Even though a buck is difficult to locate during the fall, that can change once food becomes their top priority in December.

Mark had a few velvet pictures of this buck but September through November the deer went M.I.A. When he showed up again in Reconyx pics in a BioLogic Winter Bulbs and Sugar Beets plot in mid-December, Mark believed him to be a newbie to the property. It wasn’t until a few days after the kill that he realized the velvet buck and this one were the same.

The BioLogic food plot was a repair job after cattle broke through the electric fence and ate up most of the standing corn. Without much time to repair the damage, Mark went back in and replanted the plot with BioLogic in the hopes it would keep bucks in close. The plot didn’t see much traffic until phase 12 rolled around.

The field became a major food source as colder temperatures settled in. Due to the rolling topography of the farm, Mark was able to sit out with his Leupold spotting scope and glass for the buck. Mark glassed December 14, 15, 16, and finally caught a glimpse of this deer in his green field on the 17th.

Suddenly Mark knew where he’d be on the 18th.

He and Scott Rupert climbed into a Muddy Redemption blind around 2:30 pm. Soon multiple deer piled into the green field as they waited on the target buck. They wouldn’t have to wait long. From 130 yards away at 4:15 pm, the buck that had been so elusive stepped out into the field.

Mark’s Leupold range finder counted down the yards until the deer was at 112. That’s when he shouldered his Traditions Vortek muzzleloader, lined up the crosshairs of his Leupold scope and let the gun work. The bullet that hit the buck was a prototype of a new Traditions Smackdown bullet coming to market in 2018. A 125 yard run and the subsequent crash was all the proof Mark needed that the projectile was a winner.

The game changes in December. If you can find the food, it’s likely you’ll also find deer that have only recently habituated themselves to come to that source of nutrition. Keep an open mind about where they might be and you’ll likely discover their new pattern.

As told to Tim Kjellesvik.