Six Reasons Why You Won’t Kill a Booner Buck

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Video what is a booner buck

A tiny fraction of whitetail hunters have taken a buck that scores over 170 typical or 195 nontypical, the minimums for entry into the Boone & Crockett record book. Many hunters feel like it’s just a stroke of luck to have a buck that size walk by, and many times it is. But that doesn’t explain why some hunters kill them with a shocking degree of regularity.

Ben Rising shot two Booners in 2015 and two in 2016. He says people push big bucks too hard in their excitement to learn more about them. Don’t dig too deep and alert them.

Several hunters have killed multiple B&C bucks over the years, which proves that they are probably doing things a little different than you and I are when you take to the whitetail woods. In talking to them, I have come up with a list if six things they’re doing that you’re probably not doing.

You’re Not Hunting Where They Live

This may seem obvious, but you have to hunt where there are. You don’t have to live there, but if you don’t have Booners where you live you must travel (or move.) Tim Young packed up and moved to Iowa and has shot two giants there and one on a roadtrip to Kentucky. Rod Owen, Adam Hays, Stan Potts and Ben Rising travel extensively to find and shoot big bucks in states other than their own.

“You have to find them first,” says Adam Hays, who has taken nine Booners including four over 200 inches. “Your best bet for finding a giant will be near sanctuaries where there is no or very limited hunting. These areas will be close to city limits, parks, industrial zones, wildlife refuges and even large tracts of land that allow no hunting. Hunting a specific animal will make you hunt harder and smarter also, just knowing he’s there!”

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Rod Owen agrees.

“Killing a Booner isn’t the hardest part, the hardest part is finding one.”

Ben Rising has shot four Booners in the last two years. He says he often spends more time looking for a buck and getting access to hunt where the buck lives than actually hunting him.

You Don’t Understand How Fickle They Can Be

You can’t take chances with human intrusion, checking scouting cameras too often, or hunting in the wrong winds. To shoot a Booner you must do everything right, and get lucky, too. Patience is the key. Rod Owen tells about how he waited weeks for the perfect conditions to hunt a giant buck, but the wind switched so he literally got out of the stand and RAN all the way back to his truck.

Rod Owen shot two Booners in 2016, one in Kansas and one in Missouri. He refuses to hunt a stand until the conditions are perfect.

“People go overboard trying to get intel on these big bucks and end up hurting themselves in the long run,” according to Ben Rising. They “dig too deep” he says, risking alerting the deer that he’s being hunted.

According to Adam Hays, patience is the #1 key.

“Sometimes the most difficult part of hunting a big buck is actually not hunting him at all,” he says. “having the patience and the discipline to wait until everything is perfect before diving in for the kill.”

You’re Not Willing To Do Whatever It Takes

You are spending your time watching Monday Night Football, you’re hanging out with buddies, you’re fishing when the big buck killers are scouting. The hunters who shoot Booners make sacrifices, and they are consumed by the pursuit and learning everything they can about the deer and the land they inhabit. The drive to shoot giant deer is at a level far above the average deer hunter.

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“There are hunters and there are killers,” says Rising. “The drive has to be far greater if you are going to consistently kill big ones.”

Steve Niemerg’s truck was stuck in a snowdrift so he had to wait out the blizzard in a nearby farmhouse. He’s a do-whatever-it-takes hunter so when the blizzard was over he went hunting instead of going home. He was rewarded with this giant.

With his truck stuck in a snowdrift, Steve Niemerg waited out a blizzard in a farmer’s house for two days, then instead of going home when the blizzard quit, he went hunting and killed a giant Booner that very evening.

You’re Not Hunting During the Peak Times

There are a few specific short periods each year when most Booners are shot. Hays is a big believer in the moon’s position as an influence of big buck movement. Rising says that waiting for the right moment is key.

Adam Hays has killed nine B&C bucks. He’s obviously doing something different than the average hunter. He says finding them and getting access to hunt them is the hardest part.

Hays also claims that a wind that’s good for the buck and bad for you can be the best time to hunt.

“For me, the Holy Grail of whitetail hunting is finding a big buck’s weak spot, somewhere along his travel pattern where you can get within bow range of him while he’s using the wind to his advantage”

When a peak time arrives, you must put the rest of your life on hold. You might be surprised to discover that most of these true giants were not shot during the rut. Most big buck killers agree that they prefer to kill Booners before the chaos of the rut arrives and the deer are in more predictable patterns.

You’re Not Passing On Big Bucks

Those 170 and 180 bucks were once 150 bucks. If you can’t pass up a 4-year-old 150, you will probably never shoot a 6-year-old 180. A friend in southern Iowa who owns a large farm told me he kicked a guy out of their hunting group because he wouldn’t pass up the 4-year-olds that most people would drool over.

See also  How To Smoke Wild Boar Meat There are many different opinions on how to properly smoke meat. This is what has worked in my experience, but there are certainly other successful methods. Experiment and have fun.Working muscles (shoulders, ribs and legs) benefit most from long slow cooking methods like smoking or braising.The basic issues to control when smoking meat are:1. Maintain a low cooking temperature2. Maximize moisture retention in the meat.Low Cooking TemperatureI keep my cooking temperature around 200°F - 225°F. The goal is to slowly raise the internal temperature of the meat to 180°F and then hold it there for about an hour. “Slow and low” is the mantra. Cooking time will be about 1.5 – 2 hours per pound of meat, but can vary based on thickness and whether or not it’s bone-in or bone-out.Many recipes will tell you to pull the meat when it reaches an internal temperature of 190°F or even 200°F. That advice works because it takes about an hour for a modest size piece of meat to increase from 180°F to 190°F. I would not recommend going much higher than that for very long because you begin to lose moisture in the form of steam.Lower cooking temperatures of 180°F - 200°F can be used to great success, but the cooking time will be much longer. Cooking at temperatures above 250°F is not recommended because the meat cooks too quickly causing increased moisture loss and does not allow ample time for the collagen to break down (it makes for dry, tough meat).Why 180°F internal temperature?Meat contains muscle fibers and connective tissue (collagen). It is the collagen that makes the working cuts “tough and chewy” when not properly cooked. Collagen does not break down into liquid gelatin until it reaches 180°F. You must break down that collagen by getting the internal temperature to at least 180°F and stay there for about 1 hour. Once you’ve broken down the collagen you will have fork tender meat.Moisture RetentionMoisture retention is especially important when smoking wild game meats because they are typically much leaner than other meats.Brining   – Moisture can be added to the meat prior to cooking by brining it. Moisture will still cook out of your meat, but since you’re starting with more moisture the end result will be juicier. A basic brine recipe is 1 cup of table salt per 1 gallon of water. Subtle flavorings can be infused into the meat by including sugar (1/2 cup per 1 gallon of water), garlic cloves, onions, bay leaves, peppercorns, herbs, or just about anything else. However, the primary purpose of brining is to increase the moisture content of the meat prior to cooking. Stir the salt into the water until it dissolves. For large quantities it may be necessary to heat the water to make the salt dissolve. (If you do heat the brine it must be cooled off again prior to adding the meat.) Add the meat and allow it soak for several hours in the refrigerator. For shoulders and legs (2 - 6 lb pieces) soaking overnight is just right. When the soak is finished remove the meat from the brine, briefly rinse it under cold water and then pat dry. Add your rub/spices and you’re ready to cook.Injecting   – Some inject their meat with liquid and spices prior to cooking. Like brining, this increases the moisture content prior to cooking so there will be more moisture left in the meat when it is finished.Basting   – Basting is done by periodically coating the meat with liquid to add moisture and flavor as it cooks. Just about any liquid will do as long as it is low in sugar. Sugar burns quickly so only add glazes and BBQ sauces (which are loaded with sugar) during the last 20 minutes of cooking and only long enough from them to firm up.Barding   – Covering the meat with fatty bacon or other fats while it cooks is another technique. This is typically used on very lean meats that lack sufficient natural fat so the bacon acts as a substitute. This is a great way to add fat and moisture during the cooking process, but I also find that you end up tasting bacon more than the meat.Wrapping   – Once the meat has smoked for a few hours and absorbed a sufficient quantity of smoke flavor the meat can be tightly wrapped in foil. This wrap will reduce moisture evaporation into the open air and keep the juices close to the meat (acting more like a braise than BBQ). It’s also a great way to capture the juices for use in a sauce. If you want a crispy exterior (a “bark”) then don’t use a foil wrap and cook a little longer. If you want some insurance on getting a tender, moist final product then use the wrap.Smoke and WoodWood Choice   – Just about any hardwood will do. Oak and hickory are some of the most popular and most commonly available. Mesquite, maple and fruitwoods can add a sweetness to the meat, but don’t overdo it. Herb woods like basil, rosemary and thyme can be used in small quantities to add a deeper flavor profile. Avoid softwoods (evergreen trees) because the high resin levels will give your meat an unpleasant taste.Smoke Ring   – The “smoke ring” is a reddish/pink coloration just under the surface of the meat. It’s formed by a chemical reaction between the nitrogen dioxide in the smoke and the myoglobin in meat (which creates nitric acid and colors the meat). A good smoke ring is prized in BBQ because it usually indicates that the meat was successfully cooked slowly at a low temperature. The smoke ring gradually forms until the meat (just under the surface) reaches 140°F, then the formation stops. The thickness of your smoke ring depends on how long it takes for the meat to reach this temperature. Knowing how a smoke ring forms gives us two practical applications:1. To maximize your smoke ring take the meat directly from the refrigerator to the cooker. Conventional wisdom instructs you to bring the meat to room temperature before cooking, but starting straight from a cooler temperature will give your meat more time to develop a smoke ring.2. Since smoke ring formation stops at 140°F you only need to worry about generating smoke for the first 4 hours of cooking (roughly). After that the meat will not be absorbing any more smoke flavor or coloring. After 4 hours, just concentrate on keeping a steady low temperature until the meat is done.The Oven OptionNot everyone is blessed with the time, space, and/or patience to play with a smoker. Take heart - you can still get good results with an oven.Heat your oven to 200°F - 225°F. Wrap the meat in foil. Put it in the oven until done as described above. About 1.5 - 2 hours per pound.If you want smoke flavor use your smoker/BBQ pit for the first 1 - 2 hours to infuse some smoke flavor into the meat. Then finish the cooking in the oven. If you don't have a smoker or don't want to bother with it - skip this step. It will still be good. Written by Chris Hughes Filed under cooking,  cooking tips,  learn,  recipe,  smoke,  wild boar Tweet

“People like Adam [Hays] and I have learned not to smoke the tag on the first 4-year-old 160 that comes by,” says Rising. “We only have one tag in Ohio.”

That’s a tough hurdle for most hunters to get over. If you are happy with a 150-160 then so be it, but if you want to kill bucks approaching 200, you will have to let them walk.

You’re Taking Shortcuts

Most hunters rely too much on gimmicks and don’t go to the extremes necessary. You aren’t choosing your entry and exit routes wisely enough, and you aren’t using discipline to wait for perfect conditions. These big buck killers are scent control fanatics, but they don’t use that as an excuse to take shortcuts with the wind. Scent control is an honorable goal, but the belief that you can totally eliminate your scent and ignore good woodsmanship is a ticket to forkhorn land.

Hanging a treestand during the rain, letting those cameras sit for weeks and only checking them with the right wind, having the patience to wait until everything is right — these are the characteristics of a person who kills Booners. Hunting mature bucks is all about strategic moves at the right time in the right place. There are no shortcuts, you must make every move with precision.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>