Whitetail Weekly, The Velvet Journey

If you ask most hunters when they see their biggest bucks or when they see the most bucks most will probably say November.  If you were to ask me that same question you may be a bit surprised when I chose July or August as my best months.  While I don’t disagree with the idea that November is a great month to find bucks and an awesome month to hunt bucks, I easily see two to three times as many bucks during the summer as I do during the fall.

Over the last few years we have begun to run more and more cameras on our property and we have been lucky enough to get several velvet bucks on our cameras each and every summer.   We’ve even been able to watch several bucks grow all the way from antler sprouts in the spring through hard horned rack’s come fall.  Being able to watch these bucks grow is really entertaining and exciting and has become a real highlight of my summer over the last few years.

As we reach mid to late July the bucks really begin putting on the inches and you can start to see just what they will be sporting come fall.  This is the time of the year when checking the trail camera’s really gets exciting and the anticipation for hunting season really kicks in.

This time of year a lot of people have velvet bucks on their mind and there are a lot of conversations centered on the question “how big will he get”.  With that question in mind I thought I would put together a series of pictures showing the summer growth of a buck we followed back in 2011.

We got this buck on camera early in the spring and could tell that he was going to be a decent buck.  As spring progressed into summer we kept getting more and more pictures of this buck and we realized that we had seen this buck the season before but had thought he was killed a few properties over.  As it turned out our information was incorrect and the buck we had been calling “Wide 9” in 2010 was alive and well in 2011 and was now being called “Corners”.   We were able to stay on this buck all through the summer and in the end we had a great series of pictures showing his progress over the summer months.

Lets take a look at “Corners” as he grew over the summer of 2011.  We’ll start with this first picture, taken in mid May.  He and a few other bucks had just started sprouting their new racks and while it is hard to be 100% certain this is him this particular buck always seemed a bit ahead of the others and a bit bigger body wise.

Corners, on the right, wasn't showing too much potential yet but that was about to start changing rapidly

Our next set of good pictures of Corners would come almost a month later.  The growth early in the year can be a bit slow but by late June it was pretty clear that Corners was off to a much better start than the other bucks he was hanging with.  It was also becoming pretty clear that he was going to have a pretty good spread as well.  These next few pictures really let us know that we had a buck on our hands that was going to be worth keeping tabs on.  The first picture below was taken from a cam hung on an inside corner of our food plot and was where “Corners” got his name from.

 

This picture shows the start of a good sized main frame.

 

Corners, on the left side facing the camera, was just starting to sprout his G2's in this late June picture.

 

We then got the first picture below on July 4th as he snuck across our food plot.  In this shot you can not only see his main frame starting to take shape but you can see his 4.5yr old body begining to distiniguish itself from the younger bucks we often saw him with.  The second picture was just a little teaser shot that we got on 7 July.

By this point of the summer Corners was really starting to show his body size as well as his rack size.

 

He almost avoided the camera but we got lucky and caught a quick glimpse.

After the series of pictures on July 7th we had a string of technical issues with our camera’s and lost track of Corners for a few weeks.  When we got the picture below on July 23rd it confirmed what we were already suspecting, Corners had blown into a very nice buck for our area.  It was clear from this picture that he was going to have a great frame and all that was left to find out was how the tine length would be.  Based on our knowledge of him from the year before we didn’t think he would be overly tall but with the frame he was sporting we certainly weren’t disappointed.

This picture was my first 'jaw dropper' moment of the summer. Seeing that frame really showed that we had a good buck on our hands.

Bucks tend to grow very quickly this time of year and Corners was no exception.  A few weeks later, by mid August, Corners was more or less done growing his 2011 rack.  He had become a very nice 10pt with a great spread and frame and short but symetrical tines.

Corners, on the right, was all but done growing by mid August. He had grown into a very respectable 10pt.

By this point in the summer we had already built quite a history with Corners and I was really anxious to get some hard horned pictures of him and for the hunting season to start so the chase could begin.  As we hit September we knew that the bucks would be shedding and it didn’t take us long get get a few shots of Corners.

By early to mid September Corners had shed his velvet and his body had really begun filling out.

Obviously all deer grow at different rates and some may start earlier or later than others but the timeline that Corners laid out for us is a pretty good example of the progression that bucks go through over the summer months.  Early on in the spring it is hard to tell just who is who.  Body size is hard to judge thanks to a long, hard, winter and when the first bits of antler start to sprout there isn’t a whole lot of distinguishing factors to go by.

As you get to the end of June and into July you will really start to see a seperation start between the bigger (and usually older) bucks and the smaller bucks.  I like to use the 4th of July holiday as a bit of a benchmark period and my rule of thumb is that if a buck isn’t grabbing my attention by that point he likely won’t in the fall either.  By the 4th of July (or especially by mid July) you can definitely start to get a feel for what a buck will look like come fall and can easily tell what a buck’s potential is.

The summer can be a tough time for us avid hunters.  We’re anxiously awaiting the new season but with soaring temperatures and daylight lasting until 9:30pm or later it gets hard to even remember what a frosty morning or a quiet sunset even feel like.  If you find yourself in a bit of a “hunters rut” this summer grab your binoculars and hit some back roads just before sun down.  Chances are you’ll find more than enough velvet bucks to remind you that fall isn’t really all that far away after all.

 

Take care, and thanks for reading!!!

 

 

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