It is always interesting when the comparisons with various state’s bucks come up because even with years of experience it’s a tough call. Is a WI 4 year old harder to kill than a MI 4 year old? As someone that has hunted whitetails without guides in many states, all over MI in all types of habitat, public and private…and worked with clients in 11 states, walking and talking deer woods…a 4 year old is a 4 year old. Also, a deer bed is a deer bed…and most food plots are still a poor location to kill a mature buck no matter what the state. The distance a mature travels to and from a major food source will vary greatly from habitat type to habitat type, but his requirements are still the same. Lots of similarities no matter what the state…
In MI, for example, its fairly easy to kill the oldest buck in the neighborhood because typically that “mature buck” is a 3 year old…sometimes only a 2 year old. That’s not a slam on MI hunters, its just that we just don’t get a chance to experience the level of difficulty in shooting bucks older than 3 years old but when you do…it can be a much easier hunt than going after an older buck located elsewhere. Grow great habitat, design it right, hunt it right…and it often comes down to being able to make the shot.
On the otherhand the oldest bucks in much of the rest of the Midwest are 4, 5, and 6 years old. Next year I should have a couple of 6 year olds around the parcel. 2 I blew chances on this year…1 we have never seen in the 3 years we’ve been able to identify him by pics. Bottom line, although a 5 and 6 year old buck is going to need the same security requirements and flow on your parcel to keep him alive in any state….shooting him is an entirely different story…In any state!
What is the easiest way to kill a 3 year old on a MI property? Hunt him like you would a 5 year old in another state. He becomes “easy pickings-“its all relative”.
All states are the same in that any 4 or 5 year old buck is a tough hunt. The difference? Most in MI never get a chance to regularily go after one so its hard to gain the experience level to either grow them, or kill them. I know, because not only have I seen those transformations my clients go through, but I’ve gone through them myself whether its been in lower MI ag, UP wilderness, my WI lease of the last 11 years, KY, IN, MN, or almost 2 decades of PA public land experience. I’ve learned by having had many chances in the past 25 years, but mostly by making MANY mistakes. While older buck habitat changes from state to state one thing remains the same, they are all equally tough to hunt.
One thing to think about. Mature bucks are creatures of pattern. They might have random patterns…but there are still puzzle pieces that can be put together to be able to shoot him. If his small core area is left alone I think a mature buck becomes easier to hunt the older he gets because over time even the casual observer can begin to decifer his random patterns. With that thought a 3 year old in MI often is the “top dog” in the neighborhood. His pattern is defined, and because he’s still young he is often visable and easy to pattern if left alone. However, take that same 3 year old age class in some of the areas with a great age structure and a specific 3 year old can actually be a tough hunt especially during the rut because he is constantly getting his butt whooped. His pattern becomes subject to the whims of the big boys…No big boys, his patterns stay the same, making him easy to pattern and kill-ESPECIALLY if you hunt him like you would a 5 year old in another state.
Anyways…interesting topic to debate, but in my experience even with many years of hunting mature bucks in lots of different states and habitat types…its still hard to say a certain age class is easier or harder to kill in one state vs another. A 4 year old is a 4 year old, it seems, and personally…I love the challenge of both growing them, and shooting them. I hope that you have the opportunity to do so too!