Hey, folks, this is another episode with Bruce Hutcheon and I’m heading out to Iowa with Todd Pringnitz, CEO of White Knuckle Productions. Plus a lot of other interesting endeavors that he’s involved with in the whitetail industry. Todd, welcome back to the show. And, you know, we’ve been talking in the warm-up quite a bit about rattling and noises and luring in big deer and, you know, I’m excited to have you on the show, sir.
Todd: Well, thank you very, very much, man. This is the time of the year that we all wait for. I’ve been out trimming my tree stands like crazy and getting everything set up, so there’s nothing I enjoy talking about more than hunting big whitetails.
Bruce: Folks, we got a special edition, a warm-up, that will be Part 2 of this, so you’ll have to listen to Part 2. But having said that, Todd was talking about sounds and hunting mature deer, and let’s just start off with what happened last season and share your success with my listeners.
Deer Hunting Secrets White Knuckle Productions – Todd Pringnitz P2
Yeah. Last year I had the banner year of any hunter could ever imagine. I was fortunate to kill three different seven-year-old whitetails, including about a 160-class eight-pointer, about a 190-class big, typical 11. I guess it’s a 10 typical frame with a kicker. But the biggest free-range typical animal I’ve ever seen, just absolute monster. And then late in the year I ended up killing a big six-pointer. He’s been a management buck on my farm, but the trickiest animal I’ve ever hunted.
But basically my goal is to always kill, I say, the deer that nobody else can kill around me. I’ve probably got 20 hunters, 20 bow hunters, within a mile of my place here. And these big deer, when they get five, six, seven years old, that’s when I want to hunt them. And I’ve been very successful with it. In the last five years I’ve killed nine animals that average seven years of age. And I’m doing this in a neighborhood that guys would kill these deer at three, four years old if they had an opportunity. And I find dead ones every year that get wounded, whatever, from different neighbors and different hunters in the neighborhood. That in order for these animals to reach that age they just become, and they are, different deer.
And so if you expect to use your standard tactics that, you know, haven’t necessarily worked on these big mature deer or the way you call and you expect something to just magically change and, “Oh, he’s going to be…you know, I’m going to get lucky,” you’re just not going to be consistent with that luck. I mean you might get lucky once…you know, once in a while, but to consistently kill these big ghost bucks you just have to hunt them differently and you have to think about them in a whole different light than you do normal animals.
So let’s just break it down, you know, on the three hunts, and let’s share with the listeners your techniques and how you close the deal.
Well, I always focus on kind of two different things. One, the buck bedding areas where my bucks are going to be. And usually during the rut that revolves around where the does are.
So I use a variety of different food plots. And there’s been so many different podcasts about food plots, I’m not going to get into it in depth, there’s so many different opinions in this. But what I’ve found is I like to have my grains, so some corn and some standing beans, in all my different areas, I guess, so to speak. And then I like to focus the deer on one particular kill plot. And focus the does primarily, honestly, because that’s where the bucks are going to be or that’s what the bucks are hunting, so to speak.
So, I mean, on average I probably have like one kill plot per maybe 20, 30 acres and I focus all of my hunting around that one single kill plot. And it can be anywhere between a third of an acre up to an acre. But I came to the conclusion many years ago here on my farm if deer have too many options, it becomes very difficult to pin them down, so to speak. So instead of having four or five kill plots that a buck could potentially show up on, I want to focus on one. And I’ll just be very patient and wait until the time is right until late October, going into November, before I even start hunting those.
And I think that’s where most guys screw up, is they just hunt too much too early before these big ones are on their feet. And by the time things get good, the bucks already have their number and they’re just going to avoid those areas based on, you know, the ground scent they’ve been smelling, the different calling they’ve been hearing and things like that. But my first hunt of the year I was…or my first kill of the year, it was a big buck, I call it Donnie Brasco, it was a giant eight-pointer. And I was actually set up in a kill plot adjacent right to a doe bedding area and where bucks generally bed. And I killed one two or three years ago out of the same bedding area, just on an opposite side, coming out in the evening and this was in a morning hunt. So he was swinging back through, or I believe.
So I was sitting at my blind, I had called several times, seen some different bucks throughout the morning, and I was just about ready to leave. So I have this Tree Thrasher call that I invented and I decided, “Before I get out of here I just want to make sure there’s not something standing or bedded, you know, really close by that I just don’t see before I leave.” And so I gave one last thrashing session, making some noise and some ruckus, and then I let one grunt out and kind of got bored, waited five minutes, maybe 10 minutes, and all of a sudden, boom, here he is.
my calling techniques revolve around teasing animals and aggravating them
And that’s… so that they come in in a period of time, they don’t come bombarding in, so to speak, right at the time you call. Because in the past, and we’ve probably…anybody who’s rattled enough knows, you rattle, a whitetail comes in, they are usually coming in either downwind or they’ll come in and hold off at 80 to 100 yards, 50 to 80 yards. And with a bow hunter you got to get him close. So I don’t want an animal to come bum-rushing in and stop and look and say, “All right, where was that animal?,” or, “Where was that fight?” That doesn’t work, they usually know something is not right, and they’re not going to close that distance. So I want to tease them and get them in several minutes after I’ve actually called, because then they don’t know exactly where you are, they’re just disoriented, and that makes them vulnerable. It’s just that simple.
So he ended up coming right in, I shot him at 30 yards, and he was just a beaut. And then after that it took a lot of pressure off, so I was able to really focus on two different bucks. One was called DL, which was kind of a non typical giant, and then another big 190-class typical that was called Walter Payton. And I hunted them throughout the year, played cat and mouse, and on November 15th, which is my favorite day of hunting, I snuck into a doe bedding area, I was only eight feet off the ground, and I killed him at about 10 yards. All self-filming in the middle of the day at like 1:00 in the afternoon.
And it’s exactly where I would have expected to kill one of my shooters because no human being has ever tried hunting there because it’s so thick, it’s super thick cedars. I could only get eight feet off the ground because the trees are just not that big and it’s so thick, the higher you get the more trimming you got. And so I just had a couple small holes, but they just are vulnerable in those spots, they just don’t expect any pressure, or any human pressure.
And those are the spots you can catch them, but, of course, right in the middle of the day and that’s when, man, these big bucks, they know when guys are out in the woods, they’ve been listening to you all these years, you know? They’ve been watching you come and go. And you always leave at last light and in the middle…or at mid-morning and you always get back in your stand, you know, a couple hours before dark. So they figured out when to move around comfortably and safely. And so you just…again, you just got to change your system to match the bucks, not based on, you know, what you want to do or what you think that you should you should do.
So how many acres are you hunting now?
I own 63 acres, and then I lease a couple of additional farms. But, all total, about 400 acres is what I hunt, but I’m usually focused in on a 50 or 60-acre section just based on, you know, what buck I’m hunting. And then I’ll just be very, very patient on when I go in and hunt those animals. But once I know where an animal is at and a buck that I’m after, I’d rather be aggressive and go in into those sensitive areas and do some run-and-gun hunting if I don’t have stands in there and just be on the move trying to close the distance, get it close, as close as I can to where they’re bedding. I’d rather take chances at blowing them out and spooking them than not going in after them. Because if he’s made it to that age, he’s not going to come out in the open. I mean it’s just he would have already died, so to speak.
So you really just have to start doing things that you’ve never done before in order to kill these bucks. And I still have to do that year after year after year and get very, very creative in my process of doing it. But I’ll say this much, I don’t think I’ve ever killed a buck, more than one buck, out of the same setup.
And I know a lot of guys have stands they’ve been hunting year after year killing big buck after big buck, and that’s fine. But if you’re not killing those ghost bucks that you might only get on nighttime trail camera pictures, the ones that you just never seem to see, usually they’re there. If you’re getting pictures of them, they’re there, they just not moving around in the areas you’re hunting during daylight. And if you’re calling and they’re not coming when you’re calling, then you need to re-evaluate the way you’re calling because it’s just natural evolution.
Everything you do in the field they will inherit and they will absorb,
Everything you do in the field they will inherit and they will absorb, and sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s bad. But the hard part with calling is, you know, we’re all hunting in areas where we got a lot of hunting pressure, most of us do, you know, with other guys who we’re hunting around. So you’re not just dealing with what you’ve been doing in the woods or your negative impact calling, you’re dealing with what everybody else is doing, and that’s what I’ve come to the conclusion. You know, more…less experienced hunters generally call more because they think that that’s why the successful guys are killing the deer, “Oh, they must be calling them in like they do on TV.” And that’s just not the case.
So you really have to kind of step over the line and just say, “All right, I’m willing to try something new.” And that’s usually when something happens.
you did kill three bucks, so I’m assuming one with your bow, one with a muzzleloader or shotgun? How does that work?
We actually get two…I get three bow tags here in Iowa. And so…and I usually…I’m only a bow hunter generally. My late muzzleloader season kill was with a gun, it was the first buck I’ve ever killed with a gun out of dozens. And, but it was a buck that I wanted to get rid of on my farm, so I was willing to do whatever it took and I finally got a crack at him. But my first two were with a bow and the last one was a muzzleloader. I self-film all of my hunts, and so all of these will be featured on our White Knuckle That’s great.
It’s got tens of thousands of views and people dig it. It’s the craziest reaction you will ever see from a hunter in the field and it’s probably one of the best whitetail stories ever told.
And so how do they find that?
You can go to our White Knuckle Productions Facebook page is probably the easiest, or we have a YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnE_TYEan-Az9V4a7sNfkRg, as well. But we’re on YouTube, CarbonTV, our own Facebook pages, and then we also host some on our website, as well. But we have some of the best whitetail stories around because it’s just I have the history with these deer. You know, that was a buck I’ve known for five years now and passed him as a three-year-old on video. And, you know, several years later I found one of his sheds last year when he was a Boone and Crockett caliber 175-plus-inch 10-pointer, and then this year about 195-class he showed up. And the whole storyline tells you the exact story of how it happened, all the pictures I got, and what I did in order to get him. But it’s still a miracle and he is just absolutely monstrous.
And that’s a great segue to White Knuckle Productions https://www.facebook.com/whiteknuckleproductionswebshowandpodcast/. Todd’s been in various businesses involved in the outdoors and 12 years ago he started White Knuckle Productions on a DVD, he and some friends and they filmed their hunts and put it out there, like a lot of people. But White Knuckle Productions is a little bit different. Todd, let’s jump into White Knuckle Productions.
Yeah, we started out kind of…I honestly started the company because I couldn’t relate to any of the outdoor television that I was watching. I don’t know, it just wasn’t me. I couldn’t relate to it and none of my friends could. And we were all really super serious whitetail hunters, like crazy. And it just felt like, you know, it was just way too much of a…everybody is trying to sell something and it’s just very infomercial-like and a lot of outfitted hunts and stuff like that, and that just wasn’t us.
So wanted to do something more relatable and just tell our story in a realistic way and just share both the positive and the negatives. Because at the time basically DVDs were judged by how many kills were on there and there was like a 30-second intro, the buck comes out, the guy shoots it, goes recovery, do their outfitter plug, onto the next story, and there was no background in how they actually got that hunt done.
So we started showing everything, from shed hunting to the summer scouting, tree stand trimming, why we’re hunting where we’re hunting. I mean we showed…I think we were one of the first companies that showed a wounded…you know, a buck getting wounded and not recovered, which was a buck I killed…or shot in Illinois. We just do a realistic approach and we don’t reshoot anything, everything is 100% as it happens. We’ve never reshot a single segment for anything we’ve ever done and it’s just different. We tell the stories of, you know, some serious, serious whitetail hunters, but it’s also excellent footage, excellent editing, the production quality is fantastic. And it’s not like your mom and pop’s show, it looks very professional and we’re crazy about it.
But we just started a podcast a few years ago, as well. It’s become, as you know, podcasts have become incredibly popular. And for me I like it because it gives you an opportunity to dive in deeper into some of the tactics and strategies. And that’s really my passion, is hunting and killing big whitetails and helping other guys do the same thing. There is not a better feeling in the world than having somebody tell you that, you know, “Hey, you helped me kill this buck because I followed your instructions or your crazy tactics and it worked.”
You know, and so that’s kind of my new company, Tree Thrasher, that’s where that came from, was basically just my own necessity, I felt a need and needed a new…a different type of call to fit into my calling strategies and systems for these big old deer. And so I started the Tree Thrasher company just this year, we’re just selling them now on treethrasher.com. And it’s different. I’m not going to go into a big sales plug, but if you just watch our videos you’ll kind of see where we’re coming from.
Well, let’s talk about that. Because, yes, you will hear about that in the Part 2, but let’s share that right now, about finding your voice in the woods. That’s kind of how I call it. Because deer know what deer sound like and sometimes unfortunately, hunters, we don’t sound like deer.
No. And that’s the biggest thing, is just the realism with…you know, with grunt calls and rattling antlers and can calls and all the other different products out there. It just doesn’t sound realistic without the other noises that are associated with a real live animal. So, you know, if you’re hunting in areas that have zero hunting pressure and they don’t know…they haven’t been called at by other hunters, then a variety of calls, including rattling, works really well. I’ve rattled in big mature bucks and called them in a variety of different ways. But where I’m hunting now, and I would guess most of the audience and most everybody, you know, you deal with other hunters and you deal with their mistakes they make in the woods and the calling mistakes they make. And most people just over-call.
So I just change my strategy to first not sound like a hunter. And the second, sound more…as realistic as I could, but I didn’t have a tool that allowed me to make the sounds bucks make when they’re trying to send a signal to other animals in the area that they’re there and that they’re rowdy. And it kind of came from I was hunting two different big bucks over the years, a couple different big bucks, and I was hunting outside their bedding areas and literally heard them before I saw them in several different hunts, where I could hear an animal and they were making an absolute ruckus. And I mean an intentional thrashing trees, breaking branches, you know, trying to be a loud as they could.
And I just, over the years, kind of put two and two together. Like that’s a form of communication they’re sending out to all the deer in the area to let them know that they’re there, that’s their territory, and that if any other bucks are in there they better watch out. But the crazy thing, when I found out by observing these bucks making this noise, it attracted all deer. It attracted does, fawns, little bucks, big bucks, whatever. When an animal hears that audible, that loud ruckus, it’s an intentional noise they’re putting out there which lets all the other animals know, “Hey, it’s safe over here.” Because a deer is not going to make an intentional noise if it’s not feeling 100% safe. So basically it just creates kind of a security blanket and it just turns into a magnet, deer want to be around that.
And so I just tried to figure out how could I duplicate that in my own calling methods. And so I used to pull tree branches up in the tree and break branches while I was calling. But I stopped rattling, only used one grunt every 20 to 30 minutes, and just found that less is more in calling. And when it comes to calling these big bucks, you can’t call like other hunters, so that eliminates, you know, 90% of your…probably your calling technique right now.
So with a grunt call you’re pretty restricted, especially if you’re in the timber and it’s really quiet and there’s no…absolutely no noise in the timber and you can hear a mouse walk across the leaves. You know, if you’re up there grunting and rattling and there’s no other noises, any animal that’s within hearing distance knows you’re a hunter, you just told them where you’re at. Basically you might as well bring a megaphone up and yell, you know, at the top of your lungs or sing the national anthem or something, that’s basically how you’re communicating with those animals.
So I just started calling uniquely along with my grunt, and now I use my Tree Thrasher https://www.facebook.com/treethrasher/, and I mean I can just make the simple sound of this… You know, that’s just of an animal walking. But a couple branch breaks, it makes a branch-break noise, leaf noises, and you can mix it up and rub the tool itself on the tree to create the sound of rubbing and do all those sounds together.
And I like to do little sessions, like 20 to 30-second sessions, imitating a buck making a scrape or thrashing a tree. And I’ll either lead that thrashing session with a single grunt or I’ll follow it with a single grunt. Approximately 30 seconds to a minute after my thrashing sessions, or before, I don’t want to do too much in a short period of time because that’s unnatural. Like if you imagine or look at the way bucks make scrapes or rub trees or thrash trees, they usually don’t feel comfortable making a loud noise for more than about 10 to 15 seconds, then they take a pause, they stop, they rotate their ears, they listen for other animals, they look with their eyes, then they feel comfortable, “Okay, everything is safe, I haven’t been snuck up on,” then they’ll go back to making noise.
So in your own calling methods you have to duplicate that, try to mimic, you know, the reality. And so that’s what I do in all my calling with my Thrashing sessions, is I’ll make the rubbing sound for 5 to 10 seconds and stop, pause, wait, then I’ll make some leaf noises and maybe a branch break and stop, wait. That is realistic. If you go bananas and use the thing for two straight minutes, it’s just not realistic, that’s not what deer do.
So stop imitating the hunters you’ve been watching on television and start imitating the real animals. And it might not be as fancy and you might not get to do it as often, but I like to kill big bucks and I like to see big bucks. So I’m going to do everything I can to create a situation that I can kill one of those big deer. I’m not going out there to call, I’m going out there to kill.
Interesting. And, you know, we talked about it earlier, about, you know, finding your own voice. Hunting in Colorado, everybody, you know, just does what they hear on DVDs or TV and we’ve educated the elk in our basins. Because you only can hunt so much territory. I don’t care if you hike 10 miles a day for 5 days, it’s 50 miles, you only can hit so many basins. And the elk you work are in those basins. And it’s just, you know, come to me that, you know, I bugle only as a locator bugle 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning and all the rest is mews and estrus calls and stuff like that. But you have spent so much time in the woods, and this is what shocked me, you’ve only heard one big buck fight, one dominant buck fight. Tell me about that.
sanctuary, and it’s 20 acres of absolute whitetail glory, man
Yeah. About, I think it was, seven or eight years ago my cameraman and I had actually…we were hunting in a spot I call the sanctuary, and it’s 20 acres of absolute whitetail glory, man. It is awesome. And at the time I didn’t know really how to hunt and I was going right in the middle of this thing and spooking a lot of animals just with wind and things. But we were sitting in the middle of the sanctuary and we watched a beautiful three-year-old come in and bed by us, about 60 yards or something, a three or four-year-old buck I called the tuna fish buck.
And so we were having just a beautiful morning and all of a sudden just a ruckus broke out adjacent to us in the thick timber. I couldn’t see it, but honestly I thought my neighbor was driving an ATV or a truck through the woods. Because all I heard was just thrashing, slamming trees, the sounds of hooves pounding on the earth, and breaking branches. And occasionally you could hear just the click of antlers. And I was like…I looked at my camera and I’m like, “Dude, those are two bucks fighting.”
And at the same time I figured out what was going on the tuna fish buck jumps up out of his bed, he goes running in that direction, we got all that on video, it’s beautiful. And deer came literally running from all directions, I had never seen anything like it. Little bucks, does, fawns, I mean from all directions they were heading towards that fight. But there is no way…like if you could create that sound up in a tree, right? You could call in some mega bucks.
And I know guys who they call…they team up and have one guy on the ground with rattling antlers just smashing the ground and rattling and the other hunters above them in a tree. You know, those are things we’ve all been doing as hunters, trying to duplicate those sounds. And until, you know, the Tree Thrasher came out, there’s really not a way to duplicate a lot of that noise. But that’s where with, like, rattling I think it’s just it’s very, very rare to hear those fights. So as soon as you rattle up in a tree stand or out of a ground blind, you know, every animal within hearing distance, it immediately throws up a red flag and says, “Okay, unless I hear the other sounds, there ain’t no way it’s a real fight.” I mean that’s basically instinctually, you know, embedded in their brain.
So I honestly think, Bruce, if most guys, most whitetail hunters, would just leave their antlers at home, they’d probably see a lot more deer. But, you know, the one thing I want to mention, and this is not a dig on the hunting industry or anybody who hunts in the hunting industry. Because, you know, do your own thing, whatever. But, you know, a lot of the hunts we watch on television are outfitted hunts, so these guys are going into a place, somebody else’s property, and they have five days. So in those five days they’re going to be as aggressive as they want and as they can, so they’re doing a lot of calling because they’re trying to produce a television show. They also don’t have to deal with the repercussions of their calling and their education on that property most likely ever again. So they’re there for five days, once they leave they don’t care.
I’m hunting the same property year after year after year, so I don’t want to educate the deer this year that’s going to hurt me next year. And I think probably most guys are in the same boat that I am, they’re hunting the same farms or whatever. So you have to be extra careful not to educate those animals this year, going into next year. And it’s so easy, you know, if you’ve got your rattling antlers, you’re at the end of a morning sit and it’s beautiful November, you know, “There’s got to be a buck around here.” And, man, it’s just something instinctively. And I think it’s in guys, specifically. Like there is nothing like banging antlers together, it is just…it’s fun, like it’s a good time. I mean it feels right, you know? And there’s nothing like when you’re bored, cold out of your mind, and you’re like you want to make things happen, so you start banging antlers together and you just don’t call those big…those old mature bucks in.
And so you got to look at it from the standpoint is it’s not that you don’t have anything to lose, it’s that you’re just going to educate the deer for next year, especially if you’re going to be hunting the same area and the same stands. Those deer, they hear that repeated over, over, and over again year after year after year and slowly but surely they will literally just change their patterns around your spots. And, boy, I’ll tell you most guys, if they would just quit rattling, quit bringing their antlers in the tree, they’d probably start seeing some of those big mature deer that they might only get nighttime pictures of.
And that’s the same case on my farm. That big 190 I killed, he died…I hunted him for three years and I never got a single daylight picture during hunting season of him ever in three years. And I have 20 cameras out. I knew exactly where he lived, and he lived there and survived there for a reason. And that’s you just got to consider, you know, what it takes for those…the ghost buck in your area, the bucks that nobody seems to be able to kill. You know, consider how many times they’ve heard you call, your neighbors call, how many times they’ve been called at and been able to pop a guy up in a tree or be able to visually see a guy in a tree and associate that noise to a hunter. You know, it’s been ingrained in them.
So if they’ve made it to the ripe age of, you know, five years old, six years old… And, depending on your area, that might be a three-year-old, that ghost buck might be a three-year-old or a two-year-old buck. It doesn’t matter, but they are educated, they know what’s going on, so you’ve got to start looking at your calling from a different perspective.
That brings me up to, you know, how many times do you sit a set?
the first time in it’s just deadly,
You know, it depends. Generally, you had mentioned it earlier, the first time in it’s just deadly, and I agree with that 100%. I’ve tried to create a situation where I’m here on my farm, I have about 30 hang-ons set before the season and probably about six to eight ground blinds. And I like to bounce around to where I’m hunting a new…I can recreate that first time in experience every single hunt. But I do hunt stands more than once.
A lot of times I’ll go into my evening sets, I’ll get everything set up, hunt that evening, go in in the afternoon or whatever, and leave everything in the tree, including my bow unless it’s going to run or unless it’s really, really cold, super freezing cold where it freezes. But I’ll leave everything in the tree that doesn’t smell, come out of the tree, and then in the morning when I go up I can just sneak into that set and get first-light crack without making a lot of noise, without setting up. Because I got to set up…I bring two Ozonics, a camera arm, a secondary camera, my bow. By the time it’s all said and done I look like the gall-dang…like I’m going to an arts and crafts festival, I’ll tell you that much. I got crap up in the tree hanging from everything you can imagine.
So once I’m set up in that spot, I want to be able to sneak in the next morning hunt. But most of the time I’ll plan two hunts. Like if you have, let’s just say, a really good food plot set or a really good bedding area set. I’ll plan on getting two good hunts out of each set per year, one usually in late October, early November, and then mid-November. But I like to hunt them about a week or two apart. But honestly now I’m hunting individual animals.
So, like, if I’m after one buck, that dictates where I hunt. And most of the time I’m usually just hunting secondary properties just so I don’t put too much pressure on. And so I’m hunting spots that are just…you know, just to be out there, see what kind of footage we can get and that kind of stuff. But when I’m hunting one individual deer, everything goes out the window based on what I’m seeing for intel. And, you know, every…I have all these stands that guys think I’m freaking nuts, and sometimes I do, as well, when I have to trim them all. But, you know, I’ll get on a buck and, man, I’ll be out running and gunning and hanging stands every single hunt until I am on that deer, kill him or blow him out of the area. And usually I’ll either kill him or blow him out of the area. But I get very aggressive when I need to be, but otherwise I’m very conservative and, you know, always try to let them come to me. But if that doesn’t work, then you have to go to them.
So how many hit-list bucks do you have, you know, that you’re targeting this year? Because, you know, folks, we’re way past, you know, deer hunting 101. You know, we’re past our master’s degree, actually. Because once you zero in on one buck and make that your buck, you know, he knows, one, you’re there. Two, he knows who you are. Three, he knows where you’re setting up. Everything is in his favor, really. How do you beat that?
By just…a lot of it’s access. And that word is thrown around a lot, but, boy, I’ll tell you what I’ve really learned when I’ve really become much more… I would never say an “expert” because the deer are the experts, they school me every year, some of them do, no matter what. But I’ve really become more perceptive to how I’ve been coming and going out of my spots, figuring out where big bucks bed and why they bed there. And here’s what I’ve learned in the last…specifically the last three years hunting these big individual bucks. Usually the big dominant bucks are going to be living among the highest concentration of does or in a doe bedding area where most of the does are at so that they have more deer to breed with traveling the least amount, basically.
So the big, big dominant bucks I’m hunting, they rule the roost
So the big, big dominant bucks I’m hunting, they rule the roost. They’re big 300-pounders, big racks on their heads. When they’re in an area, they’ll kick the crap out of anything in there. So those bucks move into a territory, they almost set up shop. And if you can imagine, it’s kind of like a guy going to his favorite bar. And if all of a sudden another guy shows up and starts talking to his girlfriend, you know, a ruckus ensues. And it’s the same thing, these bucks, this is their home, this is where they’re going to breed. They only have one time of year to breed these does. So just like us, we only have one time a year to kill them, they’ve got a period of time and they have to make it work.
So when they move into those core areas, it takes quite a bit to really drive them completely out. I mean I’ve been in the bedding areas at the base of my tree and that buck busts me just about to climb up. And when they snort, I can almost tell the difference. Like, “Son of a fuck, that’s him.” The frustration in their snorts, you can hear it because they’re like, “Gall-dang it, get out of here, this is my spot, you’re ruining the mojo I got going in here.” You’re ruining their game plan, which is to breed the does. So you blow him out once, he’s going to be right back in there because he’s there to breed the does. He’ll set up differently and he’ll probably be set up looking in the direction that he busted you the first time.
bucks are bedded during the rut is usually in an elevated position adjacent to thick cover,
But what I’ve noticed, Bruce, is where these bucks are bedded during the rut is usually in an elevated position adjacent to thick cover, but they’re actually bedded in relatively open areas. Because they want to be able to see not only the humans and the predators coming and going, but they also want to be able to see the does coming and going, get up out of their bed, be able to go scent-check a doe, and go lay right back down all in the security of their bedding area. But it’s usually a little bit more open than you would expect as far as timber-wise, like you can see a distance.
And now what I’ve really come to the realization is, you know, around by me there’s a lot of farm roads, access roads to get into these farms. Because with this farm country when the crops are standing, and anywhere else, I mean you got logging roads, you’ve got your access trails. The spots where most humans use, it turns out a lot of deer use them, too. You know, the does are using those main trails, walking up and down the roads, two-tracks. You know, your cleared paths, your farm roads, whatever. Well, it turns out bucks are bedded a lot above a lot of those, even if there’s a lot of human activity. Because they can monitor the hunters and the deer in one spot. And if they can see you coming, that’s half the battle.
So, I mean, you got to start thinking about it like you are a sniper and you are there trying to kill the enemy. And if you make a mistake, you die. The spots that you would position yourself in to hunt humans, it’s very similar to whitetails.
That’s great. No, I just saw a visual picture of the farm I hunt and how I get in, how I get out, to one stand. And then he’s sitting above me. And the big bucks, not the small bucks but the one I’m hunting, he knows exactly when I crawl in my stand. You know, there’s no question about it because he’s above me. And as a sniper where do I want to be? I want to be above him.
So what I have started to do is, okay, so they’ve got you patterned, essentially. And maybe it’s not even just you, it’s your neighbors and all of the other deer, I mean does have been using maybe that little farm road or whatever forever. But you can use that against them because now you know, “Okay, this is what I’ve been doing.” So now I’ve been trying to think from the…how do I get in the back door, so to speak. So a lot of my best stands now I have actually two or three different access points where I can come in from a variety of different directions based on whether it’s an evening hunt or a morning hunt, but then also to be able to adapt throughout the season so that, like…
I’m going to give you one example. This buck, Katie’s buck, is a big seven-year-old that we’ve been trying to kill since he was three because he was only a six-pointer. So we were just trying to get him off the farm so he wasn’t breeding and reproducing. And we tried to kill that sucker and I could never figure him out, every single time. I’d get pictures of him during the daylight in a spot and be like, “Oh my god, you know, this is the night, we’re going to go and kill him,” go on and hunt that food plot and he wouldn’t show.
And over the years we just came to the conclusion, like, “That joker is bedded right behind my house, right behind my neighbor’s house, within 100 yards and he’s watching us come and go across this dike.” There’s this farm road that we walk up to get to one of our fields and there’s a dam there adjacent to a pond. It’s the only real easy spot to access. So what I started doing, I’m right in my backyard hunting these plots, I got beautiful trails, I will just literally go into the stand in a different way and try to eliminate his possibility of even visually being able to see me coming into that stand. And if you’re hunting an individual deer, sometimes that means you’re literally going to have to blow deer out of certain areas to get into that spot from the back door. But, again, if my goal is to kill that one buck, I don’t care about any other animal, I only care about that one buck and not blowing him out.
But access is absolutely critical
But access is absolutely critical. And what I found is just change the way you go into your stands each and every time if you can, even just a little bit. And that’s what bucks do. Big mature bucks don’t take the same trail every time. If they come out into a field, they take a different path every night. They are always doing something a little bit different and that’s how they’ve survived. If they did the same thing over and over again, they would have died as a three-year-old or a four-year-old. So to make it to five or six they’re already that weird animal. But a lot of the time they’re just random, so you just have to duplicate that same randomness in your own hunting, especially if you’re hunting the same farm over and over again. And trust me, I’ve been on…I live on my farm, I’m out there almost every day doing something, for 10 years now. If I can find a different way of approaching and doing things, so can you, you just got to be creative.
Yeah, I’m just playing the video of, you know, the different farm roads. And, you know, we’ve had it timbered and blah, blah, blah. You know, we got a lot of access points. And I’m thinking, you know, “Do I…okay, to get to the same stand”… Because I know where he is, I know where he’s bedding, but I have to come down from above him because he’s watching me come into that stand every single time that I hunt him.
And the hardest part, I think, for me is, or when I might have my light-bulb moment, is I also have some really good friends who hunt around here and who are just as nutty, so we always compare…you know, compare ideas.
And I’m always willing to learn, like I’ve always been a sponge with everything I do. Knowledge is power. And the hard part for most whitetail hunters is where you believe these big mature bucks must be living is in the deepest spots to get to, the toughest spots to get to, the thickest territory. It’s kind of programmed into us, “Well, to kill that big buck I’m going to have to walk twice as far and work twice as hard.” Well, if that’s where you’ve been hunting and that’s where everybody else is hunting, that buck is not going to be there, he’s going to be in the spot he’s never been hunted.
And so years ago, five, six years ago when I started coming to these realizations, if my season by about November 8th to the 10th, if I wasn’t seeing the bucks I was after, I would literally just…I’d take a step back and say, “Where have I not hunted yet this year where I’ve seen the most does?” And that’s the next place I want to be. And that’s when I start hunting does, does, does, because that’s where the bucks are going to be. But you just got to find those strange pockets of areas where they’ve not been hunted.
And I’ll tell you that’s when it’s tough because most of the time there’s not good trees there, most of the time you can’t get into those spots because of access, most of the time it’s just impossible. But that’s where I’m very, very aggressive, where I’ll hunt six feet off the ground, eight feet off the ground if that’s what it takes. I’ll do whatever it takes to be in those spots and there’s no such thing as too crazy. I’ll tell you the craziest spots I’ve ever hunted, the spots where you’re like…you look around, “I got to be freaking, you know, nuts to be sitting up here.” That’s where you’re going to kill them.
And anecdotally on that, on Eddie’s farm, I’ve been hunting that farm since…Eddie and Lester’s farm, I’ve been hunting that since 1966. And the biggest buck…we’ve taken two booners off it. One Eddie took off and it was out of his junkyard. Basically it was ravine where he threw things. You know, dishwashers and, you know, washers and dryers and parts and old equipment. And it was just at the head of that he’s in his tractor, going to go spread some manure, and he looks down and sees some tines. He goes, “Holy fright.” So he just slowly, you know, eases off the clutch and goes around the corner. And he was rifle hunting, so he gets out of the tractor, comes back behind the manure, just stands up, looks up, and he just said, “I yelled buck!” The buck threw his head up and he shot him.
There you go.
Right in the bed. I mean, and this is a place he goes by, you know, 10 times a day.
And that’s where I really start to focus on now, and finding those spots.
Unbelievable. I mean you’re talking no…you know, it’s just at a header ravine that they’ve filled in over the years to keep it from, you know, washing away and the buck was just in the junkyard.
Hey, here’s another great tip,
and it’s something kind of goes against from what maybe you would imagine. But a lot of times we really focus on sign. Okay? Big buck rubs, scrapes, and all that stuff. And granted, you know, too, when you get into your stand and there’s 500 shredded trees around, obviously you’re in the right spot, that’s a killer spot, whatever. But sometimes that’s not always the case, sometimes where I’ve killed the big ones there hasn’t been very much…very many deer at all. Because some bucks, I believe, just don’t… As they get older especially, think about an old lab, an old dog, or your grandpa. You know, they don’t want to be around a bunch of young kids yelling and screaming and making noise. It scares them, keeps them alert, and they just want to be kind of…they’re more of a secluded type animal, or they live a life of seclusion the whole year, except for usually during the rut, they’ll move into different areas.
So don’t necessarily hunt only based on the rubs and scrapes and stuff you’re finding. A lot of times I will just follow my gut, “This is a spot I think no one has hunted before.” And especially if you’ve been hunting for…if you’re midseason or you’ve been hunting on a farm, you know, throughout the season a little bit, you’ve got to maybe break away from that sign. Because obviously if you’ve hunted it more than once and you didn’t see him there, he probably has your number, has ground-scented, you know, smelled your ground scent as you’ve come and gone. And sometimes you just got to kind of hunt the spots even if the sign isn’t there, even if there’s not a lot of deer there. Those are spots I’ll kill big bucks, as well, big mature ones. You know, it’s not…they’re usually not taking the trails that everything else takes, they’re taking weird paths through different areas, the same areas but they’re always doing something different.
So a lot of times you’re just…you’re forced to get off from the main trails and the main areas where most of the deer are because that’s just not where those big ones are going to walk through. Most likely it’s downwind of it, if they can be, or elevated above it where they can watch below them. And I think visually I didn’t…we put a lot of emphasis on their nose and their scent, but their vision is a huge factor in their ability to survive, as well.
And you’ve just got to consider it from their standpoint. You know, when you’re laying in bed at night, we all have covers on. And even if it’s really warm, there’s something about the comfort of even having a sheet over your body or whatever when you’re asleep. I don’t know what it is, it’s just human nature. But deer are the same way. If you lived out in that woods every day of your life and you were laying down there, you’re going to pick the spots where you can relax, where you can take a nap, and where you can get a little bit of sleep. It’s all about stress. You know, they don’t want to be around that stress, so they’re going to be bedded in those spots where they feel comfortable, where they feel relaxed, where they can take a nap.
You know, so you’ve got to consider all the factors. And they’ve got to have the scent in their favor, they’ve got to have a visual advantage. And usually it’s a height elevation advantage where they can see a distance. And if it’s not that situation, other deer like to be in really thick cover where they can just hear something coming from a mile away.
And so there’s a bunch of different varieties, certain bucks like certain other areas, but that’s the way you got to look at it. And just imagine, you know, if you haven’t killed the buck you’re after that you know is around on your farmland, then stop doing what you’re doing and start changing it up and that will put the odds in your favor.
I hope you’re listening and taking notes, I sure am. And it’s amazing when you talk to people that are…got their PhD in getting busted and getting beat by deer. You know, Todd shared, folks, you know, that he doesn’t win all the time. He’s hunted one deer, you know, Walter Payton, how many years did you hunt him?
Five years. And here’s a great story about Walter Payton. You know, between trail camera…like trail cameras are another huge source of information, but not just for getting pictures. You learn a lot about an animal through their travel patterns, what direction they’re coming from, what direction they’re going to, what time of day it is, etc., etc.
Walter Payton on the 31st of October, Halloween night
So I was in hunting Walter Payton on the 31st of October, Halloween night, and he came in on a field edge about 100 yards away. And I put my binocs on him and I looked at him and I instantly thought, “Oh, that’s that”… We have a goofy three-year-old running around our property that has like a third main beam. And I just looked and he was standing against corn, dry corn, brown corn, so I could see his rack. He’s a 190-inch typical, so you’d think you’d see it. I looked and, “Oh, there’s that three-year-old.”
So I just threw one grunt at him before he… I should have just let him go, knowing… If I would have known it was him, I would have let him make his first move. But I threw a grunt at him, he turned, he came right to the bottom of this ravine, but it was so thick I still couldn’t see him. He came to that ravine, he stopped and he looked and he listened, he couldn’t hear, couldn’t see that buck up there, so he knew, “Something doesn’t seem right.” So he turned and started moving away and as soon as I saw him I’m like, “Oh my god, it’s Walter Payton,” I mean just a monster. I got some footage of him, it’s all in our video.
And so that night, I have pictures of him after that hunt. I never saw him, he boogied out of there, he knew something wasn’t right. And that night on my trail camera, I have a trail camera on an adjacent scrape where I always got pictures of him and it’s just, like, a big community scrape, it’s the spot. And I have pictures of him coming up to that scrape, looking at my trail camera in the tree, freaking out a little bit, coming back, looking at it, walking out into the kill plot, catching my ground scent. And I have pictures of him following my ground scent into the tree right to my tree. From after that night he disappeared for 13 days, never came back.
And yet you kill him last year, is that correct?
He had my number in that spot and I knew. And the way I hunted him, I hunted the heck out of him in that spot so that I would drive him out to a different area, and I ended up killing him in a different area. But with Walter I had to use a technique I’ve never used before, which is being extremely creative. I knew where that deer was living and calling home. And it was on an adjacent piece of property that I could not have access to. But I’m friends with the…he’s a farmer, friends with him, he has other guys who hunt. But I knew where that buck was and I had gotten to the point where I knew I had to do something, otherwise I wasn’t going to kill him.
So I called up the landowner and said, “Hey, you know, I was wondering if there’s any way you might let me go in and hunt this buck. I’m hunting a giant, the biggest buck I’ve ever seen. And I know where he’s living, right on your farm, and I just want to hunt one small area.” And there’s some other guys who hunt right in that same area, but I know how they have to come in to access the farm. So he said, you know, “Not right now,” or whatever. And so as soon as I kind of realized like, “All right, I’m not going to be able to hunt there,” I knew I needed to let somebody else do the work for me and drive that deer out of that spot.
So I told him, I said, “Well, he’s living right next to this creek, right down at the creek.” I described exactly where it is, it was very easy to describe to him. And I knew where there was a couple ladder stands that these guys who hunt them, and he has a farmhand that hunts and a couple friends. But they’re the traditional hunters, they hunt out of ladder stands, same ladder stands year after year. And they had a couple good ones in the right area, but they couldn’t access it except from one direction, from the top of this guy’s farm. And in order to get to those stands they’re going to blow everything out.
And I knew most generally those guys were probably going to be in there calling and making a ruckus, so I told that guy exactly where that big buck was and I told him it was the biggest buck I’d seen in years. Three days later I killed that buck in an adjacent bedding area and I’m willing to bet he went and told his guys who were hunting, that were hunting there, and that’s what I planned on him doing. And they went in there and they blew that deer out of there and I was able to kill him 500 yards away.
He’s thinking. He’s not just hunting
Folks, I really hope you’re listening to what Todd does. He’s thinking. He’s not just hunting, he’s thinking and saying, “Okay, what’s my strategy? What are all the connecting points and all the things that enter into it?” And I’ve got a friend, Jeff Hemmers, he has 40 acres just outside of La Crosse, Wisconsin on the Mississippi River, Trempealeau County. And he and his daughter hunt three days a year and kill mature deer in those few days.
Yeah, I know Jeff and Katie, Jeff is a killer.
Yeah, Katie is, too. They figured it out
They figured it out. And they’re surrounded by people that know there’s big bucks there. One, they can’t hunt them. And he just lets them push everything off their land and his becomes a sanctuary because he’s in and out. You know, he’s a ghost himself, I believe.
That’s exactly right. And that’s where, you know, when I’m doing seminars…whether I’m doing a seminar or anything like that, you know, when I’m talking about these goals, are, you know, is your goal to kill one of these big bucks or is your goal to spend two straight weeks out hunting? Because if you’re hunting a small piece of property, those two things don’t coincide for you to be able to kill that buck.
Unless you just want to be in the woods hunting.
Which is fine.
Absolutely, absolutely. And, but that’s the hard thing to kind of come to terms with, is, you know, here on my own farm, my 63 acres, just like Jeff, I only hunt it maybe six to eight times the entire hunting season for three months. And it’s right in my backyard, I look at it every day. But that’s the discipline you’ve got to have. And if you want to be out in the woods hunting every day, just hunt more ground and find other areas where you can go put pressure on and really bust your chops. Learn from your…learn your process of how you’re setting your stands, running and gunning. Do it in areas that aren’t critical. And then, you know, save your best hunts, your best kill days for those farms where you know the deer are and they just haven’t been touched.
But, you know, that’s the other thing. You know, in the job that I have in killing all these big bucks and putting that out there, all my neighbors, you know, they kind of catch on at some point. And my philosophy is the same way, let them guys pound the crap out of their farm too early because they’re afraid I’m going to kill those bucks and they do all the work for me. They drive those deer into those sanctuaries that I have not hunted. So when the first time I go in there, they’re stacked in like cordwood.
Interesting. What are your best dates coming up for 2018?
October 31st and November 15th
I don’t base much on… Okay, weather is a very critical thing, but to me October 31st and November 15th are my two favorite days. And I’m going to tell you why. October 31st has been consistently about the first time… And not always, sometimes it can be earlier, like the 28th, 29th, 30th. But the 31st consistently has been a day where the big mature bucks will be on their feet for one of the first times of the year looking for hot does. Because right around the 31st is when the first does will come into heat. And quite honestly these big mature bucks, they’ve been around the block long enough where they don’t waste their time chasing deer that aren’t ready. So they just wait until the time is right, just like you have to to hunt them.
October 31st is a vulnerable time for a buck because they want to find that first doe in their area. So that’s when they’re most killable. Last year, boom, Walter Payton, that’s when I saw him, on the 31st. And I went in on a whim without any intel, my gut just told me, “That’s my best opportunity, is going to be tonight.” And I didn’t check trail cameras, I just followed my gut and my experience, knowing where they’re going to want to be based on previous years.
And the 15th of November is my second favorite day, probably my first of all, period. I would take November 15th over any other day of the year. Because generally speaking most does come into heat the first week of November through about the 10th or 11th, give or take 12th. That’s when most bucks will breed their core area does, meaning the spots where they call home, where they hang out, all the does that are in that area. They’re going to hang out in that area for a week or so.
So the first week of November is the worst time to hunt a big mature…a single big mature buck, in my opinion. Now I’ve killed them on every day of November, but generally they’re hooked up with a hot doe during that whole first week, and multiple does. So they’ll go from doe to doe to doe without having to go anywhere because they’re all, you know, in that bedding area where they’re calling home for that time period.
Around the 15th of November
Around the 15th of November is when I start to see the big, big bucks start leaving those small core areas and start bouncing around and going from doe bedding area to doe bedding area to doe bedding area. And they go from point A to point B, the easiest, quickest, and fastest route to get to those spots. And it’s whatever they feel most confident. And a lot of times it’s midday movement. But that November 15th is just so special because bucks have been having…excuse my French, they’ve been having sex for the last week or two, they’re horned up, they’re tired, they’re absolutely out of their minds and more vulnerable than they will be at any other point of the year.
And you combine that with a kill plot, a green plot where they’re starving at this point because they’ve been doing nothing but humping and chasing for, you know, a week or two, you put all those things together and November 15th can just be gold, absolutely gold. Because you’re just…you’re catching them where they’re just moving more than they normally do throughout the entire year and they’re more vulnerable when they’re out of their core areas because they don’t know every specific tree, you know, every hunting pattern in that area. You know, they’re going to new territories, and so that’s when they’re vulnerable. You just got to be in those doe bedding area around that time.
And that’s when I do most of my best hunts, is in that time period. And you think about it, Bruce, by then most guys are out of vacation or tagged out. So of course that’s when the big ones are going to move, right? And so that’s why you got to be patient with your tags. You know, if you want to kill those big ones, you got to be willing to eat those tags in order to get there. And, man, over the years I’ve probably eaten, oh, dude, dozens and dozens of Iowa tags and I usually only kill one buck a year, most generally. You know, sometimes I’ve had luck where I’ve killed two, and last year I killed three, which is uncommon.
But, you know, my ability to kill these big bucks first starts with my ability to pass really nice young deer. But for me I film it all, so I actually get to kill them with my camera. And so to me it makes it more fun because I can…I don’t have to kill that deer as a three or four-year-old when I’ve got other bigger, more mature deer running around, but I can film them and have that encounter with them. And to me that’s just as much fun as kill them. All right, maybe not as much, but it’s exciting as heck and it’s so fun to be able to document.
Bruce: Hey, before we wrap up, what’s one big thing you know today that you wish you knew 5 to 10 years ago that would have made you a better deer hunter?
hunt where these big bucks live if you’re going to kill them
I think in general the number one factor is you’ve got to hunt where these big bucks live if you’re going to kill them. It took me…I hunted in Michigan for 16 years and killed the biggest buck ever, was about a 130 class, 125 type four-year-old and a beautiful eight-pointer. Still it’s one of my most treasured trophies because it was one of the biggest deer I’d ever seen in Michigan.
But just to give you an example, I hunted up there for 16 years or whatever, only killed a couple rack bucks in all that time, but passed…I think the last season I hunted in Michigan I passed 46 bucks from October 1st to November 15th. All dinks, you know, one-year-olds and two-year-olds. But, you know, that’s what was around, I passed a lot of deer. And my buddy invited me to Illinois in 2003 to go hunt a farm that his… It was just a random thing, he met a guy fishing on a river in Michigan and they ended up exchanging numbers.
And so we went down to Effingham, Illinois on a hunt and started hunting this farm, it wasn’t that good. I had actually found a pretty decent spot. Within a few…within a day or two I had ever other guy that was with me, three other dudes, within 100 yards of my stand. I was just like, “Are you kidding me?” I deal with the same stuff everybody else deals with.
So we were randomly on our way to the store, it rained one morning and we didn’t go out. And so we were on our way to the grocery store and we were driving just across the country in Illinois and looked on this field edge and there was a big buck working a scrape a couple hundred yards off the road. “Oh my god.” I mean, and for Michigan boys, this was a big deer. We were like, “Holy cow.” You know, it was 130-inch typical, or 130-inch eight-pointer, something like that.
So we go into town and the whole time it’s eating at me. I’m just like, “I did not drive, you know, seven, eight hours down to Illinois and spend all this money to sit and not have an opportunity or not try to make something happen.” So it drove me nuts. And so I told my buddy, I’m like, “We’re going to stop and talk to whoever lives at that house on our way back.” So stopped, talked to this lady and she actually was an anti-hunter, but she said, “It’s not up to me, I don’t own the property, it’s this gentleman and he lives in an adjacent town.”
And so she gives me directions, like, “Yeah, you got to take a left over here, you got to go down about eight miles, take a right.” You know, she’s giving me directions, “And when you get to the town, look for the big silos, the corn silos, and behind there there’s two houses, you got to go to this one.” So by the time we even got to this guy’s house I didn’t even know if I was in the right spot. But I went, my buddy who was with me is older than me and he was too chicken to go talk to the guy, so I…you know, against all instincts and, you know, heart pounding and adrenaline pumping I went and knocked on this dude’s door. And the guy turned out to just be the nicest guy in the world.
And so I told him, you know, “Hey, we’re from Michigan and we’re down here just until the end of the week. And just saw a nice buck on your farm over there and didn’t know if we could hunt.” He said, “Well, I got a father and son that hunt there.” And he said, “Well, how long are you guys going to be in town?” I said, “Just until Friday,” or whatever. And he said, “Well, I’ll tell you wait.” He said, “Just don’t hunt our other stands, but you can hunt there until Friday.” So we went there that night, did a quick scout, hung a stand, I shot a 130-inch eight-pointer that we saw working that field edge that next morning. My buddy shot its twin brother the following night about 100 yards away and it was just like, my god, if you want something, you just have to go get it.
And to this day it’s still one of the most…it was the pivotal part in my hunting career when I realize, you know, in order to kill these bucks it doesn’t only…it doesn’t necessarily mean…or to kill these bucks you’ve got to be on the right farm. So what do I have to do to get on the right farm? And that’s when I just totally went completely crazy in my world of whitetails and ended up moving to Iowa 15 years…well, not 15, about 13 years ago now I think for that reason, just to relocate where I could, you know, put myself in the bedroom of these big bucks. And that’s half the battle.
put myself in the bedroom of these big bucks. And that’s half the battle.
Yeah. In my belief it’s 80% of the battle. Because elk, once you get into elk, I’m going to be careful what I say, I’m going to say they’re relatively easy to hunt if you get into them right.
But they only live in 10% of 10,000 acres at any one time and you have to get there where they haven’t been pressured. So you got all these odds stacking up and I think Colorado archery runs about a 17% success ratio. So, you know, figure it out, folks. But it’s no different than the first time I came out to Colorado and hunted elk. We got into elk, I had one shot, I missed. And, but I learned, you know, a lot about whitetail hunting by elk hunting. Because they’re very similar animals. Bulls, you know, they need cows. Bucks need does. Yeah, they don’t herd them up, but there is vocalization, there’s so many similarities.
And, you know, the thing is somebody like you that’s dedicated there life to being, you know, a whitetail hunter, you know, it’s just incredible, the knowledge that you have and that you’re willing to share. And then people…you know, tell people again how to get to White Knuckle Productions.
Yeah. We have…everything generally is run through our Facebook page, White Knuckle Productions on Facebook http://bit.ly/2xpfHYv. You can also go to my…I have a personal page, a professional page, called Todd Pringnitz http://bit.ly/2CXFsFe. I’ve been maxed out on Facebook friends for a long time, so that’s where you can follow me personally. And then with the Tree Thrasher https://www.facebook.com/treethrasher/ thing we’ve got a Facebook page there. But all three are kind of connected, so we always keep everything updated.
Here is the story of Walter Payton, the buck of my dreams! I hope you enjoy! I would also like to personally thank Kyle Reenders for his efforts and talents in editing. I wish you were in the tree with me, but you saw the tree! lol… I would also like to personally thank Tyler Tisue for his help in tracking and documenting the recovery of this animal! Thanks so much for always being there!
But if you want to see a great whitetail story, check out the hunt, it’s called “Sweetness.” And I named this giant whitetail after one of my favorite football heroes growing up, Walter Payton, who was my hero when I was a kid. And this buck is absolutely the most magnificent, majestic animal I’d ever seen in the woods over all these years. And when I killed him, I couldn’t believe it, I still can’t.
And I will just say this much, if you think you’ve seen somebody freak out before, you’ve seen nothing until you see me recover this deer. Because it was absolutely a miracle that it all happened. And I was so fortunate to be able to capture it all on video to be able to share it. But I’ve got such a great editor named Kyle Reinders, lives in Michigan still, and he did the editing for our video. And it’s gotten quite a bit of attention and quite a few people are saying it’s the best whitetail…you know, it’s the best whitetail story they’ve ever watched. And I would have to agree, I’ve watched a bunch of them. And it has everything, but it’s just a lot of…you know, a lot of time and energy and a lot of sacrifices over the years.
You don’t, you know, get on these big deer and kill them year after year after year unless you put in the off-season time. And that’s where I’m fortunate to live where I hunt, but I literally had to make that happen. You know, I had to literally move from Michigan, leave everything behind, and go after it. But I didn’t know anything else, you know, that’s just the way I’m wired and I just don’t regret anything at all over the years.
But I would say, you know, you got to keep moving forward, even if you’re moving the wrong direction. If you’re not moving, you’re not going to change and you’re not going to learn. So learn to adapt. Never, never think you have the number of a big buck. Because I’ve been schooled so many times, that’s what keeps me coming back.
Todd Pringnitz with White Knuckle Productions
Well said. . Thank you so much for being a return guest on Whitetail Rendezvous. And I can’t wait to catch up, I hope we don’t have to wait a year and a half and I’d like to have…you know, invite you to be on in sometime next winter and tell us about 2018, you know, hunts.
And it’s just a joy to listen to you and hopefully one of these days I can be a guest on White Knuckle’s podcast.
Yeah, absolutely. I apologize pretty much to the world, including my family and everything else, but the last six months particularly have been…last two years really, but the last six months getting Tree Thrasher ready has been absolutely nonstop. So I’ve been overwhelmed with work for so long I haven’t even been…I was a guest on our own podcast last night, Bruce, for the first time in probably like five months.
Oh my goodness.
Yeah, don’t feel bad. But, no, we just rerecorded one last night and a couple last week because I finally had pulled my head out of the clouds, so to speak, and got Tree Thrasher in production and rocking and rolling. But it takes a lot of effort and time to get these…this new product stuff out on the market, and now we’re working on all the videos and media and stuff.
But, yeah, it’s a lot of fun, I’m very lucky to be able to do what I do and I’d love to share more with you, Bruce. I appreciate you letting me come on.
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