Start by studying the habits of whitetail deer.
It doesn’t matter if you hunt in the East, the South, or in the north woods of Minnesota and Wisconsin. There are some basics and universal truths that hold true for every whitetail deer hunter. This article will demonstrate these simple concepts that anyone can incorporate into their hunting routine.
Learn their patterns and movements.
The first step to consistent, successful deer hunting starts with knowing the habits of your quarry. Not just what they do on their bedding areas during daylight hours, but also their feeding patterns and preferred travel routes. Study the food sources available in your area by consulting a county agronomist or forester for information on how much mast is being produced every year. They will be able to at least give you general numbers when it comes to acorn and beechnut production so you can judge how many deer are in the area each fall when these crops become ripe.
Once you know where and when they’re feeding, learn when and where they move from one location to another. Deer may seem like lazy animals who only get up once the sun is well into the sky, but if you know where and when they’re moving and feeding, you’ll be able to plan your hunt accordingly.
Use the wind against them.
The next step in becoming a better deer hunter is to make sure that your scent is never carried toward a feeding area or bedding spot. This means using common scents such as doe-in-estrus urine can be used to attract bucks away from key locations without having to actually go near the site. It’s important to use this tactic at least 200 yards away from any known bedding areas and 100 yards from feeding sites. If there is a thicket nearby these numbers should increase by 50%.
Bucks will often respond favorably to doe-in-estrus urine and will pass up their treasured bedding spots to investigate the scent of a nearby female deer.
Calls can be useful tools, but use them wisely.
Using calls while hunting can be one of the most difficult skills for any whitetail hunter to master, and it takes years of practice before any hunter is confident in his or her ability to rattle in a trophy buck with little more than a mouth call and some rattling antlers. While many hunters see deer come running when they hear the sounds of grunting bucks on an old tom turkey recording, there are three things every deer hunter needs to realize before using such tactics:
First, bucks do not always get along. In fact, their world is often filled with fights over territory and dominance. Second, old bucks are solitary creatures who do not like to share the company of other males. Third, mature trophy bucks rarely ever come in on a call because they know that danger is near. If you see fresh scrapes on your hunting property then by all means use some soft grunts or rattling antlers to attract them out into view. If you don’t, don’t even bother trying to call them in closer to your stand until next year’s season!
It’s not where you sit; it’s what you can see while sitting there.
The last step every hunter needs to master before they become an expert at deer hunting is choosing the right location for you and your gear. The best whitetail hunting pressure is placed upon deer by choosing a tree stand location that allows you to see the maximum amount of acreage and terrain while still giving you a safe, comfortable spot to take a shot at any nearby deer.
The key phrase here is “maximum viewing area”. Most hunters make the mistake of sitting in one place for too long without moving, which allows them to become easy prey for savvy bucks who are wise to human scent. Instead, choose several potential locations on an upcoming hunt before reaching your favorite stand or blind so you can follow the movements of bucks all day long. Once they disappear into thick underbrush or deep in a valley, it’s time to move on until you find them again.
The key to becoming a better deer hunter lies in understanding the behavior of both bucks and does, watching where they go during certain seasons, using scent control always and following buck movements until you see them again. By knowing their habits and developing your skills as a hunter, you’ll not only be able to watch the world’s greatest trophy animals from afar but also learn what it takes to become a great whitetail deer hunter.