Conferences, Hunter Specialties Videos and Pro Staff, Roger Raglin, Tim Hooey, Brock Ray, many famous Sports Figures, etc. These folks don’t waste time hunting with inferior whitetail outfitters. Most of the aforementioned rebooked several times. In fact IMB has hosted the Hunter Specialty video tours for the past several years. 8. IMB Outfitters ONLY selects the most qualitative farms to lease. I can’t count the number of times we have elected not to lease a farm because it wasn’t up to our standards, only to watch another whitetail outfitter lease the farm days later and run hunts on it. When you hunt with IMB you will hunt land tracts that have undergone the up most scrutinized qualitative measurements prior to leasing. It is my belief IMB has the best farms in the Midwest, exclusively leased through private land tracts, never under high fence, and never on public ground. 9. IMB Guides are trained thoroughly via a program devised in house on how to pattern big deer, identify topographical advantages, host clients in a courteous manner, and carefully selects only the best applications and resumes sent in by potential employees. After which a rigorous interviewing process is employed to assure no novice guides are hosting hunters.. 10. IMB has no trophy fees. No matter how large a buck you harvest no additional fees are attached. (We do however employ a $400 penalty for shooting a buck under 120 inches to ensure we are growing larger and larger deer annually.) 11. After a random selection of whitetail outfitters in 2008 IMB was determined to be in the lower 30 percentile regarding hunt costs. At IMB you will get the most bang for your buck so to speak. Typically hunts range from $2000 to $3500. 12. IMB employs a tremendous food plot program keeping animals on our land tracts even in the toughest of hunt conditions. 13. IMB presents some of the highest quality lodges and food in the hunt industry. Always remember when your booking a hunt your buying something you cannot see from somebody who sells them everyday. Don’t cut corners with public hunting ground, swap hunts, or unimpressive outfits just to save a few bucks because they are located in State that sports giant whitetail bucks. Make a solid choice with an outfitter that sports a great website, great brochure, an outfitter that calls you and talks to you about your hunt at length,………………………..Book with IMB Outfitters. A solid choice located at

Darrin Bradley

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