Potato Digger Show is Up!

Posted by Bo Parker | Posted in | Posted on Thursday, October 28, 2010

The hunt for Potato Digger is now up on Midwest Whitetail. Our producer, Greg Clements did a great job of editing the footage... even though I forgot to send one of the tapes.

Go check it out and let us know what you think!

Click on the logo to view the show!

Potato Digger: The Final Chapter

Posted by Bo Parker | Posted in | Posted on Wednesday, October 27, 2010

2010 marks my 3rd hunting season in KS after moving from GA in 2008. What a ride it has been! Last year, I took a dream buck that grossed in the 170's on our 80 acre lease. This year, I took a deer that is a true legend of our Kansas farm.

In the summer of 2008, I got my first trail camera pictures of a nice 3 year old buck that would soon become known as Potato Digger. My first on the hoof encounter with Digger occured in November of 2008 while hunting with my wife, Sarah. We'd seen a few bucks already that morning when I heard a deer slipping through the CRP behind us. At first glance, I reached for my bow, but quickly elected to pass the 125ish 8 point at a distance of 15 yards. Afterall, it was early November and we were in the Land of Giants. We saw many good deer that weekend, but the big boys never presented me with any shots.

A few short weeks later found me back on stand in late December. It was to be my last KS hunt of the year. We were experiencing some sub-zero temperatures that day and the deer movement was fantastic! At the 11th hour, who would show up again? It was the wide young 8 point, and he was once again at a mere 15 yards. I'll admit, it was quite tempting as his antlers were larger than any of my GA bucks, but I didn't move to the Midwest to shoot 3 year olds. I felt that he needed at least one more year.

In late winter of 2009, I invited Scott to start hunting the property with me. We went down in March to shed hunt. We were walking along a creek that runs through the CRP when Scott spotted a shed that I had nearly stepped on. When he picked it up, he said, "Sweet, it has a potato digger point!". Little did we know, but he'd just uttered the words that we would use time and time again for the next two years. The shed that Scott held, belonged to the young 8 point that I'd passed on twice during the 2008 season.

During the summer of 2009, we ran trail cams and on the first card pull discovered that the potato digger buck had made a big jump! We estimated that the 4 year old whitetail had put on an additional 20 inches of bone and had some very impressive main beams. He was a deer that we definitely wanted to pursue. During our first hunt of the year, Potato Digger made his first appearance. We were sitting in a double ladder stand that we'd hung just 30 yards from where we'd found Digger's shed. While waiting on a young doe that was feeding to the East of the stand to give me a shot, I caught movement to the West. I quickly whispered to Scott, "Big buck! It's Potato Digger!"

By the time Scott got the camera on him, I was at full draw and looking through my peep sight at the big whitetail. 35 yards is well within my comfort zone, the only problem was that he was quartering to me. I try to avoid those shots at all costs. We hoped that he would take the same path that some earlier does had chosen, but as luck would have it, he fed directly away from us. We were pretty bummed.

During our next trip down, I was fortunate enough to arrow my largest whitetail to date. Potato Digger was safe from me for the remainder of the 2009 season... but Scott still had a tag. After I tagged out, Scott was on a mission to get Potato Digger. We'd already had daylight encounters with him during the past two seasons, and he was highly visible on our trail cams throughout the season. We often got pictures and videos of him hitting scrapes and rubs during the mid morning and early afternoon hours. He was definitely a killable buck. As luck would have it, when we chose door #1, he was behind door #2. The entire season played out like that. In the game of cat and mouse, we were always one step behind. One thing that we really noticed about him though, was that he was clearly a dominant buck. He ran with some larger antlered deer during much of the summer months, but seemed to really push them aside during the fall. In fact, our sightings and pictures of other mature bucks were severely limited with Potato Digger claiming the farm as his home. His dominancy was very evident.

The 2009 season closed without a second encounter with Potato Digger and Scott got a dose of Kansas Tag Soup... Trust me, I've had it and it tastes pretty terrible!

(For a recap of our first 2010 KS shed hunting trip, visit our March archives.) In March of 2010, we headed down to shed hunt the farm with one particular set in mind... Potato Digger! Not long into the trip, Scott found the matched set! We were pretty elated that he had found exactly what we'd been hoping for and that he had found them before the squirrels did. The beam length was quite impressive at 26+ inches. The matched set was found within 60 yards of his 2008 shed and within 100 yards of all of our encounters with him. We were definitely starting to narrow down his core area.

In the summer of 2010, Digger was once again the first mature buck to show up on trail cam. It appeared that he hadn't changed a whole lot, but his beams had amazingly grown even longer!

He had officially reached the "Stud" level in our book as a 5.5 year old KS brute. We were extremely excited to have the opportunity to chase this legend again. His dominant nature was very obvious to us during the summer months as his aggressive demeanor towards other bucks showed even as early as July. He seemed to really command the corn pile... even when feeding near much higher scoring bucks, such as Crab Claw 9. Potato Digger was officially named the #1 buck on our 2010 hitlist... even though we had larger antlered deer to chase. Our history with him and his aggressive nature made him our top priority this year. We hung stands, built ground blinds, and planted food plots specifically for this deer. It was time to take down our old nemesis.

On Friday, October 22nd, around 6:45 PM, the final chapter of our quest for Potato Digger was written.

I don't want to spoil the footage, so you'll have to watch the Great Plains show on www.midwestwhitetail.com on Thursday, October 28th. I will say that it was an incredible hunt that involved rattling and some intense decoy action. I shot him off the ground and he dressed out over 240 lbs. His beams measured 28"+ and his green gross score was 148 1/8th. Harvesting him was the result of a lot of hard work and was truly a team effort. He belongs to Scott as much as he does to me. We earned this buck! I'd also like to say a special thanks to Craig Galey, our neighbor, for giving me the match to the 2008 shed that Scott found. I now have both matched sets and they will be displayed with the mount in some fashion.

Harvesting a deer like this is a truly humbling experience and it reminds me to give thanks to our loving father. Without you, Lord, none of this would be possible. Thank you for creating whitetails and giving some of us the passion it takes to chase them.

Thanks for reading and please watch the show on Thursday to see the hunt. It is my favorite hunt of all time!

Slow ain't the word...

Posted by Bo Parker | Posted in | Posted on Thursday, October 21, 2010

To say that we've had a slow season would be an understatement. It's the slowest one I've ever had since moving to the Midwest. We just flat out aren't seeing deer right now. Frustration has officially set in for both Scott and myself. We aren't giving up hope, and we know the deer are out there, we've just had a very hard time finding them. Daytime movement seems to have been minimal on the farms we've been hunting, but whenever they are moving during the daytime, we seem to have chosen the wrong stand. It's happened to us multiple times this season. Last night was a prime example.

We had planned to hunt an isolated and picked bean field with a decoy. When we got there, we checked a camera near the stand and it had several does on it. The does had shown up on both of the previous two evenings, during the daytime, and had fed in the field until dark. There were no bucks on the cameras. So, we decided to not use the decoy and hunt the does instead. Dark thirty came, and nary a deer had entered our field. It was a pretty frustrating evening. Upon leaving, we saw several does in a corn field on the same farm. Once again, it was the wrong place at the wrong time for us.

So what are the factors that are contributing to our lack of success?

-Unseasonably warm weather - this has to be one of the biggest factors for us not seeing much daytime movement. The deer have their winter coats on now and with so many days in the past few weeks reaching the mid-80's, deer are likely waiting for the cooler evening hours to move and feed.

-Abundant food sources - There is food everywhere! There is so much browse, acorns, and harvested crops right now that the deer are really spread out. It's hard to pattern them when there are so many places they could be feeding. They don't have to travel far for food if they don't want to and they also don't have the need to stick to one particular food source.

-Lack of weather - We'd really like to see a good storm system or two push through once in a while to shake things up a little bit. We did get a little rain about two weeks ago, but that's about it. It would be nice to see a nasty low pressure system move in to really get the deer moving. Sometimes, you just can't beat a good frontal passage. Anything would beat this beautiful weather we've been having!

What are we going to do differently?

- Not much - we know that we're hunting smart, hunting the wind, and hunting good spots. We've just been a little snakebit (as have many of our friends). Also, we haven't hit it really hard yet either. We've been out in the woods a bit, but we haven't put in any really long sits and haven't done much calling. We're going to continue to hunt smart and be persistent and try our best to remain patient. We know we're in good areas and that we have many good bucks to go after. We just have to ride out this slump and hope things turn around real soon. We've been hearing reports of bucks fighting, moving in daylight, and even doing a little chasing. November is just around the corner! With these factors in mind, we'll soon be breaking out the decoy, grunt calls, and rattling antlers. Hopefully, we can make our own luck really soon.

Good luck to all of you that get out this weekend! Hunt smart and hunt safe!


The October Lull

Posted by Scott Mensing | Posted in | Posted on Monday, October 18, 2010

As Bo and I moved trail cameras, scouted a new property, and moved stands for the umpteenth time yesterday afternoon, we discussed in detail about how frustraiting of a season we have had so far. In Northeastern/Eastern Kansas and Northwestern Missouri, it appears that we are currently fighting the perfect storm when it comes to deer hunting in October. It seems that every year there is a typical "lull" that occurs during the middle of the month, but our "lull" has lasted for nearly 30 days now and shows no signs of slowing down with the 10-day forecast. The warm temperatures and windy conditions have provided us an early crop harvest, but has limited the deer movement. The bountiful acorn crop (the best in years) provides great nutritional benefits to the herd, but has limited the deer movement. The clear, bright night skies has been great for camp fires, but has limited the deer movement during daylight hours.

After nearly 100 hours of stand time, a couple dozen does, two yearling bucks, and very little activity overall, we are officially in a "lull", but hopefully on the tail end of it. We have hunted near known bedding areas, oak ridges covered in acorns, cut corn fields, standing bean fields and the outcomes have all seemed the same - little to no daytime movement. This has been the same pattern we have been seeing with trail camera photos as well. We are continuously moving stands and cameras though to hopefully catch up with one of our hit listers during this time because you cannot kill them if you are sitting on the couch! If they are going to make a mistake, you want to make sure you are there to capitalize on it!

We do have an update on our two main hit list bucks. Potato Digger and Crab Claw "9" have kept with their same routine for the last three years. Every year, these two will run together all summer and we will get literally thousands of pictures of them. But once that velvet comes off, Potato Digger will force Crab Claw out of the area and both will go nocturnal. Last year Crab Claw moved to the western edge of the property adjacent to us, but this year he has moved into the area where Bo shot his 175" 5.5 year old last year. We knew a good buck would take over this territory, but were surprised to see Crab Claw up there since we have no trail camera pictures of him on this portion of the property in three years. It was really nice to see him show up during shooting hours too. Too bad we were hunting about two hours away that evening. Lets hope he makes that mistake this weekend!

However, this dominance is the primary reason why we have placed Potato Digger at the top of the hit list. He is by far the most dominant buck we have ever encountered and is hurting the property by driving out all of the other bucks. He needs to go and needs to go soon! We will be targetting him and Crab Claw specifically this weekend so hopefully one of these 5.5 year olds will make a mistake and step into range for the Maxxiss.


Posted by Scott Mensing | Posted in | Posted on Friday, October 08, 2010

I can honestly say I cannot remember a mass acorn crop like the one we're currently seeing in western Missouri.  The acorns have been steadily dropping since mid-August and it has made a huge impact on our deer movements.  It's hard to believe there are enough acorns in the trees to continuously drop for two months!  We're sure to have some fat squirrels and deer this winter! 

On the properties we are currently hunting, it does not seem to matter the species of oak, they are all loaded this year.  It's nice to have that supplemental food for the deer herds, but it sure makes bowhunting them more difficult.  Over the past couple of weeks, we have been moving stands and doing some additional scouting to try to find the oak trees that are currently dropping and those that still have acorns yet to drop.  Both does that we harvested last weekend were taken over acorns that are located between heavy bedding areas and standing corn.

So during the first three weeks of season, we have transitioned from green bean fields to oak flats and ridges.  Within the next week or two, we'll be make another transition from the oak trees to the cut corn fields.  The weather in our area has been absolutely perfect for the crop harvest this fall so hopefully the majority of the standing corn will be gone by mid October.  If so, the deer activity will significantly pick up and those mature bucks should start to be a little bit more visible.

One has to remember that you need to be mobile during the season and adapt to the changing seasons and surrounding conditions.  Don't be afraid to move stands during season.  This weekend we will be setting two or three stands on Saturday.  If you're not sitting in the right place, grab your stand and MOVE!! 

On another note, please take a few minutes to check out the latest Midwest Whitetail Great Plains show.  Greg Clements produced a very good segment of Bo's doe harvest that I filmed from this past Sunday.  The show also includes a great buck shot by fellow prostaffer Mike Lutt.  Check it out at the link below!

Midwest Whitetail Great Plains Show

Doe Patrol

Posted by Scott Mensing | Posted in | Posted on Monday, October 04, 2010

Thanks to a strong cold front late last week, our 2010 season got a good jump start this past weekend.  We had put in A LOT of stand time and just were not seeing any deer movement the past couple of weeks.  The deer that we were seeing, were moving late and no mature bucks were seen.  Not sure if this was due to the full moon, the current crop harvest situation, the warmer temps, etc., but we (mainly me) were getting pretty frustrated with the lack of movement.

On Saturday evening, Michelle (my wife) and I climbed into a new stand on a farm we had never hunted before.  Bo and I had spent maybe an hour or two walking this property a few weeks earlier and found a couple of old tree stands that were still in decent condition.  The deer sign was also some of the best we had seen yet this year.  The trails were numerous, wide, and VERY heavily used.  As Michelle and I were making our way to the stand, three does stood up from directly below the stand and ran off.  That right there was the most deer I had seen while hunting all year!  As we got the second stand hung and the camera positioned, another doe started making her way towards us, only to disappear in a patch of CRP.  But we finally got situated in the stand and not 20 minutes after getting set up, I noticed three does feeding through the timber below us.  The stand we were sitting in was on a steep ridge overlooking a bottom area that abuts up to a couple of CRP fields (aka bedding areas!).  The three does were joined by another, larger doe that came in from the opposite direction.  As they met, they decided to walk directly towards us.  I let the three younger does pass my only shooting lane on that trail, but once the last and biggest doe entered the lane, the Maxxis got it's first taste of venion! 

I still had a buck tag and another doe tag in my pocket so I hoped that we could double up since the first doe was shot at 5:30.  As we sat there, we could hear deer all around us, but had a hard time seeing them due to the heavy vegetation.  But at about 6:00, another yearling doe made her way up from the CRP and came to within 5 yards of us.  This doe didn't have a care in the world, other than eating all of the acorns around us.  She sat there for easily 20 minutes and just wouldn't leave us alone.  I really wanted to put a tag on her, but you just can't shoot the babies when your wife is behind the camera! 

All in all, we saw 12 deer that night, but with light finally fading, we got down and started on the blood trail, which was poor to say the least.  I got pretty discouraged and gave Bo a call to help with the tracking.  The track job went slow, but not 80 yards from the shot, we found her piled up, just into the CRP field she came from.  What a relief!!!  The first deer of our season was finally on the ground!!

The next morning we woke up to 35 degree temps, a clear sky, and light winds - the absolutely perfect bowhunters forecast!  As Bo and I climbed into the stand, we immediately had deer on us.  The first deer to appear from the darkness as the sun crested the horizon was a small basket rack buck.  Shortly after he left, we were visted by a group of turkeys, that unfortunately they never appeared from the dense undergrowth behind us to offer up a shot.  But after not more than 45 minutes in the stand, Bo noticed four does coming towards us and feeding on acorns the entire way.  I had one big tree in my way and couldn't get much footage of the does coming in, but once that lead doe stepped into the shooting lane, Bo released a perfect arrow.  As the other three ran off, Bo pulled out the brand new VECtor Doe Grunter and successfully called all three of does back.  However, they just would not present a shot opportunity that worked for both Bo and myself so they got a free pass that morning.  We'll do a write up here in a couple of days showing this new call (and the sweet call Bo had Vince make me for my birthday), but it looks and sounds amazing.  Vince definitely impressed us with this one!   But back to the doe, as I mentioned, Bo's shot was perfect, the Steelhead XL flew true and had actually cut the doe's heart in half.  Needless to say, the track job was short and easy to follow.  Neither of us had seen a blood trail like this and she died within 25 yards of the shot.  That's how we like it to happen! 

All in all, we couldn't have asked for a better weekend.  We both were able to get the monkey's off of our back for the year and we were able to partially fill our freezers.  We're thinking that both harvests will air this Thursday on Midwest Whitetail (http://www.midwestwhitetail.com/) so please check out the website and take a look!