From Mistakes to Deer Hunting Success
Transform your season from mistakes to deer hunting success. New deer hunters, as well as veterans, often find themselves wondering where the bucks are and why their deer hunting tactics have not paid off. What these hunters may not see are the small mistakes the may have made, which led to unsuccessful hunts. In many instances, the smallest mistakes may have the greatest negative impacts on a deer hunt.
To be a successful hunter, you must remain open-minded and willing to adjust your tactics. When a certain deer hunting location or tactic pays off, many hunters continue following the same game plan and develop tunnel vision. Every hunt is different. Just because a particular location or tactic worked once, it does not mean it will work a second time. Mature bucks quickly become aware of how, when, and where they are being pursued. Changing your location or how you are deer hunting may be the key to locating that mature buck.
In public hunting areas, many hunters believe the largest tracts of land hold the greatest opportunity at a mature buck. This holds true in some locations, but they will also hold the largest number of hunters. As the deer hunting pressure increases, the deer will relocate to other areas. Oftentimes, it is the smallest parcels of land which may offer the best opportunity at a big buck. If a small tract contains heavy cover and offers limited access, it can be very attractive to a mature buck and less attractive to other hunters. These small parcels may offer the perfect deer hunting opportunity to harvest an undisturbed buck.
Being attentive to weather conditions can work to your advantage. Wind can be a deer hunter’s biggest adversary. It can spread your scent throughout your deer hunting area alerting the deer to your presence. Rushing in to hunt a prime area, without waiting on the best conditions, can ruin your hunt. Save your prime locations and hunt an area better suited to the current conditions. In time, you will get the perfect wind for your prime spots.
Deer hunters want to see deer. Many hunters change stands after only two unsuccessful evenings. In many cases, mature bucks travel through their areas every three days. You may have a better change at a mature buck by sticking with a particular stand for at least three days before moving on. Spend time in an area before giving up. The deer will eventually show themselves.
Terrain often dictates how deer move. Natural funnels are proven deer travel corridors. Many hunters base their stand locations around this fact. In many instances, a mature buck will use an isolated trail through rougher terrain allowing yearlings and does to use the funnel. Bucks prefer heavy cover. Unless there is no way around the funnel, you should focus on thick, overgrown areas, around the edges of a funnel for a better chance at a big, mature buck. Don’t rely on the easy road.
In this day and age, food plots are almost a necessity in attracting and holding deer. A lot of hunters become completely dependent upon them and forget about other important natural food sources. Many of the largest bucks avoid the major feeding areas until night time. Alternative feeding areas, such as honeysuckle, laurel, plum, greenbrier, blackberry, or other forbs in natural clearings or the woods, may offer a mature buck a more secure feeding area during the daytime. Keeping an eye on the natural offerings and consider saving the food plots until normal browse is gone.
Deer use vocalizations to communicate with other deer. These vocalizations are utilized to establish dominance, express readiness to breed, to locate other deer, and to alert an area of danger. You can use these vocalizations to your advantage. The buck grunt is a deep, soft grunt used to project territorial dominance. Using a grunt call announces a challenger is in the area. Dominant bucks will respond to defend their dominance and to exile the challenger. Bucks also use a tending grunt to convince a doe to breed. Blowing a tending grunt on a grunt call may manipulate the curiosity and dominate tendencies of nearby bucks bringing them into range. Talk to the deer and make them come to you.
When you put these things together and find that big buck, don’t rush the shot. Wait and the right opportunity will present itself. When it does, shoot only as far as you are comfortable shooting. Respect the deer, and if a good shot is not offered, let the big buck walk. You may get a better opportunity later.