Early Decisions in 2018 – Chasing Mr. Crabs!

Mr Crabs Ohio 11 Point

by Eric Hall

Meet Mr. Crabs.  Not the restaurant owner from Sponge Bob, but a buck who has been around a few years and is now a definite hit list buck for 2018.

All summer I have been complaining to my friends that I do not have a picture of a mature buck.  Lots of small bucks but not one pic of a deer over two years old.  Until the September shift happened.  Mr. Crabs has returned to his fall range and my camera has started lighting up with his pictures.

Trail camera photos have him going into a known bedding area at 6:28 AM.  He is moving right before daylight breaks.  I also have pics of him coming out of the same bedroom at 8 PM within 30 minutes of sunset.  He has to be bedded close by.  Early October movement is from bed to food and food to bed.  Those times fall right into what I know about the bedding areas on the farm.

There are multiple trails leading to and from his bedroom so I am not getting him every day.  Mature deer will play the wind game and choose exit and entrance routes to the bedding areas.  Mr. Crabs will enter the bedding from this location on North winds and exit on South winds.  Not on every, North and South but ONLY when he has that wind advantage.  Every picture I have of this deer he behaves in the same manner.  North and South winds are crosswinds as he moves in and out to feed or bed.  The wind is blowing across his face from the direction he is anticipating danger arriving.

Another common factor is barometric pressure.  I am only getting pictures of this deer when the barometric pressure is 30.17″ to 30.20″.  I pull the camera photos look at the date and time and compare the data to weather underground historical data.  Every single picture has the barometer in that range.  Because I do not believe in coincidence, I am confident that this is his “sweet spot” for the early part of the season.  He prefers the pressure in that range to move through this area within 30 minutes pre or post daylight.

What conditions will make him be on his feet during shooting hours?  This is the question I need to look at to be able to harvest this buck.  Obviously, the rut will have him moving, but I risk him locking down if I wait too long.  Conversely, pushing in too early will only educate the deer that he is being hunted and he will avoid that location.  So what is left to consider?  Temperature and moon!

Currently, we have above average temperatures so daylight movement is suppressed by mature deer.  I am looking for a cold front to knock those conditions below the average temperature for the season.  Normally deer will react to cooler temperatures by getting on their feet a little earlier in the evening or staying on their feet longer during the morning hours.  In short, I need a good cold front.

Moon phase is a highly contested topic.  Some folks say moon enhances weather to give the optimum conditions.  Others are strict followers of a RED MOON theory where they press in on the days when the moon is overhead or underfoot during prime feeding times.  My personal observation is that when you have the moon still out (setting) in the morning or (rising) early in the evening I see more deer.

My plan for Mr. Crabs:

  1. Stay out until conditions are right
    1. He doesn’t get pressured in this area and I intend to keep that pressure down
  2. Monitor trail cameras and when I see daylight activity move in
    1. I can safely check my camera as long as I play the wind with little to no ground scent
  3. North winds (Any Variation)  especially in the mornings are my best friend
  4. 30.17 to 30.20 pressure is his sweet spot
  5. Moon is the least of my concerns, but if it is in the sky, all the better for me
It will take an exercise in patience to hold off for the best set of conditions.  I have my first “Rut Vacation” starting 10/25 only 2 weeks away.  I may be tempted but my goal is to stay out unless I have camera evidence that tells me it is time to move in.
The chess game is on with ole Mr. Crabs.
To be continued…

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Author: Eric Hall

Afflicted with Whitetail OCD, I have been addicted to the Whitetail Deer since the late 1980s. It is an all-consuming and never-ending passion to learn about and ultimately preserve the heritage of whitetail deer hunting. Now I feed that addiction with the Whitetail OCD blog.

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