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Improve your chances of bagging a Booner by letting the little ones grow

October 28, 2011 at 05:52 PM

The State Journal-Register

The Boone and Crocket Club maintains the records for native North American big game that is harvested by legal methods and in accordance with the principles of fair chase.

The club sets the entry bar pretty high for whitetail bucks. The minimum score for a typical buck is 170 inches. The minimum for a non-typical buck is 195 inches.

When the firearm deer season rolls around and you think you’ve put a buck on the ground that will merit a Boone and Crockett entry, you should go to its web site and read all the information carefully. Download the online scoring calculator so that you don’t do anything to disqualify your buck. After reading through the materials, they don’t strike me as an organization that’s very big on “oops.”

The fact of the matter is, Boone and Crockett requirements are something the vast majority of deer hunters will never have to worry their little orange-clad heads about. Most hunters will go their entire deer-hunting career without ever seeing a 170-class typical buck or a non-typical that gets within shotgun range of 195 inches. That’s why those bruisers are called “the bucks of a lifetime.”

Even with that encouraging insight, your odds of harvesting a trophy buck are greater today than they were 10 years ago — depending on where you hunt.

According to American Hunter magazine, from 2001 to 2010, four of the Top 5 trophy-producing states had more entries than they did in the previous decade. The Illinois total was up almost 25 percent. Kentucky was up 46 percent and Wisconsin increased its Boone & Crocket entries by 55 percent.
In the last five years, Wisconsin hunters harvested 305 Booners, with Illinois tallying 226. Missouri had 186 and Iowa tallied 184.

There are several theories on why the number of B&C trophy bucks is on the rise. One is that hunters have become more selective. The surest way to start seeing more mature bucks is to stop shooting little ones. Hunters are also taking advantage of extended seasons and manage the herd by harvesting more does.

A dozen years ago, hunters hacking out brush and planting food plots were either visionaries or guys with too much time on their hands. Now, even Buckwheat is doing it. The results speak for themselves. There is value in managing habitat and establishing food sources so that the big guys grow bigger and stick around when the crops are harvested.

Another possibility is that we’re becoming better hunters. We have more deer-hunting information than we can possibly digest. We can scout all year with trail cameras. And, bows, guns, slugs and arrows are getting better every day.

There is one thing that all B&C trophy hunters have in common that is not a theory. No matter where they hunted — or what time of day — each and every one of them was lucky enough to be in the right place at exactly the right time.

Contact George Little at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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