The Best Time to Kill a Big Buck
(Originally published in

© By Othmar Vohringer

While it is true that trophy bucks can be taken at any time during the hunting season, there are times during the hunting season that are better than others. A look into the trophy record books shows that most mature bucks are taken in the late winter. And for good a reason.

Consider this. In the early season the vegetation is thick, plenty of cover that makes it hard to see a deer. Food is plentiful and everywhere available to the deer. Most hunters generally agree that the early season is the toughest time to take a buck, or any deer for that matter, simply because they are hard to pattern.

During the rut a buck travels non-stop in search of hot does. Bucks do not eat during the breeding season, in fact they will loose as much as 25% to 30% of their body weight. A smart hunter will stay with the doe's and set up a treestand in the thick stuff downwind from doe feeding and bedding areas. Other hunters will sit over a scrape for days on end, like a brooding hen over eggs. But all this will not ensure that a buck can be killed, simply because - and here it comes again - it is though to pattern a buck that could be here today and gone tomorrow. In the tireless search for hot does bucks do not have a predictable travel pattern, they could turn up anywhere any time.

Now comes the winter, food is scares, in many places there will be a lot of snow on the ground and it is cold, very cold. The rut has slowed down to almost nothing and the buck's priorities change again. Now his only concern is to eat as much as he can in order to gain his weight back and make it trough the winter. Eat and sleep that is all a buck does in the winter. Very often bucks will bed close to the available food source to conserve energy. In other words the bucks become now very predictable, their once huge territory has shrunk to a few hundred yards. This is the reason why I depend on the late season if I am after a monster buck. Because it is now much easier to pattern a buck, another plus to the late season is that most hunters never leave the house again after the rut is over and so I have the woods all to myself. Even the deer are aware of this fact and are nowhere near as spooky in the late season. Nocturnal bucks move now during daytime again too.

In the southern regions of North America it may not be so important for a buck to find food and quickly gain back lost weight as the climate generally is milder and food is available in decent quality and quantity for much longer. But in the northern parts where the snow lays in thick layers for many months this may be the best time to kill a big monster buck.

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