The giant 6 1/2 year old buck I named Trump got the best of me last season. I expected it really. In fact in reviewing my previous blog posts about my quest for Trump I noticed something interesting. In my first blog on this topic I gave myself a “less than 25%” chance of tagging Trump but a few months later I changed that to “less than 10%”. I also stated in a previous blog that I felt if I could put together some key pieces to the puzzle, my odds next season would move closer to 50-50. With spring green-up just around the corner it is time to review what I have learned about Trump and rethink my odds for the coming season.
You may recall that I have gotten Trumps photos every summer since 2012 when he was a 2 year old. I had no interest in hunting him until last summer when his antler growth exploded. Reviewing past trail camera photos I felt certain that Trump moved from his summer home to a different location each fall. The problem was that I had no idea where he went when he moved. Thus last season was spent largely trying to figure out where his home-range is by using trail cameras. I now know a lot more than I did at the begining of last hunting season but I am still not confident that my odds of tagging Trump next season are any better than 25%.
Here is what I do know – I have gotten photos of Trump at 8 different locations spanning roughly 3 miles. I did not get a single daylight photo of Trump until January 8 at 11:49 AM. I only got one other daylight photo and it was at the very same location on January 22 at 12:27 PM. Before anyone asks; I am not showing those photos because they show a landmark that could be recognized by someone in Trumps home range. So the only two daylight photos I have of Trump are both during mid-day in January at the same location. I have to assume that this is close to one of Trumps bedding areas.
I got photos of Trump 27 different times since putting out my trail cameras last July but only once in November. However I do believe that Trump takes part in the rut for a couple of reasons. I have his photo at scrapes and he has broken off 2 tines, I am guessing from fighting. I also have photos of Trump making a late night forray back to his summer haunts at the tail end of the rut (first of December). I am sure he was looking for a hot doe as there was no other reason for him to be back for this brief visit.
I have not been able to find Trumps shed antlers and with time winding down for that to happen it doesnt seem likely. I have been keeping my ears open for word of anyone finding a large set of antlers in Trumps area.
I am really looking forward to the 2017 season as I could potentially have 2 bucks pushing 200″ to chase. I am very confident I can kill the other buck if he is still alive and in fact does add a few more inches of antler. Trump on the other hand will be a challenge. I am doing all I can now to be in position to make it happen but like I said, I dont think my odds are any better than 25% at best. Last season I was always a couple of steps behind Trump as I checked trail cameras to find where he had been. I learned a long time ago that when chasing mature bucks you need to be a step ahead of them waiting for them to show up rather than a step behind. While I am certainly in a much better position heading into the 2017 hunting season than I was last season, I still dont like my odds. I said from the begining that I will be lucky to just lay eyes on Trump one time, let alone kill him. That really hasnt changed.
I cant wait to get the trail cameras out again in July and see what Trumps next rack looks like. I hope he has another big jump in antler score but have some concerns also. The weather pattern seems to be setting up for a drought. This means that antler growth will likely suffer to some degree. It also increases the risk for EHD. If there is one thing I have learned about chasing big whitetails it is that you never count on anything until you walk up and wrap your hands around the antlers of a buck you shot. A lot can happen to the bucks we chase and often they just disappear without us never knowing what happened. I just thank God for the opportunity to chase Trump and whether I end up tagging him or not, Trump is a buck that I will always remember.