LABH Exclusive: Trad Hunter has Mature Bucks Figured Out

LABH Exclusive: Trad Hunter has Mature Bucks Figured Out

Harmon Carson, LABH Contributor and owner of New Life Taxidermy in Haughton, LA, has a knack for killing mature bucks. In fact, this year's kill makes 9 years in a row he has killed at least 1 buck over 3 1/2 years old; 7 of those with traditional equipment. Some people say killing mature bucks is pure luck or chance or simply being in the right place at the right time. Harmon has proven otherwise with his methodical and purposeful attention to particular details. While scouting for that perfect spot to hang his set he looks for the same signs and indicators that have led him to year after year of success and a firm place in the Louisiana Archery record books.

"This was a new piece of property that I was hunting. Pretty much just a big thicket, a 40 acre thicket to be exact that I had been scouting all summer. It's so thick 20 yards is about as far as you can see in any given spot. There is a small creek that runs through it with multiple elevation changes throughout. Perfect for bucks looking for a place to hide. You have to pay attention to details when scouting new or old areas for that matter. Finding does wasn't a problem but finding a mature buck took some time. There were obviously deer in this area and maybe less obvious to some a good deer based on what I had found. I was close all season just finally put a few pieces together to get me right on top of a good one.  Anytime I find a sizable Scrape line I will put a camera on it."

Even though scrapes are mostly worked at night they're a perfect spot to take inventory of the bucks in the immediate area.

"After checking the camera a few days later the deer were coming from a different direction than expected. They were headed into some brush down wind of the scrapes. So I followed their path and found a Rub line. I followed the rub line into draw which led to another rub line. Both rub lines led to 2 different scrape lines so I found a tree in between."

Not long after Harmon discovered this potential bedding area he began getting photos of a couple of mature bucks and confirmed his hunch was right.

"The scrape line was in there towards the end of last season and the fresh scrapes from this season led to same draw."

Using sign from years past can help you predict what either the same buck or other mature bucks are likely to do this season and beyond.

"The deer where definitely in that draw. Both ridges showed buck sign so I found a tree in the draw to hunt as a Pinch Point Travel Corridor."

If you remember November 18th you may remember why you stayed home that day. It was hot and windy, 30- 40 mph windy to be exact. Harmon knew the bucks would be in thicket bedded up that morning and the wind would certainly cover the noise and scent of his intrusion so close to their bedding..

"I walked in at grey light and spooked a deer before making it to my tree. After climbing in and getting settled a doe showed up just a few minutes later. An hour or so passed and 2 bucks came in. 1 buck spooked as he got downwind of me. The other buck was startled at the spooked buck's reaction and that's when I spotted him. He looked up and saw me. He spun and in the middle of his motion I drew. It all happened so fast. Upon him getting to where he was quartering away I shot. The buck took the shot 90 yards and collapsed."

Harmon credits his undeniable and consistent success to paying attention to the details.  He had never seen this deer nor had any pictures of him. Harmon picked 1 buck from the summer and was hunting him. He told us finding 1 deer to target allowed him to learn the behavior and proximity of other mature bucks in the area.

Harmon's buck weighed 220 lbs, scored 149 7/8", has 12 scoreable points and was 4 1/2 yrs old.


Harmon's Equipment

Bow: Blackwidow PSA III

Broadhead: Simmons Tigershark

Stand: New Tribe Arrow Hunter Kestrel

Essentials: First Lite Fusion Camo, HCB Bowstrings
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the question that pops in my head as I read about this impressive trad kill is: Harmon, how do you keep from blowing the spot out with scent while scouting, running cameras and putting up stands?

Cole Tucker

Cole, I make a point to have a very low impact on the places I hunt. I walk everywhere, I don’t talk, I typically don’t bring people with me (at least where mature bucks are involved), I don’t touch anything, i don’t break sticks, I don’t make noise, I move slow and I move quiet. My thoughts are I actually want the deer to pick up faint scents of me from where I’ve been every now and then even when I’m not there. That way if they catch a slight whiff of me when I’m hunting, they may get nervous but they won’t blow out. I try to be sure I’m walking into the wind. I frequently scout and check cameras in the middle of the night. One because now that time has changed, it’s the only time I get to scout for my one day to hunt a week (Saturday) but also deer are typically on their feet at night. Bumping them while they’re already on their feet is better than bumping them when they’re in their bed. I frequently walk up on deer and either have to hang tight til they leave or back out and find another route. I hunt in the middle of bedding thickets all the way through season and barely make an impact on deer and their movements.

Harmon Carson

Thanks for the reply. Some of the same tactics I use but I’ve never tried scouting at night. My wife might get suspicious of me… I’ve got a few more questions I’ll save for offline. I’ve got a head I want to bring you.

Cole Tucker

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