Brian Bakers Blackwater Buck

IMG956962 (3)If you have ever fished the Florida Panhandle for big bucketmouths, you know what pressure is. The bass population is healthy and there are plenty of good spots to get in to,  but more than a fair share of competition throughout the year despite the fact that the western Panhandle is not necessarily known for its bass fishing. But for Milton resident, Brian Baker, the panhandle has all the “right stuff”. He’s been hunting and fishing this area all of his life which has probably been a factor to his enduring success in the field. His secret? Know what right feels like (although he would probably tell you that it’s not really a secret). And maybe it’s not that simple for the rest of us, but on Brians turf, that’s what its all about. Part of his turf is Blackwater, a reoccurring location in some of his greatest experiences.

“In the last 4 weeks I’ve fished there 5 times and have caught over 150 largemouths. Several 4 and 5 lb’ers but the biggest [was] 8.4 lbs. Its proof that the quality of fish and deer are in an upward turn for these pressured areas. Of course I do spend a lot of time out there!”

A natural writer, Brian has been a Citizen Sportsman Contributor from the very start back in 2006. His skill and reputation as a taxidermist places him among the most gifted of Wildlife Artists in the southeast. His hard work and technical accomplishments mirror the efforts he puts into his passion for hunting and fishing. Still, there is clearly something to his secret….to know what right feels like. We are looking forward to hearing more from Brian Baker in the future. KD

Blackwater Buck  by Brian Baker

You could not have asked for a better morning. It was 22 degrees, no wind, and the rut had started. My brother and I were selected for a limited entry hunt in the Blackwater WMA Hutton Unit just outside of Milton, Florida. Only 30 permits were issued and both of us received one. Deep down, I guess it’s that certain feeling hunters have…Today is the day, the day you get a chance to get a “biggun”. We grew up hunting and fishing and that day everything just felt right…and it was.

After checking in, we made our walk through the predawn darkness, taking notice of scrapes along the way, which made it even better. We climbed our trees before daylight and were a good distance from each other. The wind was perfect, light and right in my face 30 foot up a pine in my climber.  It wasn’t long before I started to see some movement. Two does made their way out a good 100 yards away and I was at full alert. They made their way out of sight and were gone within minutes and the morning continued on.

Around 9:30, I spotted a doe in the distance walking in my direction, so I pick up the rangefinder to watch her. She was 250 yards out and came to a complete stop. I lowered my range finder and raised my rifle to get a better look through the scope. She stood there for at least 15 minutes, looking side to side and making small circles. After a while, 3 more does came out behind her and moved to where she was standing. They all walked to my right and then He stepped out, a good buck, raising his nose with every step…flehming you might say. He turned, directly facing me and I was ready, exhaling my breath for the shot right on his throat patch.

blcbakerHe was scored and aged at the check station.  At 5 1/2 years old he gross scored 128 7/8, a fine buck by Florida standards with 11 points…a main frame 10 with a kicker on his G2. He is the second largest buck ever harvested from the Unit, narrowly missing first by 1/8 of an inch.  It was a day I will never forget and a testament to the most basic principle of quality deer management…let them walk and they will grow.

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