In the hunting community, it always seems like folks are trying to find new ways to push themselves, become more competitive, and set some pretty lofty goals that can be considered an impressive achievement. When you hear the term “Hunting Slam,” a few things probably come to mind. The first is the North American Super Slam, in which hunters harvest all 29 North American big game species. Or maybe you think of the Turkey Grand Slam, which involves harvesting the four subspecies of wild turkeys here in the United States. The list goes on. However, one that doesn’t get much attention (so much so that you may not have even heard of it until now) is the Whitetail Grand Slam.
The Whitetail Grand Slam doesn’t seem to draw nearly as much attention as other popular slams, but that’s surprising when you consider that the whitetail is the most popular big game animal in North America. It’s about time the majority of hunters get up to speed on what it is, and take a bit of advice when they’re ready to go after the slam themselves.
What is the Whitetail Grand Slam?
The goal of the Whitetail Grand Slam is to harvest a buck in four of the eight subgroup territories throughout the United States. Each territory will have its challenges and provide a unique whitetail hunting experience. It doesn’t have to happen in a single season, which would be particularly difficult. Rather, it’s usually considered over a hunter’s lifetime.
The eight subgroup territories, as according to the deer found there, are the Northern Woodlands, Southeastern, Gulf Coast, Seminole, Dakota’s, South-Central Plains, Northwestern, and the Desert Whitetail, more commonly referred to as Coues Deer. You can register each harvest on the Tom Miranda website. Miranda was the pioneer of the Whitetail Grand Slam. Technically, you’re supposed to register and verify each deer that you legally hunt on that site, otherwise you may be considered “unofficial” in some circles.
Accomplishing this goal is tough; whitetail are arguably one of the most challenging big game animals to harvest and it will be no easy task. However, with a few tips and strategies, you can start chipping away at this impressive accomplishment.
Make a Plan
To achieve a Whitetail Grand Slam, you must make a plan and stick to it. I set out to accomplish it a few years ago, and as I get closer to completing it, I realize that my plan wasn’t initially as well thought out as it should have been. I’m a little behind on the things that follow in this list of suggestions, and I may have underestimated the planning that was truly needed. I’ve still got time, but I’m not getting any younger.
Having a clear strategy in place as to how and in what timeframe you will reach this goal will allow you to stay motivated and adapt to any unexpected conditions that may come your way. Not having a plan will almost always ensure failure.
Pick Your Territories
It would be awesome to say that you’re going to harvest four whitetails in the most desirable territories, such as the Desert Coues deer, the Northwestern Whitetail, or the massive-bodied bucks in the Dakota territories. Still, for most people, this may not be possible. You’ll need to pick your regions strategically if you want to be realistic.
For example, I live in the Midwest, so the closest territories that made the most sense were the Northern Woodlands, the Southeaster, Gulf Coast, and the South-Central Plains. This allows me to have a realistic and consistent plan without worrying about shelling out hundreds of dollars on travel expenses to Mexico and Washington state. If I come across an opportunity to go to a far away region, that’s a bonus, but I won’t plan on it. That would stretch me too thin.
Apply For Tags
States such as Kansas and Iowa require you to enter the lottery for a whitetail tag if you are a non-resident. If you are set on harvesting a buck in Iowa, it may take a few years to get a buck tag, so start applying now and take advantage of preference points.
Conversely, Kansas has very high draw odds, hovering around 80%, and if you don’t draw one the first year, you’re guaranteed a tag on the following year’s draw. Don’t procrastinate. Most lotteries open in the late spring, so get your applications and buy your preference points.
Stay in the Game
An unrealistic timeframe for achieving this goal is a surefire way to become discouraged and give up before you reach the finish line. Hunting whitetails brings challenges unlike any other hunt, and there is a good chance that you will eat a tag sandwich on some of your hunting trips. Don’t let this discourage you.
It took me a few years to finally harvest my Southeastern whitetail. Multiple times, I felt like giving up on that territory and focusing on another or even giving the slam up altogether. What a terrible mindset on my part.
Finally, punching that Southeastern tag was an incredible feeling and got me that much closer to achieving the slam. Chasing this slam will undoubtedly come with several moments of failure, so being prepared for that will help you stay motivated to accomplish the goal.
You may only have a few opportunities to harvest a buck in a given territory, so staying sharp with your skills and being prepared when the moment comes is imperative. Shooting the animal is an emotional and incredible feeling, but all of the work that came before it is what counts.
Spend the offseason brushing up on your skills, checking and replacing gear, and scouting. The last thing you want is to be on an out-of-state hunt in a territory hundreds of miles away and realize your rangefinder is broken, you’re consistently torquing your bow upon release, or your scope mount is loose. My old man used to say, “Not all that practice are good hunters, but all good hunters practice.” Was it a cliche saying? Yes. But he had a point.
Get After It
Though it isn’t on hunters’ radar as much as some other achievements, whitetail hunters actually do have a grand slam that they can chase. It’s a challenge that allows us to experience the different and unique hunts associated with the most popular big game animal in the United States. All I can say is if this slam sounds like a fun way to push yourself to become a better hunter and to experience a new and exciting adventure pursuing such an incredible animal, then get things together and get after it!
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