I remember when the mere sight of a deer track sent shivers down my spine. That’s how rare deer were in the Northwoods where I learned to hunt. A fresh track in the mud or snow was cause for celebration; hours of “what if” intrigue; and, above all, renewed hope for the hunt.
Has deer hunting become easier? I’d say yes, mostly because burgeoning deer herds have provided seemingly endless opportunities. Abundant tags and access to quality land — proper- ties built around whitetails — make it easier for hunters to hunt more and scout less. However, you can’t just blunder out there and expect consis- tent results. Woodsmanship is still the difference between lucky and good.
To enhance your days afield, follow these five steps:
Scout with a purpose
Watch field edges from the road and hunt fringe areas of your property. Make mental notes of how deer use the property, even when they are off in the distance. The more you learn about deer behavior, the better prepared you’ll be when hanging stands.
Old-time carpenters always say, “Measure twice; cut once.” The same idea rings true for whitetail scouting. Don’t place your treestands in spots that merely look good. Spend time in the woods and analyze everything while crouching down (to give you the perspective of a deer) when looking for stand sites.
Be careful with shooting lanes
Mature deer will quickly notice the changes and avoid these areas in the future. Analyze each potential cut by asking yourself, “Is it really necessary?”
Hang stands at least a month before the season. It’s also wise to hang stands just before a rainstorm. This approach will allow you to get your stand in place and allow the rain to wash away human scent. Likewise, for safety’s sake, never hang stands when it’s rain- ing. One slip could forever change your life. It’s not worth it.
Be a clock watcher
Early season sits are most productive around the fringe hours of daylight. Don’t waste time on stand in the middle of the day when temperatures exceed 50 degrees. On the other hand, hunt long and hard when the weather turns colder … and when the pre-rut gives way to full-blown rutting activity.
Learn How to Kill Big Bucks
Solidly grounded in Bartylla’s wealth of experience, this buck hunting guide seeks to help real-world hunters take their craft to the next level. Chapters in his super book “Big Buck Secrets” include comprehensive instruction on everything from scouting new hunting areas to calling strategies, hunting during the rut, understanding mature buck behavior, aggressive and creative techniques, and more. Get your copy today!