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Tailgate Talks: 2023 Tennessee Velvet Weekend Successes!

Tennessee bowhunters faced brutal temperatures in the forecast throughout the weekend as they climbed back into the treestand in hopes of an encounter with a big buck in velvet. And despite temps hovering just shy of the 100-degree mark, a number of hunters got the chance to punch their first deer tag of the season.

The hunt took place August 25-27 on private lands across the state. Now in its 6th year, the hunt has continued to grow in popularity among bowhunters in search of a highly coveted velvet buck. Below you’ll find a roundup of a few of the bucks that were taken over the weekend for this year’s hunt.

Rebecca Page

woman with buck

In the 2022 season, I hunted 11 different weekends, morning and evenings, for a nice 10-point buck we had seen on our trail cameras. I never got my chance at the buck in 2022, and I honestly wasn’t planning to hunt the 2023 velvet hunt until trail camera photos showed that the buck was back on the property and bigger than ever. The buck was showing up on all 3 cameras we had out, so I quickly began to practice with my crossbow and prepare for velvet weekend.

I hunted Saturday morning to no avail. The next morning, around 6:20am, a small buck was the first to step out by my stand. Within a few minutes, the big 10-pointer made his way down the same trail. I waited for him to turn broadside for about 10 minutes. Taking deep breathes and making sure I was steady, I finally let the bolt fly at 30 yards. I knew I had just smoked him! I waited for my husband and friend to come and help get on the track. We found the buck just 50 yards from the stand. I was so thankful for the help of my husband and friend, and the opportunity to hunt the velvet weekend in Tennessee.

Clayton Cannon

man with buck

I always look forward to getting trail cameras out in late May and early June to begin taking big buck inventory. To my surprise, the big 9-pointer I had seen in the 2022 season had survived and was still hanging around the farm. I knew the velvet season would be my best bet to see him since he doesn’t rut/winter here on the farm.

Velvet weekend was approaching fast, and with very little intel of a pattern, I was torn on where I needed to hunt. My buddy, Patrick, from Dead End Game Calls, encouraged me to pray about it and go with my gut. Looking closer at the trail cam photos, I noticed a small pattern from all the heat we had been experiencing. The buck would bed by the creek and would come out the same trail around 3:30-4:00pm to get a drink from the creek.

So I slipped my gear on and eased down the creek to climb a tree. To my surprise, at 3:37 the big 9-pointer read the script exactly how I had planned, presenting me with a 25 yard shot and a quick recovery.

J.T. Mardis

man with buck

The 29th of July was our first trip up to the farm, and we were excited to see two shooter bucks feeding in the beans, despite not having any trail cam photos of them. We went back the weekend of August 12th and again saw one of the shooters in the same corner of a bean field. We made some adjustments with stands and cameras and quickly began getting pictures of him. The day before the velvet hunt, I went up and watched the same corner and saw him come out about 100 yards away from my stand. He worked his way directly to my stand, so I knew my chances were good.

The first afternoon of the hunt, I rode my e-bike in and climbed in the stand around 4:30. I saw a bunch of does and spikes early, but the buck didn’t come out until 7:00pm. While feeding towards me, he smelled me once, but I don’t think he got a good enough whiff of me to spook. The other deer in the field were calm, so he kept working my way. The buck smelled me again at 25 yards and bounced back to 30 yards and turned broadside. I shot him and he ran directly under me and crashed about 100 yards behind my stand. I believed he was dead, but we waited until 10:00pm to go look, just to be safe. We later found him right where I heard him crash.

Brodie Swisher

man with buck

I found myself in the hot seat on the first night of the hunt after a long week of glassing target bucks from a distance. I hung a stand to take advantage of a bed to feed trail I had watched the bachelor group take 3 out of the 5 nights before the hunt. The plan paid off. With shooting light fading, the group of bucks made their way out of the thicket onto the logging road I was watching over. The 2nd buck in line was a tall-tined 8-pointer that looked mighty fine to me. I shot him when he stopped in an opening 10 yards from my treestand. It was a textbook velvet hunt where everything fell into place, just like you dream of all during the off-season.

Be sure to check back in for updates from Mississippi’s velvet buck hunt coming September 15-17.

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