Deer Hunting Secrets

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Whitetail Addict?

Prioritize cover. If you have a favorite treestand that is almost always great during the rut, make a promise to yourself this year to leave it completely alone until primetime. Then, sneak in there during the rut, ideally on a day with good weather conditions, and hunt it for the first time. Hunting good stands on bad days is a common rookie mistake.

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Get your timing right, because that first sit or two is always the best. Try getting to your tree-stand just 20 minutes earlier for morning sits this year.

Get in there and settled well before deer start filtering back through towards their bedding areas. Start keeping record of every mature buck encounter you have, when it was, where he came from, where he went to, what the weather and wind was, etc. As you build out this data set, look for trends. So start tracking and then use these trends to aid in decisions down the road. Similar trends will likely reoccur year after year. Our podcast with Steve Bartylla about patterning mature bucks expands on this in a big way, Mark Drury also does a great job discussing how to pattern with trailcam pics.

Crank up your scent control game just a little more — we can all do better.

537 Deer Hunting Secrets White Knuckle Productions – Todd Pringnitz P2

Take those scent free showers every day. We all know the drill, but not all of us actually stick to it. This year, make it happen. And speaking of scent — the same goes for playing the wind. I would target a specific, drool-inducing buck, starting from a predictable capture point, using intuition and obvious funneling features sometimes track- ing snow in an attempt to catch bucks a mile or more from a nighttime feeding area.

In the beginning my goal was to learn where these bucks were bedding. Logic indicated this would provide solid starting points in an attempt to short-stop bucks right out of their beds before shooting hours passed. It was tedious, trial-and-error work, often frustrating, but what I discovered instead was the concept of staging areas. The idea of a staging area is somewhat murky, as one envisions a pack of daily commuters assembled on a subway deck, or commercial-airline passengers piled before a gate waiting area. What I discovered is that bucks — deer in general if they are inclined to nocturnal movement during warmer early seasons or when pressured unmercifully — will arrive at a certain point regularly, generally ahead of closing hours, and more or less cool their heels while waiting for sunset.

Though this does happen, minus wearing watches obviously, and I will get into that momentarily. But there are often particular areas, safe spaces, where bucks move through during legal shooting hours, in no particular hurry or generally milling. These places I suspect are not far from actual bedding sites something difficult to determine in big woods where every square foot is potentially bedding cover, much easier in patchwork woods or finger cover.

Staging areas normally provide some small amount of browse. They are normally located between true bedding areas thick ridges, swamps, weedy draws or wooded hollows and true feed- ing areas or concentrations of does attracted to feed such as agricultural fields, meadows or orchards, just to offer some quick examples. In general, these are small openings well inside cover where deer hold up until full darkness and are most useful for evening hunts.

These can be created by a natural glade, a small opening in thronged vegetation, or even an intimate food plot carved into a large patch of woods. This is a small spot with a welcoming combination of cover from the outside world, but not so tight deer feel vulnerable to ambush from predators, often with the bonus of a bite to eat or water to increase appeal. You may discover fresh trails, scrapes, rubs or other sign that you might not have seen without the snow.

This is actually easier in extremely thick vegetation or rugged terrain, but only to a point. Due to past logging activities, much of the forest cover is nasty-thick second growth that is often difficult to move through quietly.

The Hunting Secrets

Rifle hunters steer away from such areas, preferring to haunt open clear-cuts, wind-swept ridgetops or natural meadows where they can see, walk unimpeded and put their long-range weapons to use. Still-hunting these thick places can be productive a subject for another time , but entails intense tedium most hunters will not endure.

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These are places where deer can pause without fear of being jumped by, say, a cougar. In the South, honeysuckle thickets often provide such combinations. I recall a Kansas spot where a small opening appeared in the middle of a red-cane CRP field, a low spot that flooded in the spring to drown out vegetation, supporting a couple of elms just big enough to hold a treestand. There was no reason for deer to visit that opening, so maybe they just used it as a respite from thronged cane. Deploying a trail camera gives you insight into its usefulness.

One of my best stand sites, a ridge-point bench in a nightmare ridge of alder, Juneberry and red willow, I discovered by backtracking an obvious bruiser buck track.

Deer Talk Now: 5 Tips That Will Make You a Better Whitetail Bowhunter

At that small bench opening I discovered a couple of active scrapes — another common trait of frequently used staging areas. I start by surveying a large swatch of habitat and determining where the thickest, nastiest cover is located — basically places that discourage the masses. I wade right in looking for sign. I mark it well and return with axes, saws, even chainsaws when feasible.

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  • This is done during spring or early summer, and will generally be adopted by deer by fall, if not the following season. Mini food plots, when possible, make these created staging areas even more appealing.

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