Outdoor television has created an environment where many hunters go out with unrealistic expectations. Day after day we see TV show hosts shooting great bucks in great places, mostly on guided hunts on intensively managed lands. The odds are stacked against bagging a giant buck during a DIY hunt on public land. But there are good mature bucks available if you do your homework, choose the right spots and hunt hard while you are there.

Don’t let what you see on TV cloud your judgment. Each piece of property must be analyzed for its potential, and that takes time and hard work. There’s no sense in holding out for a 150 if there aren’t any within five miles. Try to gather as much information as possible and then make your decisions based on what could realistically happen in the time you are there.

If you expect to get a buck every year, you are going to be disappointed. In fact, if you get a good buck on about one trip out of three, that’s about average. And remember, you won’t shoot a 140 on day five if you take the 120 that presents itself on day two. There are plenty of hard choices. Each person has to decide what they will be happy with and live with their choices.

I would encourage you to go into the hunt the first year with an attitude that you are going to have fun and learn as much as you can. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to bring home a big buck. After you have done this a while you will learn some things that will help you be more successful on following hunts. Relax!