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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have started to get on to a lot of nicer bucks. As a lot of you have read my scouting time and such is almost zero anymore however. I am having trouble passing decent 2 year old bucks though. I don't know what it is and I have been trying to soul search for the reason. Antlers are not all that important to me, but at the same time I have been getting more opportunities on older deer on the section of PA Public ground I hunt. I know that on any given year there are a few 115-125" bucks and one or two over 130 on that section of public ground. I have been passing little bucks for the last 4 years and took a decent 7 point 2.5 year old buck. IF you read the story I had a 120-130" buck bust me and as I was grunting for him to stop my buck came in and I shot without any hesitation. My buck was decent for the area but not even close in rack size and maturity level as the other buck.

I read the post on Confidence, and think that is what really is holding me back. Not enough confidence that I will get on a nicer buck, and not enough confidence that if I get an opportunity on a 3.5 year old or better buck that I will capitalize. Don't get me wrong I am very happy with the buck I got given the scouting and hunting time I had. So when did you hit the switch and start passing bucks, that you wouldn't in the past. Was it when you shot your first 3.5 year old or better buck, that you thought man this is the caliber of buck that I want to shoot. I am not going to lie, I grab my bow at every deer that comes in. I don't need to kill a buck, or feel less of a hunter if I don't. The weird thing is with gobblers, I wont even think about shooting a jake these days, as I know in a year he will be a long beard. It also isn't the thought that if I don't shoot this deer the next guy will either.

I am thinking that until I shoot my first 3.5 year old or better buck I wont pass the 2.5 year olds. But its a catch 22 because if I don't pass the 2.5 year old I won't get a chance to shoot a 3.5 year old.

For some reason I haven't been able to just turn that switch off yet. Even with all of the chances I have had in recent years on solid 3.5 year old deer. So any tips that help you guys pass them? I do rely on deer meat for my red meat and haven't bought beef in 10 going on 11 years, but want to prove to myself that I do have the skills to harvest a 3.5 year old or better on PA Public land.

Thanks,

Mike
 

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You know, I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I spent a few years trying hard to shoot at a minimum a 2.5yr old deer or better. I succeeded at times.

But I think the key is finding where you're pleased, whatever that is.

I think the "brown and down" mentality can go too far, likewise with the "I only shoot bucks that are [insert criteria here]."

Some of the talk online and on shows and such of watching deer for several years and then taking them at the right time, like picking a piece of fruit at the proper time when it's just ripe to the right extent....that saddens me a bit. To me, that denegrates a whitetail to a commodity. It's a crop. We're growing it and then picking it when it's at it's optimum yield.

I don't know about you, but I don't hunt anywhere that affords me the luxury of seeing a mature deer more than maybe once. I've rarely seen 2.5 yr olds twice.

I just read something today on Facebook by a hunter who was putting down people who didn't shoot deer up to his standards, saying that "they don't get it, and they aren't good hunters so they don't know how to hunt properly."

No. Just no.

Likewise, shooting anything with protruding bone on its head leads us where we were pre-AR.

So it's about balance. The PGC used AR to give at least somewhat of a benchmark as to what should walk and what can be harvested. Beyond that, my "yardstick" is if I see that buck and get excited, get that instinct triggered that sends me into predator mode...that deer will be one I want to take. I've seen deer of various sizes, that for whatever reason, I just don't want to take. And I don't.

I have a really hard time killing an adult doe with small fawns, even though biologically I know that the fawns by late bow season especially, are more than ok on their own. Just a personal thing. I do not put down anyone who does shoot the mama doe, because I do know that the fawns are likely to be just fine.

Or I have passed on bucks that I saw and just didn't get amped up to shoot them.

And you know what? Letting that "inner predator drive" kick in when and how it wants has made my hunting a LOT more fun and a LOT less stressful.

It's how you find your balance that is key. If you shoot that buck, will you be excited? I read your account of your bowhunt, and it sounded like that deer had you beyond excited.....which is awesome! If you see a buck and think "yeah, I'd like to shoot him, but I'm not that excited by it, really" then let him walk. Only you can decide if you will look at that rack in 10 years and think about an awesome hunt, or feel regret for killing him too young. No one else can decide it. Nor should they.

I've killed deer that are smaller than deer I've let walk. I can't always explain it. Sometimes it's the fact that I've been using cameras, scouting, etc, and concocted a plan and had a chance to complete the plan. Sometimes it's just...."something" about that deer that makes me want to take that shot.

I can look at all the racks I have and fondly think of the story behind them. That's worth more to me than the ability to say "yeah, I let x number of bucks go till I saw one big enough to shoot..." Bah. I'd rather have the stories than the inches.
 

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I haven't shot a 2.5 year old on public or private land since I was 17 ( 30 years ago) I wanted to kill a P&Y Buck starting when I was 18 and luckily I did that season on public land.
The only advice I can give is have the confidence going into the season that your hard work will pay off if your patient. In my case, it wasn't confidence, more like cockyiness because I thought I was the best hunter in the world being a cocky teenager. : )
But I also spent every free minute scouting, shed hunting, spotting at night etc. back then.
I guess the point I'm trying to make is that the more confidence that you have that you can harvest a 3.5 year old buck next season the easier it will be to pass on younger bucks. Also the hardest buck to pass on is your first, you might find out when you pass on your first 2.5 yr. old that you enjoyed passing on him and just watching him a lot more then you would have if you shot him just like I did. ( then it was very easy for me)
And the last thing I can tell you is to get rid of the " I got to get my buck" mentality that we PA. hunters are born with. : ) The excitement and adrenaline rush of just seeing and older buck from the stand is far greater then the disapointment of not killing a buck at the end of the year.
 

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I have started to get on to a lot of nicer bucks. As a lot of you have read my scouting time and such is almost zero anymore however. I am having trouble passing decent 2 year old bucks though. I don't know what it is and I have been trying to soul search for the reason. Antlers are not all that important to me, but at the same time I have been getting more opportunities on older deer on the section of PA Public ground I hunt. I know that on any given year there are a few 115-125" bucks and one or two over 130 on that section of public ground. I have been passing little bucks for the last 4 years and took a decent 7 point 2.5 year old buck. IF you read the story I had a 120-130" buck bust me and as I was grunting for him to stop my buck came in and I shot without any hesitation. My buck was decent for the area but not even close in rack size and maturity level as the other buck.

I read the post on Confidence, and think that is what really is holding me back. Not enough confidence that I will get on a nicer buck, and not enough confidence that if I get an opportunity on a 3.5 year old or better buck that I will capitalize. Don't get me wrong I am very happy with the buck I got given the scouting and hunting time I had. So when did you hit the switch and start passing bucks, that you wouldn't in the past. Was it when you shot your first 3.5 year old or better buck, that you thought man this is the caliber of buck that I want to shoot. I am not going to lie, I grab my bow at every deer that comes in. I don't need to kill a buck, or feel less of a hunter if I don't. The weird thing is with gobblers, I wont even think about shooting a jake these days, as I know in a year he will be a long beard. It also isn't the thought that if I don't shoot this deer the next guy will either.

I am thinking that until I shoot my first 3.5 year old or better buck I wont pass the 2.5 year olds. But its a catch 22 because if I don't pass the 2.5 year old I won't get a chance to shoot a 3.5 year old.

For some reason I haven't been able to just turn that switch off yet. Even with all of the chances I have had in recent years on solid 3.5 year old deer. So any tips that help you guys pass them? I do rely on deer meat for my red meat and haven't bought beef in 10 going on 11 years, but want to prove to myself that I do have the skills to harvest a 3.5 year old or better on PA Public land.

Thanks,

Mike



I have shot a couple buck over 125" and it really has not changed me. In the early part of the season I will often pass on average bucks but once we get into the 3rd week of October I will shoot anything half decent. (over 90" inches) I like shooting deer with my bow and I like to eat them. Also like big deer as much as the next guy but I also figure every few years I will get a chance at something over 120 ". Also think the wife and kids factor into it. After awhile being in the woods day in and day out starts to have a negative effect on my family. The kids miss dad and it's a lot to ask of my wife being she works full time too. Maybe when they're older I will hold out more.


One thing that has me perplexed this year is that I have come to the realization I am not sure how old bucks in my area actually are. To me something weighing 140 to 160 pounds is a 2.5 year old. This year I shot a buck pushing 200 and had a bigger rack and more mass than average. I would of sworn he was a 3.5 but then I started seeing bucks in the success form that were much larger than mine regarding the rack and guys were claiming their deer was 3.5. Really has me confused at the moment.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah that have to get my buck mentality is gone. I am just as happy with a doe. I wont get the buck mounted and would most likely just do euro mount. I know I can get on big bucks. Have been doing it for the past couple years. Maybe this buck was to take that 4 year of no buck itch away. I am still on cloud 9 over that hunt.


Wich kind of brings up another point. On a hunt like that with just insane adrenaline, its hard not to capitalize on that. I can think of maybe one other time that a buck had me that worked up. I think that is what tdd was getting at as well. If the deer gets you excited then go for it.


I am not a hunter that has anything to prove to anyone else but myself. I don't have to think I have an ego because I have a wall full of mature deer. I just want to prove to myself that I have the skill set to do it, and then do it consistently.


But then I throw a wrench in the system for next year as I am getting into traditional archery. LOL Why I do these things to myself if beyond me. LOL Heck any legal buck with a trad bow is an accomplishment.


I just keep thinking that I am cheating myself by shooting a decent 2.5 year old buck. But then again, I have never really focused on horns. I just want to know that I matched wits with a 3.5 year old or better buck on hard hunted public land, and capitalized. Heck it could be a half rack old nasty mountain buck, but just to know that he was in that upper age class would be a win for me.
 

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Boy, the comment about what's going on at home is dead on the money.

I'm all on board with time in the woods hunting/scouting/etc pays off, but with kids, job, life, etc. it's tough.

As I told my father once not too long ago... "Any time I'm doing anything at all, I should be doing three other things at that time."

Hunting needs to be fun. It needs to be enjoyment, not worry over whether you're shooting "the right deer." My life is way to busy for that, lol. To the OP....I still think that the excitement you showed over your harvest this year, rightfully so, is the true goal of this whole hunting thing. That's my objective, anyway. Whatever takes you there, go after it, man. :)
 

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I think the "brown and down" mentality can go too far, likewise with the "I only shoot bucks that are [insert criteria here]."

Some of the talk online and on shows and such of watching deer for several years and then taking them at the right time, like picking a piece of fruit at the proper time when it's just ripe to the right extent....that saddens me a bit. To me, that denegrates a whitetail to a commodity. It's a crop. We're growing it and then picking it when it's at it's optimum yield...

Likewise, shooting anything with protruding bone on its head leads us where we were pre-AR.

So it's about balance. The PGC used AR to give at least somewhat of a benchmark as to what should walk and what can be harvested. Beyond that, my "yardstick" is if I see that buck and get excited, get that instinct triggered that sends me into predator mode...that deer will be one I want to take. I've seen deer of various sizes, that for whatever reason, I just don't want to take. And I don't.
tdd, exactly right IMO.
 

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To pass decent bucks in hopes of collecting wall hangers on public land, you have to be willing to eat tag soup even if you accumulate thousands of hours scouting and stand time, there are no guarantees on public. It's just that simple. It is a bit of a different story if you have controllable private land which to me is more like farming deer than hunting them, but to each their own.

I am not at the stage of my hunting career where I am passing up decent 2 year olds, and that buck you shot would be toast whether he walked under me on day 1 or day 36, and I would be mighty proud of him. Someday I may evolve into more of trophy hunter, I don't know. I think more likely than that I will take up trad archery or something if I feel the need for more of a challenge.

The last yearling basket rack I shot, I did feel a bit unsatisfied, so I now pass those up waiting for decent 2 year olds. But heck, I just like getting a buck most years. Love getting to small game hunt when the weather is still pleasant. Love not having to wake up at 3:30 AM after DST ends the last week. Love not feeling the pressure to go out with a rifle and just kicking back with the keg and the old folks in camp; waiting for my dragging services to be needed. I value that kind of stuff over puffing my chest out over a big rack.

Then, there is so much more to a story than antler size. I know the work that goes into consistently killing 100"+ deer with a bow on public land in this part of the state, and it isn't easy. It's a pretty elite club. I'm not disrespecting rifle hunters or private landowners, but their bucks just don't impress me because it isn't how I like to hunt. That individualism is part of what makes hunting great! I read the back story on your buck and you hunt a lot like I hunt and not too far away too, so color me impressed.

I figure I get a crack at a PY class mature buck about every 3-4 years and that average has held true; over my now 16 year hunting career I am 2/3 on PY buck shot opps and had 3 other very close calls on those caliber bucks. That's all on public land, some mountain ground and some Western PA. I scout a lot and hunt areas in multiple counties but don't target specific bucks and just started trail camming this year. If I passed some bucks I kilt, I would probably have accumulated a couple more chances, but I am happy with my decision and the racks on my wall, meat in my freezer, and experiences along the way.

So that was the long answer, but the short answer is to do whatever makes you happy!
 

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i'm plagued by 2.5 year old 8 points and the occasional ten trotting back and forth under my stands. fortunately there are some amazing deer in the areas i hunt that slip up from time to time. they don't spend much time trotting under my stand though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have shot a couple buck over 125" and it really has not changed me. In the early part of the season I will often pass on average bucks but once we get into the 3rd week of October I will shoot anything half decent. (over 90" inches) I like shooting deer with my bow and I like to eat them. Also like big deer as much as the next guy but I also figure every few years I will get a chance at something over 120 ". Also think the wife and kids factor into it. After awhile being in the woods day in and day out starts to have a negative effect on my family. The kids miss dad and it's a lot to ask of my wife being she works full time too. Maybe when they're older I will hold out more.


One thing that has me perplexed this year is that I have come to the realization I am not sure how old bucks in my area actually are. To me something weighing 140 to 160 pounds is a 2.5 year old. This year I shot a buck pushing 200 and had a bigger rack and more mass than average. I would of sworn he was a 3.5 but then I started seeing bucks in the success form that were much larger than mine regarding the rack and guys were claiming their deer was 3.5. Really has me confused at the moment.

I agree with you on the family side of things. I believe we are in similar age groups and similar kid age groups. I didn't hunt a full day this season and my scouting time was maybe 2.5 hours or so.


So lets add more insult to injury as I took Corbin out shooting my 22. He hit a bottle at 15 yards 12 of 16 times. So next year he may be getting my buck tag transferred to him anyway. LOL
 

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Not to dive into the private vs public debate, lol, but not all private land is created equal.

I'm blessed with a fantastic private property to hunt, but it's nowhere even CLOSE to enough acreage to let me pass deer to let them grow for next year. And public land isn't far away. While I don't have to beat people to my stand in the morning and many other issues that can come with public land, I don't have the ability to manage any part of the deer herd at all. We sort of just get to watch them come by and see what trips our triggers to shoot...pun intended, lol.

I think a lot of private land is that way. The parcels or co-ops big enough to really effectively allow those who hunt them to "manage" their deer are pretty rare in PA, I think. Even with sufficient acreage (somewhere in the realm of a square mile), you still probably can't truly manage them because the deer don't know their home range is supposed to ALL be on your property, lol, and my guess is that any given property in PA has overlapping deer home ranges intersecting on top of it. That's actually a key to finding good stand spots, I've found, but that's a whole other topic.
 

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I agree with you on the family side of things. I believe we are in similar age groups and similar kid age groups. I didn't hunt a full day this season and my scouting time was maybe 2.5 hours or so.


So lets add more insult to injury as I took Corbin out shooting my 22. He hit a bottle at 15 yards 12 of 16 times. So next year he may be getting my buck tag transferred to him anyway. LOL



Nice man . I am actually older than you (43) but my wife is a lot younger than I am (31). Still have the same life circumstances though.


I just can't enjoy myself out there unless I know everything is okay at the home front.


Another added element of getting a buck now that is really cool is taking it home and showing the kids. They were all over it like flies on you know what this year. Starting to plant the seeds.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I value that kind of stuff over puffing my chest out over a big rack.

Then, there is so much more to a story than antler size. I know the work that goes into consistently killing 100"+ deer with a bow on public land in this part of the state, and it isn't easy. It's a pretty elite club. I'm not disrespecting rifle hunters or private landowners, but their bucks just don't impress me because it isn't how I like to hunt. That individualism is part of what makes hunting great! I read the back story on your buck and you hunt a lot like I hunt and not too far away too, so color me impressed.

I figure I get a crack at a PY class mature buck about every 3-4 years and that average has held true; over my now 16 year hunting career I am 2/3 on PY buck shot opps and had 3 other very close calls on those caliber bucks. That's all on public land, some mountain ground and some Western PA. I scout a lot and hunt areas in multiple counties but don't target specific bucks and just started trail camming this year. If I passed some bucks I kilt, I would probably have accumulated a couple more chances, but I am happy with my decision and the racks on my wall, meat in my freezer, and experiences along the way.
QUOTE]


That is the thing in the last 4 years I have had 5 opportunities at those close to P&Y and well over P&Y. 2 were easy in the 140's. And the thing for me is that it is not the antler size I want to achieve. It is just the age factor, mainly. Anymore a 1.5 year old buck reminds me of a 6 month old puppy. How the move, and walk and such. Just kind of care free. A 2.5 year old to me is still a challenge as they have been around, but when you see a 3.5 or older buck they just blow my mind. So cautious, So smart, you have to be on your A game to take one of those bad boys where I hunt. I think that is what I want more than a big rack. Heck my racks are in my shed. I do have 2 euro mounts on my window sill in my office.


I think my main excitement any more is seeing that the plan I came up with in my head based on wind, and topo maps worked. My hunt where I took my buck was just that. A little scouting the week before on a turkey hunt, waiting for the right wind, and it all worked out. I think that is the most important thing to me right now. Seeing my plan produce.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Another added element of getting a buck now that is really cool is taking it home and showing the kids. They were all over it like flies on you know what this year. Starting to plant the seeds.








You know it! LOL Corbin gets so pumped when I come home and tell him "Hey, Corb, come here a minute" He just knows. Heck he didn't even have shoes on and was running out the door to see daddys buck. It was a monster to him. LOL





The girls came charging out:


"BEP,, MEEEPP"


"BUCK!"


LOL I will remember the kids reactions as long as I live.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
For the record, my tag fell off on the ride home. I bought a new license and tagged him, and reported the kill.





you can see it on his ear here.
 

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I am with you on a plan producing being a big part of it.

I was the same with mine this year. Trying to connect the dots, had a game plan, and it worked. That is a big deal for me, and sounds like for you, too.

But in the end, it's your tag, man. You gotta be happy with the deer you put it on. And don't apologize to anyone for whatever it is you decide to pursue. Long as it's legal, it's all good.
 

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One thing that has me perplexed this year is that I have come to the realization I am not sure how old bucks in my area actually are. To me something weighing 140 to 160 pounds is a 2.5 year old. This year I shot a buck pushing 200 and had a bigger rack and more mass than average. I would of sworn he was a 3.5 but then I started seeing bucks in the success form that were much larger than mine regarding the rack and guys were claiming their deer was 3.5. Really has me confused at the moment.
It's so hard to tell based on body and antler size it makes it hard to even speculate age. Just based on antler size alone, I'm not so sure Mike's buck couldn't be older than 2.5; most bucks in my area don't grow that caliber rack until 3.5. Here in the mountains it seems to be spike or forkie as yearlings almost as a rule, 2 year olds are smallish 6-8 points, and then they start filling out.I grew up hunting in 2D around ag land, and there a lot of yearlings were basket 8's and some 2 year olds hit 100". That kind of growth is very rare here in the big woods. With this once in a decade acorn crop, growth should be really excellent next year, though.

I've found body size to be irrelevant also. One of my PY deer weighed 127 pounds and was at least 4.5 if not much older. He was just a neat little mountain deer, an old survivor. Killed a couple with much smaller racks than him that were pushing 200 lbs. Just like humans there is variation among individuals.

Great points about the family situations also. Our daughter is 5 months old and while we have great family circumstances that still allowed me to get out and hunt a lot, I know the next 10 years are going to be a lot more busy and it's going to be harder to leave the kids. I may even reduce my standards to any legal buck for a few years.
 

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I don't really have the luxury of having these giant deer in areas where I hunt. This year I had an absolute monster on camera, my first year ever getting a P&Y or better on camera and that really got the juices flowing for me. Granted I never saw him once during the season and the cameras did not either just knowing the fact that he was out there made me think of waiting for him to come by every time I sat in the stand. I always had the mentality to shoot the first legal buck I see because it will be the only one I see because that is what my scouting and cameras tell me. Some years I get a buck and some years I don't. I can honestly say that I have never shot a buck that I believe to be over 1.5 years old. All buck were legal of course but none of them like I see pictures of people getting. I put a lot of time in hunting, and hunt spots that produce deer from year to year. I always had the mentality of don't leave fish to find fish. Maybe I should consider leaving the fish to try and find bigger fish? Every time I set foot in the woods I am completely happy with my outcome at the end of the day regardless of what my eyes see. Next week I will be at the cabin and first buck with 3 points on one side that presents a great shot opportunity I'm sending one down range.
 
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