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I have seen more deer in less time this season than any other, but my results have been mixed.

In past seasons I saw most of my deer in a few days, with weeks of dead time in between, especially after the second week of November.

The 2017 season was the best and the worst in terms of the quality of activity I saw compared to the amount of wasted dead time. I had one good muzzleloader hunt and three good modern gun hunts, despite spending most of both seasons in the woods.

That caused me to recalibrate my hunting schedule in 2018. There are too many other things to do, especially fishing and waterfowl hunting, to devote so much unproductive time to the deer woods.

I killed the only legal buck I've seen this year. It was a 6-point, and the hunt itself was very exciting. I picked a time when I thought I might have the best chance, and my hunch proved correct. I bagged the buck when he bull-rushed a couple of does.

My muzzleloader stand always goes dead by mid-November, but not this year. It has been a hotbed of activity for the entire month. Deer almost always visit at dawn and again at dusk, and the regulars include a motley collection of bucks with odd antlers, including an ancient 4-point.

He is probably the same buck that I saw chasing a doe the first year I hunted in the area that I call the "Thin." I judged him to be a 3-year-old then, with good mass and long tines that were prominent at a long distance. Four years later, he's got a "dad bod." He's heavy and sagging in places, and he is clearly past his prime.

His rack is immense, like a southeast Arkansas buck, except with only four tines. His main beams are at least 19 inches long, and his inside spread is 19-21 inches. I haven't seen him in daylight, but if I did, I wouldn't hesitate to take him if he had a third point. The 3-point rule has done wonders for antlers in Arkansas, but adding an antler length provision would allow hunters to cull bucks like that one.

Deer are eating large amounts of corn at both of my stands. My feeder in the Thin has a balky motor that seizes up periodically, usually when I'm gone for a few days. To keep deer interested, I dumped 100 pounds of corn around that feeder recently. By Tuesday it was all gone, but now the feeder motor seems to be functioning OK.

The X factor is a product called Nut Grub. I distributed 50 pounds in the Thin for starters. Deer were suspicious of it at first, and it took them about a week to accept it. I put 50 pounds each at both stands, and it was gone in days. I put out 75 pounds at each place Tuesday.

The ground around both areas looks like a feedlot. The ground is all churned up, and the ground is denuded and muddy from deer constantly treading on it. They no longer appear in the evenings, so I will shift my remaining hunts to morning and midday.

I'll finish modern gun season with a muzzleloader and crossbow to see if I can finally earn a Triply Trophy award.

Photo by Bryan Hendricks
The author believes this ancient 4-point is the same buck he’s seen in the same stretch of Grant County pines since 2014.

Sports on 12/02/2018

Print Headline: Less time equals more quality in deer stand


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