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  • November 30, 2007

    BuckTracker: A Five-Star Night on Forty Acres

    By Scott Bestul

    Carl Lipke apologizes for not getting a better photo of the buck he killed last month (below). But Carl—a devout Iowa bowhunter who’s studying for his Master of Divinity degree—had a story that trumps even the best picture, so I couldn’t resist sharing it with my BuckTracker friends.


    “I hunt my father-in-law’s farm in eastern Iowa,” Carl says. “He only owns 40 acres, 25 of which are wooded, but it sits in the middle of a giant ridge system. There’s a secluded little field in there, and during the rut there are just a lot of deer moving through that little chunk of land. I’ve had some great bowhunts there and just treasure the place. 

  • November 28, 2007

    BuckTracker: Big Things on Small Parcels

    By Scott Bestul

    Think you need a sprawling spread to tag a world-class whitetail? Dave Emken doesn’t. The Illinois taxidermist and whitetail fanatic shot the buck below—a main-frame 8-point with enough junk to push it over the 200-inch mark—on a 94-acre farm near his home. “I just bought the farm last winter,” Dave says. “I spent the late winter and early spring walking it, hanging stands and figuring out how I was going to hunt it come fall. And then I stayed out of there until late October.”


    Emken knew this goliath was living on his parcel. “My son had seen him in each of the last two seasons, and so had a couple of other guys,” he notes. “But I couldn’t lay eyes on him for anything. But I had scored his sheds and knew he was a monster. Finally, on an evening sit in late October, I watched him head to a corn field. He cut my boot tracks on the way, and I could just see him thinking ‘Oh man, I shouldn’t be out here.’ So he followed his own trail back into the timber.”

    On the morning of November 3, Dave watched the buck chase a hot doe into a corn field. “I never thought I would get a shot,” he notes. “They were just out there for about a half-hour and too far to shoot. Finally, a group of five does came by, chased by a young buck. They came right by my stand, and eventually the doe came in off the cornfield. The big buck followed her, and eventually he worked in close enough for a 15-yard shot. I got a great hit and watched him go down.”

    This tremendous Midwest giant was 7-1/2 years old and field-dressed 255 pounds. “I’ve been lucky enough to kill some great deer in this area,” Dave says. “But nothing like this. I love to hunt funnels and put in my time during the rut. This buck proves that it just pays to be out there, putting in your time!” Amen to that…and hearty congrats to a devoted bowhunter!

    Buck Tracker Stats
    Date: November 3, 2007
    Location: Knox County, Illinois
    Weight: 255 lbs, field-dressed
    Points: 17
    Green Score: 209” B&C (gross)
    Weapon: Hoyt bow
    Shot Distance: 15 yards
    Method: Tree stand

  • November 27, 2007

    BuckTracker: A Boy's First Deer

    By Scott Bestul

    OK, folks. Let's take a break from monster antlers and refocus on what's really important about deer hunting: That first buck--or doe--that got you started. Mine fell 35 years ago and it plays in my head like a live tape. And with two kids only four years away from getting their first chance, I hope I get to relive another huge First Deer experience when my twins take up hunting.

    This story comes to us from F&S Executive Editor Mike Toth:

    This may not be a trophy in terms of points and mass and inches, but to me it’s the absolute best whitetail buck of the year.


    This is my son’s very first deer, a three-pointer that he got on November 17, New Jersey’s Youth Firearms Deer Day. The state created this one-day season to get more kids interested in hunting by giving them a crack at a deer before any other firearms hunters hit the woods. That means you can scout, pattern, and hunt whitetails with your son or daughter before heavy hunting pressure disrupts feeding and travel routines. But like any deer hunt, you have to do your homework, and Joe did.

  • November 27, 2007

    News: Whitetail Buck Vs. Doberman Pincer

    By Scott Bestul

    It was no contest.


    From The Lantern:

    Georgina Dodge, associate vice provost for Ohio State's Office of Minority Affairs, and her Doberman, Barnum, enjoyed their walks together until Barnum was seriously injured by a deer on the morning of Nov. 1.

    "He came bouncing out of the trees and his intestines were hanging out of a hole in his side," Dodge said. "It was amazing that he was still walking."

    Other News
    Whitetail Hit and Run

    Be Careful Out There
    3 Fatal Accidents in Ohio
    Tree-Stand Fall Kills Indiana Deer Hunter
    Hunter Mistakes Grandson For Deer

  • November 26, 2007

    A Deer Scouting Holiday

    By Bill Heavey

    A recent school holiday too warm for deer movement, which meant that I had Emma until noon, when she was due to go over to her mother’s.

    My daughter would have been happy as a cockroach stuck inside a Twinkie to watch videos all day. Sometimes, however, a parent’s duty is to provoke the storm to get to the sunshine on the other side. When I turned off the TV, the hysteria called to mind Britney Spears being cut off at a bar. “I don’t wanna go to the woods!” she wailed. “It’s boring!” I nodded, then gave her a choice: She could put on her clothes herself or I would put them on her. Well, her socks hurt her feet, and her shoes hurt her feet, and her pants had a seam in the wrong place that might have been drawing blood by the howls she emitted. When she ran out of clothes, she switched to general health, claiming she was sick and that her “hair hurt.” By the time I bundled her into the car, her face was splotchy with a 7-year-old’s rage.

    The good thing about my daughter is that her anger often subsides as quickly as it arrives. Driving along, we were soon tallying the reddest fall maple foliage in the history of the world. A small hawk buzzed us as we exited the car to look for deer sign in a nearby park. “Whoa!” Emma breathed. “Awesome!” Thirty yards into the brush, Emma exclaimed “Daddy, poop!” over a pile of fresh droppings. Suddenly she was on board. “Let me go first,” she said, whacking a way through the prickers with her stick. Being the same size as a deer, she was soon leaving me in her leave duff as she rocketed down deer tunnels.

    Before long, she had found prints, rubs, and a couple of fresh scrapes. She insisted on leading the entire time, except when she ran out of gas 200 yards from the car. I put her on my shoulders and told her she’d done great. “Does this mean I can have the M&Ms in your office drawer?” she asked.

    “How’d you know about those?” I asked.

    “I don’t know,” she said distractedly. “Can I?”

    “You can have some of them,” I said.

    We drove home singing a geography song she’s learning in school.

    You may be wondering: Does taking a day in season to go scouting with your daughter in a park where weapons are prohibited count as “hunting”?

    The answer is “Yes.” It also counts as something far more important.

  • November 20, 2007

    BuckTracker: For Which We Give Thanks

    By Scott Bestul

    Today’s BuckTracker profile is special to me on a couple of levels. Like most of my entries, it features a great big deer. But this hunting tale also features a close friend of mine who is facing one of the toughest trials of his life. Bob Briggs is my former dentist (now retired), who also owns a gorgeous farm near my home in southeastern Minnesota. Bob has allowed me to bow hunt his place for several years, and wandering this wildlife paradise is a privilege I hold dear. And I have plenty of company; Bob lets several of his close friends hunt there, and his generosity is appreciated by us all.

    Late this summer, Bob was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The prognosis was not good, but Bob was one of the lucky few with this particular form of cancer that could at least be treated. He was operated on shortly after diagnosis, and spent several weeks recovering. Bob missed the entire archery season, but rebounded in time for Minnesota’s first gun season.


    Five days into the hunt, he scored on this incredible whitetail, a 165-inch monster that he shot with his muzzleloader. It is his largest buck ever, and he shot it from a ladder stand that we placed together this summer. The stand was also near a waterhole my hunting partner and I dug for our friend.

    You’ll note the greenery in the buck’s mouth. This was placed there by Bob’s friends from Germany, who annually hunt with him in Minnesota. The European tradition of placing greenery in the mouths of the game they kill is one the entire group observes as they trade hunts in their respective countries each year.

    Shortly after I write this, Bob and his wife Sue are leaving for Seattle, where he will undergo nine weeks of highly aggressive chemo-therapy, followed by a series of radiation treatments. As so many of us know, cancer is not a disease that respects the good, the kind, or even those who lead a healthy lifestyle, and my friend is an example of that. I know no one I’m prouder to call my friend, and I hope all Buck Tracker readers will join me in wishing Bob the best of luck in the weeks ahead.

    BuckTracker Stats:
    Date: November 8, 2007
    Location: Winona County, Minnesota
    Weight: 220 lbs, field dressed
    Points: 10
    Green Score: 165-1/4” B&C
    Weapon: Muzzleloader
    Shot Distance: 25 yards
    Method: Ladder stand

  • November 19, 2007

    Bill Heavey's Deer Diary: Success in the Upper Peninsula

    By Bill Heavey

    Two months into the season, hunting more days than I care to divulge, I finally have a buck on the ground. He came in about 8:30 a.m. to some doe urine and the small amount of bait Michigan allows hunters to use. When I saw him he was already staring at the little pop-up blind I was sitting in. But I froze, tried to ignore my pounding heart, waited him out, and fi nally got my rifle up when he passed behind a big hemlock. He stopped quartering away at 50 yards, and I double-lunged him. He was big and buff, with brow tines that carried a film of sticky alder bark and sap.

    1e7w5314Yes, it was over bait. Yes, the blind had been placed there for some time. Yes, as the guest of some guys with a big lease in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, all I had to do was sit there and pull the trigger.

    And yet, I cannot deny that  it feels awfully good finally to have my tag on a buck.

    Don't be deceived by Colby Lysne's photo. The guy shoots with antler-shrinking lenses. He's huge.

  • November 16, 2007

    Whitetails In The News

    By Scott Bestul

    Neither Rain, Nor Sleet . . . Nor Deer Season
    Opening day of deer season didn’t shut down [Michigan’s] state government, but caused some mail to state agencies to be late today.

    That’s because someone at the main Lansing U.S. post office set aside several hundred pieces of mail with a note saying the state was closed for the deer holiday, and the bundle couldn’t be delivered.
    There is [of course] no state holiday for deer season . . . .

    Buck Can’t Bear Pittsburgh Zoo
    A buck put up a gallant fight against polar bears Friday at Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.
    It wasn't enough, however.

    The young deer, weighing about 100 to 125 pounds, jumped into the polar bear exhibit's pool, where bears Koda Rogers and Nuka McFeely, weighing about 650 pounds each, were playing. . . .

    "It really wasn't the brightest deer," [zoo President Barbara] Baker said.

    Other News:
    Missouri Man Bags 9-Point Doe
    Buck Gets Too Friendly With Springer Spaniel

  • November 15, 2007

    Please Buy This Book

    By Bill Heavey

    HeaveyChristmas, the season of obligation, will shortly be upon us. This year, give the people you love If You Didn’t Bring Jerky, What Did I Just Eat? (Atlantic Monthly Press), a best-of collection of stories by me, Bill Heavey, probably the baldest man ever to write for Field & Stream. My range is astounding, from fishing all the way to hunting. Plus I offer foolproof strategies for calling in sick to work. As a semi-gainfully-employed writer spending way too much money on scent-reducing soaps, sprays, and lotions, I’m begging you to buy a few copies. $23; available wherever books are sold/ -- Bill Heavey

  • November 15, 2007

    BuckTracker: This is How You Do It

    By Scott Bestul

    It’s mid-November, the rut is on, and great photos keep finding their way to my computer. I can’t imagine the pictures we’ll get to see in the weeks to come, since the firearms season has yet to open in many top whitetail states. Stay tuned!

    Every year I think the number of great bucks being shot will level off, but each fall it seems more record-class whitetails are tagged than the year before. So here’s a poser for you Buck Tracker folk: What’s causing this amazing run? Are more folks practicing the QDM principle of letting small bucks walk? Have habitat and nutrition improved markedly over the past? Are hunters simply shooting more deer now, thus elevating the statistical probability of B&C and P&Y candidates? Or has it always been this way, but modern technology (email, blogs, magazines, etc.) just has helped us find out about bucks that would have previously gone unnoticed? I’m interested to hear your thoughts!

    Today’s great buck comes to us from Tim Walmsley, a whitetail expert who enjoys hunting with his wife on their property in west-central Illinois. The buck below is a trophy that Tim had seen on two other occasions before the deer offered him a shot. Here’s his story. “I hunt my farm 100 days a year, so I know most of the bucks on it,” Tim says. “But I rarely go into the timber in October, I just hunt the edges of fields because I don’t want to let bucks know they’re being hunted. And I hardly ever hunt mornings until I know the bucks are starting to run. On an evening hunt I’d watched this buck badger all the does in a field, so I knew the time was right to get deeper in the woods. On November 5th, the winds were blowing really hard and, in my experience, this is one of the best times to hunt rutting bucks. I think they’re more active in a high wind because they can smell does better and because they feel safer then. Anyway, I got into the timber that windy day and sure enough, this buck showed up, tailing a doe. They bedded down by me for a long time, and then left before I could get a shot.”


    Three days later, Tim went to the same area and sat a stand near a wheat field. “It was an amazing night, because almost every buck I knew on that part of the farm was on that field,” he says. “Then a 4-1/2 year old buck came in tailing a doe that was in estrous. A few minutes later, this buck—a 5-1/2 year old that would never have tolerated the younger buck—showed up. I was able to grunt him in and get the shot. It was just lucky timing; if he’d showed up just a few minutes earlier, he’d have taken that doe and I probably wouldn’t have had a chance.”

    Not only is this a great buck, but a good story, full of practical advice on how to approach the pre-rut and rut time periods. Congratulations, Tim!

    Buck Tracker Stats
    Date: Nov 8, 2007
    Location: Adams Co. Illinois
    Weight: 220 lbs field dressed
    Points: 10
    Green Score: 162 gross
    Weapon: Bow
    Shot Distance: 25 yards
    Method: Tree stand

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