Elite Hunter Series: Harvesting Mature Bucks

Consistently taking mature bucks out of your hunting area is not an accident. Hours of work and planning go into it. Recently, we  learned our focus on quality deer management to grow older and bigger bucks puts us into a seemingly minority group of hunters. The deer hunting community is definitely divided on what hunting philosophy is best to live by–shoot whatever you have an opportunity at, known by many as “brown it’s down;” or, wait for an old, mature buck. To us, the answer is simple. There is something about taking mature bucks that lives in our bones. There is nothing else in the world like it. However, it is not so much the physical killing of a mature buck, but rather the steps we take to do it, that has stricken us. The entire process, from start to finish, takes considerable skill, patience, elbow grease, and will power. It is much different than sitting in the woods hoping a big buck walks by your location. We gather as much intelligence, prepare as best we can, and strike when our targets are most vulnerable. To us, it takes an elite hunter to successfully follow this process all the way to success.

Tyler and I have reflected and discussed this topic at length and have decided to create the Elite Hunter blog series that focuses on the intense process I mentioned above. In doing so, we came up with three guiding tenets for harvesting mature whitetail bucks. In the first part of this series, we introduce and explain the three tenets. The underlying themes within these tenets will be prevalent in everything we post here on out in the Elite Hunter series. From here, we will introduce detailed steps to follow during each stage of the season and how we incorporate each tenet to increase our chances of taking an old, mature whitetail buck when the time comes. The best part about this series is that it will apply to all hunting areas, but specifically smaller parcels since that is what we hunt ourselves.


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The Elite Hunter Series is all about helping you kill old, mature bucks like this one!

#1: Reduce Human Pressure

For anyone pursuing old, mature bucks, this  is the number one thing you can do to increase your chances of success. This tenet has many facets, but the simple idea is to keep as much human influence out of your deer hunting area as possible. That means becoming a ghost, giving them very little chance of seeing or smelling you not just during deer season, but all year round. Many steps can be taken to eliminate human pressure. Scent elimination showers, hunting stands when the wind is right, and refraining from driving vehicles deep into your property are all rules we practice meticulously. If the deer, especially the mature bucks, feel safe and secure in your hunting area, the odds will be pushed in your favor.

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Tyler Mahoney’s 2013 buck

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Tyler Mahoney’s 2013 buck

#2: Prepare

Preparation is key to being consistently successful at anything in life. Harvesting mature bucks is not for the faint of heart, and you must prepare as much as possible for the eventual moment of truth. It’s hard to wrap your mind around it, but hours of work months in advance can mean the difference in being successful or not in one short moment. Continual preparation involves many aspects, but often trivial, simplistic tasks can make the difference. Shooting your bow, clearing shooting lanes, planting food plots, adjusting stands, planning stand routes, and checking cameras intelligently all give you better odds of harvesting a mature buck. Thomas Jefferon once said “I’m a great believer in luck. And I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” Hunters who harvest mature bucks are often scorned as lucky or in a “great situation” nobody else has. Maybe, just maybe, they are lucky at times. But I’m willing to bet they make their own luck.

#3: Execute

Success all comes down to you as a hunter and whether you’re able to get it done when the time comes to get out and hunt. Heightened skills of woodsmanship combined with hunting hard at the right times for your hit list bucks are what it takes. Generally, the October 25 through November 10 time frame is the best time to be in the woods when you’re north of the Mason-Dixon Line. The bucks are typically starting to move and begin seeking more during daylight in that time. But, just because it is a good time to hunt doesn’t mean you should sit in a particular location. Wind direction might be bad, blowing into a bedding area or major travel corridor. You may spook deer on the way to the stand. The buck might not be in the area according to your cameras. The point is, you have to hunt hard and hunt smart. You want to hunt because you know the chances of success are stacked in your favor. Pay attention to these aspects, make sure your bow is accurate, and when it is time to let your arrow fly, all that’s left to do is follow the blood trail.


Tyler Mahoney’s 2014 buck

Stay tuned for the next part of the Elite Hunter Series coming out in early 2016! You’ll want to subscribe up at the top right of the page so you don’t miss it!

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