Can Mature Bucks Pattern Hunters Just As We Can Pattern Them?

By Alex Comstock 

Have you ever hunted a buck that seemed to be everywhere all of the time, but you just couldn't catch up to him? Last year I hunted a buck I had called Kobe, and had thousands upon thousands of trail camera photos, not to mention encounters as well, but I could never get him in bow range, even though I thought I had him pattered to a T. It raised a question that I wanted to address in this blog post today. Can mature bucks pattern us just as we can pattern them? Below are my thoughts. 

Mature Bucks are Mature for a Reason: My first thought on this topic is that mature bucks have gotten to their age because they are smart. It could be argued that at any given moment they could be the smartest animal in your woods. This isn't groundbreaking news by any means, but if you take the time to really think about it, it can be pretty fascinating to think about what a mature buck has survived. This is even more intensified if you're talking about a highly pressured area. When you are hunting a mature buck, you are in his home. You are walking the ground he knows in and out, and any little change with that can raise red flags immediately. Even if you think you have a buck pattered perfectly, you absolutely can't be overconfident, because a mature buck in my opinion can pattern you. If you don't take every precaution possible, and end up getting overconfident with a "patterned" buck, you could get schooled. Next, I'm going to go into my personal example of why I think a buck can pattern you. 

Kobe: Like I mentioned earlier, the last couple of years I hunted a buck that I had called Kobe. He was a giant typical ten pointer and going into the 2017 season, I had an idea of where he was bedding, and I thought if I could confirm that, he would be mine. I ended up getting thousands of photos of him, thought I knew where he was bedding, had tons of photos of him in his primary feeding area at night, and all along last season, I always thought I would end up harvesting him. 

 My first photo of Kobe last summer which helped confirmed his bedding area.

My first photo of Kobe last summer which helped confirmed his bedding area.

This is where I learned a tough lesson. I have talked and written a lot of words that revolve around hunting Kobe, but one thing I haven't really talked about is how I actually think Kobe had me pegged just as I did him. I hunted him hard in September and early October. He would show up in daylight when I wasn't there, but wouldn't show up when I was there. Looking back, I think I made mistakes on where I parked, and my entrance/exit route was sub-par. What really has made me think that Kobe knew I was hunting him was that I ended up moving back to my home state of Minnesota in mid-October. When I came back to North Dakota in November, Kobe had been on trail camera, showing up all over in daylight, starting right when I left. 

This pretty much confirmed my overall thought - somehow Kobe knew I was after him. I just knew it. For all I know, he had me pegged as to when I was hunting and when I wasn't. This is a lesson that you should take with you as well. My problem is that I was overconfident and didn't weigh these thoughts while I was hunting him. Just because you have a buck patterned, or so you think, if things aren't working out, evaluate your situation, and know that you may have to get creative or change things up with how you are hunting him. 

Conclusion: Just like pretty much anything with deer hunting, each situation is unique. But overall, I firmly believe mature bucks have the ability to pattern hunters, just as we have the ability to pattern them. The more creative you get, and less repetitive that you are, the better your chances will be at avoiding this.