Say what you will about other television show hunters, but leave the Drury brothers out of it. Each year Mark and Terry work hard to manage and kill world-class bucks and this season Mark was back at it early.
On Oct. 5, Mark arrowed this 5 1/2-year-old, 176 7/8-inch buck at only five yards. He had captured trail camera photos of the buck on his Iowa property last year. During the 2012 season he spotted the buck three times and got photos of him during daylight hours near a thick, 15-acre willow ditch he nicknamed the “Buck Hotel.” The bedding area cut into a bottom field that was usually planted with corn or beans. But the field flooded several times this spring so it couldn’t be planted with traditional crops. The field grew over with weeds and the willow ditch sprawled to 60 acres.
Mark studied maps of the property and came up with a plan to grow a radish food plot in the middle of the weedy bottom field. He mowed down weeds and planted a plot 80 yards long by 100 yards wide. The food plot was specifically designed to draw in this 5 1/2-year-old buck.
“I didn’t know for sure if he made it or not because we got hit so hard with EHD this year,” Mark said.
But Mark put cameras out July 20 and got photos of the buck by July 22. By August he was still getting trail camera photos of the deer during daylight hours, and when the season started he knew the odds were in his favor. Mark sat on a high hill for two nights and glassed the food plot from a distance. Each night he spotted the deer during legal shooting light. He waited for three days until the wind was perfect and then he killed the buck on his first evening sit at the food plot.
LESSONS TO BE LEARNED
1) Daylight photos mean you’re close.
“It’s one thing to get pictures of a deer at night, but when you get one during the day, you know you’re close to his bed,” Mark said. “In the early season they don’t walk very fast and they don’t walk very far.”
2) Scout now … for next year.
Mark was able to kill this buck because he started patterning him a year before. While you hunt traditional spots this fall, you should also be setting up trail cameras in locations that you think could hold a big buck. “I will concentrate on hunting historically good spots and pre-scout areas that I have a hunch about. I might go in with three or four cameras and let them run all fall and then check them at the end of the season,” Mark said. “Then I’ll closely study those photos in the winter and formulate a plan for next season.”
3) Kill plots shouldn’t be too small.
“I use to make these plots quite small so that if a deer walked in they’d be within bow range, but that’s too tight. What I’ve learned is that instinctively deer go to the center of the plot every dang time. So you don’t need to be able to shoot all the way across it. You need to be able to shoot about half way across it. Make the plot big enough so they’ve got room to browse away from each other.”
4) Check cameras with caution.**
Mark checked his camera once a month because he didn’t want to disperse scent into the area and bust deer. “I put it out July 20th and I checked it twice. And, I waited for the right wind to check it. I snuck in midday like I was hunting, switched the cards, and boom I was out of there. On more thing about cameras is you have to be smart about where you’re putting them. If you go into the bedroom and blow deer out every time you check cameras, then you’re defeating the purpose,” he said.