Editor’s Note: You too can have an opportunity to harvest a big whitetail by learning 10 secrets to better deer hunting this week. Although these aren’t all the secrets you need to take big bucks, these 10 make up the best ones I’ve learned in more than 50 years of deer hunting with some of the nation’s best deer hunters. If a big buck lives where you hunt, and you haven’t bagged him yet, try one of these tactics.
Secret #5: Don’t Bet on Your Memory – Use GPS
Even if you find a really-big buck, you may have a difficult time remembering all the places where that buck scrapes, feeds, beds, finds does and creates trails. To help you locate and bag that buck, build a database on him with your GPS receiver. Every time you spot that big buck or his tracks, scrapes or rubs, take a GPS reading. Number that GPS reading, make it a waypoint, and name it with a code you can understand. For instance, when hunting only one trophy buck, you can put “BB” for big buck, “S” for scrapes, “R” for rubs, “T” for tracks, “S” for sightings or something similar.
When you get home, record the number of the GPS locations, the meanings of your codes, the weather conditions and other pertinent information that you have about that big buck in a hunter’s log or a computer program. As you compile information and analyze your data, you’ll begin to notice patterns that will tell you where and when you need to hunt this buck. The GPS receiver makes one of the best aids for taking trophy bucks – if you use it properly. The more you use your GPS, the better woodsman you’ll become, and the more you’ll increase your odds for bagging a big buck.
Secret #6: Don’t Refuse to Try New Hunting Aids
What’s the first thing you think of when someone tells you about the latest hunting technique, a new hunting aid or a unique device designed to help you take more and bigger deer? More than likely, you’ll say, “That will never work.” At that point, you become stupid, which I define as an individual who refuses to learn. The hunters who bag the most big bucks every season constantly try-out new hunting strategies and new equipment. Not all new hunting techniques or products will make the buck of your lifetime appear magically. However, many new hunting aids and tactics can increase your odds for taking a buck.
Trail Cameras and Apps
Trail cameras can give you the time, the date, the weather conditions and the wind conditions to more accurately predict when a buck has been crossing a transition area. This information is more accurate than trying to guess when he will feed or bed. My favorite trail camera is a 30 megapixel 16.9 inch-wide screen Stealth Cam (https://www.stealthcam.com/) that operates on 8 AA batteries with an SD memory slot up to 512GB and gives the time, date, moon phase and temperature.
Using onX maps (https://www.onxmaps.com/) and the Drury Outdoors DeerCast app (https://deercast.com/) have become the gold standard for learning up-to-date weather conditions, deer-movement patterns, a deer’s primary feeding times, barometric pressure, moon phase and other algorithms to help you predict the most-productive stand sites to hunt from each day, and when your chances should be best for seeing a buck.
But don’t test any new tactics or products during hunting season. Instead, try these out after deer season ends. If you’re wondering if rattling, grunting, using deer lures and/or decoys or employing other hunting techniques will work on trophy bucks, use them after the season when whether or not they work doesn’t matter. Remember that duck calls and decoys don’t always cause mallards to come swarming in to your duck blind. Nor do turkey calls and turkey decoys always bring longbeard gobblers within gun range. However, these tactics will work some of the time. So, try them.
To learn more about hunting for deer, check out John E. Phillips’ deer-hunting book, “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” available in Kindle and print at http://amzn.to/WIEUoo and Audible at https://www.audible.com/pd/PhD-Whitetails-Audiobook/B08VYMWS6J. You may have to copy and paste this link into your browser. (When you click on this book, notice on the left where Amazon says you can read 10% of the book for free). On the right side of the page and below the offer for a free Audible trial, you can click on Buy the Audible book. To see more of John’s deer-hunting books, visit http://www.amazon.com/author/johnephillips. John’s latest book, “Elk: Keys to 23 More Hunters’ Success,” was just published in Audible on November 15, 2021, and is available in Kindle, print and Audible at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09B2H9V6Y/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_taft_p1_i10.
Tomorrow: Change Times & Remember Croplands for Deer