Five Rules for Bagging a Monster Bow Buck with Toxey Haas
Rule #1: Hunt an Area That Homes Big Bucks
Editor’s Note: With the buck at 25 yards and broadside, Toxey Haas, the founder and owner of Mossy Oak Camouflage, knew he could make the shot. But he looked for several-more openings in the thick cover where he expected the buck to walk that would provide closer shots. "The buck would have scored about 130 points on the Boone and Crockett scale," Haas says. "I knew I could make the shot, but I felt I should wait on a closer shot. By waiting, I broke one of my cardinal rules for bagging big bucks with a bow: always take the first shot the buck offers that you know you can make." Instead of continuing on down the trail, the buck turned to his left, walked back into thick cover and left Haas frustrated in the tree and mentally kicking himself. But Haas doesn't often miss an opportunity to bag a trophy buck. This past season, he took a buck that gross-scored 150 points on the Pope and Young scale. Haas recalls, "When this buck was at 28 yards, I said to myself, `Don't wait. You can make that shot. Release the arrow.’” The arrow flew true, and Haas bagged his monster buck with his bow.
Haas took his first buck with a gun when only 8-years-old. But for the last two decades, he has hunted almost exclusively with a bow. Let's look at Haas' first rule to follow to bag a monster bow buck. Many bowhunters may consider Haas a fanatic about hunting trophy bucks with his bow. However, Haas has learned that to consistently take a well-racked buck each season, he must give even the smallest detail of the hunt his maximum attention. The best big-buck hunters in America consistently do more to prepare and hunt trophy bucks than the average bowhunter does.
"Regardless of the tactics you use, if no big buck lives on the land you hunt, you can hunt there for the rest of your life using trophy-buck tactics and never arrow a trophy buck," Haas explains. Many archers have the misconception that if an area homes a number of deer, then it must also home a trophy deer. But scientists have found this assumption not necessarily true. "To have a trophy buck to hunt, that buck must have survived until he's at least 3-years-old and must have had quality food to eat during that time," Haas says.
Although most of us assume that the biggest bow bucks come from private lands, Haas explains that, "You can find a trophy buck on public lands. But you have to scout more and work harder than the other hunters who'll settle for taking any buck, if you want to find and bag the really big bucks." To locate trophy bucks on private or public lands, search for these big deer in places inaccessible or overlooked by most hunters. "The further you get away from roads that hunters can travel by a motorized vehicle, whether a pickup truck or an all-terrain vehicle, the better odds you'll have for finding a monster buck," Haas mentions. "Look for trashy places where you can't see very far and have to go through briars, brambles and thick underbrush to reach. Very few other hunters will hunt these sites. But a big buck must live in these places to survive."
Overlooked areas include briar patches behind a house, young pines next to a major interstate, a thicket right beside the gate going to and from a clubhouse and a small, thick-cover spot in the middle of an open pasture. "In heavily-hunted regions, older age-class bucks often will discover that the closer they bed to spots people frequent but don't hunt, the fewer hunter encounters they'll have," Haas reports. "Even on busy public-hunting areas, you often can identify those little overlooked pockets of thick cover that will hold a trophy buck. If you learn how to hunt these places, you can arrow the bucks other hunters never see."
To see a trophy buck during the season, Haas learns the deer's preferred food source during August and September. When the deer go to these preferred foods in warm weather, they won't act as cautious and often will come out into open fields, knowing the hunter presents no danger. Using his binoculars, Haas looks for the bucks he wants to hunt in October and November during August and September.
"In Alabama where I hunt during October and November, I spot trophy bucks feeding on soybeans, poison ivy, honeysuckle and some late-summer clovers during August and September," Haas says. Usually the driest time of the year, warm-weather months force bucks to move more frequently to locate succulent plants to eat. Once you know which plants to look for and pinpoint where they grow in your hunting area, you drastically can increase your odds for finding a trophy buck to hunt when bow season arrives.
Tomorrow: Rule #2: Prepare To Hunt a Trophy Buck