On Saturday, warm and windy weather kept the deer from moving and on Sunday, rain and cold kept many hunters inside. Bob Mason, Springfield, said, "I know the deer are out there, but you couldn't tell it last weekend. We still have a few days to get that trophy buck I have been watching for more than a month."
The weekend deer totals fell nearly 20,000 fewer than last year's opening weekend and far short of the record of 133,136 back in 2004. Vernon County had 543 deer taken the first weekend.
A trophy-sized buck may live near your home or on the lands you hunt. You've probably never seen him. More than likely, you never will. If you don't bag him this season, he may die of old age.
Because this deer knows more about you than you do about him, he's become a trophy-sized buck. However, you can bag that buck this season if you use the right tactics.
You can begin to hunt this big buck on your kitchen table using aerial photos of the land you hunt and identifying the spots where no one else hunts, such as along the edge of a road leading to camp, on an island in the middle of flooded timber, in a head-high clearcut, on a strip-minded area, next to a major highway, in a small, less than 25-yard wide hardwood draw or in a brush pile out in the middle of a field.
"One of the first places I look for trophy bucks is under a highway bridge," said Larry Norton, a trophy buck guide from Alabama. "Big bucks often will walk under bridges from one wood lot to another without being seen. When I find the deer's trail, I can follow the deer and hunt him."
With the Missouri deer season open, many hunters have been dreaming of that monster buck of a lifetime, hoping he'll show up. A book written by John Phillips covers such subjects as how to find and hunt monster-sized bucks and tactics to use to take them, including double-calling, cackling and computer technology. It may be too late for this year, but there is always next firearms season.
Some trophy buck hunters go to the thickest cover they can find on state hunting areas at the end of the season, climb into their tree stands before daylight and stay until dark. Other hunters will move into the open, which means the big bucks must go to that thick cover.
Chris Yeoman, a deer hunter from Rapid City, S.D., specializes in taking trophy whitetail deer. He uses one-man drives to bag monster bucks holding in small wood lots.
As Yeoman said, "I don't want to spook the buck. I prefer for him to sneak away from me in an open spot. The stander on the other end of the wood lot can get a shot at the buck in that open place."
The Ozarks is home to a lot of big bucks and many are world-class size. The world record non-typical whitetail buck was found dead, apparently of natural causes, during the 1981 season in St. Louis County. It weighed 250 pounds and scored 333 on the Boone and Crockett scale.
The Missouri Show-Me Big Bucks Club is a statewide organization affiliated with the Boone and Crockett Club. The purposes of the club are to officially recognize Missouri trophy deer heads and to honor the successful hunter, to promote interest in and appreciation for Missouri deer hunting, to promote sportsmanship among deer hunters, to establish and maintain a permanent record of trophy deer heads taken in the state and to assist eligible members in receiving national recognition.
Membership is available to any hunter who has, during legal hunting season, taken a trophy buck that meets the standards of measurments developed by the Boone and Crockett Club.
Minimum scores for membership in the Show-Me Big Bucks Club are 150 for non-typical deer taken north of the Missouri River and 170 for typical deer. The minimum score is 10 points lower for deer taken south of the river because records indicate infertile soil produces smaller deer with smaller antlers.
A score better than 140 is exceptional and should be entered in the record book. Each fall, many big racks of antlers are taken in the Ozarks and as past records show, some of them could be records.