2018 Deer Season Recap – One Helluva Year

2018 Was A Helluva Deer Season

2018 was great for the Draggin’ Deer Outdoors team members. Simply great. Our team not only exposed many new people to hunting, shooting and The Great Outdoors but we also had an overwhelming amount of success ourselves. As we wait another 9 long months before deer season starts back up, I thought it’d be fun to take a look back at our awesome 2018 deer season.

Sept 29th, 2018. Mansfield, OH

My 2018 season started off about as good as you could image. I left my house at 8:00 AM en route to Mansfield, Ohio, hunting with my good buddy Scott Romzek. I joined Scott on a 600 acre lease that was brand new to me but familiar territory to Scott and his Dad. Anyways, I rolled into camp at noon, bought an Ohio license at Walmart at 12:30 and was in the stand by 3:30. Scott put me in a smaller area that was holding one particular buck that I had my sights set on, The Wide 9 Point.

My biggest buck to date!
My biggest buck to date!

Well, my drive to camp was twice as long as my Ohio season. At 5:50 PM this beautiful buck stepped out into a food plot and presented a perfect 20 yard shot. Short and sweet. My first Ohio buck ended up being my biggest buck to date. Check out the video of hunt below!

 

October 25, 2018. Schoolcraft, MI

Buck #2 for me was not my biggest buck (not even close) but this hunt was arguably the coolest, most satisfying hunt I’ve ever put together. Public land, SW Michigan, highly pressured area. That is often NOT the recipe for success. But with some valuable insight from my buddy Chad and the perfect wind direction for an aggressive plan, I made it happen. It was literally the perfect plan for that day, that spot and that time of year. I remember that morning, talking to my buddy’s at work. In a very cocky fashion I told them “It’s an east wind today, I’m going to kill one of those bucks Chad keeps seeing.” I really wasn’t that confident my plan would actually work, but it did! The end result was a beautiful Michigan public land 6 point and LOTS of bragging rights. Here’s the video of that hunt:

Public land 6 point.
Public land 6 point.
November 3rd, 2018. Delton, MI

Field Staff member Tom Reynolds is always killing quality deer in SW Michigan and the 2018 deer season was no exception. On his home 40 acres, Tom patiently waited for one of his big home bodies, passing on several smaller bucks prior to “The sweet November rut.” His patience was rewarded on November 3rd when he tagged this great SW 8 point.

Tom's SW Michigan 8 Point.
Tom’s SW Michigan 8 Point.
November 9th, 2018. Illinois.

Scott Romzek is a big buck mastermind. His bucks over the years from Iowa, Ohio and Illinois would make any deer hunter drool. Scott helped me tag my best buck ever during the Ohio season-opener and a few weeks later he then tagged his biggest buck ever during an Illinois morning rut hunt. Scott watched this particular buck for several years but never got the opportunity he was looking for. November 9th, 2018 trailing a hot doe, this buck finally made a fatal mistake. At 35 yards, Scott’s well-placed arrow anchored this 185″ Illinois monster.

Scott's Illinois giant.
Scott’s Illinois giant.
November 10th, 2018. Dowagiac, MI.

1 Day after Scott tagged his biggest buck ever, David Cooper did the same. This toad of an 8 pointer is the perfect example that you CAN kill big bucks on small pieces of property in Michigan. Dave has worked hard for several years to turn his 20 acre Dowagiac property into a consistent buck-producing chunk of land. This buck is also a prime example of “you gotta be in the stand to kill one.” The morning of November 10th was absolute crap. Snow flurries mixed with extremely high winds made sleeping in easy for most hunters. Fortunately Dave got after it and it paid off with an 8 yard shot at his biggest buck to date.

Dave's big SW Michigan 8 point.
Dave’s big SW Michigan 8 point.
November 11th, 2018. Augusta, MI.

3 days in a row the Draggin’ Deer Team put bucks on the ground. The day after Dave’s kill, Aaron Koldyke put a beautiful, wide 8 point on the ground at Kamp Koldyke. After seeing tons of great rut action the previous few days Aaron finally got a crack at one of the camp’s hit list bucks. Kamp Koldyke has always been (in my opinion) one of the best, most consistent properties in SW Michigan. 2018 proved to be no exception.

Aaron's wide Augusta 8 point.
Aaron’s wide Augusta 8 point.
November 16th, 2018. Augusta, MI.

5 days after Aaron’s bow kill his season went from “Great” to “The best season ever.” On the 2nd day of gun season Aaron was finally able to catch up with “The Wide 8,” an elusive, mature buck that has spent years tormenting The Koldykes. Aaron started climbing down from his stand at 10:40 AM on November 16th and just before he got to the ground he saw antlers moving through the brush. Slowly climbing back up the tree, Aaron was able to get back in his stand (without spooking the buck) and put a well-placed .450 Bushmaster bullet right through the giant buck’s heart. For the 4th time in one season, a Draggin’ Deer Team member tagged their biggest buck to date. Check out the post-hunt interview of Aaron’s awesome buck.

Aaron's giant Kamp Koldyke buck.
Aaron’s giant Kamp Koldyke buck.

November 18th, 2018. Pelican Lake, WI.

Wisconsin’s gun season is rich in family deer camp traditions. Every year the Lex boys head up to their cabin in Northern Wisconsin and every year bucks hit the deck. After a slow start to the week, Tom decided to try some “run-and-gun” setups, keying in on fresh deer sign and known doe bedding areas. His strategy paid off when this beautiful 7 point gave Tom a bow-range shot with his .300 Win Mag. Another successful Wisconsin deer camp! And Tom wasn’t the only to tag a buck, his dad Gary also put one on the ground!

Tom's northern Wisconsin 7 point.
Tom’s northern Wisconsin 7 point.
Another successful Wisconsin deer camp.
Another successful Wisconsin deer camp.
November 26th, 2018. Indiana.

Buck or doe, every deer is a trophy. Shooting a buck is great, but nothing beats putting quality meat in the freezer. And to be perfectly honest, killing a mature doe is often a more hard-earned trophy than a buck of any size. Maverick from our friends at Hunt Perfect put down a gorgeous mature doe on his home property in Indiana. As a hunter, there is nothing more sweet than putting meat on the table from your homestead piece of dirt!

Maverick's Indiana doe.
Maverick’s Indiana doe.
December 9th, 2018. Kalamazoo, MI.

The 2018 season ended with yet another memorable hunt. I was accompanied by 2 friends/new hunters Ryan and Alex where our sole mission was “put some meat in the freezer.” Hunting had been slow for weeks (I literally hadn’t seen a single deer in 2+ weeks) but December 9th proved to be a great day in the stand. After a group of 5 does crossed in the distance I noticed one larger deer working my way. As luck would have it, that deer turned out to be a pretty good 8 point. At 50 yards I stopped the buck and did something I haven’t done in 10 years…I made a big cloud of smoke. The 250 grain bullet from my trusty old muzzleloader put this buck down within sight. My first buck with a gun in Michigan in 10 years, not a bad way to cap off the 2018 deer season! The best part…sharing that experience with friends!

My late season Michigan 8 point.
My late season Michigan 8 point.
My December 9th hunting partners.
My December 9th hunting partners.
Only 9 More Months

Deer season 2019 seems like it’s an eternity away. But there is plenty of prep work, scouting and practicing to be done before that magical opening morning rolls back around. Hopefully our 2018 recap and the stories of our awesome season can hold you over till its time once again to start chasing whitetails!

 

-Matt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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