Hunting time: the rare bucks of autumn
Six years of antler-point restrictions in southeastern Minnesota have opened my eyes to the reality of big bucks. It’s common to assume that any buck lucky enough to live to 5.5 or 6.5 years will be huge, but that’s not the case. A prime-age buck that is genetically destined to be an 8-pointer might only score 120 inches. That doesn’t mean that 120-inch 8-pointers are bad deer, just that many of the bucks on the landscape will never be Booners (or even close).
It takes a fair amount of bucks reaching maturity to see a few that are truly big, which makes a 150-inch-plus buck that much more awesome. Any deer that cannot only get enough years in his rearview mirror and that carries the genetics to grow a rocking chair on top of his head is really cool.
I’m getting pictures of a few deer like that, which I love to see. But what’s better than that is all of those mid-range deer that quite honestly, are still pretty dang big. After all, any buck that grows into and beyond the Pope & Young minimum of 125 inches is an awesome deer. It’s common to hear people talk about young or small 120-class bucks, but out in the real world most hunters would be absolutely stoked to kill a deer of that caliber. In fact, in any given hunting season most hunters simply won’t. Most won’t even get close.
Knowing that, I’ve developed an even greater appreciation for those deer that do reach their full potential through maturity. A mature buck will always get this hunter’s heart absolutely pumping, and even though they seem to largely exist only in trail camera photos, it sure is fun hunting a place where you know a deer of that size lives. Even if he may never walk by while you’re on stand, there is always that possibility, which adds a pretty neat element to any hunt.