My quest to tag a giant whitetail buck I have named Trump will shift to a higher gear on Saturday when the Illinois archery season opens. If you have been following my blog entries you will remember that Trump is a 6 1/2 year old buck that I have gotten trail camera photos of for the past 5 summers. This past summer (2016) I really became interested in Trump when his rack grew at least 20 inches bigger than it was the year before when he was a 5 year old. The interesting thing about Trump is that he shifts from a summer range to a fall range each year in the early fall. Once he does, I stop getting photos of him. My first challenge is to discover where he goes in the fall and winter months when hunting season is open.
In an effort to determine Trumps entire range I have spent the last 3 months moving trail cameras to areas surrounding where I have gotten his photo the last 5 summers. I will continue this process all fall as I seek to learn as much as possible about Trumps movement patterns. So far I have gotten Trumps photo at 4 different locations in the past 3 months. Those 4 locations span an area over 3/4 of a mile long. The most recent photo I have of Trump is from 6 days ago when he was still in his summer range and at a location where I have gotten his photo each of the last 5 years. He will soon be making his shift to his fall range and then my work will get a bit tougher. I do have a pretty good idea which direction he moves though so that gives me a place to start. In fact I already have some trail cameras set up in that direction in hopes of keeping tabs on his movements.
One thing I have learned about Trump this summer is that he is nocturnal; I mean almost entirely nocturnal! I have at least a couple of hundred photos of him from this summer and every single one of them has been during complete darkness. This could be explained by the camera locations being too far from where he beds but I dont think that is the case. Most of the time when I got Trumps photo this summer he had two other bucks with him, both are 3 year olds. The interesting thing is that I also got a lot of day-time photos of those same 3-year olds at the same locations but Trump was never with them during the daytime. I have kept track of a number of mature bucks over the years using trail cameras but Trump is the first one who did not show himself a single time in daylight during the summer. I have to wonder, if he is this nocturnal during the summer when bucks are typically the most relaxed, will he move at all during daylight when the pressure of hunting season heats up?
With hunting season just hours away, my plan is to be more agressive with Trump than I typically am with mature bucks I am hunting. I will detail some of this in future blogs as it happens. I know that sitting in a tree waiting on a totally nocturnal buck to get up and move past my stand is a recipe for failure. While my goal is certainly to kill Trump, I also know that it very well might take more than one season if it even happens at all. I need to learn as much about Trump as possible this season to increase my odds next season. Many bucks become more active during daylight as they get older. I hope this happens with Trump and when it does I need to know as much about him as possible to have a decent chance of killing him. I should also note that I will also be hunting other bucks in other areas. I am not about to put all of my hopes for a filled tag on this one buck.
I have repeatedly told friends that my odds of even laying eyes on Trump are very slim. That is the absolute truth. If I somehow pull it off and slip an arrow through this bucks chest it will be one my greatest accomplishments as a hunter. That is my reason for sharing this journey with you. Trump is a 100% “real world” buck in every way. He lives in a heavily hunted area and I will be hunting him amongst other hunters and without the aid of foodplots or a private sanctuary. If I get lucky and pull it off I want you to experience the entire journey with me as it happens. Stay tuned, the hunt for Trump is about to start!
Best of luck to everyone this season; be safe, have fun and enjoy the journey. God Bless