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October 12, 2007

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BuckTracker: With A Little Help From My Friends ...

The following two pictures are of whitetail bucks taken by myself and fellow outdoor writer Travis Faulkner in late September. Travis and I were invited by Hunter’s Specialties owners Dave and Carman Forbes to hunt their farm near Kirksville, Missouri. The Forbes have spent countless hours improving deer and turkey habitat on this property, as well as managing their whitetail herd. Travis and I were treated to an impressive show, watching bucks and does visit food plots in the afternoons. Missouri doesn’t get near the attention as its neighbors Iowa and Illinois, but the Forbes have shown that with sound management, great bucks can come from most anywhere!


I got lucky first, shooting this 4-1/2 year old buck as he left a small clover food plot enroute to a larger field of turnips. The buck is a main-frame 10-point with several sticker points. His rack was heavy and, in my kids’ words, “gnarly.” What a great start to my season!

Hunt Stats
Date: Sept 29
Location: Adair Co. MO
Weight: 260 pounds (undressed)
Points: 14
Green Score: 149”
Weapon: Mathews Switchback XT
Shot distance: 29 yards
Method: Tree stand


Travis’ buck is an impressive animal indeed! The 3-1/2 year old wore a perfect 10-point rack that boasted 13” G-3’s. Travis had 30 minutes of shooting light left in his hunt when this beautiful buck walked past his stand, intent on reaching a nearby food plot. And Travis proved again that perfect shot placement and a sharp broadhead is a lethal combination; his buck traveled less than 20 yards before dying. Congrats on a super buck and great kill, Travis!

Hunt Stats
Date: Sept. 30
Location: Adair Co., MO
Weight: 230 pounds (undressed)
Points: 10
Green score 150” (estimate)
Weapon: Mathews Conquest
Shot distance: 30 yards
Method: Tree stand



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The Eds.

Nice buck, Scott!


Great buck, Scott. At almost 150 and with that tight rack, it must have had some incredible mass.
I have a question if it's okay--and I understand if you don't have time to answer (although I'm open to answers from other readers). I had a good buck walk almost into bow range then turn and walk right out. I grunted to him but he didn't seem to hear me. I was thinking about rattling or snort-wheezing, but I didn't think he'd respond to that so early in the season. I decided to let him walk away, and not potentially spook him by call, and hope to get him another day.
Did I do the right thing?


Hey Will,
I can't pretend to know everything, but I have taken my share of P&Y deer. If it were me, I would have tried some more aggressive calling to your deer. Yes, you might have run him off, as some deer--even big deer-just don't want anything to do with a fight. But in that case, you probably wouldn't have ruined your chances for another day. And you might have called this deer right in for a shot. Just my two cents.


Thanks, Larry.
Well, I guess I'll know better for next time.


Hi Will: I agree with Larry. I have had bucks respond to rattling and calling in all phases of the season. In fact, I just returned from a hunt on some property near my Minnesota home this evening, and I rattled in an odd-racked buck I'd seen this summer. I have hunted this farm only twice this fall, and that buck was the 5th I've rattled in so far!

While I don't rattle aggressively this time of year, I hit the horns on virtually every hunt (assuming I have a favorable wind direction and setup). I make enough sparring noise so nearby bucks can hear me. Whitetails are highly social critters and very curious. They often want to know who the noise-maker is when they hear bleats, grunts, and horns.

You will not lure every buck in, of course. But I'm also convinced that, unless the buck comes in an winds you,you're doing nothing to spook the bucks. The buck that hears you may be feeding or have a destination in mind. Or he might not be feeling cocky or curious.

In my opinion the thing to remember is, deer hear these sounds all the time; it's like us going to the mall and hearing conversation. Just because we don't join in doesn't mean we're spooked by it!



My two scents is that you should have waited if it was still pretty light out. All my experience with mature deer shows they will amble about in and out of your area until pretty much dark. Then they tend to come on in. If your area is around natural or created food. Also, I never use any call except my own mouth fawn call before pre-rut, (in NC, first two weeks of Nov.)
I know I have spooked deer before calling early in the season. I have stopped making that mistake.

Also Will,

If you put that call away early and often you will see that alot of those deer come back through - and quicker than you might expect sometimes. Stay ready!



I also have come to suspect that whitetail deer can sense anxiety and an anxious hunter's intentions.
Stay calm. It is great for teaching yourself to control your heartbeat as well.


I think it really depends on how pressured your deer are. Those that have heard a lot of calls and been spooked by many of the callers are apt to be call shy.
But my experience hunting relatively unpressured areas has convinced me at least that calling isn't going to hurt you and my very well help.

As for deer sensing a hunter's intentions, with all due respect Tommy, I think that is baloney.


With all do respect to you Joel,

I think your remark that ''calling isn't going to hurt you'', is ''baloney'' and shows a possible lack of experience on your part.


I just think if you are sittting there all tensed up, waiting for something to explode out of the brush, hoping so hard you can think of nothing else; animals can pick up on that.

What Joel?

You never heard of animal's having a sixth sense?

Also, your use of a word like ''baloney'' the first time we have exchanged shows you are a bit edgy, and should calm down a bit. It's just someone's opinion there dude - relax.


Hey Tommy, sorry to dog you again ... been trying to be less negative when I see stuff you post that sets me off. But in this case ... aren't you the one who said you'd only been hunting for four years?

From the Maine trapping blog on Field Notes ...
"you see I am pretty patient for a guy that has only hunted 4 years, and taught himself basicall y everything I know."

Seems a little off for you to degrade other posters for their "lack of experience."

Or is this a different Tommy ...



If you would read the posts in their entirety, all of them on this topic you would see...
The guy called one of my comments baloney, then I called him out on it. I did not degrade him for lack of experience, I simply pointed it out, and I did not try to say I was very experienced. I just think you can surely call deer at the wrong time and too much.

Read his comments. He dogged me first and it seems he thinks you can never call too much.

I just totally disagree, and once again someone came at me with negativity first and them I came back with it.



Do you think you should call deer early in the season?

I mean I have had luck fawn bleating - but that is it til at least late, late October or November.

How many of us, be honest now, when in the woods staring at a nice deer we are trying to get to come closer have KNOWN we called too much and it walked away because of it.

That is all I was saying from the start. I would not advise calling til you are close to November; at least in NC.

And also bdog. My 4 years of experience has gotten me 16 deer. And I learned from each one, ate each one, and applied the knowledge I learned from each one the next time I was in the woods. I have a fast learning curve.



The last two years I have left my call at home until the rut and I have seen that the deer will come back if you are hunting an area they want to be in. If that big buck seems uninterested, or leery. I don't call anymore.

And it is working! They don't all come back, but the way I see it. I get more deer when they come back versus calling to every one I don't think will come in exactly when I want him to come in. I have taken two by bow this year. And I have pics to prove it guys! And 1 with a rifle this past Saturday at 70 yards. It was opening day for rifle in Wake co. Most guys I know have not taken 1 deer yet.

I haven't called once either. I have not taken it into the woods yet.


Honestly BDOG and Joel,

I was just trying to give Will a different perspective from the other posters. It seemed to me that all thought to call more, or that he could not have called too much. I disagreed. I posted.


I think that anyone that needs to keep flaunting their tally on deer killed doesn't quite get what it's all about. Four years makes sense now.


You've done it again. I've commented on this before. A guy disagrees with you, and you go bonkers. Joel said nothing against you personally. He said that "with all due respect" he thinks one of your deer hunting theories is "baloney." Big deal. I have dozen of theories I'm sure other people think are quite suspect. But you call him green, accuse him of being out to ambush people, etc. etc. It seem to me that you are the one being defensive and negative. You could have said to Joel. "Hey man, you're entitled to your opinion, but I disagree.

Also, in case you didn't notice, one of the posts saying that Will should call in the early season--and agrees with Larry and Joel--sure looks to me to be from Scott Bestul--a guy whose name is in every major whitetail publication around and who obviously has far more experience than you do.
My friend, it's not that other posters here don't want to hear your opinion--but man, you need to grow a thicker skin.


Sorry. I meant to mention that I also think your sixth sense theory is baloney. That doesn't mean I think you are a bad person. It doesn't mean that I'm attacking you. I'm just stating my opinion.


Thanks, Larry.
When I said "With all due respect," I was not being sarcastic. I meant it sincerely. I have a number of friends whom I discuss whitetail hunting with (which, by the way, I've been at for more than 20 years resulting in far, far more animals than you have to your credit, although I won't say how many in an attempt to try to maintain a semblence of modesty). Among us, we all have our own ideas, and when someone doesnt' agree with another, we say so bluntly--with no hard feelings.
Sorry if I offended your delicate sensibilties.
No. Actually, that is sarcastic. Let me take that back.
I do sincerely apologize. Let's forget about it. I'll be more careful about disagreeing with you in future.


No problem in disagreement guys.
I just try to be more respectful the first time I speak with someone. I will always let the first stone be cast. Or try my best.

To clarify one other thing to all. I may not have been hunting for more than four years. However, I have been in the woods my entire life. I have gotten close to wildlife my entire life. One does not have to kill to be in touch with the woods.

You guys want to call early in the season when the deer do not expext to hear calls from one another - go ahead. You want to call every five or ten minutes - go ahead.

Seriously, maybe it is just different where I have been and hunted in NC. But I can have deer right near me early in the season, blow the call and THEY DON'T EVEN LOOK FOR THE SOUND. I have used fawn bleats, doe grunts, doe bleats, buck grunts, young and old and even snort wheezez. If it ain't late October or early November - in NC - Good luck calling.

No hard feelings.


Linville Gorge, Pilot Mountain, Haw River, Jordan Lake, Harris Lake, Raven Rock ST. Park, Mt. Mitchell, Grandfather Mt., Boone and Jacksonville NC, Wake, Harnett, Chatham and Person Counties.

I have been in these areas and more my entire life - fishing, camping, hiking, climbing and hunting. I have always been an outdoorsman. It would do some of you guys well to remember this,

Someone does not have to kill to possess knowledge on animal behavior. I would say it actually reduces the knowledge you COULD attain or retain. Old dogs and young dogs can learn new tricks as well.


And I in no way meant to say anyone else was wrong, especially the author. As I stated previously, and my negators conveniently left out in their posts...
''I was just trying to give Will a different perspective from the other posters. It seemed to me that all thought to call more, or that he could not have called too much. I disagreed. I posted.''

I posted that before your barrages Larry and Bdog.


But please - by all means - continue to misrepresent and leave out valuable info.


It is also funny that last week I posted about the neck shot I took at the doe I harvested on Wednesday. Larry, you jumped all over me as did a couple of others until a few of the old timers on the blog shut you up. You were wrong.

Then I posted about a rifle doe I took last Saturday morning this past Monday and nothing from you guys. I even put in the post that I hit her right behind the shoulders just for you.

And nothing.
It seems to me - you two - bdog and Larry - pretty much don't post anything towards me unless it is attacking and negative. It also seems that is the genral content of your posts. NEGATIVE. Keep it up though. It keeps me sharp!

Good hunting and good luck in all your life's endeavors.


What are you talking about, Tommy? Larry and Joel never attacked you. Their comments are measured, impersonal, and Joel's are even apologetic.
I admire how civil these guys are able to be in respect to your comments. Sorry, but I can't find it in myself to be so kind: YOU ARE AN INCESSANT, INCORRIGIBLE, WHINER!
And please don't waste everybody's time telling my how negative I am. I accept all charges in advance.


Right back at you there Phil.
The ever present mature mediator!

Great job showing you can stoop!

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