Once you decide to target a real monarch—the buck of a lifetime—it means putting all your chips in the game. It means making life-altering sacrifices. You have to be dedicated, focused and determined. Are you ready? Here are steps five and six of a 10-step series to help you kill the biggest, best buck of your life. (Click here to see the third and fourth steps.)
Become An Alpha Predator
OK, you’ve purchased the gear, but can you use it to its full potential? If you feel inadequate in your ability to hit running game, shoot from long range or handle weather-driven accuracy issues, seek out help. Local sportsmen’s clubs, rifle ranges and archery clubs all have experts on hand, and instruction to make you a better shot.
If you feel like you’re capable of most shots, then begin a practice regimen. Sight-in your hunting tool and leave the benchrest behind. Practice like you hunt. Shoot offhand, with shooting sticks and off bipods. For archery practice you’ll need to master the steep shots that you’ll encounter from a treestand, and the sneaky shots from the tiny windows of a ground blind. Most dedicated trophy hunters shoot year-round, but if you can’t afford that much time, at least set aside 3 months of time prior to hunting season to hone skills. In the process, determine your lethal range and don’t push that envelope during a hunt. What’s worse, leaving a buck for another day, or sleepless nights knowing you wounded and lost the buck of a lifetime?
Finally, to boost your shooting skills and your hunting prowess, get in shape. Hunting for whitetails isn’t as demanding on your body as sheep hunting, but get toned and it’ll help you climb trees more easily, still-hunt with comfort and hike into remote areas. Guess what? It should also extend the years you’ll be able to hunt for that trophy buck, and if you ever draw that hard-to-come-by sheep permit, you’ll be ready for the rock slopes.
Do everything possible to become a well-trained marksman with your hunting tool.
Get Schooled In Scoring Antlers
This whole series is dedicated to helping you bag a true trophy. To do so, you need to know how to field judge one quickly—I mean in seconds. This skill takes practice, so begin by familiarizing yourself with the Boone and Crockett Club scoring system.
B&C uses a specific series of measurements that, when added together, give you a gross score for whitetails. The Pope and Young Club uses the same system, but only recognizes bow-killed animals and their entry-level scores are smaller. The B&C system categorizes whitetails into two divisions: typical and non-typical. B&C has a 160-inch minimum for typical racks and 185 inches for non-typical. To qualify as a P&Y buck, the minimum antler score is 125 inches for typical racks and 155 inches for non-typical.
To reach these scores, B&C takes measurements from four major areas, including the inside spread, the main-beam length, point length and no more than four mass measurements from the main beam. These measurements are added together and deductions are given for any difference in symmetry for the typical category. Unless you have access to areas harboring large numbers of trophy bucks, most hunters ignore the deducted or net score and use gross score for field-judging purposes.
To field judge you’ll need to mentally compute antler measurements. Everyone has their own system for this, but click here to read one of my blog posts about it.
Practice scoring bucks of known measurments to hone your field-judging skills.