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To shoot a buck on the archery opener, how big (antler size) does it have to be?

  • Any Legal Buck

  • 5+

  • 6+

  • 7+

  • 8+

  • 9+

  • 10+

  • 11-12+


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I don’t think your post is pretentious at all but I will offer a different perspective. A lot of guys hunt in places where even if you take a lot of vacations days it’s still very challenging to get a legal buck in bow range.I passed 3 or 4 legal ones last year but also hunted more than I ever had in my life. Close to a month of vacation. Some guys only get a week or just a handful of days and during that time they have some hunts where they can’t even see a doe.
Heres an honest question, not judging anyone.

Why would a person hunt an area where they might not see a doe in a week of hunting? I don't get that.

I'm all for challenging yourself. But like a guy hunting pa looking for a 170" buck or nothing, in 99% of the state you're simply wasting good time. Personally, I'm not wasting time hunting where the odds of getting an opportunity are slim, whether we are talking about a trophy buck or simply a legal one.
 

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Heres an honest question, not judging anyone.

Why would a person hunt an area where they might not see a doe in a week of hunting? I don't get that.

I'm all for challenging yourself. But like a guy hunting pa looking for a 170" buck or nothing, in 99% of the state you're simply wasting good time. Personally, I'm not wasting time hunting where the odds of getting an opportunity are slim, whether we are talking about a trophy buck or simply a legal one.
Aside from the challenge, some areas just have a natural allure to them. I prefer the remote mountains over SE farmland for views and tranquility. There’s less deer for sure, but I can spend a full day in the woods and not see another person. I don’t have to listen to traffic while sitting in a tree stand. Plus the sense of accomplishment when you do kill a buck is much greater than killing one over a cornfield, to me anyway.
 

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Heres an honest question, not judging anyone.

Why would a person hunt an area where they might not see a doe in a week of hunting? I don't get that.

I'm all for challenging yourself. But like a guy hunting pa looking for a 170" buck or nothing, in 99% of the state you're simply wasting good time. Personally, I'm not wasting time hunting where the odds of getting an opportunity are slim, whether we are talking about a trophy buck or simply a legal one.
Hunting in places with rough terrain and low deer densities means solitude which is the number one thing I enjoy about archery hunting. I also like the challenge it provides.
Guess it all started with crossbow inclusion for me. Nothing against crossbows but I started having a lot more company as they began to gain popularity. Several other instances led to it. One morning I got sprayed by a pheasant hunter just as a buck was about to come into range on a hot doe. Then the muzzleloader doe season made it pretty unbearable. Also land around me kept getting posted which brought more guys in. Just got to the point where the broken up public farmland around me was getting too crowded with all the new regulations and other factors. Also shot a 130 on private land around that time and it felt a little hollow to me because I watched him all summer and really didn’t have to put much thought into killing him. The following year is when I decided to give the mountains a try . At the time I was so intimidated by it. Didn’t have a clue how to hunt up there and I worried about getting lost . Over time however things began to come together and eventually I became hooked.
No longer did I have to experience anxiety when I pulled into a parking spot and a vehicle or two was parked there. Muzzleloader and small game hunting is a non factor. Don’t have to worry about another archery hunter setting up 100 yards from me. It’s like a giant playground to me that I mostly have all to myself and when I start getting into deer there is little to no competition. I can attack the area from several different angles and if I see a giant I don’t have to worry about it spreading all over town and everyone going after him.
Antler size and seeing a bunch of deer every hunt is way down the list for me these days. I like the challenge of finding remote areas and the solitude. Even feeling beat up and sore brings a smile to my face because it makes me feel like I am really hunting hard and giving it my all.
If I had the choice between sharing a farm with a few other guys with Pope and Young deer on it or heading to mountains by myself I would pick the mountains every single time. It’s just the style of hunting I enjoy the most and there is nothing more rewarding to me than killing a decent buck in these remote low deer density areas.
 

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I gotta be honest I’m not surprised that 8pt was a popular pick, but I AM surprised at the amount of votes for any legal buck. No matter what I get that it is difficult for me to make that statement without coming across as pretentious.

I am not an inches hunter (kinda hard for average joe to be in PA) and the buck that I like Will get my tag. However, with the amount of passion I see on this thread for our sport, the amount of guys that take 1-3 week rutcations, and the amount of preparation and planning I see discussed on HPA...... I find it hard to believe that the majority is going to shoot a 1.5 year old 5,6, or 7 point on the opener. Especially with doe tags in hand, and at least a few rut sits in the near future.

Again I know it’s hard for me to get my point across without sounding like one of the drury’s, but I hope some may get where I’m coming from.
To me, it all depends on what walks by me first.
I don’t get much opportunity in the early season due to work and kids. That’s changed for the better this year since my brother bought property about 20 minutes away that is huntable and hosts a fair amount of deer.
I’m past the trophy hunting phase and solidly in the meat hunter camp.
I have plenty of tags in 5C and my limit in 3C.
If a mature doe pops out first, it’s getting an arrow, and I might become a little more selective on any bucks that might present a shot afterwards.... but any full-bodied, legal deer is arrow-worthy to me.
The only time I’d pass on a six is if an 8 or 10 was standing in range or heading right in toward me.
 

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Johnnyb’s and Steelheads points are also why I have 1 stand per season deep in some northern public.

Every single property I hunt in 5C includes one or more of the above: cars in view/road noise, walking/bike paths in view, people grilling in back yards, quarry/construction noise all season long. Half of these I am essentially running to my Stand to avoid the general public being aware of my presence. Of course the truck in parking lot anxiety, and let’s not forget getting a nice buck out without people seeing it. This is in a “less populated” area of 5C mind you.

It truly is nice to not deal with that and get the big woods feel sometimes.
 

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Johnnyb’s and Steelheads points are also why I have 1 stand per season deep in some northern public.

Every single property I hunt in 5C includes one or more of the above: cars in view/road noise, walking/bike paths in view, people grilling in back yards, quarry/construction noise all season long. Half of these I am essentially running to my Stand to avoid the general public being aware of my presence. Of course the truck in parking lot anxiety, and let’s not forget getting a nice buck out without people seeing it. This is in a “less populated” area of 5C mind you.

It truly is nice to not deal with that and get the big woods feel sometimes.
Couldn’t agree more. I work in a very busy environment and my home life is insane with four very young kids , a wife and our dog.
Not that I don’t like socializing once in a while with fellow hunters but the quiet and remote feeling I get hunting big woods is a necessity in my life. Can’t hear traffic or people back where I go. Just the town fire whistle once in a while and the occasional plane flying overhead. I truly believe it makes me a better person and helps me cope with the everyday stresses of life knowing I will get to enjoy that solitude every hunting season.
I will also add to yellodogs question about hunting in areas with low deer densities by saying it’s much like the guys who go traditional. For a lot of bow hunters after you get so many years under your belt you kind of fall into your own little niche. For some it’s targeting mature bucks. Others it’s traditional gear. Some guys really enjoy crossbows. Then there are guys like me who like the big woods where you don’t always see a lot of deer. There is a long list of different styles and a even longer list of reasons why we choose to hunt the way we do.
 

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Johnnyb’s and Steelheads points are also why I have 1 stand per season deep in some northern public.

Every single property I hunt in 5C includes one or more of the above: cars in view/road noise, walking/bike paths in view, people grilling in back yards, quarry/construction noise all season long. Half of these I am essentially running to my Stand to avoid the general public being aware of my presence. Of course the truck in parking lot anxiety, and let’s not forget getting a nice buck out without people seeing it. This is in a “less populated” area of 5C mind you.

It truly is nice to not deal with that and get the big woods feel sometimes.
That was a 5C issue I dealt with in years past. Nothing worse than dragging one out only to have a nosy Karen call 911 because you killed her “pet” deer.

This year, I’ll be able to park in my brother’s driveway, still in sight of the road, but all of two minutes later I’ll be in a blind out of sight to anyone, though we’d be legal shooting off his deck. He’s fortunate to have friendly neighbors, mostly hunters themselves although none actually hunt their properties, preferring to keep their hunts to upstate camps. All gave permission to hunt over the lines and recover if needed.

We have a ton of doe on camera, both in his little patch of woods and in his yard. Just noticed some new rubs right along the edges of the brush/wood but haven’t caught the responsible buck(s?) on camera yet.
We’ll see what happens by next Saturday, but either way the first legal one waltzing by is getting the business end of a bolt.
 

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I get the "solitude" thing. My way of looking at that might seem strange or selfish, but he we go.

If I want solitude, I can get that the other 11 months of the year by going to the mountains, canada, or Alaska. When it's deer season my objective is to kill a nice buck or two, and I'm going to put myself in the best position to do that, regardless of other distractions involved. When I go to canada hunting I appreciate the solitude, but that's not why I'm there.

That said, my job doesn't involve being around people, I live on a farm back a long lane in the country, hunting around here isn't real crowded, and I don't deal with crazy neighbors. I'm in the woods most days so that aspect of the whole experience is not something that stands out as unique to me.
 

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I get the "solitude" thing. My way of looking at that might seem strange or selfish, but he we go.

If I want solitude, I can get that the other 11 months of the year by going to the mountains, canada, or Alaska. When it's deer season my objective is to kill a nice buck or two, and I'm going to put myself in the best position to do that, regardless of other distractions involved. When I go to canada hunting I appreciate the solitude, but that's not why I'm there.

That said, my job doesn't involve being around people, I live on a farm back a long lane in the country, hunting around here isn't real crowded, and I don't deal with crazy neighbors. I'm in the woods most days so that aspect of the whole experience is not something that stands out as unique to me.
It’s not entirely all about the solitude. My number one goal is to get a buck and it’s not like the area is void of deer. I daydream about shooting a nice buck constantly. It just takes a lot more scouting and patience. It’s the type of environment and set of circumstances I prefer to hunt. I personally would never want to have a buck of a lifetime step out at 30 yards and have a recurve in my hand but there are guys out there that are perfectly okay with that and traditional equipment is the only way they will hunt them. We are all wired differently.
 

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Also part of the allure of remote mountain areas is the deer are different as well. I won’t say they are smarter, but in the remote mountainous areas the deer are prey animals year round. They seem to be much more alert than the deer in the SE that have no predators other than us. They seem to be way more sensitive to human odor as well. In spots around home you can often get away with ignoring the wind completely, there is so much human scent on a regular basis the deer just aren’t as wary of it. You can get away with a lot more on the deer in the SE part of the state than you can the northern tier deer. It feels more natural to me if that makes any sense. I’m also the type of guy that is disappointed when I’m in the middle of nowhere and see a bear with bright yellow tag in its ear.
 

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Private hunting bucks are easier for sure but some of you guys make it sound like it's a cake walk. Sure I could easily tag out every year in archery on a basket rack 8pt but where the accomplishment in that on a private piece? We have mountain ground yet we still grow good buck 130"+ every single year. This year we are fortunate to have at least two buck as of now that may break 160" with the possibility of one or two more in that range. We have put in the effort over the course of the last 5 years or so and it's paid off big time. Funny thing is we still have a very hard time killing any of the big guys because we hunt mountain ground. Deer are not predictable in the mountains. Private vs Public in the mountains have no differences. Level playing field for sure. Only difference is we have the ability to let them grow where on state land you can't really do that as much as someone else may shoot what you would pass. I've also passed up nice young buck only to have the neighbor shoot it anyways. Private land is not any easier to shoot a big buck when it comes to mountain ground.

As far as the polling question, it all has to do with age. The question has a lot of flaws. There's a huge difference between a 2.5 8pt and a 5.5 8pt. For me age is everything. I don't know why I would pass a mature 8pt to shoot a mature 9pt. Makes no sense and neither does that polling question.
 

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Discussion Starter #55
Heres an honest question, not judging anyone.

Why would a person hunt an area where they might not see a doe in a week of hunting? I don't get that.

I'm all for challenging yourself. But like a guy hunting pa looking for a 170" buck or nothing, in 99% of the state you're simply wasting good time. Personally, I'm not wasting time hunting where the odds of getting an opportunity are slim, whether we are talking about a trophy buck or simply a legal one.
I have two traveling corridors where the mature bucks pass through during the rut. I can go a week without seeing a doe from both stand locations but the bucks trot right by and within less than 20yds.
 

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Private hunting bucks are easier for sure but some of you guys make it sound like it's a cake walk. Sure I could easily tag out every year in archery on a basket rack 8pt but where the accomplishment in that on a private piece? We have mountain ground yet we still grow good buck 130"+ every single year. This year we are fortunate to have at least two buck as of now that may break 160" with the possibility of one or two more in that range. We have put in the effort over the course of the last 5 years or so and it's paid off big time. Funny thing is we still have a very hard time killing any of the big guys because we hunt mountain ground. Deer are not predictable in the mountains. Private vs Public in the mountains have no differences. Level playing field for sure. Only difference is we have the ability to let them grow where on state land you can't really do that as much as someone else may shoot what you would pass. I've also passed up nice young buck only to have the neighbor shoot it anyways. Private land is not any easier to shoot a big buck when it comes to mountain ground.

As far as the polling question, it all has to do with age. The question has a lot of flaws. There's a huge difference between a 2.5 8pt and a 5.5 8pt. For me age is everything. I don't know why I would pass a mature 8pt to shoot a mature 9pt. Makes no sense and neither does that polling question.
I certainly don’t feel that private ground is easy to shoot mature deer. They are too smart . Like you said however you have the ability to let them grow more so compared to a SGL and your property probably doesn’t get the same kind of pressure.
In all honesty you post some of the most impressive bucks I have ever seen and I am not sure I would be able to compose myself if I ever saw one of those giants coming into bow range.
I know you guys aren’t killing them by luck . It takes a lot of knowledge and ability to kill those mature deer regardless of the type of property you are hunting.
 

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Yeah it's easy to get them on camera. Entirely different thing to actually get them in to 30yds or less on mountain land. No such thing as a funnel or pinch point like on the outdoor channel.
 

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As far as the polling question, it all has to do with age. The question has a lot of flaws. There's a huge difference between a 2.5 8pt and a 5.5 8pt. For me age is everything. I don't know why I would pass a mature 8pt to shoot a mature 9pt. Makes no sense and neither does that polling question.
I agree a tad flawed. A better answer set would’ve been: any legal buck, 2.5, 3.5, etc. I do not fault the OP Though as 20 years ago when I was a kid first starting out in the deer woods a Volleyball size basket 8 was a giant.

IMO... “My dad shot a 9 pointer!” (small 8 with a crab claw, 90”) was the same as today's: “Shot a beauty 130 Class 8 pointer”
 

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Probably doesn't matter where you hunt, deer, especially mature deer, don't use 100% of the available habitat. Here that means open pastures or feilds, and open woods, and while you may see them feeding in those areas, they spend most of their daylite hours in about 20% of the habitat. I don't waste time hunting the other 80%, and I'm usually on the very edge of the 20%.

The only exception to that is a spot like jj4d described, a travel corridor. Even in the mountains there are saddled, benches, ridges, wouldn't those be your natural travel corridors like treeline, fingers, and feild edges are here in flatland?
 
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