Pat Reeve | Mossy Oak ProStaff
The best deer I took in 2017 was a 6-1/2-year-old buck that scored 180-6/8-points typical on our 500-acre property here in Minnesota. Nicole and I intensively manage our 500 acres to produce older-age-class bucks. We’ve learned in our area that our deer are very residential. We live in the bluff country where there are numbers of hills, ridges and bluffs. Deer there don’t have to go very far to find food and security. Therefore, we can pass up bucks when they’re young and allow them to mature and grow into the older-age classes.
We basically grow all the deer all year long on our lands. I’d been watching the buck I took in 2017 since he only was 1-1/2 years old. We plant early season clovers and alfalfa for the early-season food plots. We plant brassicas for later on in the season to provide late-season green forage and for its abundance of tonnage. We also plant grains like soybeans and corn.
I’ve been asked how I kept that 6-1/2-year-old buck on my land for that amount of time to grow. To start with, we don’t overpressure our deer, and we only hunt when the odds are the most in our favor to take the buck we want to harvest. Another secret is that we do everything we can to prevent deer from knowing that we’re hunting them, including the approach we take to and from the stands. Our deer generally bed on the opposite side of the ridge that we use to go into our property. Before we hunt, we’ll often clear a path to our stands to allow us to walk in quietly. When the time arrives for me to come out of my stand, I may call Nicole and ask her to drive the truck in to pick me up. Then any deer that’s close by will be spooked by the truck and not by me.
Many deer hunters overlook the necessity of a quiet, stealthy approach to their stands and never letting the deer see or hear them leaving their stands. So, I believe the number one secret to keeping big bucks on your property and taking older-age-class bucks there is to never let them know you’re hunting them. I believe many hunters overhunt their stand sites and in so doing, they educate the deer there and cause them to be nocturnal. They may often push them off their lands onto other nearby properties.
Pat Reeve and his wife Nicole are the hosts of “Driven” TV. This year is their 11th season to host the show. This season, Pat has hunted in Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Canada’s Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan.