YOU COULDN’T MISS THIS BUCK, and not just because he was hitting the same feeding area day after day. There was the rack. The landowner described the buck’s velvet antlers, which he could see from the roadside most evenings, as “a chandelier in the sunset.” Huge whitetails inspire all kinds of exaggerated similes, but I got the point. I was dealing with a buck of a lifetime.
It seemed like one of those classic early-season slam-dunk scenarios. Through the late summer, the giant 10-point was a set-your-watch regular at the southeast corner of a secluded beanfield. All I had to do was pick the right stand tree, quietly hang a set, and keep it together when the wall of tines came bobbing in.
But the buck disappeared just before the September archery opener. The landowner delivered the bad news. “I’m mystified,” he said. “Eight out of 10 evenings, I’d spot him in that same corner. But in the last seven days… Well, I just don’t get it.”
I wasn’t sure if I got it either, but I had a suspicion. Instead of waltzing into the beanfield like he owned the daylight rights, the buck was now dawdling at a staging area—a safe spot just off the food source, where he stopped to rub and scrape and, most important, not step into the feeding area until after dark. It’s classic big-buck behavior, especially when summer yields to fall.
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LIVING THE DREAM
After the author arrives in Maine’s fabled North Woods with a moose tag in his pocket, an adventure he’s been wanting to take his entire hunting life, reality sets in, and he learns a valuable lesson: Be careful what you wish for
Get the Drift
How to make an accurate windage call under pressure
An icebreaker outing in a pristine spot produces the rut hunt of a lifetime
A Local Haunt
The author finds a sense of place in an overlooked creek, close to home
A Hop and a Pump
Jump-shooting rabbits with classic upland guns is about as good a time as you can have in the outdoors
Welcome TO camp
Is there any place better than a good hunting camp? It has everything: great food, games and pranks, and of course, hunting. Shoot, we don’t even mind going to camp for grueling work days in the summer. Here, our contributors share their favorite stories, traditions, and lessons learned from camps they’ve shared. So come on in and join us. The door’s open.
Before you even claim a bunk, you need to eyeball the hardware your buddies have brought. In the process, you’ll see that the guns at deer camp are changing. What was walnut and blued steel may now be Kevlar and carbon fiber. The 10 rifles featured here aren’t your father’s deer guns. They’re today’s new camp classics
THE JOURNEY TO PIKE'S PEAK
Last summer, the author and three friends ventured off the grid to a remote fish camp in Canada. They hoped for great fishing, but what they experienced was truly something else
When early-season whitetails vanish from open feeding areas, follow this woods-edge ambush plan
A pup’s first year, from preseason training to fall’s big show