RED my Ohio 174″ buck


History of RED


The story of Red started in August of 2014 when I captured this random trail camera picture at a mineral site on my farm. Little did I know, over the next few years, a rich history of trail camera pictures, sheds and encounters would compile and that Red would become a household name, and my 2017 deer hunting quest.

At first, Red was only the occasional visiter to my farm. I captured him again on TC at a cron pile in the late season, but he was weary of the TC and I only captured this single picture. His attitude and body told me he was a 3 year old, despite his rack having a estimated 15 inch spread….indicative of a 2 year old. I then picked up his left shed in the spring a few hundred yards away.

In the fall of 2015, Red made his appeerance around the rut and stayed for a spell. He was on the “shoot list” but never slipped up, even though he started showing some daylight activity. That spring I looked all over hell and high-water for his sheds…..but they never surfaced. That failure still stings.

2016 Red was the primary target for me and two Booner’s Acres clients. But before they could arrive in camp, Red busted off two major tines and I decided I would not shoot him. I also requested to my guest that they not shoot him either. I’m fortunate to have a great circle of hunting guest and they all agreed that Red had the potential to be great and we all hated the thought of shooting a deer that had 10-15 missing inches of horn. A couple of us had chances at him in 2016, but we held true to our pact and he lived.


Maybe this “freedom” made Red feel more secure at my farm because he started to be very daylight active and he shed both 2016 antlers on my farm and in very visible locations. One in my newly built pond (my first shed of the 2017 shed season). And the other in the bean stable near my house (that my Dad found while planting CRP).


And with that, the stage was set for 2017.

The Hunt for RED


I have to start by saying the hunt for Red in 2017 was an easy one. There was no grind, no hard to get out of bed mornings and no pressure to make things happen. It was one of those years that makes you wonder why most years… it’s so hard.


My “rut vacation” from work started October 27th and consisted of two weeks off, but only 2 or 3 mornings a week that I could actually hunt. Those mornings I sent my kids to a baby sitter. I could also hunt any evening that I had the house cleaned and dinner cooked, when my wife (a full-time teacher) came home from work. A deal my wife and I have made for the past few deer seasons.

I was totally OK with the schedule because I do (and always have) preferred morning hunts and….. I like a clean house. I personally believe big bucks are on their feet more in the mornings (compared to evenings) and I feel that the areas big bucks live in are certainly easier to penetrate under darkness. In recent years, I’ve also found that mornings are best for my wife and I’s schedule. Even still…hunting season is very taxing for my wife and without her support the story below wouldn’t exist. So, I must say thank you to my amazing wife foremost.

A hunt for me typically starts the night prior via looking at, the Huntstand app on my phone, mentally processing trail camera pictures for the days prior and lastly looking at temperatures and moon phases (overhead/underfoot times) to guesstimate “how good of a movement day” will likely be ahead. The later, helps me decide if I’ll hunt perimeter stands where my chances of bumping deer are less or going all in and hunting high risk/high reward stands.

On the night of Nov. 11th, called for East winds with low temps and high barometric pressures. I also knew of several good bucks that were harvested by other local hunters in recent days and felt the rut was at a good breaking up point (lockdown was predominantly over). Most importantly, I knew RED my home grown 6-year-old Ohio whitetail, that I estimated at 170 inches had recently been very daylight active. So, daylight active, one of my hunt club members missed him only a week prior.

I decided the conditions were right for me to spend some time in one of the best areas of my farm. I was going to a place referred to as THE GAP. An approximate 100-yard-wide travel corridor, with two paralleling logging trails, between a deep cut ravine and a food plot edge at the rear of my farm. THE GAP is also almost directly positioned in the middle of my farm and is a good place for deer to cut through when going from one large chunk of timber to another large tract of timber. THE GAP also borders a 10-acre thick sanctuary, that I only enter during shed season. It really is the kind of spot that you should kill a monster on every sit. Red was showing me on camera that he was randomly jumping all over the farm, so this seemed like the perfect spot.



I do not however have a fixed stand for East winds in the GAP, mostly because it runs predominately EAST to West. But if the wind would have just a little north in it (which was predicted for later in the day) and IMO I’ve found that if a wind is predicted to shift later in the day…. many times, the wind will many times “kick that way” or even “slant that way” in previous hours. Also, If I shifted just a little south of the actual GAP…… I thought I could make it work. So, an hour and a half before legal shooting light, I made my way to the area with my trusty Lonewolf Hand Climber and a backpack full of goodies to make an all-day sit. I also must add that I’ve had some recent back pains and my Lone Wolf Hand Climber is one of my most comfortable stands, so the climber was a good plan.

I made my way to the gap by walking right out my back door and going 900 yards past/through a large CRP field, a once acre clover plot and two brassica food plots. Almost the whole walk is screened with 4-5 foot tall switch grass I planted 4 years ago. I made the entry without bumping any deer! I was shocked I was able to accomplish this because it was dead calm and as crunchy as a bad of Doritos from the frost. I picked a tree, without using a flashlight, knowing I’d looked this particular small Poplar Tree in the past and climbed up as fast as I could. I then buckled in my safety harness and started screwing in my pack holder hook and bow holder arm. Before I could even pull up my bow, I heard critters moving around me. I doubted they were deer and chalked to noise up to raccoons because I didn’t think there was any way I would have gotten into this spot without tipping off every deer in a square mile. But soon after first light, I found a couple fawns bedded in a thick spot of brush only 50-60 yards away. About an hour after light, the fawns left their beds and started milling around. Soon a button buck was directly underneath me eating Poplar leaves and a doe fawn 20 yards to my left. The wind turned out to be perfect for everything that was going on. It was mostly calm, but when the milkweed did float, it was a perfect ENE. That’s when things started to get uncomfortable.


When I’m on stand, I try to be a nose breather. It’s my opinion that it lessens your downwind odor. But with a recent runny nose, the flem had built up in my throat and I was starting to get a tickle. I fought it off as long as I could but then I erupted! A big old cough/hack that felt ohhhh so good! And the fawns never flinched! But momma doe, who had been apparently hidden in the forest below quickly came to investigate. She stomped up the hill and started cautiously looking all over for the cause of the suspicious noise. That’s when a miracle happened. The button buck fawn started coughing and hacking! I do not lie when I say after that, me and the button buck fawn took turns coughing for the next half hour and not a single deer became alerted to my presence.


Those deer soon wondered off and my attention turned to some sparing deep in the sanctuary. And from the sounds of the sparing…. not little deer. These sounded like big racks! Deep and heavy thuds. But bucks just playing around…. not an all-out brawl. Being Red is the only big mature buck I’ve seen in the area, I figured it was him and another buck that I had no knowledge of. The sparing stopped but not before catching the attention of a couple small bucks that made their way through the GAP, right under my stand location and disappeared into the sanctuary to investigate. Soon after those bucks disappeared, I caught a quick glimpse of a doe being chased by a big buck 200 yards to my right. But before I could grab my bino’s and I.D. the buck they disappeared into the CRP. At that time, I decided the prospects were high for the rest of the morning and that I needed to be a little more prepared. The wind also has picked up and was a steady ENE now and I could get away with some movement and noise.

At the shot, RED was 15 yards, standing right/center in picture, through the two hanging grape vines


Directly in front of me was a tree limb that was crowding my space. It was preventing me from shooting nearly 30% of my front radius. And although shooting through the tree tops in that direction was minimal, I decided I wanted it gone. I stood up, pulled out my tree saw and grunt tube and got ready. I made a couple long, loud tending grunts and then quickly sawed off the limb and then tried to throw it on top of some branches to my left that were almost “to high” for my best and most likely shooting lane. The whole ordeal made a good bit of noise, but I did everything with intention of it sounding like a buck that was tending a doe and taking out his sexual frustrations on the young Maple tree. The only part of my mock scenario that didn’t go as planned was the branch I cut off and threw made my suspected shooting lane worse! I now only had 2 or 3 very small windows to the GAP logging trail. I put my saw and grunt tube away and then remained standing and tried to figure out my best stance to get a shot through the branches……when………SNAP!


A twig broke 20 yards behind me. I turn and instantly recognize the blaze red forehead, grey muzzle and fully mature body features of RED! His antlers soon confirmed it was Red and I went into auto pilot. He was moving at a good clip and coming straight to the noise he had just heard. I leaned back, lifted my bow off the holder (t handle release already attached) and started drawing my bow within seconds. Before I knew it, I was finding my landmarks and the thoughts “he’s mine” and “don’t mess this up” were the only things going through my head. The angle was steep, 15 yards from the bottom of my tree he stood, sniffing the ground and at a pause. I buried the pin center mass, leaned back into the tree to get my best TIGHT shooting lane and punched the release.


The hit was solid! Center mass with a thwap! I could see the 2” Rage cut and I instantly said “smoked him” to myself and literally fist pumped! Red ran to 60 yards and stopped. His legs went wide stance and he stood still for a brief minute and then dashed left into thick cover. I did not see him crash or him ever get wobbly legged. I then started to doubt the shot. Was it to far back? How long should I wait? Was that the no zone? The doubts that can invade your memory I will always find amazing. I knew I smoked him but I was hesitant.


I instantly called my wife. Then texted my hunt club members. I told them all that I smoked Red. I did not share my doubts. I knew the shot was fatal but how long should I let him wait? I know the answers to every hit. Guys ask me every year for advice on an unsure hit…. but then it’s your own deer it always so hard. I decided I’d enjoy the moment and deal with questions later. I sat down and took some pictures. I then took out my thermos and drank 2 cups of coffee. I enjoyed the beautiful morning for 40 minutes and thanked god for all his blessings.


After gathering my composure (from the tree stand) I looked over the whole area with my bino’s. I could see my arrow, some hair and a little blood at the shot site. That made me feel better. I then climbed down, took off my boots and snuck to my arrow. I was very clean for a good vital hit. But the blood splatter and instant blood trail with bubbles was undeniable. RED was done.

I snuck to the edge of the sanctuary and climbed up on a stump from recent logging and peered into the sanctuary. Approximately 80 yards from the stand I could see RED laying on a skid trail. I walked slowly to him. Soaking up every detail of the morning. The sun was bright now. Frost gone and temperatures quickly rising. Simply a beautiful fall morning with a few tree’s lit in a neon yellow. A surreal moment. This was a deer I grew and respected. It was almost a spiritual moment. I stopped to take a few pictures walking up to him. But mostly, I was in a daze. Once to him I knelt down and gave him a few pats on the head, stroked his coat and said a few words. I apologized for taking his life and felt remorseful. I then walked away and called my wife and asked her and my buddy Mike (who had come to help with the recovery) to bring the whole family to see RED.

My almost 4-year-old son Cooper was so excited when he got there. For the last 2 weeks he’s been telling me to shoot RED. I let him pretend track RED and we soon found him. That’s when something unexpected happened. Cooper welled up and started crying unconsolably and said “Daddy you’re shooting all my pet deer”. It honestly made me feel very remorseful. But my wife and I quickly kneeled down with him, and explained the circle of life and the nourishment that RED would provide for us. He loves to eat deer meat and always ask for it whenever we have spaghetti or burgers. I told him all these things and he soon gained some composure. He then was again excited to help daddy get RED cleaned and poised for pics.

Taking pictures is a big ordeal for me. I take pride in quality pictures. Over the years I’ve tried moving the harvest to a very scenic picture place but have come to enjoy pictures where the harvest crashes best. These pictures help re-live the moment when you look at them in the future. So positioned Red, cleaned off all visible blood and snapped and few pictures. We then loaded him the Ranger for a quick ride home.


Many friends soon gathered at the farm to see the infamous RED. It was a great morning to celebrate and we did for a few hours. The rest of the day was busy with family Thanksgiving Day plans and caping and butchering Red. Later that night I was able to put the tape to RED. When the numbers were scribed, I gave them to my wife for the final calculations, told her to add them up with a total that should be between 168 and 172 and hit the shower. When I was all cleaned up and sat on the couch she said 174! I said no way! I ran the numbers myself and got 173 7/8. So, I sent a text to a buddy that wanted to hear the details of my hunt and said…. I’ll call you if he added the numbers up for me.

He put them in a app on his phone and sent it back to me. 174 again! I couldn’t believe it….gross Boon for 2017 on a home grown 6-year-old buck named RED. What a year


Thanks for reading,

Corey Snoke


The story of Christmas Tree

I have been a pretty blessed deer hunter. I live in an area of Ohio with great genetics and quality deer. So if you hunt smart and spend enough time in the treestand you can usually harvest a great buck. With that said, the 2014-2015 deer season has not been what a typical deer season is for me.  Usually I spend nearly every single day off work in October and November hunting and scouting.  Being I’m a 24 on/48off shift firefighter and typically take vacation from Halloween to mid-November… that’s a lot of hunt time. But with the birth of my wife and I’s first child, Cooper, my time in the tree stand was severely decreased this season. Please don’t take that statement for anything it’s not…. I love him more than I ever though possible but having children changes things….as many can attest!

My beautiful family











Even so, I found a fair amount of time to scout, hunt and run my Guide Service this season. I attribute this to a very understanding wife that knows my deep passion for hunting big mature whitetails. I had several quality sits, passed few pope and young bucks and even passed a shot at one of my target bucks because of fading light on Nov. 5th.  Soon after that hunt my clients left camp and I was free to hunt any deer I captured on trail camera in 2014. Before I go any farther I need to explain a little something about how I hunt and run my Booner’s Acres Guide Service. I have several great farms but only a few that clients can hunt. The farms I run clients on are OFF LIMITS to me every year until I have ran all my clients. My last client left camp Nov. 11th, So after that my list of “hit list” bucks and priorities changed….Christmas Tree was now my #1 target.

Christmas Tree in October with an extra drop tine dagger point










I hunted Christmas Tree all late November, shotgun season and a little during muzzleloader with no luck. With time running out and only a few weeks left to get the job done I switched to “the dark side” of Ohio’s deer hunting tactics and started running a corn pile at my farm. It didn’t take long for Christmas Tree to start using the pile with consistency and in daylight hours. I hunted him three times with good winds and he never showed. He then disappeared for a few days and I thought maybe I educated him.

The day before I harvested Christmas Tree









But then…two nights ago he showed back up and hit the pile well before dark. I figured he would do it again the very next evening and I moved in for the kill. By 5:40 last night I had 14 does and a half shed 6 point in front of me. Soon after Christmas Tree circled the pile, drank from a watering hole at 25 yards and lip curled his last doe. Rage 2 blade ate him up and he only went 30 yards. First buck I’ve shot off my farm since buying it in 2011. After a long but eventful season, it feels great to be done.

Thanks Mike Tipple for the great pic!










Christmas Tree was my favorite buck I had on trail camera this year. It’s a bittersweet harvest because I love managing a growing big deer. I passed this buck last year when I believe he was 3 1/2 years old.

Christmas Tree in 2013 as a 3 1/2 year old

That makes him 4 1/2 this year and the management side of me wonders how big he MIGHT/COULD have been. But I can’t pass a deer like this. He has great mass and character. Not much for spread and thus I don’t think he will score all that high…but nonetheless he is one hell of a buck. I have not had time to tape him out yet but will soon. Thanks for reading and good luck to all the Ohio hunters with a tag left to fill.


Corey Snoke


Ghost Hunting

I imagine the problem I’m having is a dilemma many hunters across the Midwest have had, or are currently also having! I’m hunting a deer that I have NOT located or even seen this year! I’m sure he is around; he just hasn’t showed his face. Long time followers of Trophy Pursuit probably are aware I’m talking about The Short Tined Ten. A buck I spent the entire 2013-2014 Ohio late season hunting and the buck I picked up matching sheds to in the spring.












Having the history with STT and his shear size (last year) automatically moved him to my number #1 hitlist spot for 2014. So, even though I have several other great bucks on camera, I just can’t help but hold out for STT! To some, this scenario may sound crazy…like an obsession! But years ago (when hunting a buck I called Droppy) I learned this is what you must do if you want to harvest a particular buck. I wrote about this lesson ,in one of my personal favorite blog series, starting with D.B.T. The Heart Break Starter and later in a blog called Lessons of Droppy. A excerpt from the later and the lesson I learned:

Hunt where a big buck has been seen or where you think he wants to be. If you do this, you’re never wasting a sit. It doesn’t matter if the area seems unlikely for a buck to walk. It doesn’t matter if you can watch the area like a hawk and don’t see the buck for months.  That’s what big mature bucks do; they hide! They are hardly ever seen and have uncanny, ghost like tendencies.  Its does not matter if you’re not getting him on trail camera, he is there or will be soon. Hunt him and don’t let your mind play games on you!

I have two Wildgame Innovations Cameras on the perimeter of where I’ve seen STT bed and I am hoping the next card pull confrims his presence. In the meantime I’ll be putting the finishing touches on a few stands for the first Booner’s Acres guest that arrive Oct. 28th and keep monitoring the bucks I will be putting those clients on. Sweet November is just around the corner!


It’s about to bust loose,

Corey Snoke


Redemption #2 Big 8

What a crazy week! Every year during shed season I find myself asking the man upstairs for “just one big set”. It’s what I hope for every shed season! One good set to add to my bone pile and give me a legit target buck for the following season. One I have built an in-depth relationship with. I got my one good set last week when I unexpectedly picked up the Short Tined Ten. That was good! I was happy!


Then last night I went for a quick 4-wheeler ride. It honestly started with just wanting to get my dog, Booner, some exercise. The quad ride led to a little arrowhead hunting then before heading home a quick shed hunt. I thought I should ride the corn stubble field off real fast (in a grid style) and just make sure The Big Eights antlers weren’t just lying out in the open. I knew if they were; they would be sun bleached and should stick out like a swore thumb. The cornfield is about 60 acres and by making a pass every 40 yards (running perpendicular or looking down the corn rows) I was ¾ of the way done after only 10 minutes when BAMMM!


I jumped off the 4-wheeler in excitement, as I knew I had just found the shed to a buck I was targeting the final weeks of the Ohio late season named simply: The Big Eight. I snapped a couple pictures and snagged the above video. Antler #2 wasn’t any where in sight but I hoped I could locate it. From my experience, mature bucks typically drop both antler close together. I personally believe it is because mature bucks know the sheding process (and it bothers them being off balance) and they purposely knock the second antler off. At any rate, I have had great success matching up larger antlers.

I jumped back on the 4-wheeler, marked the location where antler #1 was found, and continued my grid. 50-70 yards towards the closet field edge, I rode up on antler #2 the match! I again excitedly jumped off the quad, snagged a couple pictures and captured another video!

I just can’t believe it! A month ago I was dejected! I called it quits and said my shed season was over. I then proceeded to stumble onto two great sets and end the shed season with hands down my best shed season EVER!

Looking back it’s amazing because I walked several miles this year looking for these sheds! I knew they were there but just couldn’t come up with them.  And in both cases (SST and The Big Eight), I walked with-in 10-20 yards of where I ended up finding both sheds. I don’t know if in either case the antlers were there (on those respective days) but I was there, and seemingly just missed the sheds. It just goes to show how close you can be but not get lucky. In this case though, lightening strikes twice and I’m so thankful!


-Corey Snoke



After all the hours in a tree stand, running trail cameras and shed hunting with out feeling the mass of a single target buck in the 20013-2014 season, I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed. I wish it wasn’t that way but I couldn’t help it! The feeling led me to write a blog called Sobering Reality in February. Fast forward to today!!!!!

Short Tined Ten

I went for a quick turkey hunt (run and gun style) with just the bare essentials…gun, call, fan on a stick decoy and light layer of camo. I was moving fast through the timber, looking for a hot bird but not having any luck. My planed and intentional route was to stay on the ridgelines and throw occasional yelps and cuts into the hollows and see what happened.  As I ran out of ridge, I dropped off the top and headed down a north-facing slope in very open, mature timber. Then BAMM! A big, bleached antler caught my eye. It was tines down with a heavy beam. This antler was big!!!! Instantly thought it was the Short Tined Ten! I threw down my call and decoy and started first pumping and getting really excited!

Then in an instant…. it hit me! Where is the other one? I froze (almost like going into predator mode), hunkered down and started peering through the timber around me. Then only feet away from my left foot…. number 2! This antler tines up, again with a heavy beam and noticeable short tines! I knew then in was the Short Tined Ten for sure! I jumped around for a bit, fist pumping, took a few quick pictures and captured a short video to capture the moment. In reality, it all happened too fast! I should have savored it more. Finds like this are what I dream of each shed season and finds like this don’t happen near enough. You couldn’t have wiped the grin off my face with a Mack Truck. I was so happy and I’m still on cloud nine! It feels like a victory. This is my biggest set of matched sheds ever and the biggest singles I’ve found in over a decade. It should go with out saying that I’m extremely thankful.

STT's matched set found May 8th, 2014

So tonight, I’ll try to sleep but I know it will be hard. I’m already looking forward to this fall. My trophy pursuit continues in the hunt for Short Tined Ten, I hope you follow along!




Ohio mushrooms

It seems everyone on social media is sharing pictures of their wild morel haul, but everyone seems tight-lipped about where they found them.  So, for any novice that just wants to find a quick skillet full, I offer a few helpful tips.

My sister and I picking a few mushrooms on May 4th, 2014

In Ohio (and I’m sure for many states across the mid-west) it’s peak mushrooming season.  Most people I know (including myself) are finding giant grey and giant yellow sponge mushrooms.  These are hands down, in my opinion, the easiest of mushroom varieties to find because of their light color standing out against the forest floor.  Not to mention their size alone could be considered a tripping hazard.

Dead Elm (left) Grey (top) Yellow Sponge (bottom)

They are also very easy to find (at least in my experience) due to their proximity around one very easy to identify tree species: the American Elm.  Specifically dead elm trees that are starting to lose their bark.  Many American elms display this characteristic because they are affected by Dutch Elm Disease.

Our mushroom haul and a nice shed found by my dad yesterday

Most proficient mushroom hunters will have opinions and tactics to help locate mushrooms.  Using trees to narrow the search has always been mine.  Other great tree species to find wild yellow and grey morel mushrooms include Wild Apple and White Ash.  Right or wrong, it has lead me to more than a few sacks full.


Happy hunting



Making a slate call

When I was seventeen I obtained a job at a local hardware store named Slater’s Hardware in Lancaster, Ohio. It was my very first job and one I was hesitant to seek. You see, I was a late bloomer so to speak. With a family farm and public fishing hole in my backyard, I had no reason to want a driver’s license or a job. I was more than content living a carefree life and spending my days roaming the countryside. It was only after my mom threatened to not allow me to buy a fishing license that I reluctantly saw the value in getting a vehicle and a job to pay for it.

If you can't find what you're looking for....go to Slater's!

I was just some dumb teenage kid that didn’t know a thing about nuts and bolts, plumbing supplies, garage doors parts or fuel oil lamps. But the owner, Jon Slater, must have had some faith in me and after a couple interviews I was asked to join the Slater’s team. Slater’s is e very unique place. Just a little mom and pop’s established joint but everyone in the area knows “When you can’t find what you’re looking for……..go to Slater’s”. I learned so much at that job, more than I could ever portray in a blog. At this point you’re probably wondering how this story is about a slate call? But I promise, we’ll get there.

Old roofing slate sparked a thought!

I spent many evenings in the hardware store helping customers, organizing shelves and stocking items but also many nights playing with tools and dabbling with the endless supply of gadgets found in every corner of the store. One evening, around turkey season, I happened across a large piece of roofing slate lying on the floor under a workbench. In an instant, I realized I was sure I could find all the necessary items needed to make a slate call. I had never attempted to make a slate call before (or any type of turkey call) but soon rounded up all the supplies I thought I would need for my evening project: The roof slate, a scrap piece of 2”x6” pine lumber, a drill, a hole saw kit, some sanding paper and epoxy.

It took some creativity to figure out how to cut the piece of slate with out the pilot bit in the hole saw but after a few attempts I had a nice, round piece of slate. I then used a slightly bigger hole saw to drill out a round chunk of pine 2”x6”. I then used a wood chisel to dig out the interior of the pine wood block and then drilled a few more holes in the bottom of the pine box to help resonate the sound I hoped my “slate call” would produce. I then placed the slate gently in the pine box and secured it in place with some fast set epoxy. Lastly, I sanded the entire slate call with fine grit sandpaper to give the call a finished, clean look. If I remember correctly, the entire project (between helping customers) took me a few work days to complete. Each day I would make small improvements to the call (like carving a name into the bottom) before I called the slate call complete and showed it to my girlfriend and hunting buddies.

The call makes very real sounding yelps, cuts and purrs but the call isn’t nearly as loud as I would like it to be. I have used the call on hunts since that day but never used it specifically to successfully harvest a turkey.  Maybe this will be the year for Turkey Special #1. I hope you enjoyed my short story. It brings back a lot of good memories sharing it and hope it inspires you to make your own custom turkey call. I also strongly suggest If you’re ever in the central Ohio area, stop and give Slater’s a visit….. tell them I sent ya’.


-Corey Snoke


Sobering Reality

When the sun set on February 2nd, 2014 and I ended deer season with my coveted Ohio buck tag…..I was pretty upset. But I knew my efforts were not a lost cause, for I had gained valuable knowledge on many mature bucks. I had several “hit listers” locked onto bait piles and was confident in their bedding areas and travel patterns. So it should go with out saying, I was very optimistic I would have the best shed season in years and pick up many of the antlers I never got to wrap my hands around. But now (some two months later) I feel the sting of a buckles season and a grip on mass I’ll never know. I don’t want anyone to think I’m ungrateful for the outings I did have or the sheds I collected. I picked up some good sheds and I had a relatively good numbers shed season but I found no sheds of considerable size and none of the sheds to bucks I targeted. It’s a sobering reality: These are all wild, free-range deer that can go anywhere and finding a single set of sheds on thousands of acres is a hard chore. I applaud and congratulate anyone that accomplished this goal in 2013-2014. But for me it’s not the case.

Yes! I know shed season it not technically over. Most antlers are simply lying out there, waiting to be picked up. Hell some antlers are still attached! But for me, each outing brings frustration and hours that could be spent doing chores that must be completed. This is the reality of life and I honestly have covered all the ground I have access to with considerable mention. It’s time now to move on and leave “deer world” for just a bit. I could possibly find an ounce of energy to give a couple last-ditch efforts but for the most part….. my shed season is over. Jigsaw, Short Tined Ten, Big 8, Acorn, White Racked 8 and Shovels………I hope to see you in a few months. You’ll haunt my dreams while the squirrels feast on your calcium but we shall meet again.

Jig saw (top) Short Tined Ten (left) White Rack 8 (right)

Shovels (left), Acorn (right) and Big 8 (bottom)



Erie Ice Walleye

This past weekend my Dad and my-self went to Lake Erie for our first ever through the ice walleye experience. We joined long time friend Bryan Kusian and his buddy John Lesniewski who run part-time ice fishing guide service near Port Clinton, Ohio. This is a trip I have been meaning to make for several years but my schedule and the ice have never worked out. This year however, with the polar vortex freezing the lake solid for weeks on end and me with a temporally open calendar….my dad and I hit the road.

Pop-up ice shelters My dad jigging for walleyeFresh walleye on ice

Our day started with a 3 mile snowmobile ride to the temporary ice shanty town in the Western Basin of Lake Erie near the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant. Set up only took a matter of minutes with each ice fishing pop up tent getting a quick snow shovel (to clear a open spot on the ice), three holes drilled with a gas motored ogger (in 17 inches of ice), a fish finder set up (depth 20 feet) and a small propane heater.

First fish of the day One of my two walleyeOur guide Johns biggest of the day


Shed Traps









Shed antler hunting has become increasingly popular in recent years and the hobby has evolved into more than just a random walk in the woods. Many serious shed hunters use a variety of methods to help find as much bone as possible. These include trained dogs, habitat management for shed areas and even shed traps.  A few years ago, I wrote a blog on the various types of shed traps I have seen. Here are a few of those images:
















Now almost three shed seasons later, and after some close friends and I tried many of the prototypes shown above; I have made my own personal conclusion on the subject of shed traps….THEY WORK! Well kinda?

You see anytime you put free food on the ground (especially in the harsh winter conditions we have had this year) it will attract deer and hopefully some bucks. So, if you can keep the deer/bucks on your property and in your shed hunting areas, then you stand a better chance of finding their sheds. So the bait alone makes the shed trap work! The problem I have found with many of the elaborate shed traps, is they are very intimidating to big mature bucks. So, I stand bye my opinion that the best shed traps are very natural ones. Shed traps that emulate natural environment or elements the deer are comfortable with.

Yesterday I set up three brush pile shed traps/bait piles. I used this type of shed trap back in 2009 and collected one shed next to the brush pile and a nice set to a 160” Splitbrow buck I hunted that season on the near bye ridge.

So if you’re thinking about setting up a shed trap this year, now is the time to make it happen. Save your self some money and skip the bungees cords or construction project and make it simple.  Good luck and have fun!

As for me, I love picking up sheds and I’ll take them any way but will always enjoy a hard earned walking shed best. Get after them, they are droping!