Troy Pottenger is a teacher in Post Falls, Idaho, a Whitetail Addictions TV pro staffer, and the best whitetail hunter I’ve tracked down in the West. All summer he patterned this velvet-antlered Idaho buck, nicknamed “Blades” after his unique eyeguards. Blades is one of several bucks I’ll likely feature this fall from Pottenger and his 11-year-old son, Tyson, who films and hunts with his dad. I rely on Troy’s observations for my reports, and I live vicariously through him when he’s in the field and I’m tied to a keyboard and my phone.

Pottenger anchored the buck last week at 18 yards from a high bluff, 150 yards from the buck’s bed exit on a public-land mountaintop in North Idaho. The big buck ran 70 yards and died, five seconds after arrow impact.

“We have three years of history chasing that buck, and we had him patterned all summer from bed to feed. By design, the conditions were perfect for me and lethal for him: a crosswind for the buck and a wind edge for me. The buck moved from a mountaintop bedding area to a clearcut reliably, and we took advantage. He has 9 and 11-inch eyeguards, heavy mass, long beams, and a tight spread.”

Archers around the West are still braving warm temperatures during early seasons in pursuit of deer still wedded to summer bedding and feeding patterns.