Three Tips for Early-Season Bucks

Three Tricks for Finding Big Early-Season Bucks. I called him “Mr. Mellow,” which turned out to be the most inappropriate nickname for a buck, ever. In other words, he exhibited totally abnormal behavior for a Midwestern buck that lived in hard-hunted territory. He would scrap with any similar-size buck and harass every younger buck that he saw. Since then, I’ve run into several bullies, and they can be fun to hunt and often easy to kill. Here’s how to find one. You’re looking for a buck that visits the field regularly in daylight and is unafraid of other bucks. Hunt First Sign If observation is impossible (such as in big-woods habitat), boot leather can lead you to a bully. Rubs and scrapes made shortly after velvet shed are almost always the work of a mature animal, even if those rubs are on pencil-thin trees and the scrapes look small and unimpressive.
whitetail buck hunting early season
King Deer: A tall-tined new York buck cruises his turf.

I called him “Mr. Mellow,” which turned out to be the most inappropriate nickname for a buck, ever. It seemed to fit the big 10-point because he was unbothered by vehicle traffic (I shot dozens of pics of him from my truck cab at distances under 50 yards), fed placidly while does and fawns cavorted around him, and wasn’t afraid to move in daylight. In other words, he exhibited totally abnormal behavior for a Midwestern buck that lived in hard-hunted territory.

In late July I got the first hint that my nickname sucked. That’s when I saw Mr. Mellow had broken off the end of one velvet-covered main beam. At first I guessed he’d run into something and damaged his rack. Later I revised my opinion to include the possibility of aggressive rubbing or a fight with another buck (rare behavior for a velvet-racked deer) because by our mid-September archery opener Mr. Mellow was the neighborhood bully. He would scrap with any similar-size buck and harass every younger buck that he saw.

My neighbor shot Mr. Mellow the first week of October as the buck charged a buck decoy, ready to fight. Once a pretty specimen, the 10-point had busted all but one tine from fighting. The buck that I’d thought was as calm as a dairy cow was actually more like a UFC fighter.

Since then, I’ve run into several…

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