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Arkansas Early Season Brute - Timing is Everything!

Jesse Gossage put down this giant early in Arkansas bow season! Big congrats to Jesse on an awesome buck and thanks for writing in - there are some excellent takeaways from his story for any bowhunter. Here is what Jesse said:

This one starts in the 2020-2021 season. I got a photo of a cool tall and tight 8pt on a small piece of private that I bow hunt. I tried for him then with no luck, and didn’t see him at all in 21-22. Fast forward to this year- I decide to be a little more serious about early bow season. I put a single cell cam out and a single regular card camera. After a few days, I get a picture of an absolute behemoth. A deer bigger than I’ve ever seen. This deer shows up a few nights in a row and I realize that he had the exact same rack structure as that 8pt, but now he is a massive 10. I started getting pictures of him in the first and last hours of each day. I discovered that any time the area is disturbed, he disappears for 3-5 days at a time. I also listen to an episode of the podcast with a preacher trying to sell the moon, speaking on the overhead and underfoot times (EP 510 w/ Rick Cope). I notice that every time he is on camera, it happens to be within a few minutes of the overhead and underfoot. That changed towards the end, but it is worth noting. The main thing that killed this deer was paying attention to when deer were NOT on camera, which was at about 4-430 AM. That was my window to get in the tree. Come September 23rd, when the Arkansas bow season opens, I went out for an evening hunt. I learned that the property owner went out around noon to spread clover seed. There goes my chances, I thought. Fortunately, I took off work from Saturday to the following Friday. According to history, my best chances were on Wednesday or Thursday. I sit every morning, being sure to be settled in the tree by 0430 and really minding my noise discipline. Tuesday I finally see some deer. A nice 8, a doe and a spike. I typically would have shot the 8, but I was determined. Wednesday morning comes and I’m in the tree at 0430. Well sure enough, here comes my giant, which I have dubbed “Sidesaw” due to his G2 almost looking serrated on his left side. I manage a great double-lung at 12 yards and he tips over anout 40 yards away.
The podcast taught me a lot to use for this deer, but I couldn’t tell you which episodes they were from. Summer intel gathering. Stealthy ingress and egress. In the stand EARLY. Moon phases.
A big note for me is that I am not operating on a large budget. I am a LEO and live on that salary. I can’t afford a bunch of cameras to spread out all over the property. What really helped my success was knowing the landscape and knowing where that buck was headed and where he came from. I set my camera so that I could tell what direction he approached from, and that told me where he bedded and where he went during nighttime activity. That set me up for good success. My main takeaway- know the land you’re hunting and if you can, get set up at a strategic time so that you don’t get made on the way in.
Thanks, y’all; you really helped me out with this deer. I’ve never scored a set of antlers before, but I’d bet he scored over 140.
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