Darren Taylor sat quietly in his tripod stand during the 2017 Arkansas rifle season. He knew the history of the location and the big deer it held. Last season his son’s girlfriend harvested a 150-inch whitetail buck in the same location. Darren noticed movement in the distance and caught sight of a deer moving in. The hard work and preparation on this land were about to pay off.
Darren and his hunting partner own 280 acres of hunting property in central Arkansas. Initially, the duo started with 80 acres and added 200 more in 2016. “There is a lot of swamp on the property, much of this has not been dry ground in 20 years,” Taylor explained. The team invested in equipment to manicure the land to become a better hunting ground. They drained part of the swamp by three to four feet, added food plots and built roads in and out of the location. They set aside 40 acres for bedding with pines providing much of the cover. This area is a whitetail sanctuary location that is not directly hunted and left alone for the majority of the year.
|Photo courtesy of Darren Taylor
The property is surrounded by agriculture. Soybean fields and corn fields abut the property on 3 sides providing plenty of food for the herd. Taylor took note of the deer movement as the agricultural crops were harvested and set a plan for holding the deer on his property when the fields were barren. “The deer use the fields when they have crops, but move to the woods when the fields are empty. We put in food plots consisting of beets, clover, and rye along with five different feeders trying to keep the deer on the property,” Taylor said. The property also holds a number of oak trees providing even more nourishment for the herd and helping to hold the whitetail population on their 280-acre piece of ground.
They further set up the property by adding stand locations throughout. Using the philosophy of not burning out a stand from hunting it too much, they were sure to have multiple locations throughout the 280 acres. “The spot I was hunting had an old box blind that was junk. We tore it down and put in the tripod stand. We really try to not over hunt both the property and any stand,” said Taylor.
On his hunt, Taylor used the terrain to his advantage. Hunting at a funnel location provided by the swamp, the tripod stand was positioned to cover his 150-yard shooting lane leading to the food plot. “There are several intersecting trails that bottleneck at what used to part of the swamp. Deer tend to avoid the swamp due to the hazards like snakes, etc.,” said Taylor.
|Photo courtesy of Darren Taylor
The morning started with only a few doe in the food plot. Then Darren noticed movement out in the shooting lane. “I caught movement in the shooting lane and used my binos and saw horns,” he explained. Realizing that this was a mature deer, Darren shouldered his 6.5 Creedmoor rifle and took aim at the whitetail. “He tried to bolt on me, but I used a mouth bleat and it paused him,” Taylor explained. When the buck stopped, Taylor fired. ” He fell right in his tracks,” Taylor explained, “From the moment I pulled the trigger, I watched him go down in my scope”.
Taylor had trail camera pictures of this buck, but zero sightings during the year. He credits all the hard work in the offseason as a big part of his success. “You can’t replace time in the woods to produce year in and year out. Time, along with scouting and access to good property, are keys why I have been successful,” said Taylor.
Congratulations, Darren, on a great deer. Looking forward to what 2018 has in store for your property in Arkansas.