2017 Journal #2: An Old Buck Three Years in the Making

By Alex Comstock 

Deer hunting is awesome - isn't it? I'm a little more jazzed than usual right now, in large part because I started checking my trail cameras this week. I think for the majority of us, every time we slide an SD card into a computer, part of us is in heaven. 

This past Monday was circled in my calendar. I wanted to wait a month to start checking cameras, and Monday marked that month. The first camera I headed in to check was at one of my favorite properties - "Trips Wide."If you've been following along the past year, you've surely heard a lot about this property. It's where Tyler killed a booner in 2015, and it consistently holds mature bucks. One buck that you haven't heard me talk about though is a buck by the name of "Geezer." But this isn't where his story really starts...

2015

2015 was our first year here in North Dakota, and this property was one of the first ones we started monitoring with trail cams. Right off the bat we had a number of mature bucks on trail camera, but the one that got all of our attention was "Trips Wide", and for good reason. He was a mega giant, and Tyler was lucky enough to send an arrow through him. But there was another buck that didn't get much attention from us given the fact that we were so focused on Trips Wide. He was a really cool looking eight pointer that would have made me think really hard about sending an arrow his way if I ever got a shot at him. I never saw him during the season, and only had a select amount of pictures of him.

 "Geezer" in 2015. Here I estimated him to be somewhere around a 3-4 year old buck. 

"Geezer" in 2015. Here I estimated him to be somewhere around a 3-4 year old buck. 

trail-cam

2016

The following year, I ran a trail camera on the exact same tree as in 2015. The camera was in place more or less the whole season, starting in June. What I find particularly interesting, is that Geezer showed up for a small duration in August, and then I never got another picture of him. It let me know he was still alive, but I didn't know where he was really living, or how much he was actually using the property. By the end of 2016, I didn't learn much about him, and still didn't have a single daylight picture of him. The fact that I had no photos of Geezer after August, I kind of wrote him off. 

 Geezer was really starting to turn into a special buck in 2016. 

Geezer was really starting to turn into a special buck in 2016. 

 This is the photo that led me and Tyler to name him "Geezer". With how his eye looked in this picture, he just looked super old to me. In 2016, I thought he would be a 4-5 year old buck. 

This is the photo that led me and Tyler to name him "Geezer". With how his eye looked in this picture, he just looked super old to me. In 2016, I thought he would be a 4-5 year old buck. 

2017

After writing the buck off, this past Monday happened. I honestly wasn't thinking much about this deer. I only had a select number of pictures of him over the last couple of years, and never one in the daylight. But this year was different. I moved my trail camera about a quarter of a mile closer to an area that I thought a mature buck could use as bedding, and it made all of the difference. Not only did Geezer show back up, but I have photos of him all throughout July and 90% of them are in daylight. 

 This year, I think I have a legitimate shot at killing this buck. 

This year, I think I have a legitimate shot at killing this buck. 

Either one of two things happened based on my knowledge. My first guess is that in years previous, my trail camera simply wasn't in the right spot. By moving it, even if not that far, it made all of the difference in being able to capture photos of Geezer more often, and in daylight. 

My second guess is that as Geezer gets older, his core home range is shrinking, and that core range includes where I'm at. I've seen it in the past, where as a buck gets really old, he sticks to a much smaller home range, and actually might become easier to kill, which is contrary to what you might expect. 

After going through this card, and seeing how many pictures I have of him already this month, I'm going to start planning, and figuring out this bucks habits. I'm going to download every single photo I have of him since 2015 into DeerLab to see if I can come up with a pattern to capitalize on in early September while he is still on his summer pattern. 

 Now being an estimated 6-7 year old, Geezer didn't add much for antler length, but clearly made up for it with a lot of mass. 

Now being an estimated 6-7 year old, Geezer didn't add much for antler length, but clearly made up for it with a lot of mass. 

 I love this picture, as it highlights the buck's impressive frame. 

I love this picture, as it highlights the buck's impressive frame. 

Conclusion

Patterning and learning a buck's behaviors over the course of multiple years is something special. I've been very fortunate to have the opportunity to follow such a unique buck, and hopefully this is the year I can have a run in with him!

Follow along with me as I check my first trail cameras of the year, it was very productive!