Big bucks don’t grow on trees. They grow amid the trees by eating natural forage and, when a hunter does things right and hits a lucky streak, by eating forage planted by man. Just ask Brad Gaddis of Oklahoma.
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Sure, there’s luck involved in all successful hunts, but some hinge on it more than others. We’ve all heard of the fair-weather hunter who blunders into the woods an hour late only to be nearly run over by a wall-hanger. Many more success stories, however, involve huge amounts of preparation and patience to leverage what luck is given. Generally, the hunters who consistently take mature whitetails are more than lucky.
What follows is not a cleverly disguised advertisement, but a real story of an average American hunter who helped forge his own luck despite tough environmental conditions. It happens thousands of times around the country. Next year it could be you, but it’s not likely if you don’t start planning now.
Brad Gaddis, of Ada, Okla., considers himself a serious whitetail hunter, and by modern standards he is—just ask his fiancée. This 30-year-old owner of a landscaping company spends approximately 150 days per year hunting, scouting or prepping properties he leases exclusively for deer hunting. He partners with hunting buddies who share his management goals so they can split costs. Gaddis is not foreign to big bucks—he killed a 165-class deer a few years back—but his secrets are not so secret: He hunts areas that have big-buck potential, plants food plots to improve the herd’s nutrition, monitors trail cams, hunts when the conditions are right and passes up small bucks. Practicing this discipline in southwest Oklahoma, like most free-range places in the country, means that many years he doesn’t shoot a buck at all. Fortunately for Gaddis, last year was not one of them.