Small Property Success

This great story submitted by my buddy Nick is proof that small properties can produce big results! Enjoy!
Small Property Success

Like the typical Midwest deer hunter, our resources are often limited to small acre parcels, limited leases, or public land with strong pressure at key “Deer Holiday” weeks. To capitalize on a mature deer, I have learned that you need to develop a detailed well thought out strategy and a precise level of awareness while in the woods. These factors played a critical role in this year’s hunting success.

A little bit about me and this year’s bow hunting experience; I have spent most my life deer hunting limited 15 acre or less private land. Through experience and lots of education I’ve begun to develop and practice a higher level of disciplined preparation and strategy, observation, and awareness that have improved my hunting success. Scent control discipline must be practiced if you are going to take a mature deer. Wind direction is also critical, pay attention in the woods, watch how the deer respond when they are down wind of you. Land evaluation, including how it is being used, what is the most common wind direction, future pattern opportunities, and habitat will make the hunt more predictable. My wife and I purchased 14 acres last year November. 80% of the north end is field, the other 20% on the south end is defined by an active creek, followed by thick swamp/bedding area, and some mature timbers.

After spending countless hours studying the land I came to the conclusion that my property is primarily a transitional piece of land during the day as the deer move from east to west through the creek side and field. Blind location is limited due to cover, property lines, and predominantly a S-SW wind direction. To the east there are 80 acres of deer sanctuary (60% nonagricultural field, 30% timber/residence) and to the west I have more timbers/residence with some weekend warrior hunting pressure. To be successful I knew I had to place my blind on the SE corner to catch the transition, and needed to be mindful of not getting to close to the bedding areas near the creek which were critical to our deer retention.

My property and hunting strategy.
My property and hunting strategy.

Most of November bow hunting season I saw many young 1-2 year 4-6 point bucks chasing does which I always pass on to support QDM. It had been pretty routine for me to see 5-8 does per day cutting through the river across the field. Thanks to Draggin’ Deer’s previous product insights post (“4 MUST-HAVE ITEMS FOR PRE RUT HUNTING“) I decided to invest/try the Wildlife Research 285 Magnum Dripper Mock Scrap to the west of my blind to develop an increased pattern along the tree line. I will later credit this product for influencing the path many of the young bucks and ultimately my harvest. As I got closer to November 8 plus I began to notice in the neighboring 80 acres a larger unidentified mature buck running down the timber line. He was too smart to run out in the field to fully identify himself but I could tell he was looking for a fight. November 12th I finally got a hit on my crappy Wild Game Innovation camera giving me a granular look at a shooter buck. I had heard of this deer before as my neighbors coined him “Bucky Sr.” He had posted up the last 3 years on their property and was caught on my land hitting my WR 285 mock scrap at 1:58 a.m.

My target buck finally made an appearance.
My target buck finally made an appearance.

On November 14th I made it into my SE ground blind at 3:30 p.m. for the last day of bow hunting. My back is positioned to the eastern 80 acres and facing parallel to the creek run within the timber. By around 5:00 p.m I heard some does coming from the west moving through the creek bed as they had before in many of my previous sits. In anticipation I readied myself in case they were being followed by a rutting buck. In watching the does as they came in directly from the west, I heard quick crunching to my back (west side) and pivoted. Coming in hot was Bucky Sr. As the events unfolded thankfully they happened so quick that I didn’t develop buck fever. My adrenaline picked up and my focus was on. Already pivoted and prepared I drew back as he moved in quickly about 50-60 yards out between my blind and the creek line. In fractions of a second he was positioned to go right behind some mature trees I prepared my shot in the anticipated opening. As he moved out directly south between myself and the creek towards the bedding area I made a vocal grunt. He stopped in his tracks. At roughly 46 yards away I took the shot. I could hear the connection of my bolt impact his cavity behind his right shoulder. Jumping he moved about 10 yards and stopped with no visible blood or reaction to a hit. Confident in my shot I continued to watch as he stood for another 10-15 seconds…then he dropped cold. It was a vital hit. The wise words of Ted Nugent ran through my head, “aim small miss small,” I would later confirm was a perfect through the heart quartered shot.

Bucky Sr, the first buck on my new property.
Bucky Sr, the first buck on my new property.

This is the first of hopefully many bucks that are harvested from our new property and was a very blessed time for our family. Bucky Senior per my taxidermist is a likely a 3-3.5 year old buck. 10 Point in total, all but 3 had been broken off. Unofficial B&C came in around 109 points with an 18 2/8 in spread. I can only imagine based on the damage to his rack that there are other larger bucks in the area. Since the hunt I have not returned to that area to strategically leave it as a sanctuary during the gun season. Next year we have some aggressive deer habitat plans which will include adding food plots, hinge cutting, additional fruiting trees, and ongoing QDM efforts in the neighborhood to pass on the young bucks and let them grow. God Bless & Merry Christmas!

-Nick

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