John's Journal...

How to Take the Buck that Nobody Else Can Bag

Take A Shortcut Buck

Troy RuizEditor’s Note: Bucks of legend, those seldom seen and mostly nocturnal, that no one can take but that everyone chases have developed reputations of having almost supernatural powers over the years. Here's a look at how some of the nation's deer hunters successfully have pitted their skills against the bucks with the big reputations.

Two different times when Troy Ruiz of West Point, Mississippi, came out of the woods from hunting, he spotted a nice buck on a ridgetop as he walked back to his vehicle. Although Ruiz tried to slip in close enough to get a shot at the buck with his bow, the deer always spotted him and vanished. "I was hunting in Prentiss, MiTroy Ruizssissippi, in Jefferson Davis County," Ruiz, the videographer for Mossy Oak camouflage, says. "The hunting pressure was heavy, and the area had been hunted with dogs. I tried hunting that buck early in the morning, late in the afternoon and even in the middle of the day. But I never could get a shot at him. I also knew I wasn't the only person hunting that deer because other hunters in the area had seen him." The 8-point buck had a 17-inch inside spread of the main beams. Though many hunters wouldn't consider this buck a trophy, Ruiz knew he was a really-nice buck for that section of Mississippi. Ruiz continued to scout intensively, sure that the buck fed at night in a cornfield located about a mile away from the hillside where he'd always seen him. "Right below the hill, there was a 5- or 6-year-old clearcut that had grown really thick," Ruiz explains. "I felt that the buck was feeding in the corn at night, staying in the clearcut during daylight hours and moving to the mountain to get a few acorns in the middle of the day. But I couldn't find a place to set-up my tree stand where I could take a shot at the buck." For the buck to go from the cornfield to the big thicket where he bedded, Ruiz knew the buck first had to cross a road. Then to take the shortest route, the buck had to come across a young clearcut before reaching that older clearcut. Someone had stacked-up a pile of logs to be hauled off in a clearing at the end of the young clearcut. Although Ruiz didn't see any well-defined deer trails, he decided to go to the corner of that clearcut, take a stand and wait on the buck.

“I thought the deer might be cutting the corner of the young clearcut to get to the older one because the ground was more open where that log yard had been," Ruiz mentions. "I just believed that the deer had to walk that way." The next morning before daylight, Ruiz sneaked into the oTroy Ruizld log yard. Using a climbing tree stand, he went about 20 feet up a tree he'd picked out the previous day. "About 15 minutes after I'd been in my stand, I spotted a doe," Ruiz says. "The doe came out into the old log yard, walked across the opening and continued to walk right under my stand." Five minutes later, Ruiz heard a buck running in the distance. As he watched the edge of the clearing, he saw the buck he wanted coming across the old log yard. When the buck reached the halfway point of the log yard, he looked around for the doe. When the buck didn't see the other deer, the buck turned to walk in the direction from which he'd come. "But then I whistled, and the buck turned around and started looking toward where the doe had gone," Ruiz explains. "I grunted at the deer, and he continued to come to me. When the buck was at 60 yards, I took the shot and dropped him." When Ruiz scouted the area after he'd downed the buck, he found a small creek nearby, bordering on the clearcut, which had helped to funnel the buck to him. "I learned these deer weren't following a trail, they were only meandering through this region. Many times, if you look at land, you can define the shortest route a buck can take from his feeding to his bedding area, and locate the best stand sites. I was hunting the buck in an area I'd never seen him in, while the other hunters were looking in the places where they'd spotted him before."

Tomorrow: Bag a Farmland Buck

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Take the Buck that Nobody Else Can Bag"

Day 1: Remove the Hunting Pressure
Day 2: Hunt 'Em Backwards
Day 3: Hunt Little Places
Day 4: Take A Shortcut Buck
Day 5: Bag a Farmland Buck


Entry 380, Day 4