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Question for those that kill mature bucks

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How often do you see a mature buck when hunting is it every sit, most sits, infrequently except for the rut? I’m curious I’ve killed a few good bucks 3.5 + yrs old but don’t see mature deer consistently. Am I not hunting the right spots or is seeing a mature buck once or twice a season about right?

 

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That’s an unanswerable question. It depends on where you’re hunting. By me in West Milford I’m lucky if I see a spike that day, but I hunt for and have killed my fair mature 8, 9, and 11s (still no 10s) that were 160lbs+. I also hunt 1 spot where I know with 99% asurrity that I’m going to see deer every day, pass on bucks, and likely see a stud at some point. Spots like that however are where deer don’t fear humans so it’s essentially not purely hunting anymore. Each region has his “MO” with frequency of sightings and whether you did something right or lucked into killing a brute often depends on that area. Even the definition of “brute” is regional. My dinky 7 I shot upstate by Lake Placid this year was maybe 90 inches but weighed 158lbs dressed. The 138” 11pt I got in jersey was 130lb dressed. To me the brute is the fat one.

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14 minutes ago, Live to Hunt said:

Location Location Location

In the right location you might see mature bucks every sit. In the wrong location you may  never see a mature buck. Before trail cameras I wasted a lot of time hunting ghost bucks that I “IMAGINED”  lived in my hunting areas based upon sign that I interpreted as being big buck sign,  the trail cameras proved to me otherwise. I can tell you this, you won’t be seeing many mature bucks anywhere in NJ. If you hunt the Midwest, you may see multiple mature bucks every sit while waiting for one particular target buck. Once a hunter becomes more selective, he will without a doubt begin seeing more mature bucks. During the rut if the big boys are not locked up with a hot doe, count on them being on there feet between 10 and 2.  It’s truly one of the best times of day to be in the stand for a mature whitetail. 

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Depends where your hunting. I have private property that I may see a mature buck every sit. I have public that I may see a mature buck once a season, as of late a few a season, I’ve been getting lucky lol. I personally consider a mature buck to be 3.5. Some of my buddies that I learn from consider 4.5 + mature. 

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6 hours ago, Herd Buck said:

How often do you see a mature buck when hunting is it every sit, most sits, infrequently except for the rut? I’m curious I’ve killed a few good bucks 3.5 + yrs old but don’t see mature deer consistently. Am I not hunting the right spots or is seeing a mature buck once or twice a season about right?

 

How often most see a mature buck in NJ is very low. In the Mid west is a lot high for sure due to management programs out there. The average buck shot in NJ is only 1.5 year old :shakehead:. So it is hard to have many here if they don't have a chance to live. Any buck that makes it to 3.5 and older I consider mature here. But I have past past 3.5 year old's in hopes to give them a chance to make it to the magic 4.5 (typically make a greater jump in growth). I have taken mature bucks off both public and private land. Most have been 4.5 but have a couple 5.5 and one 6.5 year old. I send the teeth out to Deerage.com. 

  By the sounds of what you have taken you are doing very well. For most part if you can see mature bucks from 2-5 times a year here that's doing great. That's all I hope to see a year. Just have to make good on the times you do see one. Every time one is seen there is a good chance that something could go wrong and make him a little smarter. Mature bucks in Jersey don't get the age with out being stupid to many times 

 

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6 hours ago, Live to Hunt said:

Location Location Location

Those are the 3 most important ingredients for seeing and killing mature bucks.  If I had to add a fourth it would be location.    

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P.S.  To clarify "location", it's not a particular spot in your woods.  It's being in an area / property that has a good number of older deer running around.  

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Hunting in Nj its getting very difficult to find a matue deer. 

The long seasons ,bag limits, farmer permits, neighbors, especially the ones shooting shed heads, a deer has to survive 3 to 4 seasons. If you think about it, a Nj deer spends half its life on the run. 

Its difficult with Nj being more smaller parcels means more hunters. 

For a buck to mature, he needs some type of sanctuary to survive so if you dont have some type of sanctuary around or hunt around big tracts of land with selective hunters you are going to spend a lot of time in the stand chasing a dream. 

Location is key. 

I have 2 properties as most of you guys know. Both are totally different. 

My Nj piece, I keep low pressure, it gets hunted less than 5 times a year. The rest of the the year is watching and waiting. 

When I do get in the tree, its usually after I patterened a particular buck and I expect to see him on my first or second sit within range of killing him. If he busts you in anyway, it gets very difficult to get back on him on the same small property. 

It depends on your personal hunting habits and pressure that you put on your property. 

So , if Im hunting Nj, I pretty much expect to see the mature buck Im after on almost every sit until he busts me or I kill him which is a very short window of usually afternoon only sits. 

In Illinois, the properties are much larger, the deer roam greater distances. I hunt mainly November with the bow and gun. I used to hunt early October but found I did more damage then good. 

My stands are set on pounded down travel routes and rarely do I get a second chance at a paticular buck, mainly because I cant devote a lot of time out there. 

I usually can see at least 1 to 3 different mature bucks per trip. 

My gun stand set up is in a awesome natural funnel, in the 3 days of shotgun hunting dark to dark, I expect to see at least 1 mature buck per day and kill one by sun down on the third day. 

I hunted 8 1/2 days in Illinois this year. I killed one buck with the gun. I saw 3 mature bucks together on one sit late season with the bow on my food plots. 

I sat Nj this year, 3 afternoon bow sits, one all day gun sit and one morning gun sit resulting in killing the 2 bucks I was after and I hit another a little far back that I ended up recovering a few days later. 

Even with the best location for a mature buck, if you hunt sloppy, wrong time, wrong wind, hauling corn , checking cams, leaving scent all over the place or shooting other deer than the target dont expect to see mature bucks walking into your set up

Edited by tcook8296
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7 hours ago, JerseyJaysTaxidermy said:

The people shooting mature bucks consistantly have 2 key components:
1: a location that mature bucks utilize
2: time off of work to hunt when conditions are right

You cant kill what isnt there.

http://www.jerseyjaystaxidermy.com
 

you have the last two correct, there is one above that IMO.

The will power to have patience and only shoot the right buck..

you cant kill whats there by being impatient.

 

 

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I hunted 63 times this season and I saw 4 mature bucks. (by mature they were in my estimate at least 4.5). I killed non so maybe I should not even respond to this thread.:shock:
 

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IMO too many guys believe the RUT is the best time to kill a big deer.

Its NOT foolproof. more likely its a good time to shoot a transient buck that's up on his feet, not a local buck 

Many times a big buck is in your area all fall to only disappear for weeks, showing back up 3/4 weeks later .

And IMO that happens more than we would like.

I have 2 farms that are about 3 miles apart.

almost every season the better bucks on farm A disappear the last week of October.

you could hunt that farm every day of the rut and you will not ever get a chance at those bucks.

Many of them over the many years I have hunted there end up rutting on Farm B.

If I didn't have access to both of those spots, I would not have known what happened, and could waste a good three weeks chasing a ghost.

 

IMO your best chance at a mature deer is in Sseptember still on his summer schedule , and then late season when they are back on feed trying to recover from the rut.

I wont hunt a deer until the conditions are perfect, as I want to shoot that deer the FIRST time I sit for him.

IMO your likleyhood of shooting that deer go down every sit after that

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15 minutes ago, hammer4reel said:

you have the last two correct, there is one above that IMO.

The will power to have patience and only shoot the right buck..

you cant kill whats there by being impatient.

So true.  Our son and daughter both killed nice 5 year old bucks over the past 2 seasons.  They both passed up nice 3 year old bucks in the process.  If they had taken the 3 year old bucks they never would have taken the older bucks.  

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If anyone tells you they see mature bucks consistently they are hunting very private land where the deer are not affected by human traffic from closely adjoining properties. I hunt a large private piece that is against a park and do see mature bucks on a fairly regular basis, but I hunt the property on average of 3 days a week and never two days in a row and rarely on the weekends when walkers are most likely to be in the park. I do some light baiting but never use a feeder where I see mature bucks.  They are much smarter than most give them credit for right up to the RUT when the need mating makes them almost as stupid as humans when they think they might get some. :-)

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