Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hunting the Gamma Buck Part III

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails
Most hunters automatically assume every oversized buck is a "Super Alpha", when in fact he is more than likely a Gamma buck.
A Gamma buck’s territory differs considerably from that of either Alpha’s or Beta’s. First off, their territory is considerably larger, often overlapping the territories of two or more Alpha males. The Gamma’s ground scrapes and tree rubs appear to be mere tokens efforts and haphazard at best. Gamma bucks seem to appear out of nowhere and disappear just as fast. During the rut they can be in one place one day and 5 miles away the next. Their home territory is seldom the same from one year to the next.
Prior to the rut, a Gamma will back away from aggressive behavior displayed by another buck. A Gamma does not attempt to establish dominance over other bucks, at least not until the rut begins. If there’s a hot doe involved, a Gamma being psychologically dominant well meet aggression with aggression.
Are there special tactics we should consider when hunting the gamma buck?
Tree stands and blinds overlooking food plots are quite way to harvest Alphas and Betas, but never hunt a Gamma buck on the edge of field. You’ll probably never see him. You’d be better off setting up 100 to 200 yards in the timber.
Gammas are the most secretive of any buck in the herd. Gamma bucks rarely enter a field to feed during daylight hours. When they do enter the field it is usually away from the other deer.
Sitting all day watching a funnel is a great way to hunt gamma bucks. Grunt calls and bleating are effective on Gamma bucks, but antler rattling usually sends them running.
Several years ago, my father and I were hunting a heavily timbered bench. We had seen a big Alpha buck pushing does in this area on several occasions but hadn’t been able to get a shot at him yet. Early in the hunt we found him breeding a hot doe. Once the buck had finished giving the doe the best 3 seconds of her life, my father let the air out him. The doe scampered up the hillside and stop some hundred yards from us. It was then I noticed another large deer, much larger than the alpha charging words of doe. It was the Gamma. I let him have it as he passed through a small clearing.

Here are the two bucks father and I killed on the same morning. Size doesn’t always matter. The small racked buck (the Alpha) was 9 ½ years old/ the larger buck (the Gamma) was a mere 3 ½ years old.

Remember Gamma bucks are reclusive and patient. Even during the rut though often bide their time and do their breeding at night. One thing I’ve learned: if you harvest a buck on a hot doe and still have a tag get right back on her. There is about a 50% chance a bigger (Gamma) buck will be on her shortly.
How more successful we could be if we focused our efforts on harvesting Gamma deer instead of Alpha deer?
(This is part three of a series of articles on Gamma bucks)
Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hunting the Gamma Buck Part II

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails
What truly is a dominant buck and how does he fit into the general deer herd?
Male members of any deer herd can be divided into five types. They are: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Omega.
The Alpha buck is dominant both psychologically and socially. He knows he is the biggest "bad ass" deer in the herd. He is confident and controls the other bucks through intimidation. Rarely does he engage in a physical fight with other members of the herd.
The Beta is psychologically dominant, but socially submissive. They are waiting for their chance to become the Alpha. They will shows signs of submissive mass towards the Alpha, but not to other bucks. Between 70% and 80% of the bucks in any herd will be Betas. When fights do occur between bucks they are both generally Betas.

The Gamma buck is also psychologically dominant, but socially he is reclusive. These are the loners. They avoid conflicts with other bucks except during in the rut. Gamma bucks, while only about 5% of the bucks in any herd, will make up better than 50% of the trophy bucks in heavily hunted areas. They are recluses. They stick to dense cover and are seldom seen during daylight hours. These are the survivors and because of that they tend to live longer, Gammas usually have better trophy qualities than either Alphas or Betas.
The Delta buck is submissive both socially and psychologically. Here’s the six or eight point buck who hangs around the doe group year-round. He is not only intimidated by other bucks, but by the does as well.
Lastly we have the Omega buck. He is psychologically submissive and socially a reject. He tries to seek acceptance anywhere he can. These are the bucks we see in videos walking into people’s kitchens and eating cookies from peoples hands. They will do anything to be accepted.
Both Delta and Omega bucks seldom live over two years in open range. They have the suicidal habit of standing in open fields during hunting season. Alpha bucks have a short life spans as well. Not only are they the targets of other bucks, but because of their high visibility they are also a prime target of hunters.
Most hunters automatically assume every oversized buck is a "Super Alpha", when in fact he is more than likely a Gamma buck.
(This is part two of a series of articles on Gamma bucks)
Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hunting the Gamma Buck Part I

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails
There’s a lot of hoopla going around about hunting dominant bucks. The problem is hunters see the deer as a mirror image of themselves, which is generally far from reality. We forget deer herds are a matriarchal society and the Alpha doe is the leader and most dominant member of any herd, not the buck.
Social ranking among whitetail deer is not always based upon strength. Dominance is primarily determined by intimidation rather than brawn. Dominance is generally established well before the rut while the bucks are still in velvet. Body posturing and staring are ways bucks intimidate an opponent. If the dominant buck has the largest antlers in the herd it is merely a coincidence.
We’ve all seen dozens of articles written about hunting dominant bucks We imagine the dominant or Alpha buck to have the largest antlers and to be superior both mentally and physically to all other members of the herd. This just isn’t true. The hunting industry produces at least a dozen dominant buck calls and dominant buck scent attractants. These are marketing strategies and have little to do with what’s going on in the woods.
All bucks are territorial. They mark these territories by rubbing trees, making ground scrapes, and pissing all over the place. However, big bucks don’t necessarily have the same territories. Rather their territories overlap. A buck might be an Alpha in part of his territory and a Beta in the rest.
What truly is a dominant buck and how does he fit into the general deer herd?
(This is part one of a series of articles on Gamma bucks)
Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Friday, January 25, 2013

Settling for a Lesser Buck

Several years ago I set my sights on a truly remarkable buck. His antlers were tall and wide. I estimated him to have a B&C score in the high 160's.

I scouted him and had him patterned. I made it a priority to hunt him and only him. Unfortunately, planning the hunt was as close as I came to harvesting that buck. To the best of my knowledge no one ever killed him and he died of old age.

On the last day of the hunting season I did harvest a good buck. Even though he wasn’t "the buck", he was a great deer with a green score of 156".

Everyone knew my goal. And I failed to reach it. By the end of the season, I had my goal.

Some called it a failure. And some were happy to hear it. So let the haters hate. Let the doubters rejoice. I don’t care. I don’t care what other people think and I quickly re-framed my failure to the reality that this was still a fantastic result.

"The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark." – Michaelangelo

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Do It Right the First Time

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails

When you are "crazy busy," as the world is today, the quality of our life and hunting suffers. What’s the solution? Do the opposite of what feels good and focus on what’s important.

When we cram our mental faculties full of information; appointments, deadlines, commitments, ideas, and even "bucket lists", we end up giving halfhearted attention to a laundry list of activities instead of sustained, quality attention to fewer, more important objectives. Our careers, relationships. and hunting all suffer.

The real problem isn’t trying to cram more stuff into an already disorganized space. Oh no, the real problem comes later when we tried to find things and extract them efficiently.

Cherish time, it’s your most valuable resource. The most important choices you’ll ever make are how to use your time. You can never make up the time you lose.

Doing fewer things well rather than a lot of things halfheartedly will make the biggest difference in every aspect of your life.

"If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?" – John Wooden

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Monday, January 21, 2013

Intuition Litmus Test

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails
Intuition plays a big role in hunting.
Beneath the surface there is much intelligence, and above the surface there is much self-delusion.
In recent years science has discovered there is more to human intuition than fear of loud noises and fear of heights. Intuition allows us to put seemingly random thoughts together and brought solutions. It is our human intuition which allows us to learn languages.
Most of what we consider intuition is actually known as childhood amnesia. We retain our past but do not explicitly recall it. Intuitively, we know more than we are aware. Some of what we don’t explicitly recall we implicitly, intuitively remember.
For as long as I can remember I’ve asked every successful hunter what he looks for in a hunting area. The answer was almost universal, " It just felt like a good place to find a big deer."
Intuition plays a great role in the selecting of hunting sites. If you want to develop your hunting intuition, unique do nothing more than spin a lot of time with whitetail deer.
Spend as much time as you can exploring deer habitat. Look for funnels and bedding areas.
After you harvest a buck, backtrack his trail as far as you can. Learn the where’s, why’s, and when’s as best you can. You’ll be building your hunting intuition.
All of these events will be added into your subconscious mind and soon you will be able to look at hunting spot and tell if it feels right are not without giving it much thought.
Is intuition always correct? Sadly, the answer is no.
Here is the litmus test I use to test my intuition. If the idea gives me a sense of expanded opportunities, it’s good intuition. If the idea gives me a feeling of contraction, it’s probably not such a good intuition.
The first principle of using intuition is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.
Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Be a Doctor of Hunting


Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails
Did you know top hunters see themselves as "Doctors of Hunting?" They see themselves as professionals, acting not only in their interest, but also with a concern for the health of the deer herd.
The medical process is the same everywhere. Whenever you go to any doctor, of any kind, for any condition, he will follow the three part sequence of examination, diagnosis and prescription.
Just as a medical professional would never think of treating you without following these three steps in order, you as a doctor of hunting, should never enter a hunting situation without going through these three stages as well.
Stage One
The first stage is examination. In the examination phase, you observe and ask excellent questions, to give you a thorough knowledge of the hunting situation.
Stage Two
The second phase is of diagnosis. In the diagnosis phase you review the results of your examination and double check to be sure that the symptoms that you had detected were the real symptoms. You ask additional questions to confirm your examination.
Stage Three
This is the prescription phase, where you determine the best solution (tactic) for the hunting situation you have diagnosed. Finally you implement your prescribed action.
Hunters who hunt in the way that doctors treat patients find that their hunting activities proceed far more smoothly and result in better hunts in less time.
Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Book Review on Havlon Knives

Book Review by Steve Sorensen

Posted on January 16, 2013 by HavalonKnives

Buck Naked: The Straight Dope on Trophy Whitetails
by Jim Collyer

When a book arrives in my mailbox, unsolicited, I take a quick look and think, "Oh boy, another guy who thinks his whitetail insights are something special."

"Oh boy!" is right – but this time I was very wrong!
It didn’t take me long to figure out Jim Collyer offers more than a hunting method, more than a how-to, more than a do-what-I-do approach to deer hunting. He offers a mindset, and when I started reading Buck Naked, I couldn’t put it down.

You won’t either because it contains secrets you’ve always wanted someone to reveal. Here are a few:
Is scouting really important? Yes – scouting means "evaluating the environment," and you can’t understand deer in their world without doing that.
Do deer have a vocabulary? Yes - and it’s more than the vocal sounds they make.
Do some myths need busted? Yes – it might shock you that two of them are "hard work equals success," and "big bucks are smart."
Why are there more does than bucks? It’s not just because hunters are after the bucks.

The way Collyer answers these questions might seem surprising, but when you understand what he’s saying, a lightbulb over your head will turn on, and you’ll know he’s right.

Collyer approaches hunting with three principles:

An understanding of yourself (self-mastery).An understanding of deer.
An understanding of how to carry out a real investigation.

This third principle is vital, and what most hunters are lacking. In fact, the reason hunters don’t succeed more, Collyer says, is "Big bucks don’t want to be found; that’s exactly why they are so hard to find."

So, to be a successful deer hunter, you have to draw on the Sherlock Holmes in you. Scouting is more than taking note of deer sign, or watching deer through binoculars. It’s real investigative work. It’s the foundation of successful whitetail hunting.

You’ll find plenty more in this 132-page book to help you avoid unfilled tags. Find out more about it at the author’s website,, where you’ll also find a link to ordering it, and the price is only $14.95.


About Steve Sorensen writer and speaker Steve Sorensen writes an award-winning newspaper column called "The Everyday Hunter®," and he is the editor of the Havalon Sportsman’s Post. He has also published articles in Deer & Deer Hunting, Sports Afield, and many other top magazines across the USA. Invite Steve to speak at your next sportsman’s event, and follow him at


Read the Post Here



The Missing Ingredient

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails
Did you know that if you do what other successful hunters do, over and over again, nothing can stop you from eventually getting the same results that they do?
However; on the contrary, if you do NOTHING to achieve better results, nothing can help you.
Did you know that the top 20% of whitetail hunters harvest 80% of the big bucks? This is why it’s so important to find out what the most successful hunters are doing, and then do as they do.
I’m going to keep this short and sweet, because I have something that I know you can really benefit from…
The Missing Ingredient
If you’re looking for more consistent results, then this book will provide you with important tips and techniques that will immediately increase your effectiveness and improve your results
Good Luck and Good Hunting,



Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Quit Waiting

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails
Time and again I run into hunters who are looking for success or are just plain waiting for success to find them. They dream of harvesting a trophy buck, but they just don’t know how to get started. It’s like the “big buck” is barely out of their reach. They are waiting for a break-through or a new and unique product that will revolutionize their hunting world. They have the misconception that if they can just hang in there long enough success will find them. Sadly, it rarely works this way. The truth is, waiting for success to find you is like waiting to be struck by lightning. The odds are it won’t happen.

Quit Waiting

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Getting into Rhythum

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails

In trying to control our world, we tend to exclude ourselvesfrom nature. Of course, humanity exists only as part of nature.
Too often, hunters try to take charge of something that is not his or hers to take charge of. Success in the field is often determined
by a hunter’s ability to lose his or her ego, and get in step with natural rhythms.

All of nature is like a web. It is impossible to touch one part without the vibration being felt elsewhere. A man walking through the forest creates a great disturbance. I always feel two sizes too big for my skin whenever I move through the woods.

Most of the deer will be aware of the hunter’s presence and scurry off long before he sees them. What deer a human does see are usually bounding off with tails flagging. Getting into rhythm is a matter of letting go.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Learning to see

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails

All around us, we are surrounded by limits. Some see this as crippling and settle for something less. Others see the opportunities.

Most novice hunters spend too much looking for a big deer and not enough time seeing what’s right in front of their eyes. We have conditioned our minds to look for deer where we expect them to be and not necessarily where the deer want to be.

The trick is to see what’s around us without judgement. Our subconscious can process the information much faster than our conscious and we avoid having our preconceived notions blinding to the reality of the situation. Seeing, despite the name, isn't merely visual. It’s also a feeling.

Only after we have truly seen an area for what it is can we apply judgement as to best approach on how to achieve our desired results.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Learn to Backtrack

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails
Everything in nature happens for a reason. Deer use the same travel routes and inhabit the same patches of cover year in and year out for the same compelling reasons.
Backtracking deer is one of the fast tracks to hunting success. Through backtracking we can gain some wonderful insights into the local deer behavior. We learn where the buck has been and why. The secrets of when and how to intercept the buck will be reveled.
Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hunt Backwards

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails

Most of us have been taught to start at the beginning and work towards the end. If we just follow the steps success will come. Unfortunately, this tends to be the long route to success.

Hunters who achieve consistent success do just the opposite. They start at the end and work backwards to the beginning. By doing so all of their efforts are aligned with the end result.

Start with where you plan to kill the buck, NOT how to kill the buck. Once we know the where, the how’s will revel themselves.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Monday, January 7, 2013

Beggars can't be choosers

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails
If you'd rather be a chooser, enter the deer woods with the strength and confidence achieved through a knowledge and understanding of deer and deer behavior.

If all you have is the desire to kill a big buck, it's not sufficient.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,
The Book

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Most advice is bad advice...

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails

People mean well, especially friends and family, but they're going to give you bad advice.

This leads to two challenges as you strive to improve your hunting success ratio:

1. Ignore their advice, and stick with the status quo (which probably hasn’t worked so well for you in the past)


2. Try to discern the actually useful good advice, so you don't insulate yourself in a self-deluded sense of grandeur.

In general, good advice pushes you to go farther, or to do things that make you uncomfortable.

P.S. the irony of this post is not lost on me.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Friday, January 4, 2013

Just when you think you’ve seen it all…

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails
I’ve been hunting whitetails for over 45 years now and I thought I had seen it all. That was until a couple of years ago. There are those out there that seem to push the boundary between creative genius and peer insanity. And while I have to give them an A for effort and an A for ingenuity. I have to give them an F for utter foolishness.
I heard the two hunters coming long before I saw them. In fact, I saw several deer running from the hunters before I even heard the hunters. Although both of these fellows were wearing camouflage, they were hunting with the wind at their backs.
When they approached, I suggested that they might do better if they hunted into the wind instead of with the wind.
"We don’t have to worry about the wind direction," the taller one said, "we are wearing scent controlling underwear and we sprayed ourselves down with scent shield."
"Very well." was all I could reply.
I guess they didn’t know that most human scent comes from our breath and the sebaceous glands behind our ears.
They went on their way and I looked for another place to hunt.
Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

But Which is the Sideshow?

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails

Every year the hunting industry comes out with new products aimed at improving our hunting. But which of these products are the real deal and which are sideshows? Which ones offer long term benefits and which promise instant success.

Sadly, most are sideshows or mere distractions from what’s important to our success.

Hunting has been around as long as mankind and is the basis of all civilization. The tried and true tactics of our fathers and grandfathers are far more critical to our success than any new product.

What is the most important, urgent, and critical elements to your long term hunting success?

Grab a copy of the book

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

You missed another opportunity

Photo courtesy of Apple Creek Whitetails
With more people hunting trophy bucks than you can shake a stick at. You need to stay at the forefront. One of the biggest mistakes hunters make is to hunt the same exact area year after year. Yes, there are locations that can produce a trophy whitetail year and in year out, but they are few and far between.
It’s a matter of numbers only 1 out of 20 bucks will ever reach trophy status. Most areas Just don’t contain enough deer to produce trophies year in and year out. Once the buck pool is drained in one area. It is time to increase and improve our hunting efforts.
If there’s a shortage of bucks in your area, it is going to be rare to see big bucks.
What this tells me is that I need to double my efforts in scouting and locating new areas for big bucks.
If there is a big buck shortage we can’t miss a beat. How we scout will determine our success. If you want to improve and increase your hunting success, you’ll need to get out in the woods.
It’s that simple.
Good Luck and Good Hunting,