provided by John Phillips
I’ve known and hunted with Mossy Oak Pro Mark Drury of Missouri and co-owner of Drury Outdoors for over 30 years. I’ve been fortunate enough to watch him not only evolve as a videographer and a TV host, but also as a land manager and hunter who’s learned the secrets of growing and taking big white-tailed bucks. Once you learn the Drury system of managing satellite hunting properties and keeping a log of bucks from 2-1/2 years old and older you’re planning to take, you also can produce more and bigger bucks on the properties you hunt just like Mark does. This week you’ll learn the system that the Drury family uses to consistently find and take older-age-class bucks with bigger racks and bodies than most of us ever have seen.
Four requirements are needed to have older-age-class bucks staying on and coming back to your property: food, cover, water and lack of intrusion. If you have plenty of food, an abundance of cover, plenty of water and stay out of that property until the day you’re planning to take a mature buck, you can hold and attract deer onto your land during deer season.
One of the biggest things that causes hunters to lose or not attract bucks to their hunting properties are intrusions. I believe that on my lands we don’t have many problems with poachers. I put plenty of trail cameras that aren’t easily visible out on my property. The trail cameras not only catch photos of deer and other wildlife, but they can and will catch poachers. I’m pretty sure that the last thing a poacher wants to happen is for a trail camera to take a picture of him that can be shown in court. Another way to prevent intrusion is to only hunt the property when you know you’ve got the right wind, weather conditions and stand to take the buck that you intend to take.
I’m running about 140 trail cameras between my properties in Missouri, Iowa and Texas, and every year, I probably look at about 2 million trail camera photos. I’m constantly studying photos from previous years as well as photos from the current year. That process just about drives me crazy, but to consistently take older-age-class bucks every year, you need that kind of information to make the best hunting decisions.
To keep up with checking the cameras, and to go into our stands as silently as possible, we start trimming or mowing the trails we’ll take to move into our blinds or tree stands. We need good access to get into and out of our stands as quickly and silently as we can. The three reasons that I like to have clean trails going to my hunting sites are to:
- get in silently
- avoid noise going to my stand and to be able to get to the stand quickly
- avoid ticks, especially in the early season
I also spray Permethrin on these trails, which I believe to be the best anti-tick insecticide on the market. And yes, the deer can smell it. That’s why you have to go in with a favorable wind, use Nose Jammer odor killer and Scent-A-Way odor control.
I shoot a Mathews VXR. This bow is still in your hand, very quiet, lightweight and extremely well-engineered. Many people may be surprised, but I’m only shooting 53 pounds because I have a bad left shoulder. I know that many bowhunters like to shoot 60-70 pounds or as heavy a draw length as they can pull. But, I currently have a white-tailed buck in my living room that grossed 211 inches, and I shot that buck by only drawing 47 pounds. I shot him at 25 yards, and my arrow got a complete pass-through both lungs. This deer shows how today’s bows are so efficient that you don’t have to shoot a really heavy draw weight to take a buck. One of the arrows that I like to use is the Victory Arrow, a micro-diameter arrow with a Rage broadhead that cuts 2 inches on contact. This arrow causes great blood trails, making recovering my deer much easier.
Going into the 2020 bow season, I have two or three bucks I’m planning to hunt myself, but we probably have trail camera pictures of about 30 mature bucks in Missouri and an additional 30 bucks in Iowa. However, having said that, we’ll narrow those numbers down to the mature bucks that we can see walking during daylight hours.
With as many trail cameras as I have not only in Missouri, but in Iowa and Texas, one of the questions I’m often asked is, “You must be burning a set of tires off your truck every year traveling and checking all of those trail cameras.” But I don’t. The cameras are set-up so that I can go to them, change cards and leave without spooking or affecting the deer in that area. I check many of those cameras personally, but the cameras that are too far away from me can be checked from my phone.
This fall, I’m trying to take two bucks scoring 200 inches or more. One of these deer is a Homeboy, and I believe he lives on the property I’m hunting. The other deer is a Traveler and seems to only be coming to my property at a certain time of the year. Both of these big bucks are on land that I just got to hunt this year. We usually will harvest 25-35 deer a season between the properties we have in Texas, Missouri and Iowa. Family, friends and guests will come in and hunt with us. By using the system we’ve set up - providing plenty of food, water and cover and staying out of those properties until we’re ready to take the deer we’ve found, we’re not overhunting any one property.