While moving in on a gobbling turkey early this week, I had the good fortune of slipping up on another prize; my first antlered buck of the season! Though he only wore velvet-covered knobs 3-4” tall, I honestly think I might know this deer. And here’s why:

For starters, two friends had filmed a nice buck (one they couldn’t shoot) on this point last fall, and I got to watch their footage multiple times. Something about the buck I saw Monday just seemed familiar, and I wondered if it was the same deer. Second, the buck was bedded on a ridge-end I know well. This spot is a perennial bedding area for at least one mature buck every fall. The buck I encountered—despite looking springtime-skinny—was long and large bodied, obviously an older deer. Finally, it’s been my impression that mature deer seem to return to favorite bedding spots year after year, as if the place is familiar, comfortable and safe for them. So I just combined all these factors and came to the conclusion that the buck I saw Monday was the same one my friends saw last October. I hope it is….and I hope someone gets a closer look at him from a tree stand this fall!

I did not, unfortunately, get my gobbler. But I did see my first velvet deer of the year. Which got me to wondering about antler growth in the rest of the country. Are you seeing bucks yet? If so, how is antler growth progressing? Or perhaps it’s too early yet. Some guys I know are still looking for sheds!