Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What Does Your Dream Buck Look Like?

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My dream buck walked out into a forest opening 75 yards upwind of my vantage point on a high hill. What, you ask, is a dream buck? It’s one that we dream about while awake or when asleep.

I saw my dream buck tonight, and he had four other bucks with him this evening. There were four 8-pointers and a 6-point. I also saw one adult doe and a spotted fawn.

My area is getting built up, and natural wildlife habitat is getting squeezed out while more and more “communities” spring up as one contractor after another buys up land and builds spec homes. They then try to sell lots, and hopefully build a house for the lucky soul who gets to live cheek by jowl with other folks.

If you gather that my idea of an ideal area around Traverse City is not a new subdivision that eats up wildlife habitat, you’d be correct. The deer in this area are being pressured from all sides, and they move from one section to another. Seldom will they stay in one mile-square section two nights in a row. They are like the old-time circuit-riding preacher that would go from one western town to another to spread the Gospel in the Old West.

The deer have circuits of their one, and tonight I happened to be in the same sectioin and same basic area when this bachelor group of five bucks decided to move through. I’ve about got them figured out, and they meander through this parcel of land that is owned by a friend, and I was there to witness it.

My dream buck was the leader of the pack. He was a big and blocky looking buck when I first spotted him moving through the tag alders. He stepped out at 75 yards, and once out in the forest opening, his comrades stepped out as well.

This Boss Buck was two to three inches outside of his ears on each side. He had eight points that could be easily counted, and his antlers were gnarly and heavy. The bases of each antler was at least five to six inches around with little half-inch sticker points going in every direction, and they were too numerous to count at 75 yards.

This brow points were only about five inches long but they too were thick. The G2s were 10-11 inches long and thick all the way out to the tips. The G3s were about eight inches in length and the main beam was easily 24 inches on both sides. The thick mass between the points had to be seen to be believed.

This was an awe-inspiring whitetail buck. A conservative estimate put him at 145 to 155 points. The antlers were as white as snow, and they stood atop a high rack. I was able to view him all four sides, and the front and back views was breathtaking. He appeared, by his body and antler size, to be 4 1/2 or 5 1/2 years old.

I watched and studied that buck and will recognize him if he is seen again. The other bucks were young with spindly antlers, and the oldest of those animals was probably only 2 1/2 years old. I have no idea what the young doe and the spotted fawn were doing with this crew, but perhaps the doe was basking in the glory of this magnificent animal.

It was apparent he was the head man of this five-some, and he tolerated both the fawn and its mother. It was an uncommon sight to see with a trophy whitetail buck.

Is this the first time I’ve seen this animal? Yes, it is, and it’s in a portion of southern Benzie and northern Manistee counties that are not known for producing big bucks. However, the extensive number of antlerless deer taken over the past several years has probably allowed this gent to survive long enough to grow a magnificent rack.

Will I see him again? It’s possible but not entirely probable. He is covering a bunch of land along the county line, and he undoubtedly travels back and forth between both counties. I’ll try and hunt him and will try to locate more of his travel pattern, but one man can cover only so much land while such a buck may have a circuit that could cover eight or 10 square miles.

I do intend to keep checking on him, and who knows? Maybe I’ll get lucky, but frankly luck with whitetails is for beginners and some old-timers like me who deserve a break. The beginners count on luck while the old-timers count on some acquired skills earned over many years, and then wish for a bit of luck to make things right.

Sometimes wishes do come true, but it’s not something I ever count on when hunting whitetail deer.

Posted by Dave Richey on 09/19 at 08:14 PM
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