After filming JP kill a muley in western ND on day 5 of the season, I was pumped to head to whitetail camp and begin hunting. The first trip was a quick one, we only had 1 night to hunt. We decided to slip into a spot to hunt a big buck that was showing up on the trail cameras pretty regularly. He was a no-show so we headed home empty handed with plans to return a week later. Upon returning, we checked cameras, and the buck was moving in the daylight frequently so we slipped back in to hunt him again. As luck would have it, the buck showed himself just before dark. He took his sweet time closing the distance and finally stood inside bow range minutes before legal shooting light was up. At 30 yards, I sailed my arrow just over the top of his back. The deer had no clue what had happened and walked out into the bean field and began feeding. I was sick that I had missed but I felt good that we still had a chance at this buck. In the course of the next week, we hunted the buck a few more times and laid eyes on him almost every sit, another shot just never presented itself. On the final day of our hunt, the wind switched and forced us to change up locations to a different area where we had some other nice bucks showing up on camera. As the night progressed, we had seen several does on their feet, but no sign of the shooters. Just before dark, out of nowhere, this old mature buck was standing at 50 yards working a scrape. A doe got down wind of us and began “blowing”. The buck must have thought she was blowing at him, and here he came to check her out! He crossed through the wind row and stood broadside at 12 steps! This is hands down the biggest bodied deer I have ever harvested, and one of the coolest racks I’ve ever laid my hands on! Couldn’t be more excited to wrap my 2020 ND tag on this old warrior.
This past spring, Chad and Heather knew their daughter Nora was wanting to start hunting with them. But first, she would have to pass the test of mom and dad on the target range. Chad purchased a crossbow, and it wasn’t long before Nora was driving tacks on the range. Nora ended up killing her first turkey, and she was beyond pumped! Fall approached and it was non-stop excitement from Nora as she continued to ask her parents when she could go hunting for her first deer. A couple weeks back, Nora was out with Chad and she arrowed her first deer, a big doe. Her excitement was through the roof, we cannot wait to share the footage of the hunt with all of you next summer! Just a week later, a nice 8 pointer was showing up on the trail camera that was placed near one of their food plots. Chad figured it was a great opportunity to get Nora back in the woods in hopes she could get her first buck under her belt. Sure enough, the buck fed into the food plot that evening. He was standing near a water hole when Nora made the shot. Unsure of the hit, Chad decided to let the deer lay over night before they looked for it. Chad and Nora headed back to tell the story to grandpa over some ice cream. They returned in the morning, to find out that the buck was hit well, and only went 100 yards before falling over. The smile on Nora’s face says it all, at the age of 7, this girl is hooked!
Ryan’s father, “Mr.Steve”, had grown away from hunting. Over the last few seasons, Ryan made it a point to get his dad fired up about hunting again. After killing a buck 2 years ago on their lease in Wisconsin, Mr. Steve was back! He was as excited as ever to hit the woods again this fall, with goals of harvesting a mature buck. Good bucks were beginning to show up on the trail cameras so Mr. Steve decided it was time to head to the lease to hunt for a couple days. On his first sit, this beautiful buck read the script and gave him a text book opportunity as he drank from the water tank placed 18 yards from the stand. The troops gathered, Ryan called in sick to work, and drove across the state to join in on tracking the buck. Blood was picked up, and the trail was an easy one to follow. A mere 100 yards from the stand and Mr. Steve had his hands on the biggest buck of his life!
Mike grew up hunting with his uncles and his cousin Walt. However, it has been several years since the 2 of them had connected for a hunt. While still in high school, Mike had made a trip with Walt’s father to Colorado to scout some public land for elk. 15 years later, the 2 of them decided it was time to make the trip happen. A lot of online scouting leading up to the hunt had them confident they could get on some elk during what would be Mike’s first time ever elk hunting, and Walt’s first time elk hunting in the state of Colorado. It didn’t take long to realize that there were several other hunters in the area, and that hunting pressure would make this trip difficult. The plan became simple, in order to be successful, they knew it would take putting in more effort than “the next guy” was willing to do. And with that, the hiking began. On day 3 of the hunt, the boys started up the mountain well before daylight. After climbing about 1,500 feet in elevation, they were greeted with the first bugle of the trip. The bugle was still well above their location so the hike continued. After gaining nearly 2,500 feet by 10:30 a.m. they felt like they were at the elevation where they had heard the bugling. With the wind in their favor, they decided to rest until the afternoon in hopes that the bull would begin bugling again. A couple hours passed and they were excited to hear the bull sound off midday. Mike dropped back to call and the 2 of them began to work the fired up bull. After moving locations a few times, they were able to pull the bull onto a narrow ridge just 15 yards from Walt. It was fast action and Walt made a great shot which put the bull down fast only 125 yards away. What an awesome experience on the mountain!
Brandon “Rand” made the trip to North Dakota to film Dylan “Goolash” for the opening week of the season. With “Goolash” punching his tag a couple days before they needed to head home, “Rand” picked up a tag and was excited to get the bow in his hand. The boys would swap roles for their last 2 days of hunting. After a slow night the first night, the boys jumped to a different spot for the last evening of the trip. As luck would have it, a good buck showed up and worked towards their set up. “Rand” made a great shot and was rewarded with his first out of state buck! Proud of these guys, neither of them had ever hunted outside of Wisconsin, and they go 2 for 2 in the opening week of their first ever North Dakota trip!
Dylan (“Goolash”) was pumped to kick off the 2020 season in North Dakota. Brandon (“Randall”) was just as excited to be along for the ride to capture it all on film. The boys would be joining several of the other crew members at our ND camp, “Dinkota”. Mike showed the guys around the area a couple weeks prior to season, and after a day of scouting, they had picked out a handful of locations that they hoped to be hunting. After soaking for a couple weeks, the SD cards were checked in the trail cameras and the plan of attack began to be drawn up. With several good bucks on camera at multiple locations, the boys played the wind and jumped from spot to spot for the first few days of the season. The deer movement was good, and they were laying eyes on good bucks, it was only a matter of time before one of them presented “Goolash” with a shot. On day 5, the deer were on their feet early. A brief rain shower forced the deer back to cover, but once the rain quit, the deer began moving again. It wasn’t long before this beautiful velvet buck worked into bow range. A perfectly placed arrow and “Goolash” had knocked down his first out of state buck, and his first velvet buck. The East Side Boys are on the board, and we are excited to see what they do the rest of the season!
JP has never chased mule deer before, so he was excited to find out that he drew an “Any Deer” tag in North Dakota. Having spent the last few years chasing whitetails in the state, he was looking forward to the change of pace that spot and stalk mule deer hunting would bring to the table. After driving all day, JP and Brennen rolled into western North Dakota late Thursday evening, with the season opening at noon on Friday. The tent was set up and camp was ready for the week ahead. The first few days were slow, a few good bucks were spotted but the guys were never presented with a good stalk opportunity. Opening weekend pressure was above normal in the area, several trucks driving around with multiple hunters on board. The deer seemingly were being pushed out of the areas where we had found success in the past. On day 5 we decided to push into a new area where it made sense that the deer would move to from a result of the hunting pressure. We slipped into the new spot early and began glassing. We were in the process of climbing to our next vantage point when we crested a hill and spotted 2 bucks laying in the draw less than 100 yards from us. We took our time and got the wind in our favor and used the vegetation to cover us in order to slip into bow range. A well executed plan worked perfectly as the buck stood from his bed and JP sent an arrow right through the boiler room. The deer ran 30 yards and tipped over. I’ve got a feeling that this won’t be the last time JP chases mule deer!
The 4th day of the season in North Dakota, and Dan is on the board! It’s been a game of cat and mouse with good bucks for the last few days but that game ended when this beautiful velvet buck read the script and walked by the tree! Dan put a great shot on him and he didn’t make it far! Y’all might not recognize Dan..this is his first year jumping in front of the camera for TBP. Dan has helped Chad out over the last several years filming him when their schedules would allow, and has filmed Chad harvest a couple of bucks that you have likely watched on the show. This year we are excited to have Dan on board as he will be spending a lot of time in the woods with Chad and Heather as the 3 of them chase critters throughout the fall. Congrats on a great buck Dan, and we are excited to see what the rest of the season brings!
Deer season is back..finally! The summer has drug out long enough, it’s time to swap out the t-shirts for flannels and climb trees again. The first entry for the fall goes out to Mrs. Maves. Heather, bless her heart, headed out to North Dakota to join her husband Chad, and 3 other guys in camp for opening weekend. 4 guys and a girl packed into a 3 person camper..let the good times roll! The crew put on a lot of miles scouting the area prior to opening day. Cameras were checked, and stands were hung. The anticipation of opening day is unlike any other. Before heading out to hunt, the group drew numbers from a hat to see who was hunting where. As Lady Luck would have it, Heather drew #1 out of the hat, meaning she got first pick on which spot she would like to hunt. Heading into the stand with confidence high, Heather was ready! As the night progressed, she laid eyes on 6 different good bucks, all of which were out of range. Later in the evening, a good buck was lingering around 100 yards from the stand. Sure enough, the buck began working towards Heather. After what seemed like an eternity the buck was in bow range and Heather was at full draw. A great shot yielded Heather with her first buck since she became a mom back in 2013, and not for the lack of trying over the years. Congrats Heather, hell of a way to kick off the season!
By: Brennen Nading (@nadingbr)
July is the month when deer really put on the inches. In June, it was all about the frame. In July, the tine length explodes. It is said that deer antler can potentially grow at a rate of 1 inch/day right now! Growth will continue into August but for the most part, you should have a pretty good idea of what a buck is going to be by the end of this month. By mid August, blood flow to the antlers will cease and the antler hardening process will begin.
That said, it is no surprise that trail cameras are a hot topic right now. People across the country are flooding the woods with trail cameras and for good reason. It is time to see what bucks are around, and trying to pin point the areas that they are living in. Yes, the annual shift from summer range to fall range is inevitable but recon right now is not wasted. Learning the area a buck is using right now will give you the upper hand if he holds onto his summer pattern into the early part of the season.
Trail cameras are an invaluable tool. I can remember when I began hunting and we went to the woods and had NO IDEA what kind of bucks lived there. Hunting back then was certainly more about optimism and the excitement of the unknown. Trail cameras today give us a pretty darn good idea of what is living in the areas we hunt, and when they are moving through certain areas. When used properly, we can effectively monitor areas with very little intrusion. I am going to cover what I would consider to be the Top 5 places to hang your cameras right now to get the most use out of them.
1.) WATER SOURCE
Scientific studies show that a deer must consume 2 to 3 quarts of water per day per 100 pounds. Yes, this number fluctuates but it will generally fall within that window. With that knowledge, it is no surprise that water sources make the top of the list for places to put your trail cameras. This source of water doesn’t have to be a pretty pond, or a bubbling brook for deer to utilize it. A rain puddle will suit them just fine. The important thing is to figure out where the deer are getting water on your property and this will allow you to get a solid inventory of what is around.
Often utilized during October and November when the breeding season draws near, but surprisingly overlooked this time of year. Many people do not realize that bucks will frequent scrapes/licking branches for the better part of the year. In travel corridors or around field edges, this is an excellent way to get them to come in front of your camera for a picture. I like to make mock scrapes in high traffic areas where deer using the area almost have to check it out. I have had luck with scrape inventory pretty much from May through the end of the year. Yes, the activity isn’t as aggressive during the summer months but the bucks will still frequent these low hanging branches/limbs/vines to leave their scent behind for the rest of the deer in the neighborhood.
In the midwest, bean fields and alfalfa fields are the destination food sources for whitetails and will be moving into early fall. Deer will continue to hit beans until when they begin to turn yellow in late September…at that point they will slack off of them until they turn brown in late fall and harden…at which point they will start hitting them again. Alfalfa takes the cake for summer food if you are lucky enough to have it on your property. Alfalfa is packed with the protein and nutrients that deer need right now and they will hammer these fields into early fall. Placing cameras on large fields can be tricky, but not impossible. If possible, watch from a distance and see where deer are entering the fields in the evenings and start there. If all else fails, I like to focus on corners and high spots where deer feel safe.
As hunters, it is important that we have realistic expectations when it comes to supplementing the deer herd with minerals. Minerals are put out for 2 primary reasons…the first is to help the deer meet nutritional requirements that they may not otherwise obtain through their natural diet. The second reason is to get deer in front of our trail cameras for inventory. In a wet year, when forage is plentiful, don’t be discouraged if your minerals aren’t getting the attention you think they should be. These mineral licks are something that deer will visit on an “as-needed” basis. Wet year, or dry year…these locations are always worth a trail camera.
Naturally, the phrase “work smarter, not harder” can be applied in the whitetail world as well. Gate entrances, fence gaps, pond dams, ditch crossings…any spot that makes it easier for a deer to get from point A to point B. These are great locations for trail cameras. If there is an easier route, deer know about it and the trails that are beat down in these areas will prove it. Trail cameras are highly effective in these areas, and I like to run mine on multi shot bursts with 5 second delays so I am not missing anything.
July is almost gone, and August will undoubtedly fly by as well. If you don’t have your trail cameras out yet, the time is NOW! Fresh batteries, a large SD card, and let the camera do the work for you over the next month and a half. The less intrusion the better. Have fun, be safe, and cheers to big velvet bucks!