Hunting Trophy Whitetails in the Mid-West
Hunting trophy whitetails in the mid-west is one of the most challenging hunts in the world. You have probably heard a lot about Pike & Calhoun Counties as being the premier location to hunt these illusive animals. The following will make your overall experience more enjoyable when deer hunting anywhere in the mid-west:
- #1 Expectations>>
- #2 Mental>>
- #3 Scent Control>>
- #4 Practice>>
- #5 Scoring>>
- #6 The Hunt>>
- #7 Safety>>
- Being a Trophy Hunter vs. a Deer Hunter
If you have never hunted the mid-west it is very easy to have high expectations because of all the hunting shows that are filmed here. But sometimes weather and deer movement prevent that from happening. One week everyone in camp will see shooters, the next week it’s possible no one will see shooter bucks. No one can control this, but what you can control is the overall experience regardless if the deer are moving. Have a positive attitude and have fun! A fun camp is a large part of the over-all experience of trophy whitetail hunting.
This is the number one challenge for most whitetail hunters. Each day that passes and a hunter does not see a shooter buck their spirits drop a little. Your chances of harvesting a buck on the last hunt are as good (actually better) as your first hunt.
- Seeing Bucks-You are not going to see shooter bucks every time you sit in a stand. One, 30 second opportunity on a 5 day hunt, is a successful hunt. This opportunity may come the last 30 seconds of your hunt. There will be days, possibly multiple days that you will not see a shooter buck.
- Guides-(If using one) Trust your guide. He wants you to harvest a buck as bad (sometimes worse) than you do. Hunting these bucks in the mid-west may be different than you are use to, so rely on your guide to help you be successful.
Mature bucks primarily use their nose to survive in the wild. We will do everything possible to play the wind correctly but sometimes thermals and wind changes cannot be controlled. Good scent control can help your odds when this happens.
- Clothing-Keep your cloths as scent free as possible. Wash them in scent free soap before leaving and store them in a scent proof container. Scent eliminating clothing is highly recommended.
- Boots-Knee high rubber boots should be used.
- Lodge-Do not wear your hunting clothing and boots inside. These should be stored in your scent free containers.
- Spray-Use scent eliminating spray to help control odors.
Every year more deer are missed than actually harvested. The number one reason is that guys are not prepared for their hunt. Michael Jordon practiced the game winning shot over and over. Visualize and practice your killing shot over and over before you arrive.
- Confidence-Practicing will give you the confidence you need to be successful.
- Shot Placement-A good shot is the key to recovering your animal.
- Sighting In-Don’t wait to sight your bow/gun in when you get to camp.
Take any doubt out of your mind by learning how to field judge and score trophy whitetails before you arrive. If you fill your tag with a small buck you will never harvest a trophy whitetail. Patience and perseverance will pay off in the end when you finally walk up on a true trophy whitetail.
Everything above will prepare you for that moment when that buck of a lifetime presents himself within shooting range. Make sure to slow things down and take a clean and ethical shot.
- Range Finder-Please bring a range finder and range all the yardages around your stand. Keep testing and repeating these yardages to yourself as you are sitting in the stand. Misjudging yardage can cost you the deer of a lifetime.
- Angle-Do not take a quartering to or straight down shots. At best you will hit one lung and you will not find your deer. Angle is especially important when bowhunting.
- Moving-Always stop the deer before releasing the arrow. A simple whistle can do it. You have plenty of time, so don’t rush the shot.
- Aim-Don’t try to tuck your shot right behind the front shoulder. Many times the deer will move his shoulder back as you are releasing the arrow resulting in shoulder hit. The kill zone is much larger than you think so aim at least 6 inches behind the front shoulder.
This is the most important of all the things listed here. A sure way to ruin a great trip is by getting hurt.
- Stands-Most accidents happen on the last step getting in and out of the tree stand. Pay extra attention during this time and make sure you have at least have two body parts (arm & leg) on a strong support while climbing. (Don’t ever rely on a limb.)
- Harness-Always wear a safety harness while in the tree stand.
- Ice & Snow-Pay extra attention when conditions are worse than normal. Metal stands, ladders, and climbing pegs are extremely slick with any type of precipitation.
Many years ago I went on a Muskie fishing trip with a friend. We fished for 8 hours and only had one swirl at a top water lure the entire day! After we loaded up the boat and were in the truck, my friend said “Wasn’t that an awesome day!?” I looked at him like he was crazy! I am a bass fisherman and use to having action all day long. I soon realized that mentally I was not cut out to be a Muskie fisherman. Being a trophy whitetail hunter is very similar to being a Muskie fisherman. A deer hunter is similar to a bass fisherman and needs to see deer to be happy. Trophy Hunters can hunt each day and even several days without seeing a deer knowing that at anytime that monster buck could walk by. To better your odds of harvesting a trophy whitetail you must be willing to adapt to the trophy hunter mentality. Gary Harpole, Owner of Harpole’s Heartland Lodge.