Outdoor Life’s 2016 Deer of the Year
By Ryan Aulenbacher, winner of Outdoor Life’s 2016 Deer of the Year
I was lucky enough to chase and harvest Outdoor Life’s 2016 Deer of the Year after chasing him for the last 2 seasons. He was a 191.5” 19 point non typical that I nicknamed Mr. Photogenic due to the number of game camera pictures I had of him over that time. In two seasons I never once laid eyes on him till the day I shot him last November. I was able to track, stalk, and pattern Mr. Photogenic through the lens of my Browning Game Camera.
While I was hunting Mr. Photogenic I think there were 3 things that really made the difference in getting an opportunity to pull back.
- Scent Control
- Last but not least, a great game camera
Practice: I shoot
on average 2-3 arrows a day during the season. Yeah shooting 20-30 at one time is good but you aren’t getting a second chance at a record book buck. The first arrow is the only one that matters. That’s why I only shoot a couple every day. Sometimes I only shoot one if I like the shot. But like I said I do it almost every day.
Scent control: I go through so many spray bottles as well as bottles of clothes wash it’s a wonder I don’t have to buy new camo every few months from getting worn out in my washer. I don’t only pay attention to scent when I’m hunting; it’s an integral part of my game camera set-ups year round. I typically only check my cameras and put them out during or right before a rain storm. Then I spray them with scent eliminating spray just to be sure. When I was chasing Mr. Photogenic I couldn’t let him know when I was coming and going and where
I was setting up. If I would have been sloppy he would have relocated in a heartbeat.
Last and most important to all hunters I believe is a good game camera. Like most of you I started out with a camera with a bright white flash and film you needed to develop at the local grocery. Eventually I upgraded to some red glow which were much less noticeable than old school flash in my opinion. On my red glow cameras the deer were almost always looking directly at the camera. Newsflash brother, if that deer is looking at the camera you just spooked him. How many times will you spook him before he changes his behavior? One time? Two times? 5 times? I don’t think deer like to be alerted in the middle of the night by a random light and the clicking noise of the red lens flipping back and forth. That’s why I decided to upgrade to Browning’s Dark Ops game camera. I didn’t want to lose an opportunity at a world class animal because of my camera. The camera is supposed to help you, not hurt you.
I almost couldn’t believe how much of a difference it made when I upgraded to my Invisible Black Flash Browning Dark Ops game camera. On the pictures you see here you’ll notice how there is not a single picture of Mr. Photogenic looking at the camera. I was able to keep my DarkOps camera in the same tree from July through hunting season taking multiple pictures of him and he never changed his route.
I typically don’t like to hunt in the same stand very often when bow hunting but with the game camera pictures I was getting every few days he wouldn’t let me leave. I had myself, my stand, my trail, and my game camera basically right in his path for 5 months and he never got pushed to a different area. I literally was hunting the same stand 3-4 days a week. Every time I would check the camera there were more pictures of him in the area. I had to stay in that area if I wanted an opportunity. That’s why I was crazy with my scent control.
I ended up shooting Mr. Photogenic 5 yards away from my Browning Dark Ops Game camera on that same trail.
That’s exactly why I used “The Best There Is” when hunting the Deer of the Year.