Would You Shoot This Buck?

Throughout much of the Midwest, deer hunters are targeting mature whitetail bucks, and one of the most useful scouting tools is a trail camera. This image in eastern South Dakota was taken this past Saturday afternoon, during legal hunting hours. Would you shoot this buck?

The pre-rut is on, and whitetail bucks are making scrapes and harassing does. This past weekend in South Dakota, my wife and I bowhunted and checked our Cuddeback scouting cameras, and although we didn’t release any arrows, we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of buck activity given the unseasonably warm temperatures.

As the photo below shows, my wife hiked to her treestand on Saturday afternoon a couple of hours before sunset. You can’t see it in the Cuddeback pic, but her ladder stand overlooks this brassica plot. In fact, the ladder is only about 5 yards off camera to the left.

With great shooting light remaining, the 3.5-year-old 4x4 (top photo) came in from the west (left) and circled the brassicas, choosing instead to feed on clover that’s planted to the east (right) of the brassicas. My wife drew her bow, but decided she didn’t want the season to end so soon. Had the buck scored 130 or 140 instead of 120 and I’m sure we would’ve spent Saturday night butchering a deer instead of watching the World Series.

So my wife passed the 4x4. Would you?

FYI: The following morning, I was hunting just east of the brassica/clover field, and the same 4x4 walked 12 yards past my treestand, I also chose not to shoot. It was fun watching the buck rip open a scrape and work the overhead branch at such close range, but there was no way I’d shoot him on October 26. You see, I have plans to bowhunt this river-bottom during an extended vacation in early November, and the No. 1 buck on my hit list is shown below.

Look at that tine length! There’s a chance the buck above is 3.5 years old, but he might be 4.5. In any case, if he strolls by my stand, an arrow will be in the air!