5 Steps to Successfully Hunt Velvet Bucks
By: Josh Honeycutt
Follow this plan to help you tag an early-season buck before he gets hard-horned!
There’s no sight quite like that of a big velvet rack bobbing through lush early-season undergrowth. As a Kentucky native, I’m blessed with an early season opener (first full weekend in September) that allows for such visuals. Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Idaho, North Dakota and South Carolina, as well as a few other places, historically have early openers, too. Abundant public land, fairly low hunting pressure and good buck age structure make these states great destinations for anyone looking to harvest a velvet whitetail.
Here in Kentucky, I’ve taken three DIY Pope & Young-class velvet bucks in the last four years. Were it not for one (non-lethal) bad shot in 2016, I’d have made it four in a row. I arrowed a 130-inch 10-pointer in ’15, a 140-inch 9-pointer in ’17 and in ’18 the buck of a lifetime: a 163 6/8 gross 8-pointer. I nicknamed him “Big 8,” and that’s a fitting title. He’s evidently one of the largest free-range true velvet 8-pointers ever taken. And to my knowledge, he’s the largest such whitetail ever taken on video.
While each of these hunts played out differently, each had a common thread: I’d specifically targeted all of them prior to that year’s opener. I scouted, implemented strategies and formulated game plans specifically with the intent of harvesting each deer. Based on what I learned from these early-season successes, especially the hunt for Big 8, I’d like to share my thoughts on targeting velvet bucks.
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