The topic of “mature whitetail vs almost there”, is something that us deer hunters are always very intrigued by! I have been following this deer we called “Rocky” since 2019. Rocky’s home was on the property that my wife Shelley and I own. I had the opportunity to sit in the tree this year for the first time since we purchased the property to try and have a personal interview with Rocky.
Rocky was very consistent when he was in velvet. On August 25th I got pictures of him, just like I had for the past 2 months. Then he went MIA for two weeks. My first thought was that Rocky was off shedding his velvet and he will be back, and that is exactly what was going on. I have to admit, the two weeks he was gone was concerning. Just when we think we have the whitetail deer figured out, we run into a mature deer like “Rocky”. That is what makes chasing these great animals so enjoyable.
The first pictures I received September 6th of Rocky’s return, he went dark. I just kept an eye on his clock until he got back to daytime. A few days went by and his clock was slowly turning to daylight. On September 9th he was in at 3:00 am. I decided that I would get in the stand on the morning of September 10th. I was up at 4:00 that morning. Headed to get in the tree before daybreak. Before walking into my stand, I figured I would look to see if Rocky had been in yet. Well, there he was on camera at 5:00 am. So now what? I watched until he left and went to sit that morning and that evening. He never came back that day.
Jump to the morning of September 11th. Up at 3:30 am to get in the stand an hour before daybreak. I checked the camera before walking in and with great relief no pictures of Rocky yet. Got settled in my stand and watched the day break. Some young bucks and does came and went. Skip to 7:00 am, in came a doe with 3 fawns to have a snack. Nothing better than having the eyes of a doe watching to see what is coming. At 7:15 the doe became very nervous, that is when I stood up and grabbed my bow just in case it was time for the interview! I caught movement to my left and there he was in all his glory. There is no feeling like watching a mature buck own his area, walking cautiously and proud. At 7:19 he gave me the opportunity that I was waiting for. I made a good ethical shot with a 65 yard recovery. The emotion I had when I walked up on Rocky was a feeling that can not be explained, unless you have had the opportunity to experience it.
Back to the title of this blog, “Mature vs Almost”. I knew Rocky was at least 6.5 years old as I had been following him since 2019. (Rocky was 7.5 yrs bottom jaw) I also had another deer that was of interest on our property “Young Gun”. This deer had gained a good 25″ from last year and was/is very impressive. But I knew he was young. Probably 4.5 years old. Looking at the trail cam pictures, “Young Gun” was a higher scoring deer over Rocky. But I also know that “Young Gun” has what it takes to be a 190-200 class whitetail. He just needs TIME. That is my point here, if we want to grow 180-190 bucks, we need to manage them. Below is a picture of “Young Gun” in hard horn and then a picture of Rocky. There is no question looking at body mass that one is 3 years older. Hopefully I get the opportunity to see “Young Gun” next year at this time.
Happy hunting and remember “Keep the wind in your face”