Excerpt from the story I wrote about my buddies:
MH: How often do you go out on your farms and get skunked like the average guy?
MD: A lot. Most days we get skunked, just like everybody. I don’t care how much land you’ve got and how good it is and how well it’s managed, mature bucks win most of the time when you’re hunting with a bow.
Most of my worst days are when the wind is out of the south. Ninety percent of the mature bucks I’ve killed in the last few years were on a north wind, so concentrate your hunting on those days.
TD: Want a good example? A few years ago I killed my first buck of the year on my 60th day of bowhunting. That’s a lot of getting skunked!
MH: Some people complain there is too much emphasis on intensive land management and hunting for 5-, 6- and 7-year- old bucks like you guys do. They say this is not realistic for most hunters. What say you?
MD: I agree, it may be not realistic for people who hunt a few days a year to hold out for a 4 or 5 year old buck. But we hunt 150 days a season or more, from early September to late January, and so we make the decision to hunt fully mature bucks. We just have more time than most hunters do. But also, the older we have gotten, the more Terry and I have evolved as hunters, to the point where our ultimate goal is a wild, 6- or 7-year-old whitetail. That is the Holy Grail for us, it just doesn’t happen often enough!
TD: We don’t hold it against anybody who shoots a two or three year old buck, especially with a bow. It wasn’t all that long ago that we were shooting those bucks on film and putting them on the cover of a DVD! But I think that if most of the people reading this got to hunt as many days as we do, on private lands with intensive management and food, they’d raise their goals, too, and shoot for those old, thick-bodied, big-racked bucks that make your knees buckle when you see them.
BW: What advice do you have for the average Joe who has only 40 to 100 acres to bowhunt?
TD: We’ve hunted a lot of 60- to 80-acre spots in Illinois and elsewhere over the years, and the big thing we’ve found--the less time you spend on a small spot, the more deer and the more big bucks will stay on it! Keep out until the wind and conditions are right—maybe go in a day after the first cold front in October, and definitely go when the rut is on early November. Your tendency is to go to a spot and walk around and scout and hang stands all the time, but the more you do that, the more you mess it up.
MD: Good access is critical everywhere and especially on a small spot. Enter the woods from downwind and in places where you don’t bump bedded deer. Stay quiet and hidden. Also, hang your stands on the fringes of the woods, and hunt them when the wind is blowing out of the center of the property. All this reduces pressure, and that is a big key to killing mature bucks.