I was asked recently if I typically enter the deer season targeting a specific buck. It got me thinking about how I approach the season and why I do what I do.

When preparing for hunting season, I do a lot of scouting and habitat work to attract, hold, and grow mature bucks. Then when hunting season rolls around, I tend to target the oldest, most mature bucks in the area, but I have never targeted one specific buck.

Mature bucks only care about three things: food, women and their number one concern, staying alive. This makes it difficult to grow, let alone harvest a specific mature buck.

I begin by identifying individual bucks that are using the property through my trail camera pictures, pre-season scouting, and working with neighbors. I sort through them, separating the mature "shooters" from the "up and comers". Once I have a group of these older age class bucks identified, I then rely on my woodsmenship to harvest them, by hunting properly placed stands, with the correct wind, correct conditions, and not over pressuring the area.

I don't target one buck for three reasons. First, I typically do not control enough acreage to encompass a buck's core range. Second, the high hunting pressure in New York State (about  15 hunters per square mile) influences bucks to depart from their patterns and avoid daylight travel. Third, habitat varies significantly across the New York State landscape, making patterns difficult to intercept.

For me, it isn't about the bone on top of his head. Rather, it's about the bone in his mouth (its teeth) and the biological benefits of harvesting mature bucks.  I target an age class rather than a specific whitetail. I do this for the social structure benefits, herd health, balancing of the age classes, and the challenge of harvesting some of the oldest bucks in the area.

Benjamin Williams
Ol' Tin Cup Habitat Restoration and Enhancement
Phone: (315) 879-7802


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