So your looking to find
deer on the property you hunt? Think like a deer...food,
water and cover, where do these place exist on the property
your hunting? The next thing to consider is the travel ways
or corridors that deer are going to use to get back and
fourth between these areas. This could entail anything from
natural funnels to tree or brush lines. What also needs to
be taken into consideration is the time of the year and
stages the bucks & does are at.
First of all, letís break down the stages
concerning the bucks that take place during hunting season. We have early season, pre rut, full
fledge rut, post rut and late season to choose from. Letís take a look at
what all of these parts have in common. First the bucks need to eat and drink
in order to survive and they need cover for bedding and avoiding hunters.
With this being said where on the
property that you are hunting, is the food and water source? We also need to factor
in that the food source will change a couple of times during the hunting
season. The water source can be in a number of different locations such as a
small stream, large swamp, creek, spring hole and I think you get the
Now that you have one or more locations
for the water source can you think of places that the deer feed. If you are
hunting farm country thatís a pretty easy question to answer because you
will find the deer feeding in pastures, crops and fields located throughout
the area. If you happen to be hunting large tracks of woods look for any of
the mast crop trees such as cherry, oak and beaches. Another good location
is an area that has been recently logged with new under growth that the deer
This is very much like connecting the
dots. Now think of places that the deer are feeding that have a water source
close by. Letís add that this area also has to contain cover for the deer to
bed in to avoid danger from hunters and natural predators. Here on the farm,
you will find deer laying right in the middle of overgrown meadows and
pastures during the day with the hay tall enough to hide there location.
In the wooded areas, you are going to find
them in such places that they can see a ways and have the wind in their
favor to scent any possible dangers that might approach. Swamp areas are
another good place to look. I have seen bucks wade out into swaps to find a
small island in the middle just big enough for them to bed down and stay
dry....that's how they get so big.
Now that you are armed with this
information, we need to start doing some scouting of that area. Start by walking
along the edges, looking for trails leading to and from the area. One thing
to keep in mind when putting up your stand is wind direction. Deer have the
ability to smell you for miles if the wind is in their favor. Deer tend to
travel with the wind in their faces or at a cross wind.
Stages of the Rut
Now we will break down the different
stages of the overall hunting season. During early season the deer can be
pretty well patterned and will be doing pretty much the same routines as
they have most of the summer. The food sources remain the same and unless
disturbed will continue using the same trails.
Pre Rut adds a new dimension where as
the bucks are starting to changes due to testosterone levels going up. They
are out marking their territory, fighting with other bucks to determine who
is going to be the boss of the area for the breeding season. The weather in
most areas has started to change and on farms the crops have been harvested.
The does pretty much are doing the same
as early season but the bucksí routine has changed. At this time one way to
determine a bucks trail in and out of a feeding area is to look for rubs. A
rub is where a buck will use his horns to rake and sometimes shred smaller
trees and brush. If you look at the rub carefully you can see to what
direction the buck was facing and to what direction he was headed. Again
when setting up make sure the wind is in your favor, in other words have at
least two locations to sit depending on the direction of the wind.
Full Fledge Rut is probably the hardest
time to set-up on a buck. There is no pattern to what he is doing other than
chasing does that are in heat or checking constantly throughout an area for
a doe in heat. During this time period you will find me in natural funnels
or somewhere I can see a lot of area sitting almost all day waiting for the
buck to pass by. The buck is on the move and is covering a lot of ground and
can be seen at anytime throughout the day. Just a note, sit on the does and
eventually a buck will show himself.
Post Rut is a great opportunity to
harvest a nice buck; most hunters have tired themselves out and miss this
time period. Doe fawns are coming into heat and the mature does that werenít
bred are coming back around. Over the 26 years of hunting I have found that
the larger mature bucks tend to make more mistakes during this period. Iím
not sure if this is due to the fact that when the doe fawns are pursued by
the mature bucks that they donít have the senses of the mature doe to stay
in cover to avoid danger.
Late Season with the rut being over you
can still harvest a nice deer. If you are out to fill your doe tag this
presents a great opportunity. Deer have tended to herd up and where you find
one usually you will find a larger group to pick from.
Letís recap what we have learned, if we
the food, water and cover that the deer need...there is a good chance your
going to find deer. Food
sources and the rut are the changing factors to keep in mind. Always keep
the wind in your favor and have at least two locations to hunt from
depending on wind directions. Depending on what the end results you hope to
achieve depends on where you hunt.
With over 30 years of experiences with plenty of deer
harvest under my belt, I can pretty much walk into an area and find
deer....the next thing is hitting the buggers. Donít make hunting any harder or high tech than
needed. Remember primitive hunters used bows and spears to harvest their
game and had no idea that you needed all the latest high tech equipment on
the market today. Keep it simple, know the habits of the game you are after
and hunt with the wind in your face.