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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+

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ZJheeter, I do not know how much land you actually hunt and explore. From your posts it sounds like you have a few hundred acres of mountain ground in the ridge and valley terrain at your disposal. I grew up hunting mostly farmland and some hill country with broken agriculture across the tops. Having transitioned into predominantly hunting mountainous big woods and taking some trips to WV I have learned so much about deer movement by exposing myself to different dominant vegetation types and terrain features. I still have much to learn and have yet to harvest a buck in Pa like ones you have shared pictures of. I know it is probably hard to explore other ground, given the bucks you have on your property, but so much can be learned by exploring and hunting new ground. I am not sure how your property is laid out, but it sounds like your hunting movement between bedding at the upper end or above your property and food down in the valley. In the mountain ground I am familiar with, I am not sold on particular beds or even small bedding areas. The most consistent bedding areas I have found are quite large 20+ acres, and I do think certain terrain features dictate movement, I just haven't locked it down to consistent shot opportunities on buck in the mountain ground I am currently hunting. If I were you and had the ability to do some timber stand improvement or cutting in general, I would be trying to funnel buck movement to one side of your property or the other. My plan this year if I identify good fresh sign in mid October, I am going to throw a few consecutive long sits at it. I struggle after not seeing a deer to not explore the next spot and need to have more patience. In WV the hill country I was hunting was broken up with pipelines and small clearings for oil wells. The deer there loved bowls, especially a logging road right in the middle of the bowl. The steeper the draw leading up the the bowl the better. There were tons of deer there and some good bucks, but once I figured out how to use the bowls to my advantage my buck opportunities went way up.
 

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ZJheeter, I do not know how much land you actually hunt and explore. From your posts it sounds like you have a few hundred acres of mountain ground in the ridge and valley terrain at your disposal. I grew up hunting mostly farmland and some hill country with broken agriculture across the tops. Having transitioned into predominantly hunting mountainous big woods and taking some trips to WV I have learned so much about deer movement by exposing myself to different dominant vegetation types and terrain features. I still have much to learn and have yet to harvest a buck in Pa like ones you have shared pictures of. I know it is probably hard to explore other ground, given the bucks you have on your property, but so much can be learned by exploring and hunting new ground. I am not sure how your property is laid out, but it sounds like your hunting movement between bedding at the upper end or above your property and food down in the valley. In the mountain ground I am familiar with, I am not sold on particular beds or even small bedding areas. The most consistent bedding areas I have found are quite large 20+ acres, and I do think certain terrain features dictate movement, I just haven't locked it down to consistent shot opportunities on buck in the mountain ground I am currently hunting. If I were you and had the ability to do some timber stand improvement or cutting in general, I would be trying to funnel buck movement to one side of your property or the other. My plan this year if I identify good fresh sign in mid October, I am going to throw a few consecutive long sits at it. I struggle after not seeing a deer to not explore the next spot and need to have more patience. In WV the hill country I was hunting was broken up with pipelines and small clearings for oil wells. The deer there loved bowls, especially a logging road right in the middle of the bowl. The steeper the draw leading up the the bowl the better. There were tons of deer there and some good bucks, but once I figured out how to use the bowls to my advantage my buck opportunities went way up.
I had one spot like you are describing that was money for several years. Killed three good bucks there and saw a bunch of other ones.
Yellowdog the difference is in farmland/ flatland you may have two patches of cover separated by a 30yd wide shrubby creek bottom or fence row. You sit anywhere in that corridor and you will likely have deer in range, the deer have one option to travel between those patches of cover. In mountain ground say you have two patches of cover on top of a ridge. Yes the ridge top is the most defined travel pattern between the two, but deer likely have an option of a bench on either side of the ridge as well and they likely pick based on wind advantage. Now the deer have at minimum 3 options for travel. This is very simplified obviously, but for ease of hunting during the rut a well defined corridor in farmland is as predictable as it gets.
I agree . When it comes to hunting the mountains it can get very frustrating because you can usually see a long way through the woods. A lot of times I will spot bucks cruising over 150-200 yards away through the timber. Sometimes I am able to call them in but more often than not they usually are on a mission and completely ignore me.
 

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I agree with you guys. There might be some structural spots to ambush a buck in the mountain but I sure haven't found it yet. Willing to keep an open mind though. More often then not movement is random. My trail cameras express this. And yes Lycoming I hunt a property that is just under 450 acres. We don't touch about 200 acres of it which is the entire side of the Jack Mountain. We own all the way to the top of it.
 

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I want to learn more about this structure thing so please publish that book! Where I hunt in the southern end of the state it is mostly pine ridges interlaced with oak trees and clear cuts that regenerate very very slowly. Most of the public land is away from the ag fields but we try to use that to our advantage as much as possible. The problem is there are so many pine ridges/oak flats and hollows that all look the same and everytime I see a buck they're running in the most random of places. I have been logging on OnX every time I kick up a buck to get an idea of the types of locations that they bed in, but it's impossible to know which way they're going to travel or exactly where deer will be bedded. They bed in the pines and they eat in the pines. The hills aren't big enough for the classic up in the morning, down in the evening thoughts. There are pine thickets everywhere and large swaths of private land. There are just so many places that they can be, but very few places that they all want to be. As a camp we're generally pretty successful at putting meat up, and usually take a buck or 3, but I still think we're frustrated that we aren't more successful with bucks and we're not killing, or even really seeing from stand, the quality of bucks that we see while driving around. I'm not complaining here, I love hunting this area, but I'm frustrated with my lack of ability to figure it out.
 

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Every time I read about the frustrations of mountain hunting, I'm grateful I live where I do. I didn't even really know what a thermal was til I went elk hunting I Montana. And I'm 20 minutes from the Ohio border here, it's kinda' like getting a bonus buck tag. But if you like endless public ground to roam, or like mountains, 1A isn't for you
 

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It’s not like I despise farm land and big bucks. If I had area like that close by that didn’t get a lot of pressure I would hunt that as well. I also don’t exclusively hunt mountains. Hit the river bottoms and flood control areas too. Lot of it chocked with Japanese Knotweed that the deer tunnel through and it can get pretty muddy .
Anyhow now that we’re getting closer I am starting to visualize where I will be hunting soon and one spot in particular keeps sticking out in my mind. It’s a area I scouted in the mountains back in March . About a mile back in . Really looking forward to my first hunt there. Part of the fun is hunting new remote areas I have never been to before and trying to figure it out. It’s awesome finding new remote areas and getting into deer.
 

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Sorry to get back on topic, but for me to release an arrow the first day it better be an exceptional 4.5 year old, or anything 5.5+. I like hunting too much to kill an immature or just an average 4.5 year old buck early on.
 

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This year I found on camera many large buck on public ground in Tioga and Potter. There are more big rack buck in these mountains then I have ever seen. I have logged many hours of scouting this year and am truly excited to match wits with one of those mountain bruisers.
 

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Amen brother!

When i'm hunting up north in the mountains it is very rare that i run into another hunter and that is what I enjoy. Hunting state forest can be more difficult during archery, but it is my favorite type of hunting.

I've hunted some farm land, and for me it is just not the same experience, but every hunter is different.
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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Up until the last couple of years, I would have said any legal deer. I don't get a lot of opportunities, so I wouldn't pass up anything. Now, my son has gotten into hunting and we have access to a pretty good property. He has killed four deer there in the last two years. There is a good chance he will be successful there this year. It is more important to me that my son score than I do. So, I'm probably gonna be a little more particular about what I shoot.
 

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120" or bigger in pa
 

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Up until the last couple of years, I would have said any legal deer. I don't get a lot of opportunities, so I wouldn't pass up anything. Now, my son has gotten into hunting and we have access to a pretty good property. He has killed four deer there in the last two years. There is a good chance he will be successful there this year. It is more important to me that my son score than I do. So, I'm probably gonna be a little more particular about what I shoot.
My son is 35 and has a couple 150's under his belt already, plus a bunch of other bucks. Regardless, I still want him to be the one who scores, and I'm disappointed when he doesn't. Part of being a dad I guess.
 

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well for me to send an arrow on the 1st day it would have to be a real brusier 140 class of better I hunt private and have 2 doe tags allready have several 140s and a 150
a few 120 to 130 so im kinda picky when it comes to a buck
I hunt doe for meat early in the season dont harvest doe after the rut due to they may have a booner in them, so if I take 2 doe we have plenty of meat for the year
Im happy to eat tag my buck tag if I dont get what im looking for
And happy for everyone that gets his or her deer know matter what the size
 
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