The Sturgis Buck (Warning - Super Long Read)

Discussion in 'Whitetail Deer Habitat' started by NorthJeff, Nov 17, 2014.

  1. NorthJeff

    NorthJeff Guest

    I have the good fortune of having access to 120 acres of family property in Jackson County. I've been bow hunting the property for nearly fifteen years with mixed success. In the early days, most deer sightings were does with the occasional spike or basket racked buck mixed in. On the rare occasion, I would be shocked when a "huge" buck (read 80" - 120") would make an appearance during the rut especially when he would be doing the unthinkable like walking along a cut field edge IN BROAD DAYLIGHT! I got lucky on November 6th 2004 and arrowed a nice 124" ten point that was chasing two does down the edge of a standing corn field. I remember thinking that I was beginning to get a handle on the property and that I was going to start shooting more and better deer in future seasons. I decided that my new cut off would be any buck that was bigger than my prior best.

    2004 124" 10 Point

    The following season I broke my own rule and shot a basket 8 that had a broken hind leg. Other than that, I passed on many small bucks each year hoping that a couple would make it through and end up giving me something to set my sights on the next year. As the years passed by I began to question my sanity but not my decision to pass small bucks. I could shoot a doe or two without much trouble for venison and small bucks wouldn't make the wall so I saw no point in shooting them. Finally, on Nov 8th 2012 I was able to better my 10 point with a 9 that scored 126 3/8".. not a monster but after 8 years of passing it felt good to loose an arrow on a buck!

    2012 126" 9 Point Buck

    In 2013 I thought I would implement some property improvements including an 8 acre NWSG planting and about 2 acres of food plots. By the fall of 2013, I had counted over 18 different bucks on my trail cameras! I dreamed of bucks chasing does and fighting for their attention. This was going to be the best season ever! On November 3rd I passed about a 115" 8 point with excitement thinking that all I needed now was a buck bigger than 126" to do the same thing... it was not to be. 2013 ended up being one of the worst seasons I had experienced on our farm. I shot a coyote and a doe... all the bucks on our property seemed to have vanished. The nearly 2 acres of brassicas I had planted were knee deep and turnips were the size of softballs but even after all of the extreme cold and snow, none were touched.

    2013 Brassica Plot

    I was puzzled. No tracks, no sign of deer whatsoever... I decided to contact Jeff Sturgis to see if I could book a property consultation. He had a cancellation and I was able to schedule for February 21st 2014. I waited with eager anticipation of how Jeff was going to unravel the mystery and help me turn my property into a whitetail oasis. In the meantime, I booked a property tour at the Scott Bishop residence and saw what could be done with a good plan, hard work, and a vision. In February, Jeff came out and we spent the entire day walking the property with Jeff giving me tons if ideas for improvements as well as explanations of why I had been struggling. My property was a "pass through" property without adequate thermal/bedding cover to keep deer around particularly in the late season. Therefore, no deer were around to eat the carefully prepared food plots that I had put in. My woods was too mature without any good bedding cover. There was too much human activity throughout the year to allow a mature buck to feel comfortable calling the piece home. etc. etc. etc... Jeff assured me that the property had potential. He created a plan and gave me a map a couple of weeks later. I went at it the next weekend and most weekends throughout the spring/summer. In total, I was able to create 10 of the 12 bedding areas shown on Jeff’s map, I put in 10 acres of mixed food plots, created a scrape trail, travel corridors, and planted 650 trees. Maybe this would be the "best season ever"... By late August, I was worried… I have 6 trail cameras on the property that had me scratching my head. Only 6 bucks this year, mostly small, BUT, one that I had no doubt would exceed my minimum. He was the largest buck I had ever seen on the property! I named him the “Sturgis Buck” because I figured he was a direct result of Jeff’s plan. The Sturgis Buck was extremely shy and avoided 4 of my 6 trail cameras completely. The two videos I did get were over a month apart and in two opposite ends of the property. Both times, he looked as though he was going to turn inside out when the low glow cameras turned on. He was not a fan! Fast forward to hunting season, I largely stayed in low impact areas and minimized my early season hunting efforts. I did shoot a doe on October 9th but on an edge and not near any “core” areas. On November 8th, I hunted from the same stand that I had shot my 2004 ten point out of. It was my first time setting foot on the South end of the property since the previous deer season! The day was largely uneventful, but just before last light I heard some crashing through the adjacent standing corn field… then a doe bleat… then a buck grunt. The doe dragged the buck within 20 yards of my stand and I looked at him in the low light. He seemed to have a big body but I could only make out what looked like big spikes. I thought, well cool encounter, but he certainly can’t be the Sturgis Buck so I just watched him for a few more seconds. I then thought to get out my handy cam and flip it to nightshot for the sake of identifying the buck and maybe getting some bonus footage. When I got the camera rolling and zoomed in I realized that “Holy $H!+” it WAS the Sturgis Buck!!! I tried to get the bow drawn but by that point he had crossed the creek and was walking into one of my food plots about 40 yards out. He was at a sharp quartering away angle and I knew that taking that shot was a Hail Mary at best and less than ethical. I let the bow down and kicked myself as I watched the footage back and confirmed that yes it had been the Sturgis Buck and yes I had recorded the 10 second clip three minutes before the end of legal shooting time. How did that just happen??? I knew I screwed up bad… I might not get another chance like that for a couple of years! The next day found me back in the stand for another all day sit and I was determined to make it happen… but it didn’t. Back to work on Monday and Tuesday with the plan to take the rest of the week off. Wednesday morning I climbed a tree 200 yards north of my previous encounter in an area that I had never killed a buck but knew was high traffic. I saw lots of deer early including a small six but then things slowed mid morning. Around 1:00pm, I had a spike come in and while I was watching him I noticed movement on a hillside across the creek. There was a big bodied deer walking out of one of my hinge cut bedding areas that is adjacent to a big foodplot. As he got closer I confirmed that he had a decent framed rack. He walked down the 25 foot bank, crossed the creek and continued to head north towards another big hinge cut bedding area. I saw he had good tine height and was confident that he was the Sturgis Buck! I got a HD camera and a GOPRO going and readied for the shot. I stopped him at about 28 yards and let the arrow fly… THWAKKKK!!! I saw him kick and take off towards the north bedding area. I waited about an hour and slowly got down to look for blood and my arrow. I found neither! Oh boy!.. this is nerve racking! I decided to slowly walk a few yards in the direction that I had last seen him run. Sure enough BLOOD! Good blood, both sides. He made it about 60 yards where I found him lying next to downed tree just short of a hinge cut area. I JUST SHOT THE STURGIS BUCK!!! I looked at him with disbelief! Super happy that it all came together, and crazy that I got another chance after Saturday’s missed opportunity. Super awesome feeling after all of the time, effort and money I had invested in my habitat improvements!..


    2014 "Sturgis Buck" 132 4/8 11 point

    Thank you Jeff for helping me achieve my personal best this fall!

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 20, 2015