By Alex Comstock
For the deer hunter that pursues mature bucks, your opportunities are few are far between. Think about how many times a season you lay eyes on a mature buck, but even better yet, how many of those chances actually are within bow range? And of those chances, how many give you the ability to actually draw your bow back? And finally, of those encounters, how many times do you actually release an arrow? Yeah not often.
Hunting mature bucks is no easy task. If you really take the time to think, it's quite rare for everything to fall in place. But when it comes down to it, that's a large reason we hunt mature bucks, at least it is for me. So let's dive a little deeper to understand why these opportunities are so rare, how to make the most of them, and why it keeps us going to back to the stand again and again.
Don't Let Trail Cameras Fool You: The first thing that I wanted to dive into when it comes to this topic is I believe that trail cameras can fool you. There is a big difference between getting trail cameras photos of a mature buck, and getting him within bow range. This is a whole separate topic that I'll dive deeper into another day, but it's worth mentioning. For instance, if you've been following along recently, you might know that I'm hunting a buck I call Kobe. Over the course of the last two seasons, I've got over a thousand pictures of him. That's pretty remarkable. In that same time frame, I've had three encounters with him. And of those three, only one has been in bow range. You might say I'm just not a good hunter, but I'd argue that he's a lot smarter than me.
I don't think I'm alone in this situation. It's not just that Kobe is a smart buck, it's that he's mature, and mature bucks don't get to that age on accident. But just because your getting trail camera pictures of a mature buck, doesn't automatically mean your bound to have an encounter with him.
Making the Most of Your Chances: I'd say on average, going into a season, I know that I will have minimal chances to pull back my bow and settle the pins on a mature buck. Between hunting three states, there will be maybe three or four opportunities, if I'm lucky. Given the number of hours spent scouting in the spring, all of the work in the summer, and all of the time spent on stand, there's a lot of work that goes into only having a few chances to make it happen. It's vital to make the most of each and every chance you have. One thing that I try and do every time in in the stand is envision a mature buck walking by, and try to play each and every scenario possible in my head. I want to be as ready as possible when the moment of truth finally presents itself. The worst feeling in the world when it comes to deer hunting is when you've got a mature buck within bow range, and let it slip through your fingers.
The Rareness is What Drives Us: For those of us that chase mature bucks, there are a multitude of reasons why we hunt them. Among them is we crave those encounters. We crave that feeling and adrenaline rush when a mature buck is headed our direction. The fact that it only happens every so often is what makes us go back for more. Think how many times you might say "you never know what will happen", or "tonight might just be the night". If we went out and hunted, and saw a mature buck every sit, I've got a feeling hunting them wouldn't be as enticing to so many people. The feeling that encompasses you when it ultimately comes together is unparalleled to anything else. You know how difficult it is to put all of the pieces together to have the opportunity to send an arrow at a mature buck. And that is why we cherish those moments so much.
Conclusion: At the end of the day, mature buck encounters are unlike anything else. I don't even know that I've got the right words to explain those moments. But what I do know is that I long for those moments, and I'm going to guess you do to.