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Realistic expectations for your deer.


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I'm seeing some good bucks that friends, their young kids and wives are shooting posted on board and on Facebook etc. Some would be real trophy's as far as racks up here in Maine.

Seeing some of the youngsters holding up the heads of some nice bucks makes me glad I didn't shoot a spike or maybe it was a forkhorn-couldn't tell-on opening morning.

Up here you are a bit nuts NOT to shoot the first legal deer you have in the X-hairs be it a doe (if you have a tag) or a small buck. Many a year I have done just that and ate tag soup. Its easy to let them pass the first few days or even first couple weeks hoping for a good buck. Its even harder to "settle" if you've experienced walking up on a almost 300lb on the hoof buck in the past.

I hope I don't regret not throwing lead at the small buck that meandered out at 200 yards at very first light Sat AM. I closed the distance to about 150 yards (to make sure it was a buck not a doe since although I have a doe tag this wasn't in the proper zone) and had the X hairs on his shoulder, and hesitated, then he decided for me and popped into the woods never to be seen again. I do like to eat venison.

So, what can you realistically expect to see, shoot or watch walk away where you deer hunt?

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Two 10pt bucks, one 12pt buck, two smaller 8pt bucks, one 4pt buck all seen during herd control season.  The first 10pt buck I would have dropped in a heartbeat if it had been that season.  I'm sure there are bigger ones around too.  Dad and I have dropped 5 does this year and we still have 2 doe tags and 2 buck tags left.

For some reason w/in 4 miles of the old farm there's a ludicrous amount of deer.

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consider our limit: 10 does 2 bucks (one of which must have 4 or greater points on one side).  Although they should do this county by county since some really can't handle that pressure, while in others these are really not high enough limits; there really isn't the enforcement budget to do it right.

3 weeks ago saw 14 in one sitting; although one herd of 4 could have been repeat visitors.   All does except MAYBE one button buck; still haven't seen a buck on this property this year.   Not one came within comfortable arrow range. :(

Lots of gunfire all around the property so doubt I'll see the same numbers at one sitting again this year.

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I too love the taste of venison.  And with two sons at home there wasn't many years that we didn't put at least two in the home freezer each year.  Since No. 1 son (RI) moved away, we have fallen short in the meat department.

I passed a couple of small bucks last year, No. 2 son holds out these days for a "shooter" - over 15 inches - and doe tags are harder to come by.

But brother-in- law Mike got his hands on two doe tags, so just maybe....

Out back we have a unusual number of year and a half old bucks running around this year - outnumbering the does 5 to 1.  The neighbors have agreed to pass on yearling bucks, so next year ought to be interesting.

I have room on my office wall for one more deer head - and that's reserved for a twenty incher.

Ken

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I let 2 8 points and a spike walk this weekend.  Still early in the season only get 1 buck a yr. Typically will see 5-10 bucks in a sitting. The rut starts in about 2 weeks that is when things get really interesting.
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My deer hunting skills couldn't help me find my way out of a paper bag, but for some reason I really enjoy it. I can't wait to get out.

If I am able to see anything in this state with fur that is not domesticated within 400 yards, the season will be a success and a marked improvement over last year, in Ma anyway.

I did pass on a very small buck in NY last year only because it was day one and for some reason I was very optomistic. I also literally thought 'this deer must be 'challenged' to walk in like this' and actually felt bad for the lil ****ard. I don't regret it.  

I didn't have a doe tag but if I'd had cracked corn with me I am almost positive I could've fed one.

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I just want some meat in the freezer for myself.  My wife doesn't eat venison unless it's in chili as ground meat.  

If it looks like it will dress out at 100 lbs or more, I'll pull the trigger before I even have time to think.  Buck or doe. It doesn't matter. Every year I apply for an antlerless permit so I can take the shot without hesitation.  I shoot more bucks than does, probably because yearling bucks are not as wary as most mature does.  I've had exactly one deer mounted.  An ordinary eight pointer that I shot on my 50th birthday.  I like the way it looks on the wall but wouldn't want another one.  We are only allowed one deer a year here in Maine and I am pretty grateful for each one that I get.  Over the years, I seem to get one about every other year.  Often enough to keep me interested but not often enough to take for granted.

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Michael Stenstrom
Like the other Mainers here I am happy to get a deer every time I do.  Unlike Lee I am about 2 to 1 on does to bucks.  The years I have passed a deer in confidence I have never seen another.  I have already put in over 40 hours on stand during expanded and regular archery and not seen a deer.  Saw five or glimpses there of on opening day of rifle.  But they were all moving quick after I put them out of their beds.  I always hope for a big one, but am ecstatic with any one I get.
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I used to be pretty obsessive about bowhunting for deer. I moved to Ky in 92 and was amazed I was only allowed one buck. Very different from VA. It taught me to evaluate the deer I was hunting. I'm lucky that we have a nice population of deer in Ky. While I didn't think it would happen I became more inclined to let young bucks walk. The reason, ego- plain and simple. There are some real nice bucks that get taken in the counties I hunt and I wanted to shoot a nice one. It was hard for me to do while bowhunting. Since 99 though I haven't been bowhunting but a handful of times. It's a lot of hours logged to get a shot at "the" big one with a bow. Time became hard to find between marriage, a job, and birdhunting. So I took to solely rifle hunting. Voila, it's much easier to pass up young 8 pointers when my effective range is now 200 yards or more. While they are not a dime a dozen there are plenty 16" wide 100 class 8 pointers running around where I hunt. The big ones will have 10 or more points and go 150+. I still haven't gotten one. I've seen them though. I thought I had one back in 05. All I saw was bone sticking out way beyond his ears. I took him, and felt ecstatic from my little blind 150 yards away. When I got to him it was a slight let down. His left G2 and G3 were nice but his right side showed little length. The spread was 23 5/8", 20" beams, 6" bases. I felt "cheated" and then embarrassed that I felt this way. I don't watch hunting shows, don't subscribe to deer type magazines yet I was now part of the machine that "lets small deer walk". How did that happen? Why?

No matter, I'm in it for reasons unknown to me. The only thing I can conceive is that my ego wants a bigger deer. It's unhealthy I tell myself. But then I stop and think. I remember the times I let decent 8 pointers walk and reflect upon the time I spent in the stand with a rifle. I've witnessed the wonders of the woods and fields because I was there, in the stand waiting for a 130" deer to come past me. I've seen weasels chase chipmunks, owls swoop down on unseen prey, coyotes hunt for survival, 8 pointers square off and battle. I have to think that if I shoot that perfectly acceptable 6 or 8 on opening morning I will rob myself of some unknown scene of wildlife by finishing so quickly. You have to be there and earn the right to be gifted with the blessing of seeing wild animals doing what they do. That won't happen once I squeeze the hair trigger and a buck falls. I can tell myself I'll come back with a camera, but that won't happen. There's leaves to rake, games to coach, homemade pancake breakfasts to cook for the kids. No, once I pull the trigger my primordial nature is replaced by that of a father, husband, salesman. At least that's how I reckon with my own disgust of trophy hunting.

I've seen two 8 pts running together for the last couple months. One looks like the deer below, the other is not as wide but very tall. I don't think I'll take either this season, in the hopes that they will live and get bigger. I let a few walk last year that should be 120+. We'll see.

Deer07005.jpg

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I can relate, Wyatt.  Like you, I hope not to get a deer for at least a couple of weeks, I enjoy my time alone in the woods very much and usually get it without having to be as discriminating as you.

It's all relative but maximum woods time is always nice. I have considered hunting gray squirrels after tagging out, just to make sure that happens.  November is a special time to be in the woods alone.

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I only bow hunt now. We are basically allowed one deer either sex regardless of zone. I enjoy this as the season is really long and I like to hunt new areas. I usually wait on does until after the rut. Lotsa deer and not too hard to take a doe, but a big buck with a bow is a different story!
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I spend 12-18 evenings or mornings in a tree stand with a bow, 2 or 3 days during the shotgun season and at least one day with black powder.

I can shoot a doe any year and generally have an opportunity for a buck. A really good buck comes along maybe once every 5 or 6 years.

My bow hunting is generally reserved for big bucks although some years I'll consider a good doe for the freezer. Smaller bucks and does get a free pass until shotgun season. Once shotgun season comes I'll relax my standards. Sometimes I'll hold out for a buck on opening day but after that any decent sized deer is fair game. By the time the black powder season opens in January I've progress to the "if it's brown it's down" mode of thinking.

There have been a handfull of seasons when I failed to fill a tag but none (in recent years) when I didn't have the opportunity to fill one.

Yesterday afternoon I was scouting the woods and came across a large flock of turkeys all around one of my ladder stands. Thinking about buying a fall turkey permit just in case the opportunity presents itself.

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Yeah, I was sorta glad I didn't shoot or had a good opportunity to shoot that small buck. I was alone at camp and it would have been a "drag" even with a deer that was maybe 110-130lbs dressed and getting any deer into a capped truck, alone, is always a back breaker. But more so I really didn't want my firearm deer season to be over minutes into Opening Day. I like being out there and wanted to set at a few of my special spots just to see what happens. Plus me and Mike have a short "deer camp" planned at camp in a couple weeks.

I am also still bow hunting the expanded zone and thats where I will be tomorrow morning in a stand w/a bow in hand.

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I hunt deer less and less every year. Partly becuase of scheduling reasons, partly becuase I like to chase the feathered quarry a lot. That said, I usually get one chance a year to put the cross hairs on a antlered deer. I have shot a Doe before but by choice, I prefer to pass them up.
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