It’s simple. Stay out. It’s easy to think that we can do countless things to get bucks to be on our property. In some cases that is true. But more often then not a mature buck needs to feel safe. The best way to do this is to stay out of the area until it’s time to hunt.
Food plots have their place to draw in deer. Intense habitat management can and will be effective over a period of time, but making these changes doesn’t happen overnight. There are tons of steps that need to be taken to make a highly managed property an incredibly effective place to hunt.
The perfect call you see in an add, or that tempting new scent you read about in the magazine are far less likely to kill you a the buck of a lifetime then proper respect for a mature animal will. Respect the fact that these animals are masters of survival. Specifically I’m speaking to the big buck you’re after. Respect that fact that the more pressure you put on these animals the harder they’ll be to kill.
So after you’ve stayed out…when is it time to move in for the kill; that all depends.
If you are hunting over food sources probably the first part of the season or the late season. In this case you can ask yourself if trail cameras are helping or hurting you since you have to go in and check them. Obviously the wireless options are great, but I only personally know one person with one. So you may want to just wait for an early season cold front over that food source or a late season drop in temperature to move in during that time of year. In order to keep the area pressure free in may be the time to forget using a camera altogether over that great food source.
If you’re hunting deep in the woods, possibly near bedding areas hold off to pre-rut and rut. This is often and always will be one of the best times to see mature bucks. The cautious approach is to wait until late October, certainly no earlier then the 20th. Waiting until the 25th or even Halloween isn’t a bad idea either. The safest bet is to wait until the first week in November. By this point in the season you’re sure to see some good action. These dates can hold true for your favorite pinch point, the great staging area you know about, the secluded CRP grounds or quite simply an area that receives little human presence.
One of the keys to success for all this tactic is to get your stands up early. Just following the season is the safest bet. The middle of the summer is the next best option. Waiting until just before the season to place your stand can be a costly mistake if this is the tactic you’re looking to deploy.
Regardless of what type of plan you have going into this upcoming season do yourself a favor and try this somewhere. Give it a try on a 5 acre part of your property, your best spot that you think no-one enters on state land, or even an entire property if you’re blessed to have multiple hunting locations.
If you’re really serious about killing large deer then take this seriously. It can work quite well. One way to increase your odds for this tactic is to get multiple locations to hunt. The more locations you have to hunt the less pressure you’re likely to put on them. In turn the more likely a buck is to feel safe and free of human pressure in that location.
Please don’t take this article as an excuse to do nothing. I strongly recommend habitat improvements on a property you own. Work hard to acquire multiple properties to hunt, work hard to scout on state land, but remember when it comes to the time a few months before the season and during the season itself, respect these deer and give them their space.
Here’s how it paid off for me in 2014:
On November 3rd I had the best hunting day of my life. I waited all season long to hunt my main property. I did use cameras on this property and it does get human activity on part of it, but I did everything in my power outside of that to keep these deer pressure free. They had not had any hunting pressure up until this point.
On that day the following took place. I saw one of our oldest bucks for the first time ever. I also saw 3 immature bucks that morning as well, one of which was a young 8 point. This flurry of activity took place within 15 minutes. Two does were being chased by bucks and new bucks quickly began to filter in after the scent the doe was leaving behind. Roughly 10-15 minutes later the mature buck returned chasing a doe. I chose to do some calling to that buck and he let out a powerful buck growl in response to my calls, not just once but a handful of times.
After such a successful morning in the woods I knew it was time to move further into the back part of our property. My father and I headed back for yet another exciting hunt. Within minutes of getting on stand we had young bucks cruising the area. In total we say 4 immature bucks that evening. Again one of them was an immature 8 point. To conclude the excitement my father had a good encounter with a mature buck we called Mr. Perfect.
While we didn’t seal the day that day close calls and excitement marked the best hunting day of my life. Did this have to do with pre-rutting activity? You can be certain it did. I planned for this; I knew that the deer activity would be good around this time of year so that is why I waited. Would my hunt have been this good if I had been hunting this area all season long? I certainly don’t believe it would have been that good. That fact that this 90 acres was holding that many bucks made it very clear to me that the holding off to hunt this property clearly allowed the deer to feel quite safe here. Both does and buck wanted to be in this area.