Ushering in a New Age of Fair-Chase, Mature-Buck-Effective Whitetail Hunting

Whitetail hunters are a cussed lot. Once they discover how to take a deer, they refuse to try hunting any other way. Yet they often complain about how few of the deer they see in the woods while hunting are mature bucks, They typically conclude there are few mature bucks in their hunting areas and it’s not their fault.  If they don’t see them, they aren’t there. It therefore isn’t worth their time to try hunting rare whitetails some other way. Taking a yearling buck or doe every year or so is good enough.

For fifteen years my thoughts were similar. At age ten, I started out as one of a gang of twelve hunters who almost always “filled out” on opening weekend by making drives. During my very first hunt, I took three deer. Neighbors from miles around used to visit my Uncle Jack’s farmyard annually to gaze in wonder at all the deer we hung there. The only trouble was (as far as I was concerned), only one taken during those years was a decent buck, the kind I dreamt of taking before each hunting season began. Only once did I glimpse a big buck in the woods. When I complained about never having an opportunity to take a big buck, another uncle laughed and said, “You have to be in the right place at the right time to get one of those.”

“Where is the right place and when at the right time?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he answered, laughing again, “but when you are there you sure will know it.”

Never satisfied with that answer, after earning three related college degrees, like no one else I know or ever heard of, I spent more than the next fifty years searching scientifically for right spots at right times and not just during hunting seasons. I was fortunate back in the 1960s to stumble on the best new way ever to discover unknown facts about habits and behavior of wild whitetails (including the largest of bucks): sitting at regular intervals year around during the next twenty years in primitive tree stands, beginning long before anyone ever heard of tree stands and long before whitetails learned to identify and avoid hunters in tree stands. In 1980 I began to share everything I had learned with other deer hunters. I’m still at it, During all those years of field research, I developed six great new ways to hunt mature bucks. Using these methods, my three sons and I have taken 98 mature bucks since 1990, many now on walls in our homes. That’s nearly one mature buck per hunter per year. Do you know anyone who has done as well? All were taken on public land in wolf country where there has never been more than 6–11 deer per square-mile while fewer than one deer was taken per 10 square miles in surrounding areas.

My sons and I have known many hunters who refused to believe our great buck hunting success was made possible by better hunting methods. “The Nordbergs have all the bucks,” many began saying back in 1980 (meaning, they believed all the big bucks in the area lived were we hunted). Soon they were saying, “We have as much right to hunt there as they do” and began making drives right behind our deer camp and using our permanent tree stands as well, In 1990 we therefore began searching for a new hunting area. Years later, one of those hunters stopped at my booth at a sports show and said, “We figured out why you Nordberg’s left your hunting area. You shot all the bucks. We haven’t seen one there since you left.”

It is beginning to appear we may be soon facing the same crisis. Other hunters are again obviously believing our great hunting success on public land is attributable to an unusually large number of mature bucks, rather than believing we could possibly be more knowledgeable and skillful at hunting mature bucks than they are. One large group made unsuccessful drives behind our camp and three others stand hunted within sight of our camp last fall.

Well, which kind of a whitetail hunter area you? Are you one who is convinced you already know everything about hunting big bucks and have one on the wall to prove it, or are you a hunter who would like to learn how to take a mature buck almost every hunting season with a gun or bow? Doc can teach you how to do it using one or more of his six new, fair chase (no bait or off-road motorized vehicles needed), mature-buck-effective hunting methods, Everything you need to know to become regularly successful at taking mature, super-elusive bucks (or does) is presented in his newly published Whitetail Hunters Almanac, 10th Edition. This 518- page 8” x 10” tome with 400 photos costs much less than dinner out for two these days and it is well worth it at any price because as promised by Doc, it will put you close to older bucks and other mature whitetails every day or half-day you hunt for the rest of your life. There is nothing else you can buy that can do that.

  This book is available in two forms; an Amazon Kindle ebook and a paperback book. For a taste of its extraordinary whitetail hunting value, click now on the following: Dr. Ken Nordberg’s Whitetail Hunter’s Almanac, 10th Edition, ebook   Then click on “Look inside.” To quickly and easily order the personally autographed 8″ x 10″ paperback version go to: http://www.drnordbergondeerhunting.com. 

 

How to Become Regularly Successful at Taking Older Bucks

During my many years of presenting hunting seminars at Sports Shows and Sportsman Clubs across the eastern half of America, I was always amazed to discover great numbers of whitetail hunters, young and old, who were born with all the knowledge and skills needed to successfully hunt dozens of trophy bucks, therefore requiring no books or videos that explained on how to better hunt such deer. I wasn’t that fortunate. Starting from scratch as a farm kid at age 10, I had to somehow learn how to do it. During my first fifteen years of whitetail hunting, I had to settle for being taught by hunters with only one or two big bucks on their walls. Much of what they taught me either didn’t work or the deer I hunted didn’t do what they and magazine writers back then said whitetails do. Determined to finally learn the well-kept secrets of those who claimed to have dozens of ten-pointers or better on their walls, in 1970 I decided to try something desperate: study wild whitetails scientifically (part time at first and then almost full time). I then began to discover a world of whitetails little known by anyone. Soon my children and I began hanging mounts of ten- pointers or better on our walls. Between 1990 and 2017 my three sons and I took 98 mature bucks (8–13 pointers), all on public land inhabited by abundant grey wolves.

Such hunting success was made possible by our six new mature-buck-effective hunting methods, evolved first from the discovery of the inability of whitetails to discover me perched on primitive platforms only 6–9 feet above the ground, between 1962 and 1989, and second from discoveries made as a result of my hunting-related studies, between 1970 and 2017. These two overlapping periods now total 55 years.

My Whitetail Hunters Almanac, 10th Edition, took three years to write and edit because of the enormous amount of new field research completed since publishing my 9th Edition in 1997. This unusually large book (likely my last because I am now 83) was written to share with all deer hunters – beginners, veterans and advanced hunters – everything of greatest importance I have learned about whitetails and whitetail hunting since the 1960s. This includes deer signs that practically guarantee hunting success, habits, and range utilization of the five behavioral classes of whitetails, the many elements that affect the timing of whitetail activities, the four month and one week long whitetail rut with three two-week breeding periods, six new mature-buck-effective hunting methods and more. All play prominent roles in determining where, when, how and how long to hunt mature bucks or other mature whitetails at any site. Though the six new hunting methods introduced in this book were designed specifically for providing easy short-range shots at mature, unsuspecting (standing or slowly moving) bucks with gun or bow, they also provide regular opportunities to observe or take other deer. Used properly, these hunting methods keep you close to mature bucks and other deer every day or half-day you hunt. One or more of these new methods are certain to soon become your next favorites.

This book is available in two forms; an Amazon Kindle ebook and a paperback book. For a taste of its extraordinary whitetail hunting value, click now on the following: Dr. Ken Nordberg’s Whitetail Hunter’s Almanac, 10th Edition, ebook   Then click on “Look inside.” Information and forms for quickly and easily ordering a personally autographed, 518 page, 3–pound, 8″ x 10″ paperback version with 400 illusrations is now available in my website: http://www.drnordbergondeerhunting.com. Very soon after you begin turning the pages of your new Whitetail Hunters Almanac, 10th Edition, you are going to be astonished by all that is new about whitetails and whitetail hunting.

 

Scouting in Spring—a Shortcut to Productive Fall Scouting


In a few days my sons and I will head north to do our annual spring scouting (started in 1980). Most of our time will be spent searching for and measuring various sizes of fresh deer tracks and droppings—absolute evidence of the existence of various sizes of deer of both sexes that currently live our hunting area. We normally scout in late April, right after after snow melts, before sprouting leaves begin to make deer signs difficult to find and before blood-crazed ticks, mosquitoes, gnats and black flies become numerous. This year, we have to wait a bit because eight or more inches of snow still covers the ground in our hunting area. Because we hunt mature bucks only, the fresh tracks and droppings that most interest us are those made by mature bucks—signs that reveal these deer are now resettled in previously established home ranges or newly settled in ranges of bucks we tagged last fall. Fresh tracks and droppings made by mature does are not ignored because, like those of mature bucks, they reveal does have resettled in their previously established home ranges (4–5 per square-mile) where they’ll be located while in heat in November. In spring we can find the deer signs we search for rather quickly because we know where to look for them: in previously identified whitetail home ranges, in bedding areas and feeding areas, at previously used watering spots, on certain deer trails and at sites of interest discovered on a recently made aerial photograph of our hunting area. Such range elements rarely change in location from year to year except where logging has occurred. After two days of spring scouting and placing long lasting cattle-type mineral blocks where they will benefit mature bucks, we will again return home knowing exactly where to concentrate our efforts next fall while engaged in our most prolonged, most difficult, most important and most productive pre-hunt scouting and field preparations.

Locating big bucks in spring generates excitements that lasts all summer. It makes my sons, grandsons and I much more thorough while preparing for the coming hunting season. That’s good, but as opening day draws near, it also causes us to daydream more and more and make it increasingly difficult to fall asleep at night. When you think of the few things in life that can make these things happen, you have to reaize taking a big buck is something pretty special, well worth some extra effort, scoutng in spring, for example.


Blasting a Long Held Belief About the Rut

About 85% of whitetail fawns are born in May, beginning about the 23rd. The gestation period (the period between the day a doe is bred until its fawn is born) is 201 days. This means about 85% of does are bred during the first two-week period of the whitetail rut beginning about November 3rd—always triggered by a specific, annually recurring ratio of darkness to sunlight. This means breeding is not in progress when about 90% of antler rubs and buck ground scrapes are being made between mid-October and the first days of November as many hunters have long believed. Deer are not “really ruttin’” until early November. During the 2–3 weeks before breeding begins, all antlered bucks are merely establishing or attempting to establish intended breeding ranges by marking them with easy-to-spot, musk-laden rubs and scrapes. By the time does begin emitting the pheromone that announces they are in heat, the most dominant of bucks will have forced lesser antlered bucks (bucks lower in their pecking orders) to flee off range and remain off-range until breeding ends in mid-November (some of which will attempt to sneak prematurely, sometimes often, especially yearling bucks).

About 10% of fawns are born in late June, meaning their mothers were bred during the second two-week period of the whitetail rut beginning about December 1st—triggered by the same specific ratio of darkness to light. The remaining 5% of fawns are born in late July, meaning, their mothers were bred during the third two-week period of the whitetail rut beginning a few days before January 1st—after which the triggering ratio of darkness to sunlight comes to an end until the following November.

All of the above dates are likely to occur a few days later in southern U.S. states. They may occur earlier in northern Florida, a month earlier in south-central Texas where whitetails are on a different biologic clock and may occur a month earlier in Virginia following a bumper crop of white oak acorns.

Bucks With Antlers in April

It’s mid-April and some whitetail bucks still have antlers. This is normal for yearling bucks, the last of bucks to shed their antlers. Ordinarily, the first to lose their antlers are the big trophy-class dominant breeding bucks, 5-1/2 to 6-1/2 years of age (few survive their 7th winter). In my northern Minnesota study area, this generally happens shortly before whitetails stage their annual migration to traditional wintering areas, about the beginning of the fourth week in December. Early shedding probably reflects their worn-out physical condition. If not most dominant, bucks 2-2/2 to 4-12 years of age drop their antlers January through March in wintering areas. Though I have occasionally found pairs of antlers close together that were obviously from the same buck, most are shed several days apart at scattered locations. I have watched bucks with single antlers (see 2-1/2 year-old buck above), apparently anxious to finish shedding, bang their remaining antler repeatedly with great effort on tree trunks. Interestingly, from almost the moment a buck sheds its antlers, it becomes docile (non-combative) and no longer has an interest in breeding. This allows mature, less dominant bucks to breed the few does in heat (5%) during the third and final two-week period of breeding begining a few days before January 1st. I have watched yearling bucks actually charge antlerless dominant breeding bucks at this time, forcing them to turn tail and flee (revenge?). Later in winter, antlerless dominant bucks do occasionally battle with other dominant bucks—pummeling one another with fore hoofs while nimbly dancing about on their hind legs. Once snow melts in spring, mice, squirrels and porcupines begin devouring much relished sheds.

How to Make a Hunting Stool

Though you may not realize it yet, the most productive method ever created for hunting mature bucks is mobile stand hunting at ground level. While using this method, the hunter takes quick advantage of very fresh tracks or other signs made by older bucks, changing stand sites every day or half day to keep near them. Frequent changes in stand sites is necessary when hunting older bucks for two reasons: 1) from mid-October until the end of the year, older bucks are seldom active in one limited vicinty much longer than a day and second, today’s mature bucks are “stand-smart,” meaning they generally find, identify and begin avoiding a stand hunter within 1–30 hours after the hunter begins using one stand site. A backpacked stool enables the hunter to quickly and quietly change stand sites and always sit well hidden by natural cover near trails and sites currently being used by older bucks today, made evident by very fresh mature-buck-sized tracks and other signs, or will be used later today and/or tomorrow morning if not alarmed there meanwhile. For all these reasons, no hunting aid can keep a hunter close to big unsuspecting bucks throughout a hunting season as well as a folding, backpacked stool.

To date, the best backpacked stool I have ever used is one I made myself in 1991. To see how I made it, as is often asked, go to my website, http://www.drnordbergondeerhunting.com, click on the “Articles” button on the left side of my home page and then scrool down to the bright-blue-lettered title, “How to Build Dr. Ken Nordberg’s Portable Hunting Stool.” Once you build one and become accustomed to using it properly, you will consider your stool to be your most valuable tool for hunting mature bucks and/or other deer.

Amazing Spring Scouting

Beginning in 1991, to prepare for the days I would lead my students from all over America afield for instructions in my early May buck and bear hunting schools in the wilds of northern Minnesota, I scouted up to a week right after snow melt. It was then I discovered signs made by whitetails such as antler rubs, ground scrapes, evidences of browsing (see photo) and favorite deer trails were as fresh in appearance as when they were made or used during previous fall hunting seasons. When the ground is damp and soft in early spring, and before leaves begin growing on trees, shrubs and grasses, these deer signs plus freshly made tracks and droppings are easier to spot over greater distances than at any other time of the year. Newly made tracks and droppings then provide absolute evidence of the existence of mature bucks and other deer that will available to hunt in fall (not including yet unborn fawns) and at this time they are using the same trails, cover and range elements they will use after leaves have fallen next fall. During this one brief period in spring, before ticks and blood-thirsty insects become abundant, everything you need to know about where to stand hunt during the first days of the coming hunting season is laid out in plain sight.

Our Northern Whitetails are now Desperate for Food

Our beleaguered northern whitetails, now trapped by deep snow in browse depleted wintering areas, need a snow melt soon. My long-time deer hunting partner who lives in north-central Wisconsin called to tell me increasing numbers of deer are showing up in his country yard to climb to the top of a seven-foot snow bank to browse on branches of his apple tree. I don’t know how high this is on the desperate whitetail scale, but this must be near the top. In the northern suburb of Minneapolis where I live, following our historic record snowfall in February whitetails living in a park six residential blocks away have recently been showing up in my yard and neighboring yards to munch on exposed tops of various flowering shrubs and evergreens (leaving tracks in snow like those in the photo above). Last night, a 15–20-pound white-faced rat, more commonly known as an opossum, spent the evening trying to figure out how to open the refuse can on my back porch, arousing considerable excitement in Harvey my wirehair pointer who was finally dispatched to end the ruckus. I have no idea what the flock of robins wintering in my yard have been eating, but they seem to be doing all right. Though whitetails in my northern Minnesota study area could move about in in snow in search of browse without great difficulty during December and January, our record snowfall since then has doubtless forced them to subsist on much, if not all, of their fat stores by now (mid-March). It now appears we are going to lose quite a few deer due to starvation this winter, mostly younger and older deer, including trophy-class bucks, if a serious snow melt doesn’t commence soon, enough to finally enable whitetails to break out of their depleted wintering areas (deer yards) to find new, unused sources of life-saving browse and/or crop residues in nearby farm fields.

Proposed Dangerous Copper Mining in Minnesota

If someone dropped a bomb that spread caustic sulfuric acid and other dangerous chemicals across a sizable portion of Minnesota’s scenic Arrowhead Region, including waterways draining into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Canada’s adjoining Quetico Provincial Park, and even into Lake Superior, killing trees, vegetation, birds, animals, fish and all other wild living creatures living near, downwind and downstream of the bombsite and poisoning affected soil and water for thousands of years, no punishment for committing such a heinous crime would be adequate. Yet two foriegn mining companies propose to do exactly this while promising to extract copper, nickel and gold from U.S. sulfide rock without any danger to living things, which has never been accomplished by even the most experienced of copper mining companies anywhere else in the world. Unlike iron ore, sulfide rock is an unstoppable source of sulfuric acid and other poisonous substances when dug up and exposed to air and water, rain or snow. Minnesotans anxious for more jobs are being blindsided by these compances. A trip to the Silver City Area in New Mexico and the region south of Tucson, Arizona where copper mining has been going on big time since the 1800s and talking to people who live near the huge copper mines there would prove it. For Heaven’s sake Minnesotans, please wake up. There is no shortage of copper. Don’t allow this unnecessary scourge get a foothold and inevitably destroy most of our pristine Arrowhead Region.