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Keep an eye out for big bucks during deer season

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By Shelton Young

As our “modern firearms” deer season approaches, Nov. 9-18 in our Zone 3, a conversation with other hunters usually turns to the size of bucks we’re likely to encounter.

Sometimes I’ll hear statements like “There aren’t any ‘big’ bucks left.”

When I hear this I wonder how, “If all the big bucks are gone, how does Kentucky continue to rate so high in national standings in relation to the size of deer taken?” Kentucky is actually number one in some records keeping organizations!

While it’s true that there aren’t many monster bucks around — there never were a lot of monsters — there are some big deer out there. Most hunters who correctly use trail cameras are amazed at the big bucks they capture images of. It’s just that these “big” bucks don’t show up until dark. Very dark!

It’s amazing how some bucks only seem to move after dark, and how quickly the others become nocturnal once everyone starts moving in the woods.

A problem in deer hunting is that most/a lot/some hunters will shoot anything. Like I’ve said before, little deer (bucks) don’t become big deer when you shoot while they’re young.

Course I sorta understand the argument that some hunters use “Why should I let one walk just so someone else can shoot it?”

Sadly, we can’t do a lot of “management” on our local deer. There’s just not enough acreage in local farms to establish, and keep, a quality herd of deer.

About the best we can do is to provide food plots so deer don’t have to “wander” for a quality food source.

These food plots, done correctly, can and do enhance antler growth. My theory is that it takes a certain amount of “food” to maintain a healthy deer capable of reproduction. After those needs are met, everything else goes to antler development. Without enough nutrients you simply don’t get major antler development!

I’d say that another way to grow big antlered deer, and good luck with this idea, is to reach an agreement with as many neighbors as possible that no one is allowed to take a deer that doesn’t meet established standards i.e. eight points, 15-inch spread, etc.

But like I said, good luck with that idea!

For beginners who might know, antler development sorta follows a curve. The antlers develop and max out around five years of age. Then they go back down in size as the buck gets older. Of course there are, as always, exceptions, but they’ll usually follow the curve!

And, given the dynamics of our deer herd, taking a doe will help our bucks get bigger.

So when you go out Saturday, at least consider taking a doe, as well as a buck.

You’ll want to be safe when you’re out there.

A bullet that misses a deer can kill someone several miles away!

Several years ago a leak developed in my roof. When I found the leak I also found it had been caused by a bullet. Where from? Who knows. But the only logical answer, given the “skid mark” of the bullet, was that it was from the knobs, several miles away.

The bullet went through two levels of shingles and through a roofing board! A human body wouldn’t have even slowed that bullet down!

So, when you shoot, know where your bullet will go if you miss. And there’s always a chance that you’ll miss!

Wear your hunter orange and leave it on. I’ve known people who removed their orange once they got to their stand. That’s both illegal and dumb! If you use a blind you should put  12-inch squares of blaze orange on each side of your blind.

Get permission to hunt and remember. If you shoot a deer and it leaves the property you have permission to hunt on, you can’t follow it onto the other property. Unless you get permission to be on that property too! If you can’t get permission, you can contact your wildlife officer who can enter that, or any other property, without permission!

But, good luck with that! Haven’t seen an officer around here for over three years! Doesn’t mean there isn’t one, just means that if we have one, I haven’t seen him.

Clean your guns, again. Make sure your sights/scope is hitting where your gun is pointed, know exactly what your shooting at and above all, be safe.

FYI. You can age deer on the hoof by looking at their back. If their back is straight, it’s a young deer. If their back is “swayed,” it’s an old deer!

Guess that’s it for now. Get out, enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer, stay safe and I’ll see ya next week!