BOOK REVIEWS THAT INTEREST THE EVERYDAY HUNTER. If you have a book you'd like reviewed here, email

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Year-Round Trophy Whitetails by Joe Brooks

Reviewed by Steve Sorensen
Published by Cabin Fever Publications, Sylvania, Ohio, 2006; 200 pages, 14 chapters. Paperback.
Big bucks come to the hunter who pays his dues,
and this book is about dues paying.
Lots of hunters are spending their summer months thinking about how to score on a great buck come fall. A book that will increase the odds of achieving that goal -- and a book you can read and digest quickly -- is Year-Round Trophy Whitetails. The subtitle is "The Secrets to Putting All of the Odds in Your Favor," but it's no secret that hunting deer all year-round will raise the hunter's odds. What separates exceptional hunters from average hunters is deer hunting homework. This book is about what that homework is, and when to do it.

Joe Brooks, the author and a trained wildlife manager, has killed lots of big bucks. He lives and hunts in northwest Ohio. But his book does not take a regional approach. His area is much like parts of northwest Pennsylvania, and most of his tactics are adaptable here.

He teaches that monster whitetails can live anywhere, even with pressure, and he's right. Big bucks have been spotted in or near every town wherever whitetails live, and Brooks has developed a comprehensive approach to hunting them successfully. The prepared hunter can harvest them using his step-by-step system. He includes many ideas that he has personally developed, and they make this book useful.

I'll argue with a few of his ideas. He says that doe populations are too high, that hunting does is good game management, and that a doe-to-buck ratio of close to one-to-one is desirable for trophy bucks. That's all well and good, but he also says that trophy hunters should not shoot does on property where they hunt bucks. He believes that will destroy the trophy potential by moving animals to neighboring properties.

Instead, he says the trophy hunter should depend on hunters on neighboring properties to thin the doe herd. My view is that there is nothing wrong with managing property for trophy bucks, but hunters should be game managers before they are trophy managers.

Brooks advocates baiting where it is legal and admits that some of his trophy bucks were shot over bait. That's worth mentioning because most Pennsylvania hunters will object to the tactic, but the author is merely open to using the method where legal. I don't believe baiting is a lead pipe cinch to scoring on a trophy buck, especially where natural food and farm crops are available. But baiting is controversial, and it's a minor point in the book.

Brooks gives plenty to think about that hunters don't always consider. Have you thought much about how you approach landowners to ask for hunting permission? Brooks shares his secrets on getting permission on pages 48 through 51. He says that standing corn plays a significant role in how you should hunt, but you'll be surprised at what he says. Check it out on page 154. He does not advocate the usual methods of scrape and rub hunting. Why? He gives three reasons. Read them on page 166.

This book may not deliver all that it promises, and some of the ideas presented are not as original as the author believes they are. For example, his ideas on using maps and aerial photographs are not new. But the bottom line is that, with occasional exceptions, big bucks come only to a hunter who pays his dues, and this book is about dues paying.

Year-Round Trophy Whitetails is self-published, and I don't mean to discredit the book by saying that. Many great books have been self-published, and it's not an easy path. But in this case it shows. The quality of many of its photos leaves something to be desired. (Some are very low resolution.) And the text is not polished writing. But how much does that really matter when the book is chock full of instructions that you can put together to increase your odds of bagging the buck of a lifetime?

Criticisms aside, there are three things I have no doubt about. Joe Brooks is a better trophy hunter than I am. Any deer hunter who reads his book will be a better deer hunter. And this is not a run-of-the-mill book that rehashes what everyone else says. In these days of smaller deer herds, older and smarter bucks, and all-around harder hunting, it's a book worth reading.

Year-Round Trophy Whitetails is the number one selling book at Cabelas -- a solid endorsement from hunters themselves! It retails for $24.95 but is available through at a discount -- only $16.47. And if you buy more than one book you're eligible for FREE shipping!