Editor’s Note: You can scout for the perfect spot for taking deer, put up your stand and camp out to wait for deer to come along. But all your work will do you no good, if you’ve picked an obvious place that other hunters also will choose. The trick to bagging big bucks is to think outside the box like other hunters don’t. Here are some tricks I’ve learned through 50+ years of deer hunting that have helped me overlook the obvious and take more bucks.
Ninety percent of hunters act just like I have in years past. When a hunter finds a tree with numbers of droppings around it, three trails leading to it and acorn shells all around where deer have fed, he’ll set up a tree stand in that area. A hunter who sits there for three days without seeing a buck may not understand why. Although he’s picked an obvious feeding site, more than likely three or four other hunters also have discovered this same spot. Too, the deer only may feed there at night.
Instead of hunting that feeding site, follow the trail back to the bedding place, usually a thick-cover area like a 3- or a 4-year old clear-cut, a big briar thicket or some other type of dense brush where the deer bed down during daylight hours. Plan to hunt within gunshot or bowshot of that thick-cover region. If you hunt in the morning, get to the bedding site early enough to catch the buck returning to his bedding area after feeding during the night. Or, arrive at your stand site early in the afternoon, hunt with a favorable wind, and make no noise going to or climbing into your tree stand, in hopes of seeing the buck leaving his bedding place to feed.
Plan Your Hunt a Year in Advance
Most hunters start thinking about deer hunting just before they arrive at their hunting camps. They make their hunting decisions based on the experiences they’ve had the last time they’ve hunted. However, successful deer hunters who bag the big bucks decide where to hunt a year in advance. They begin to scout after deer season by moving into bedding sites and searching for deer trails, scrapes, rubs and brush-infested, overlooked places where no one has hunted the previous year. You’ll find that the spots you’ve singled out for hunting after the close of deer season last year will yield the most and the biggest bucks this year. Scout for deer right after deer season ends to pinpoint the places where the big bucks have held during the season, and where no one else has wanted to go for fear of spooking the big bucks.
Work Hard for a Big Buck
No one usually carries a canoe, a belly boat or an inflatable raft with him when he deer hunts. However, often you’ll find the most-productive place to bag big bucks is on the opposite side of some type of water. Older-age-class bucks like to bed and hold in regions where the hunter has to cross water. Using water as a barrier, the deer can see and hear the hunters as they approach. The deer also have learned that most hunters won’t cross deep water to come after them. Because today you can buy small cylinders of air to blow up belly boats and rubber rafts, you can carry a flotation device into the woods with you to cross water with and hunt in places other hunters don’t hunt. You can take a two-man boat or a portable canoe to where you want to cross water to hunt, hide your craft and then return to your boat. The more labor and time you expend to hunt a place no one else can hunt, the better your odds for bagging a buck no one else will harvest.
John E. Phillips’ latest deer book “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro: Volume II,” just was published on Amazon in print at https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0BGSP3QPB/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tpbk_p4_i4
The Audible version should be available by December. Since deer hunting and deer hunters are drastically changing each year, John interviewed some top deer hunters like Mark Drury, Dr. Larry Marchinton, Dr. Bob Sheppard, Pat Reeve, Gene Wensel, Cody Robbins, Ernie Calandrelli, Brian Murphy and Luke Brewster, who took the world’s largest whitetail, to learn their up-to-date techniques for successfully hunting deer and having more places to hunt.
Learn even more about hunting deer by checking out John’s book, “How to Hunt Deer Up Close with Bows, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows” https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A2A6ZG6#, available in Kindle, print and Audible.
You may have to copy and paste these links into your browser. When you click on the books, notice on the left where Amazon says you can read and hear 10% of these books for free. On the right side of the page for each Audible book and below the offer for a free Audible trial, you can click on Buy the Audible book.
Tomorrow: Understand Other Deer Tactics That Work