Have You Ever Hunted a Buck's Core Area?

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Ben Sobieck
 
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Have You Ever Hunted a Buck's Core Area?

Postby Ben Sobieck » Thu Sep 22, 2011 2:30 pm

A buck's core area can be a tricky thing to define, much less identify. It's within the buck's home range of roughly one square mile. It's where the animal is the most secure, where it retreats to after being disturbed.

Have you hunted the core area before? What have you observed?

Mastertangler
 
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Re: Have You Ever Hunted a Buck's Core Area?

Postby Mastertangler » Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:28 pm

We've attempted to harvest a few bucks in their core areas. Being a small woods farm country area here, it's not unusual for a buck to take up residence in a certain spot.
What we've learned is no matter how much you study the area, watch from afar, and think you've got it figured out, the deer still knows it better.

We've watched a buck leave his grounds, we walk in trying to get a better feel, and then watch the buck return. He seems to react as though nothing is different and yet the next day he'll start bedding 20yds over, or using a different path, or other. That sixth sense like he knows he's been invaded.
One particular bucks bed was 50yds off the road next to a river and only 50yds from a house. He'd be there, we'd be able to see him from the road, and yet no matter how many guys or what angle we went at him, he always managed to avoid anyone's sights. The one year five straight days and we never got him! He ended up dying of old age the following year.

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Cut N Run
 
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Re: Have You Ever Hunted a Buck's Core Area?

Postby Cut N Run » Thu Sep 29, 2011 4:51 pm

This is kind of long winded, but I'll take you there.

In 1985 I was on a big buck that was causing me to lose sleep at night. He was absolutely huge and one of the biggest deer I've ever seen in my life. I knew where he was hanging out at least part of the time. There were some mega-rubs on trees the size where my knee meets my thigh near where he was bedding that didn't even look real. They went from about knee-high up to about armpit-high and were just gouged in the trees. This was clearly not a yearling buck. His hoofprints in the ground below the trees looked like someone had driven big spikes into the ground & just jerked them up. The shavings on the ground around the trees looked more like somebody took woodworking tools to the tree. He was bedding off the southeast corner of a 15 acre hayfield so close to the town limits that I could hear traffic as it passed by the courthouse when I hunted there. I didn't need to look at my watch because the church bells in town kept time for me. This hayfield was right behind an elementary school in an area where it was illegal to discharge a firearm (as one might expect) so I didn't have to worry about gun hunters getting him. I could clearly hear the kitchen staff talking as they accepted food at the loading dock behind the cafeteria. The hayfield had a creek running along the east side of it the entire north-south boundary & there was virtually no way to quietly cross it undetected. The road into the field was at the school end to the west and there was no possible way to enter an the loose gravel road without being heard or seen because the bedding area was on a slight rise where the entire field was in view. There was a good reason he was using that area and how he'd gotten so big.

Before it became illegal to shine spotlights on deer at night, I rode out there to size him up a few times. I would park the truck off the gravel road before derk and wait a few hours before I'd shine to see what was there. The field would light up with eye reflections all over the place. Every other buck out there had a rack that would easily fit inside that dude's rack and not touch any part of it. The first time I found his bedding area, I made it my mission to use one of my tags on him. The first season I hunted there, I saw him a couple of times in the morning when he was returning to bed down. I couldn't get too close to his bedding area or risk running him off. I chose a tree off slight point of woods on the eastern edge of the field, so my scent would be carried out across the creek and away from his nose. I found a sandbar in the creek where I could cross without getting water over my knee boots and get to my stand without being seen. I had a few all day hunts there, which was tough on a Loc-On stand. On the eastern side of the creek was a three year old 120 acre clearcut that was completely impenetrable. That buck would have to walk up the east edge of the field and go under my stand for me to get a shot at him. There were a few giant rubs on trees about 50 yards north of my stand that said he used that path at some point in time.

In the off-season, I cut a winding path through the cutover across the creek and to the stand so I could get there silently. I also cut a few shooting lanes while leaving plenty of cover & canopy to hide behind. I sweetened my creek crossing by adding a few big rocks to the sandbar that would allow me to cross quietly on sure footing. I only worked there in the Spring before a forecast rainstorm, so my scent would be washed away quickly and the deer would have all Summer to get used to the changes I'd made. I decided to wait until it got into October to hunt that area when there would be a lot of acorns falling near my stand. Plus, I wasn't as likely to get covered in sweat on my way in there and give him a better chance of winding me, like may happen in the early season.

One crisp evening in the middle of October, I heard a deer approaching slowly behind me & I was sure it had to be him. He wasn't even trying to be quiet, like a bold boss buck who has usually gotten his way, might sometimes act. I checked to make sure the arrow was on the rest and the nock was tight against the string. I kept looking ahead so I didn't get busted turning around to check him out. I'd have the rest of my life to admire him and I wasn't about to get buck fever on this deal. I looked at the sewing thread tied to my stabilizer to check wind direction as I tried to calm my nerves. He was getting closer with every step and wouldn't be able to smell me until he was well past my stand. It was still light enough that today was going to be judgment day for both of us, one way or another. The moment I live for was about to happen. Twenty five feet right below my stand, I could see limbs twitching as he was probably browsing or maybe his antlers were hitting them as he fed. It felt like my heart was going to beat it's way out of my chest and the blood was just pounding in my ears. As he stepped out farther, I held off from looking straight down. "Be the tree", "Be the tree" kept running through my mind. I decided to wait until he was at least 10 yards from the base of the tree before I shot. This was going to happen & SOON.. He went under a big cedar, which allowed me to shift slightly toward him to get a better shot. I could only see brown & white through the cedar limbs. I closed my eyes to help compose myself until I heard him step beyond the cedar. I got ready to draw & looked down to pick my spot...only to see a GOAT standing there munching away on any branch he could get his mouth on. WHAT!?! He belonged to the black family who lived beside the school & must have chewed through his rope to escape.
&%@$! Man, was I bent out of shape.

Aggravated, I let him pass and hunted until dark. I had a few smaller bucks and a few does & fawns in range, but NOT what I was after. I had to work the next few days straight and had a bass tournament the next Saturday that I had too much money on to ignore. The day after the bass tournament, I got a call from a hunting buddy who knew I was after a huge buck somewhere in the area. He told me that a giant buck that would probably make the B & C book had been hit by a vehicle the night before where the creek crossed the road below the school. I was sick and felt a knot rising in my stomach. All the time & effort, stealth, and keeping my mouth shut so nobody else would try to hunt him came to a crashing end. I couldn't force myself to hunt that stand again & I left it alone for a few days before I went in to move it. Since that big buck was gone, I wanted to show my buddy where I'd been hunting with such dedication and not telling anybody about. I was anxious to see the look in his eyes when he saw the size of those rubs. As we walked over to where the rubs were, a giant buck bounded out of it's bed and leapt across the creek and into the big couover in three bounds. We were in shock and looked at each other in disbelief. That was on a sunday. The following day, they started clearcutting the timber where the rubs and bedding area were. AARRGGHH!!! I have never seen as big a buck since, but I hope to every time I go hunting. They do get huge if you let 'em.

I wish I had a better ending to this story, but it's the truth.

Jim
Luck Counts, good or bad

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kellory
 
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Re: Have You Ever Hunted a Buck's Core Area?

Postby kellory » Thu Sep 29, 2011 6:40 pm

OH man, that really sucks. You heard hoofbeats, thought horses, and found zebras. I am sorry my friend. :(
The only real difference between a good tracker and a bad tracker is observation. All the same data is present for both. The rest is understanding what you are seeing.

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Cut N Run
 
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Re: Have You Ever Hunted a Buck's Core Area?

Postby Cut N Run » Thu Sep 29, 2011 8:51 pm

kellory wrote:OH man, that really sucks. You heard hoofbeats, thought horses, and found zebras. I am sorry my friend. :(


Yeah, they say, "One day you'll look back on this and laugh". It would be funny if it weren't so dang aggravating. It still stings. I am pleased with myself for not busting him out of one of his favored hangout areas, but I would have loved to get at least one shot at him. He could go from that ridge overlooking the hayfield to the sanctuary of the thickest cutover you could image, in a flash & that's how he survived to become huge. I have kept that place filed away in my mind for a long time in case I find something similar that I can play to my advantage.

I wish I knew where that other buck (who got killed by a vehicle) had been hanging out before he got hit, but it was late enough at night that he could have come from miles away.

Jim
Luck Counts, good or bad

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pgchambers
 
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Re: Have You Ever Hunted a Buck's Core Area?

Postby pgchambers » Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:38 pm

Personally, if I think I have a buck figured out down to his core area, I leave that area alone until the rut. I don't want to push him out of there before my best chance to meet up with him while he is focused on something besides survival. If I screw it up then, so be it, but at least I screwed it up when I had the best odds.
Respect - don't take it, unless you are willing to give it.
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kellory
 
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Re: Have You Ever Hunted a Buck's Core Area?

Postby kellory » Thu Sep 29, 2011 9:40 pm

Buck #2 (autotized) was probably being stalked by another hunter who knew nothing of yours. I just had a thought. You were incredibly careful and stealthy, but you knew where he would be. You wanted him to never know you were there. A ghost of sorts. What IF,...We use drivers sometimes to drive out a deer or several deer, but the driver does not need to be human, and remote control calls can be used in most places and with most game. What about a couple of remote control noise makers, wolf calls, or firecrackers on the far sides of your deer's bedding area. If he does not come out on his own, you could startle him into doing something stupid, and headed toward you as he does it. I have never tried anything like it, nor have I heard of anyone doing it. It would take some good stealth and scent control to do it, but it might work.
The only real difference between a good tracker and a bad tracker is observation. All the same data is present for both. The rest is understanding what you are seeing.

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ranwin33
 
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Re: Have You Ever Hunted a Buck's Core Area?

Postby ranwin33 » Fri Sep 30, 2011 6:57 am

I would doubt I ever have, as you say it is a trick area to define. Our 100 acres tends to be a transition/travel zone for deer between deeper woods and grain fields. We have areas that would be great sanctuaries, but we do not have any stands in them. Occassionally during the muzzle loader season I have snuck into them, but never with any success.

But again, I cannot say that these would be the core areas for a buck - with 100 acres there is just not enough room.
“There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace.”
Aldo Leopold

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Cut N Run
 
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Re: Have You Ever Hunted a Buck's Core Area?

Postby Cut N Run » Fri Sep 30, 2011 2:49 pm

I know of a guy hunting down east who was after a buck that consistently used a high spot in the midst of a swamp to hang out. Since it was surrounded by water, the buck could hear anything coming from a long ways. That buck didn't leave a scent trail where dogs could follow him in the swamp either. The guy kept trying to slip in by using a canoe and chest waders, but the deer somehow always saw or heard him coming through the swamp and busted out the back side of the island. That deer screwed up though, by using the same escape route too many times. That guy scouted it thoroughly and found a great stand location along the escape route. He waited until he saw the buck head for the swamp, then he sent his wife & kids in the canoe into the swamp towards the island banging pots & pans as they went. Sure enough, the buck tried to slip out on his same escape route and met his end. It was a bigger buck than most taken down east and a clever way to get his buck.

Jim
Luck Counts, good or bad

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kellory
 
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Re: Have You Ever Hunted a Buck's Core Area?

Postby kellory » Fri Sep 30, 2011 4:26 pm

So he did push the king of the mountian off his peak with drivers! I was thinking of doing it solo, and using electronic drivers, but there is nothing wrong with a little help, now is there? clever.
The only real difference between a good tracker and a bad tracker is observation. All the same data is present for both. The rest is understanding what you are seeing.


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