Stop Believing You Live in a Mature Buck Black Hole

Stop Believing You Live in a Mature Buck Black Hole

Humans have a problem with defaulting to certain beliefs that allow us to give up and not try. Currently, a lot of these have to do with finances. If you believe that you’ll be living that renter life forever because home prices will always outpace your paycheck, you might prove yourself right.

The 25-year-old who buys into the notion that retirement is an impossible dream, likely won’t start socking away a little from each paycheck. After all, what’s the point? Giving ourselves an airtight out on the tough stuff makes it seem like things are totally beyond our control, but that’s not always the case. Deer hunters do this, too.

This most commonly manifests itself in the form of the hunter who will proclaim to anyone who will listen that there are no mature bucks in his neck of the woods, so it’s not worth holding out. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that in my home state of Minnesota, or when I’ve been on the road somewhere hunting public land deer in some flyover state.

There are a lot of things that have to come together to kill a mature buck for most of the general hunting population, but the idea that they just aren’t around is usually way overblown.

Quality Versus Quantity Of Quality

It’s not uncommon to hear someone talk about the corn-fed, genetically superior bucks of a state like Iowa. Certainly, Iowa is a place worth hunting, but it’s not just because the bucks can get to 200 inches there. It’s because a lot of bucks tend to get older there, which means the opportunities for solid deer are high. Forget the outlier giants for a second.

It’s the quantity of good deer that makes Iowa so fun. The promise of a true behemoth is always exciting, but it’s the population of 140-ish type deer that makes the whole thing so dang enjoyable. Potential-wise, the top end in Iowa isn’t any different from a lot of states.

Even in the states that just aren’t likely to grow the freakish giants, there are still mature deer that no one would be sad to see coming down the trail. There just aren’t very many of them. This means you have to put some effort into finding what’s actually available to you if you want to breathe the rarified air of a mature buck killer.

Scrape Together Real Intel

I’m a firm believer that summer trail cameras placed on field edges and over supplemental feeding stations, where legal, don’t do most hunters a whole lot of good. The real benefit there is showing what bucks are around and could be available during the season. In that way, we know how to find mature bucks. Put some cameras up in obvious spots, and then wait.

That doesn’t get most of us any closer to killing one, and in some states isn’t much of a possibility. If you hunt the big woods up north or down south, you might not have access to a field edge within miles of you. You might also think that means you aren’t around any big ones.

This is another Iowa phenomenon. The deer in the Hawkeye state are visible. Ditto for Kansas. It’s easy to believe you have some good deer to hunt when you can see dozens of them on the right drive through the country at sunset. It’s a whole other thing when you could put serious miles on your hunting rig and barely see a deer, let alone bachelor groups of toads munching away in an alfalfa field.

If you don’t believe there are mature deer in your area to hunt, you have to conduct regionally specific recon. Trail cameras are the obvious choice here. If you can’t glass, get boots on the ground and look for oversized tracks. Do what you have to in order to actually challenge your whitetail worldview. Then try to understand what it means.

Commensurate Effort

A common problem I see with a lot of whitetail hunters is that they’ll get some summertime pics of a good deer, and then pin their hopes on that buck, in that spot, making their season. The problem is we tend to run cameras where we want to hunt, not to figure out what the bucks are really doing in their day-to-day lives.

Look at it this way. If you have a favorite spot, maybe where you have a ladder stand or a box blind, you’re very likely to run a camera there. That camera, given enough time, is very likely to gather some exciting intel. Then, you’re very likely to hunt there for that deer, a lot.

If you can get over the hurdle of realizing that you’re not in a big buck black hole and have something mature to target, the next leap you need to make is in effort. An average effort will produce average results. This is why you hear so many stories of people who never saw their target buck while hunting all season long. This is also why so many folks find excuses to not hunt throughout much of the season. After all, why wake up two hours before first light to sit in the woods when you know there are no 150-inchers around? Or, that the one 150-incher in the section isn’t likely to walk by.

The thing is, if you don’t try to figure out more about the biggest deer around you, they will elude you easily. The summertime trail camera pic is great, but can you lay eyes on that bachelor group in person? Can you walk out to the woodlot to track-check a ditch or creek or fence crossing? What can you do beyond acknowledging he’s living there somewhere?

The rarer a mature buck is, the more effort each deer takes. That’s not rocket science, but it’s also hard for people to grasp.


There are big enough bucks all over. The top-end in Georgia might not rival Illinois, but the gap is closer than most think. Mature deer in every corner of the whitetail’s range can produce impressive headgear. They are tough to find, and extremely tough to figure out well enough to be in the game. That doesn’t mean the effort isn’t worth it though, because it is–even if most people don’t believe it.

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