By Alex Comstock
Right now, there's one deer on my mind. If you've been following along here over the last year, you've probably come to know of a buck I call Kobe. If you don't know what buck I'm referencing, he's a buck I've been hunting since September of last year. I had three encounters with him last season, and came so close to sending an arrow through him. He survived the gun season and winter, and I've now found him back this year. He's put on probably somewhere in the realm of twenty inches from last year, and he's the buck I want to harvest this season more than any other. Here's my plan on how to make that happen.
Trail Cam Data
Going into the summer, I had a very strategic trail camera plan with this deer. Based on information I learned last season, I was able to hypothesize where I thought him to be bedding. I slipped in to this area in mid-July to hang a few trail cameras, and my plan was to sneak in and check them a month later to see if Kobe was indeed back, and using the area.
At the end of the first week of August, I was walking out of work one day, and it was absolutely pouring rain. It had only been three weeks since I put up the trail cameras, but I thought this would be the perfect day to go in and check those cameras undetected, given the sensitivity of the area they were in. I had three cameras in about a thirty acre area, and knew it would be risky to step foot in here, so it just made since to do it when I could be silent and have my scent washed away. My plan was simple; if Kobe was on any of the cameras in daylight, I wouldn't come back until I was hunting. If he wasn't on camera, I would put up more in the surrounding area to try and find him. After going in, and pulling the cards, I wasn't disappointed. Kobe was back, and he was on each camera in daylight!
Playing It safe
After the card pull, my biggest question had been answered. Not only was Kobe back, but I think I pinpointed one of his general bedding areas. In my mind, there was no reason to return to check cameras again. I now know where he is at least bedding sometimes, and I've got stands up and ready to go in the area. The next time I go in will be with the absolute perfect conditions, and I'll be climbing into a treestand.
Utilizing Last year's data
One thing that I have going in my favor is not only the fact that I got trail pictures of him all throughout last fall, but I also had three encounters with him. I've got data that I can use to better understand how he moves not only in the summer, but throughout the rest of the year. About the only big question I have with this buck is where he winters. What I'm currently doing is putting all of my trail camera pictures from last year and this summer into DeerLab, which is a photo management software that helps me figure out some type of pattern of when he moves, and what the conditions are when he moves in a certain area or during daylight. Combining last year's information with what I have so far this summer should provide useful in my attempt to harvest this buck.
Connecting the dots
The last thing that I did to help connect the dots on how this buck moves was to put up another trail camera. Except this one, I put up on a field edge away from Kobe's bedding area, where I can drive right up to the camera to check it. I'm not worried about messing anything up where this camera is, as the farmer is always driving around to check his field and what not. I didn't expect to get any daylight pictures of Kobe on this camera, as it's quite a ways from his bedding area, but I was curious if he was using this particular corner of a bean field at night.
This past weekend, I checked that camera, and to my delight, Kobe was on it almost every single night. Even though every single picture of him was snapped between 10:00pm and 12:00am, it gives me another piece of data to use. I can look at maps and start plotting courses I think he may be taking to go from his bed to the bean field. Long story short, the more information I have about this buck, the better I feel about my chances of taking this buck down.
My plan with hunting this buck is a little nerve racking. Last year, Kobe was nocturnal all of October, and didn't move much until the rut. Given the fact I'm a little nervous for him to get shot during rifle season, I want to make my move early when I think I can strike while he's still on his summer pattern, moving during daylight near his bedding area.
Right now, I've got two stands up near where I think he's bedding, and I'm prepared to hang and hunt as well. As soon as season opens on Friday, I'm going in after him. As of right now, I'll be playing it more safe on Friday, but Saturday through Tuesday a NW wind is pushing through, and temps will be dropping around twenty degrees. As soon as the NW wind hits, I'll be sneaking into one of the bedding area stands and will have my fingers crossed...