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How to spend money? Best bang for the "buck"?

Old 12-04-2013, 01:13 PM
  #1  
Spike
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Default How to spend money? Best bang for the "buck"?

I'm sure this has already been covered before but I am looking to get some ideas on how to spend my money to increase my chances to harvest a "trophy buck" (130" or better). I've been hunting for over 25 years and have harvested a lot of does and smaller bucks but never one over 80" or so. I am really a meat hunter but just once would like to shoot a larger buck.

A litlle background on my hunting.....I live in northern Illinois about an hour west of Chicago. I bow hunt public land in Illinois and rifle hunt in northern Wisconsin. I get out maybe a half dozen times in Illinois and hunt 3 or 4 days straight in Wisconsin. The land in Wisconsin is private and is all "big woods" (no agricultural). Here are some of the ideas I've had on how to spend the money:

1. A land lease - I would love to lease some land in northern Illinois to hunt but have been unsuccessful in the past. A couple of years ago my father and I placed ads looking for such land in surrounding county farming newspapers but did not have one offer. It seems it's next to impossible to lease land in northen Illinois.

2. Game cameras - I think purchasing a couple of game cameras might be very helpful but I don't think it would be a good idea to use them in Illinois (hunting pressure affects the movement of deer too much, they would likely be stolen, etc). They would be useful at our Wisconsin area but I only make it up there a couple of times a year (we have a summer house there but it is 6.5 hours away).

3. A new bow - I have a 2005 Bowtech Liberty. I know it's someone outdated but I haven't had any real issues with accuracy.

4. Rifles - I have a Ruger 77 30-06 and a Marlin 30-30. Both could probably use new triggers (factory triggers now), and the 30-30 could use a new scope (old Tasco 4x) and a laminate stock. Here again I've never had a problem with misses.

5. Blinds - I have a small spring pop-up blind that I use for rifle season (place a small propane heater in it) and a larger $100 hub blind that I just bought this season for bow hunting. Don't really think I need any thing in this department.

6. Treestands - I have a couple of older ladder stands and a Summit Viper climbing stand. I don't typically hunt out of a tree in Wisconsin (lots of hills and valleys and can be pretty cold and windy) and its hard to hunt with stands in Illinois. Some of the public places in Illinois allow treestands to be left over the season but I've never done this before.

7. Clothing - I have an older thinsulate suit and lots of polypropylene long underwear (some of it has the "silver" scent suppressor technology). I practice scent control (wash clothes in unscented soap, store them in totes with backing soda, shower using unscented soap, etc.) and have't really noticed deer scenting me. Ideally I'd like a less bulky suit for bowhunting, but it's not super important.

I am open to any and all suggestions. Thanks in advance!
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Old 12-04-2013, 02:23 PM
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Heck, just go ahead and book a hunt to Canada where they have big bucks...
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Old 12-04-2013, 04:15 PM
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It doesn't sound like you are getting out that much in any given year to have a real good chance at taking a good deer, but you have to remember that to kill a good buck you first have to be hunting in an area that holds one! That may be your main problem right there if you've hunted as long as you mentioned and haven't seen a decent buck to shoot. You may want to look into a hunt like was mentioned above if you're serious about taking a good one, but even that isn't a sure thing. One thing for sure is that most of the variables you mentioned isn't going to increase your odds of taking a good buck very much, if at all.

Last edited by Topgun 3006; 12-04-2013 at 04:20 PM.
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Old 12-04-2013, 05:15 PM
  #4  
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I would say buy game cameras. They do tell you a lot about an area and whether your wasting your time. Also start knocking on some doors. Thats what I did. Granted most said no, but it did get me permission on a 500 acre hay farm with a river bottom 2 miles from my house. Doesn't hurt you'll never see them again.
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Old 12-04-2013, 06:12 PM
  #5  
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I fortunate fo have about 1500acres of wife's family farm, that holds some of the best deer hunting in NC. If I did not I would hunt like you do for meat and spend as little as possible to fill the freezer. I then would book a hunt or 2 a year with an outfitter. The money I spend on the 2hr travel to our farm for 2 days here,3 days there a week once in a while, corn, camaras, off season work, build stands and eating and living while there adds up to around $6k a year. Now thats a 3 month season, plus turkey for a month in the spring to be consistant and productive every time.
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Old 12-04-2013, 06:19 PM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by Topgun 3006
It doesn't sound like you are getting out that much in any given year to have a real good chance at taking a good deer, but you have to remember that to kill a good buck you first have to be hunting in an area that holds one! That may be your main problem right there if you've hunted as long as you mentioned and haven't seen a decent buck to shoot. You may want to look into a hunt like was mentioned above if you're serious about taking a good one, but even that isn't a sure thing. One thing for sure is that most of the variables you mentioned isn't going to increase your odds of taking a good buck very much, if at all.
Very well stated Top... One of the best points... Are they there???

Deernutz make a fair point as well... Tcams can help to show if they are, or not... Tho that's an if'y proposition on public land.
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Old 12-04-2013, 06:31 PM
  #7  
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Join a local hunting club - needs to be one to two hours away !!!

Then you'll use ALL the "other" stuff you already brought...............
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Old 12-04-2013, 08:59 PM
  #8  
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This place is listing a few northern Illinois leases:
http://www.basecampleasing.com/searc...linois_map.htm
I'm from north-central Illinois and probably hunt some of the same public land you do. If I was trying to make the decision, I'd look to a lease first, if I had the money, anyway. In my opinion, upgrading your equipment isn't going to help much on heavily pressured public land. The other thing I'd look at is traveling to hunt. I'd research Kentucky, Kansas, and Iowa (not necessarily in that order). I think you need to find better land to hunt.
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Old 12-05-2013, 06:16 AM
  #9  
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Thanks everyone for all the great advice! It has really got me thinking. I do have a couple of follow-up questions/thoughts:

1. Any specific books, magazines or DVDs that I should definitely add to my Christmas list? I already have a subscription to Deer and Deer Hunting and have the books Bowhunting Forests & Deep Woods by Greg Miller (read it 4 or 5 years ago but am going to retread it) and Grow 'Em Right by Neil and Craig Dougherty (probably isn't that pertinent to my current situation).

2. I took a look at licenses in Iowa but they seem extremely expensive (over $500 total) but my wife has family in Kansas City (haven't looked at the price for their license).

3. Where we hunt in Wisconsin there is a lot of public land. The land is along the Wisconsin/Michigan border near Boulder Junction. There are literally thousands of acres that three of us hunt that are both private and public and we see no other hunters. The deer are very mobile and move from year to year. A couple of years ago I hunted about a half mile back on public land and saw over 15 deer over the course of four days (I end up shooting a doe and 4 point buck). This year I sat in the same spot for two days and didn't see a deer the whole time. We figured out the deer were staying close to the houses where they were being fed and I ended up shooting a doe right across from our summer house on private land after sitting for an hour.

4. I definitely think I need to invest in a couple of cameras. Any suggestions on how many, brand features, and model? I don't think it will be wise if I spend too much on them as there is the chance they might be stolen. I know my Dad has an old one that he puts out in Wisconsin but it always seems to take blank pictures. Any other tips on putting them out on public land? I'm assuming February through August would be good times as there won't be as much human activity.

5. I am thinking about buying a climbing stick and hang on stand or trees saddle but I'm always worried about weight. I hate getting all sweaty hiking in and I always end up that way with my climber. Plus it seems so difficult and loud getting it set up. Also, it looks to me like the tree saddle wouldn't be very comfortable sitting in for long periods of time. I like hunting in a blind (much more comforrtable) but I am always worried that big bucks that receive a lot of pressure are spooked by them.

6. Any suggestions on a middle weight jacket and coveralls that are warm, quiet, wind proof and waterproof?

7. One thing I failed to mention is that we have 20 acres near Iron River, MI (upper peninsula). Half of it is an old pasture and the other half wooded. We bought it as an investment and I have never hunted on it. Not sure if I should think about bow hunting on this but there is no house (would have to camp) and distance is an issue (6 hours away). I imagine I could plant food plot on it but it would be very difficult to keep them up due to the distance.

8. Any suggestions on how to find a lease for next year? Right now I'm thinking of putting an ad on craigslist (I've already tried this once), joining a hunting association or club (if I can find any in our area), placing ads in newspapers, and checking the county tax maps and contacting the owners. Am I missing anything?

9. When it comes to public land, the further away, the more options there are. I have state land about 15 minutes away but very few deer are taken and I never see any when I hunt there. There are areas 1 to 2 hours away that are better but the distance makes it more difficult to hunt and scout as often. Then there are prime areas in northwest and central Illinois.

10. I've already shot a doe this year so I have the rest of the bow season in Illinois to concentrate on hunting for a buck. I have two weeks off around Christmas and our season runs until the middle of January. Any suggestions on how should I proceed the remainder of the year? Should I be hunting really hard or starting to scout for next year while I hunt?

Thanks again for all the help. I'm learning as I go here and trying to think outside the box. All suggestions/help are greatly appreciated!
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Old 12-05-2013, 12:21 PM
  #10  
Spike
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Here are copies of an aerial and plat map of the area I hunt in Wisconsin. The red box represents the lot the house is located on, the areas highlighted in yellow represent state land, and the areas highlighted in orange represent private land we have permission to hunt. The public land highlighted in yellow comprises approximately 625 acres and the private land highlighted in orange is about 20 acres total. The black dot towards the bottom is the approximate area where I sat the first two days this season (I did not see one set of tracks in the snow anywhere near this area). The dot across from the house represents the area where I shot the doe and we saw at least 10 deer. The nice thing about setting up on the private land is that a blind or treestand can be left out......treestands and blinds must be removed daily on state land. I think there might be some people that hunt to the north of the house but no one hunts to the south.
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