Great Northern Productions

Interview with Lanny Benoit

Larry, Shane, Lanny and Lane Benoit at the Yankee Sportsman Classic
Larry, Shane, Lanny and Lane Benoit at the Yankee Sportsman Classic

This past winter at a busy Sportsman's show, where the Benoits held several seminars, I caught up with Lanny Benoit for an interview. Lanny is considered by many to be one of the most talented and successful deer hunters around. His father, Larry, and his brothers, Lane and Shane, will agree that Lanny is the best at what he does, shooting big deer year after year.

GNP: What does it take to become a successful trophy buck hunter like you?

Lanny: Well it takes a whole lot of things to make you a successful trophy hunter.You need to have great eyesight. You have to be selective; you can't shoot spike horns or four pointers. You can't get discouraged because like I say, "Just around the corner you might shoot your big buck".

You don't have to be a tracker to be a trophy buck hunter. It doesn't make a difference if you're an ambusher or a stand hunter; basic hunting techniques apply no matter what your method is when it comes to hunting big deer. You don't have to go out into the wilderness to shoot a trophy buck.

There could be big bucks chose to town; it's just easier sometimes to find the big deer in the remote areas. You've got to be willing to go places where no one else dares to go. You really need a good four-wheel drive, not always but you do in a lot of cases.

GNP: How has hunting in Maine changes from when you first hunted there?

Lanny Benoit with his reliable four-wheel drive Suburban he calls Casper
Lanny Benoit with his reliable four-wheel drive Suburban he calls Casper

Lanny: Things have changed quite a bit since I stated hunting Maine in the early 70'S because they've logged most of it off. There are a lot of new logging roads and there are no real remote areas left in the Maine. The logging roads have allowed the hunters to get back in there and it's been hunted pretty hard. The deer don't have the wintering ranges that they use to have, plus Maine had a hard winter last year and that really hurt the deer herd. Lanny Benoit with his reliable four-wheel drive Suburban he calls Casper Years ago, we shot a lot of bucks up there that were 3 1/2 to 8 1/2 years old. Now, it's really pretty hard to find the older mature deer in Maine.

GNP: How has hunting changed in Vermont from when you used to hunt there, and what could be done to improve it?

Lanny: When I was a kid hunting in Vermont, we had some woods in the northern part of Vermont where people didn't hunt in very much. We could take 180lb to 230lb bucks; not with ease but we could shoot one each year. Vermont deer herds just don't have as many mature bucks as they use to. Most of the deer are 1-1/2 year olds and that's not good for the herd.

There are still some big bucks in Vermont; you have to hunt high and get away from other hunters to find them. What we need to do in Vermont is to somehow get racks on these deer. If we had a four point or better antler rule that would help. When I was a kid I didn't shoot spike horns; I shot racked deer because we had them. Now a kid or hunter in Vermont, all he sees is spike horns, he's shooting last years born. We've got to stop doing that. If we stopped shooting 1-1/2 year old bucks in a few years we'd have lots of big deer. We're sportsmen not killers.

GNP: What's your best advice to someone who wants to take a mature buck in New England next season?

Lanny: I guess the best strategy would be to try in find some big swamps where people don't go into or find some mountainous areas where hunters don't crawl up. There aren’t many remote areas left in New England. You have to cover a lot of ground to find where there are some big bucks; it could be close to town or on a mountaintop.

GNP: Why did you start using a scope last season?

Lanny: I used a scope last year because I was shooting long range and my eyesight is not what it used to be. I started seeing two front sites; I just put the deer in between the two, which still works at close range but not at 150 yards or further. I plan on using a scope in the future when I'm shooting long range.

GNP: What's it like to hunt with cameramen and has it interfered with you shooting a buck?

Lanny: It's pretty interesting, sometimes they get cold and they’re wet, they don't have enough food with them, or their shoe laces are untied so you have to stop and get them all fixed up. {Laughs} The cameraman sometimes makes a racket but it's not their fault because they're carrying and looking through the camera and they can't see where they're walking. When they fall down you have to go back and pick ‘em up and tell them it's ok. {Laughs} I can honestly say that they have not affected the way we hunt or our success in shooting deer very much.

Sure, we've had to wait to shoot some bucks so that the cameraman can get it on film, but otherwise it's no different hunting with a camera guy then it is hunting with one of my brothers or my son. It's kind of fun to have a camera guy with you because when you film something that day you can go back and see it and show other people.

GNP: Why did you and your family change your hunting coats to camouflage?

Lanny: We've always hunted in green my grandfather hunted in checkered green we just decided that we'd like to hunt in a different color. We decided that we wanted a camouflage coat with the orange sewn right in because we have to wear orange where we hunt. Beagle wear makes wool clothing that's water repellent and that's another reason why we switched. You can walk around in the rain and snow and you don't get all soaked up.

GNP: You are considered the scout for your family. Describe your scouting tactics?

Lanny: Yes I'm the scout because I'm always wondering around looking for new country to hunt. I always like to see what's over the next ridge. I guess I'm just a free roamer; sometimes I'll get bored and I'll drive fifty or a hundred miles just looking for some new country. I'm always trying to find remote areas with few hunters. I’m always looking for that really big buck.

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