Hunting a mature buck is entirely different than hunting a younger buck. By most standards, a buck is considered mature when they hit the age of 3.5. From then on, they seem to be a completely different beast. How they act, and most importantly react, is what separates them from younger bucks. Harvesting an older buck is no easy feat.
One of our partners and agents, Bryan DeHart spotted a mature buck one evening right as legal shooting light vanished. He knew the buck he encountered was mature, but the he never presented an ethical shot. Bryan did what many hunters wouldn’t, but should do. He passed the shot on the buck. However, he took what he learned and applied it to a future hunt. He realized the buck was tending a doe and figured she wouldn’t have his attention much longer. There was a ton of deer sign close by and he knew a large buck was frequenting that area. After studying an aerial map he saw what we would be an excellent pre-existing stand to possibly spot the buck out of, if the conditions were right. This particular stand presented the possibility of cutting the buck off on the way to his bedding area in the morning. Bryan was very confident the buck was not bedding in the thin strip of timber he disappeared into a few days earlier, and would eventually cross the field this stand overlooked. A cold front was on the way and with a frosty clear morning on the forecast Bryan put his plan into action.
To say this plan was a success would be an understatement. Not only did he spot a total of three bucks, he spotted the mature buck he encountered only a few days prior. The buck popped out of the timber into a picked corn field after a few sequences on a grunt call. This mature buck was using a different trail than the other younger bucks did. This is not uncommon. One shot from his rifle was all it took to topple the beast.
Bryan’s deer was truly a monster buck, especially by North Carolina’s standards. There aren’t many times when a second chance presents itself when hunting a mature buck, but by passing up an unethical shot in the dwindling daylight, being persistent, and knowing the habits of mature bucks and his hunting area, he was able to tag a buck of a lifetime. Soon his buck will grace the wall of our Mossy Oak Properties office and the amazing story of a hunter capitalizing on a second chance will be told countless times.
There is still plenty of time left to harvest a mature buck this year if you have yet to tag out. Be persistent, be smart, be ethical, and most of all be thankful for each day you can spend in the field enjoying God’s creation.