5 Reasons You Didn't Shoot a Monster Buck Last Season

1. You hunted the wrong area. You’ll never shoot a huge buck if you hunt where no huge bucks live. Sounds elementary, but it’s not. If you’re not seeing big deer on land you’ve hunted for years, move. A different farm or woods 10 to 50 to 100 miles down the road will have less pressure, better habitat and more mature bucks. Get permission and your odds go up. A few of the giants we post on BIG DEER are killed on public land every year; look for small, remote blocks of state ground that get less pressure than larger tracts near towns (they are out there, but it takes work to find them).

Look, I know that finding and keeping any place to hunt is difficult if not impossible these days. But it's fact that you won’t kill a monster if you keep hunting where no monsters live, so try.

2. You didn’t scout enough. You are busy, but you’ve got to make more time to plan. Start studying hard-copy and digital maps and aerials today—concentrate and predict where mature bucks will bed, travel and eat. A couple evenings a week starting in late-spring, glass your area for bucks growing antlers and keep it up till Sept. If you’re not using trail cams in late summer and fall, start. With probably 70 percent of the giants posted on BIG DEER, the hunters had one of more cam images. 

Prime example 2010: Luke Muldoon (photo left) started glassing and photographing this buck and others in his southern MD area last April and he kept it up through Sept. 14. On the Sept. 15 opener he got in a stand and arrowed the brute —183 with the double drop tines I love.

3. You were too aggressive. When the season opens, your instinct is plow onto your spot and start hunting hard as hell. Whoa, man. Let’s say you bow and gun hunt the same property. Set some stands back on the fringes for early archery; as the season progresses and the rut comes on, move in tighter to ridges and bottoms with hot big rubs and scrapes. Don't pressure a spot too early and blow deer out.

4. You were too passive. But you have to be “creatively aggressive,” like I say on TV. If you sit back on the fringes too much and have the mindset “I can’t move and spook any deer” you’ll hunt too passively and miss opportunities. Scout as you hunt each day for fresh big-buck sign. Think creatively... Move into a spot and set a stand when your gut tells you the time is right (might be in Oct., Nov. or Dec.).

Anytime from the October 20 scraping phase on, when you see a 160-plus buck in an area (or get a cam pic of him) move in and hunt him now--don’t be shy about it or he will be gone.

5. You didn’t get lucky. Last November 9 l killed the 209” giant. I didn’t scout the Canadian bush, but relied on buddies Grant and Sheldon to put me in a good spot. First to admit I do anything great--I got lucky and you need that luck. I do refer back to Point 1--I put myself in a place where world-class deer live, so I had a shot from the git-go. Another thing: I hunted whitetails for more than 25 years before I ever saw a 200-inch buck. It’s life, man: Work hard, put in your time and hope one day you get lucky.

I'd like for you to print this post, tack it up by the door in your hunting room/man cave and use it as reference as you scout and hunt this fall. I think and I hope it will help you out. comment

Jerad's Gravatar Nice list there Mike, I completely agree about number 1, location, even if its on your land but a completely different tree line or edge etc. Its a HuGE part of it.
Location, patience, having that gun sited in every season, and good old luck. You gotta know if your in a mass deer hot spot after 15 years for myself.
# Posted By Jerad | 3/2/11 11:52 AM
Dean Weimer's Gravatar Good stuff, Mike.
# Posted By Dean Weimer | 3/2/11 12:03 PM
Scott from MI's Gravatar Good stuff Mike. I seen one of the biggest bucks i've ever seen in MI this past bow season but only once...got him on camera only once...
and dad seen him once.... that was it. The same day i seen him i moved a stand right where he last was...he never came back. This was
last week of Oct. Hope hes still around! I did end up taking my best bow buck that week but not even close to this guy.
I dont live to close to our hunting property...little over a hour so, so i dont get to scout as much as i like but i always run a couple cameras
to help. I like to think i do things right most the time but a little luck would help too. :)
# Posted By Scott from MI | 3/2/11 1:03 PM
Rick's Gravatar Great post Mike. I'm a reader. Any books you'd recommend inparticular that take this type of advice further?
# Posted By Rick | 3/2/11 2:06 PM
Flatlander's Gravatar I'll throw in something i have found to hinder myself in years past....... i had gotten used to getting a nice buck each year and kind of expected it, I got a little carried away with putting my buck hunting pursuits before God and Family and i never did whack a buck that year. I was humbled in that while working even harder at the hunt in neglected relationships. I decided buck or no buck i wasn't going to let that happen again. So now that i have gotten my priorities back in line, (God, Family, Hunting- in that order) the big bucks are falling again......... you can say there is no correlation between how we live our lives and the rewards we reap but you won't convince me of it.

of course scouting, hunting hard and smart don't hurt, but if your heart isn't right you won't like find a real trophy

just my take on it
# Posted By Flatlander | 3/2/11 4:19 PM
Jon - WI's Gravatar Great Post Mike, and very true on all topics. Biggest being the number 1 topic! If big boys are not there, well guess what your not going to shoot them!! Me and some friends just secured a new lease in an area where we know big buck roam! Made a deal with the land owner to manage the property and got it for a reasonable price. My father has a couple hundred acres that we have hunted for years now with little success in killing any big bucks due to everyone around us shooting any buck that walks by (that includes my dad and grandpa but its his land so he can do what he wants) He didn't seem supper excited that I was getting into a lease with some friends but I explained to him that I like to chase big deer and don't want to shoot a basket rack 8 every year! I will help him on his property but might only hunt it once on opener when all the men in the family get together for that opening weekend! Good luck to everyone in their planning for the upcoming year!
# Posted By Jon - WI | 3/2/11 4:26 PM
Buckwheat's Gravatar Awesome topic!
Great insight Flatlander.
# Posted By Buckwheat | 3/3/11 12:00 AM
parrish's Gravatar Mike, Spot On Brother!!!!!!.......those are the exact reasons I didn't shoot a buck let alone connect on one...well that and a miss here or there! I just don't have the time to put it in with my job and coaching highschool football in the fall. Which puts a heavy dent in your hunting through out the fall. But I was in the stand up until the last day so hope Karma pays off next season!....I play to scout hard this fall and put in more time even thought I have football and a young family(this will be the hardest part) and still stay out of the dog house. I just gotta put more time into it and I will be back on the right path!
# Posted By parrish | 3/3/11 9:24 AM