Determining What Buck to Hunt | WhitetailDNA Journal

By Alex Comstock

Over the last week, I've had quite the dilemma. I touched on it a bit with my last blog post, but I wanted to dive into this "issue" a little bit deeper with this journal post. I'm currently in a bit of a rut deciding where to hunt every time I go out and I know I'm not the only one who's ever experienced this issue.


Roughly a week before opener here in North Dakota, I gained permission to hunt on some private land that borders public land I hunted last year. I put up a few trail cameras, and bam, the first buck I get pictures of is an absolute stud. I'd guess him to be anywhere between 175"-185". Not only did I get pictures of him, but also 2 more bucks that would probably score in the 160's. What this did was turn my attention to this certain property (obviously). BUT, all my pictures were coming in the smack dab middle of the night. The pictures I have been getting are on a field edge (private) and nearby is the roughly 300 acres of public hardwoods that I believe the bucks could be bedding in. I'm now tossed between hunting other areas where bucks are younger and not as big, or focusing on this area and going after the really big, mature bucks.

A couple of the bucks moving along the field edge. 

A couple of the bucks moving along the field edge. 


My plan going forward has been to focus on this area where I've gotten the pictures of the multiple mature bucks, but instead of hunting where I've got the pictures, I'm opting to hunt in and around the public. I put up a few trail cameras in areas I would guess these bucks are using, and hung a new set on the private that is down near the public land in hopes of one of the bucks crossing a small field that I would like to be able to plant as a food plot next season.

The first couple sits overlooking the small field have yielded no deer action, but that doesn't mean it still can't be a good spot. Once I check the trail camera in that spot, and in the other areas I hung new cams, HOPEFULLY I will have pictures of the bucks closer to (or even in) daylight and have a better idea of how the bucks use the property.

The small field on the private land I'm hoping one of the bucks will be travelling through.

The small field on the private land I'm hoping one of the bucks will be travelling through.


Even though I have committed to chasing these bucks, it comes with a higher risk/reward. I know that I could be hunting other areas and quite possibly be having success. Just knowing that naturally makes me 2nd guess every decision I make. Should I hunt a different area? What if these bucks are ghosts? Could I have already shot a buck that made me happy? These thoughts are constantly running through my head, but I have to tune them out and go forward with what my gut tells me.


When it comes down to it, you make decisions and have to live with them. Whether that's deer hunting related or not. The best thing you can do when deer hunting is not to 2nd guess every decision you make. Once you make a decision, you can't take it back, so commit to it and work hard with what you're doing. You can only control so much, and hopefully it ends with you at the end of a blood trail.