How to Bag the Biggest Buck of Your Life by Larry Benoit with Peter Miller

How to Bag the Biggest Buck of Your Life by Larry Benoit (with Peter Miller)-Originally Published 1974

Tracking whitetail bucks is a method of deer hunting like no other.  The idea is to locate a track and determine the sex of the deer, the size of the deer, and the age of the track.  Once the track has been deemed appropriate to follow, the hunter must match wits, will, and engage in a battle of endurance against the beast on his home turf.  Vermont’s Larry Benoit, patriarch of the famous Benoit hunting family, is often credited with revolutionizing the art of buck tracking, and his book, How to Bag the Biggest Buck of Your Life, originally published in 1974, is considered the classic read of the genre.

Becoming a successful buck tracker, like anything else, not only requires extreme practice and preparation, but also a keen understanding of the animal itself.  Benoit leads the book off with an extensive tutorial on the trophy buck, his mannerisms, his personality, and how the deer has mastered pure day to day survival.  Furthermore, Benoit provides a convincing reason as to why hunters should pursue these giants and not settle for smaller deer.

Much of the outcome of a hunt or a season is determined well before opening day.  For instance, you most certainly cannot track a buck all day for days on end if you aren’t able to walk across the street without huffing and puffing.  Benoit lectures the reader to not smoke, drink too much, or become overweight.  He explains the importance of being in shape for the woods, able to maneuver stealthily around blowdowns and other obstacles without making a sound.

Benoit dedicates time to outline important equipment, such as proper firearms and ammunition.  While he used a peep sight, he relents to say that hunters can use a scope, provided it is light.  More importantly, Benoit warns against bringing too much stuff into the woods, weighing the hunter down, which acts as a hindrance to the objective of traveling miles for that one specific buck.

Preparation is key, however, there is plenty to know once the hunter sets foot into the woods.  The hunter must be able to read tracks to avoid following a deer that was there three days prior.  He/she must know when to go quickly on a track, as to not lose ground, and when to slow down and sneak, as to not bump the deer.  In addition, there is a skill to shooting at a buck that most likely will see you and bolt before you ever lay eyes on him.  Benoit gives us his expert opinion as well as a taste of his personal experiences that dealt directly with these make-or-break matters.  The most fascinating aspect of the book is how he recaps the hunt that took 13 days to close the deal.

I know a lot of deer hunters.  Most, like myself, are sitters, who may still hunt a little.  Many, like myself, have a fascination with tracking and may not have the courage or the knowledge to take the method up.  How to Bag the Biggest Buck of Your Life, although written nearly 50 years ago, is certainly not outdated, and can give those hunters on the fence the one necessary boost to give it a go.

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