Do you want to kill a trophy whitetail? If you have a hankering for a trophy buck, read on to see if you pass the test and have what it takes to shoot the biggest buck of your life.
Make a commitment—Becoming a true trophy whitetail hunter means sacrifices on every level including financial, career and family. Unless you are independently wealthy and own your own large property in the heart of trophy-whitetail country, shooting a trophy is going to require your absence and a cash source for travel, equipment, outfitter or lease fees.
Cash—It’s unfortunate, but money does come into play. Since the majority of hunters don’t own their own property you’ll have consider purchasing a trophy-producing property, leasing a property, paying for an outfitter or if you do have luck, contacting a generous landowner who will allow access without payment. In the best trophy country expect to write a check.
Research—To shoot a trophy you have to hunt where trophies live. It’s common knowledge that states like Illinois, Iowa and Kansas are producing trophies along with the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, but these are big states and provinces. To pinpoint the exact areas procure the services of the top trophy recognition organizations, Boone & Crockett, and Pope & Young.
Train to be the best hunter—To shoot a trophy whitetail you have to be able to easily access the field and in many cases, clamor up a tree to a perch that would scare Tweety Bird. Being in shape is just the beginning of being a good all-around hunter. You should also be able to judge a trophy and that takes practice as well. To sharpen your judging skills go to a location with lots of whitetails. Sporting goods stores, museums and personal trophy collections are perfect training sites. Another area that requires plenty of preseason practice is shooting skill.
Many of the top trophy hunters shoot year-round, but begin your shooting regiment at least three months prior to the hunt and involve target practice that encompasses all possible hunting scenarios.
Scout, scout and scout some more—Scouting should also be a year-round activity. In the winter you should scout to determine if any bucks made it through the hunting season and where they set up winter residencies. In the spring your scouting should focus on looking for shed antlers to give you firsthand look at the trophy you hope to hunt and the score to see if the buck meets your qualifications. Summer scouting often is the most productive because bucks have a lackadaisical nature and routinely allow themselves be observed from a distance as they stuff themselves in green fields within the safe confines of a bachelor group. Finally, don’t give up on scouting efforts during the fall. Autumn bucks commonly begin dispersing and disappearing as the bachelor groups disband so you need to keep tabs on their new haunts.
Hunt the best times and be flexible—Shooting a true trophy whitetail requires flexibility in the dates you pick to hunt and flexibility in hunting strategies. Most hunters set aside their vacation time to hunt the rut and for good reason. Mature bucks let down their guard and foolishly make juvenile mistakes in pursuit of does.
The next best window to hunt is the opener, especially if your area has opening dates in September when bachelor groups feed early and in the open. Late season can also be effective in areas where winter weather forces bucks to feed voraciously in an attempt to ward off death from rut weariness and winter’s fury. Watch food sources to increase your success.
Nothing is guaranteed when hunting trophy whitetails, but these tips may put you one step closer to realizing a dream few hunters get to hold.
Boone and Crocket club; www.boone-crockett.org
Pope and Young Club; www.pope-young.org
Scent-Lok Clothing; www.scentlok.com
Under Armour Clothing; www.underarmour.com