Sometimes in hunting it seems that we do everything but get the job done. Certainly professionals often have the edge over the average guy with property size, different states to hunt, and more days to hunt. Nevertheless there is something to be said about getting the job done whether you call yourself a professional in the hunting industry or if you are one of the many serious whitetail hunters spread out across the US.
Key things to note from all of these incredible buck harvests. First FOOD. Every buck besides John O’Dells was shot over some sort of great early season food source. John’s was taken over a water hole in an area of Texas that was probably quite dry. This emphasizes completely the necessity of keying in on a deer’s need to feed and drink during the early part of the whitetail season. Second COLD FRONTS. Simply a change in wind direction or a front coming in to drop the temperatures can be the difference between seeing bucks on their feet during daylight and not seeing them at all. Third TRAIL CAMERAS, Drury Outdoors is great at using Reconyx intel to intel about bucks. Using the data from the cameras a number of these bucks were at a disadvantage and the hunter capitalized.
A topic not mentioned in any of these short videos is moon phase. Mark Drury and Eric Bothun’s buck were both shot on the day before the red moon. The moon phase on the 20th called for good evening movement. It also lines up with Mark Drury’s theory of the 7 days before a full moon often present better evening hunting mentioned here on a Wired to Hunt podcast. Jim Thome’s 10/1 kill also fell under a day where the moon phase called for good evening movement. The two other evening kills do not correlate with good evening movement based on moon data.
Drury Outdoor’s weren’t the only professionals getting it done as numerous teams have capitalized in the early season. Bottom line its simply been a great start to the 2015 season for a lot of individuals.
A number of people I know personally were able to successfully capitalize on the early October cold front. In fact on October 1st two of my buddies took opening evening whitetail bucks and then another harvested a buck on the 2nd. Both of these days the moon phase called for good evening movement and the cold front that moved in only accented that to create some ideal hunting conditions.
Keep moon phase, weather cold fronts, and trail cameras in your back pocket for early season success on mature whitetails. In fact, pay close attention to the weather today through Sunday throughout most of the midwest. Moon phase is once again calling for good evening movement and we have some nice cold weather impacting the majority of midwest states. Hopefully you’re able to harvest a great buck yourself this weekend.
Scouting velvet whitetails has begun. There is no better time to locate and find big bucks you’re interesting in then during the summer months. Now that the bean fields have truly started to express sufficient growth and bucks have really started to put on their head gear scouting is in full effect.
Summer food sources will allow you to easily locate bucks this time of year. Minerals can provide that type of opportunity as well, but in most instances food sources will be more effective to hunt over at the start of the season. Bean fields, alfalfa fields, and any other green food plots or food sources in mid-September and early October are what you’re most interested in. The first step is to locate bucks on these food sources during the months of July-August and possibly even as late as September. Once you’ve located a buck the process begins.
Keep in mind that if you don’t have any of these types of food sources and you have the land and the equipment you can always create food sources that will allow for early season scouting and early season hunting success.
Patterning the Buck
Certain bucks will have more consistent patterns then others. Seeing that most bucks are in bachelor groups this time of year you’ll likely be patterning a group of bucks. Out of that group there’s often a buck or two that you are interested in harvesting. Finding what the bucks typical pattern is may be best determined by a trail camera, but cameras risk putting your scent in the area or even spooking the bucks with the camera. If the situation is right put a camera on a field edge in field scan mode and determine what the weekly pattern of the bucks on this food source is. When putting a camera out be sure to use scent elimination spray and scent free clothes; placing the camera and checking it on rainy days is best to wash the scent away. Also place the camera high so the bucks are less likely to notice it. If placed in the correct spot the camera should be able to provide some sort of deer pattern. In the case that no pattern is present then you’ll simply have to take risks as to when to hunt the buck at the start of the season.
Cameras aren’t the only way to pattern a buck and perhaps not even the best way at all. The other way simply takes more time and commitment. Nightly scouting trips on the road will allow you to get a very good idea what the deer are doing in particular fields. It also allows one to scout multiple fields in a single evening. (For fields that are not located by a road the task becomes more challenging and stealth in scouting is of much importance. You’ll need to sneak to a proper scouting location and spend time there without spooking deer on the food source. Do everything possible to remain scent free and keep the wind in mind.) Field scouting with binoculars and spotting scopes not only informs a hunter of which deer are in the field but it also reveals important information about which locations bucks are entering and exiting fields. Keep these details in mind as you begin to think about stand placement.
Preparing for the Kill
Putting a stand up is one of the most important steps of the entire process. Some hunters doing long range scouting or those that have used cameras to pattern a deer deeper into the woods may actually set-up to hunt a deer on the route to the food source. However many food source hunters will place a stand directly on the food source. Using the best available information from cameras or from your scouting determine which tree is closest to the most common entry point of the bachelor group of bucks. Keep in mind that wind direction is critical in this decision. Not only are you trying to kill a buck in the wide open, but you may very well be dealing with a group of bucks. If wind direction and thermals are not properly taken into account all of this work can be thrown away by getting busted. Once the proper tree is determined with the wind in your favor hang the stand during or just before a rain storm to once again wash away scent after the stand is hung.
After you’ve hung your stand and you’re able to confirm that the buck is still using a similar pattern you’ll simply have to wait until season arrives to move in.
When to Hunt the Buck
If your camera or scouting reveal that a buck is moving regularly during daylight simply wait for the right wind and move in once season starts. If however the bucks shows only minimal daylight activity you may want to wait for a good cold front and the proper wind direction. Cold fronts typically get bucks on their feet during the early part of the season to feed. In the case that your season starts sometime in September you’ll have a longer window to work with this type of tactic. Seasons that open in October only allow for a short window for this tactic to work. Keeping that in mind don’t wait to long to try this type of early season tactic, but try not to move in too fast either. Use logic and do your best to put the odds in your favor. When all else fails just go with your gut, sometimes that can pay off too.
The art of the early season harvest isn’t exactly easy, but if done correctly it can offer some amazing mature buck hunting.
Tyler Rector quickly proved to us that the first cold front of the year can deliver much more then just a good hunt, it can deliver a hunt that many hunters only dream of. Tyler nearly get’s settled into his stand and the action begins. Machete (one of his target bucks) shows up rather quickly and works a number of the Tink’s mock scrapes in the area and proceeds to feed in the Heartland Wildlife food plot. The footage is incredible, the shot placement is surgical, and the total number of bucks seen by Tyler is absurd. Tyler explains that he nearly saw all of the bucks he’s had on camera in one hunt. This is the type of hunt that really gets a hunter excited to head out and hope for the absolute best each and every time he enters the woods. Obviously we all know that typically isn’t the case, but this night for Tyler is one of those night’s he’ll never forget. After Tyler shoots the buck check out the footage of Rockstar…that is a fine deer.
Early season cold fronts are perfect recipes for success on mature bucks
Tink’s mock scrapes or any mock scrapes for that matter can produce success if done correctly
Food sources are dynamite during cold temperatures in the early season
Hopefully you’re able to find a way to beat the October lull and put a buck on the ground in the coming days. I noticed that the full moon on October 8th produced some good buck movement for a day or two. Numerous buddies of mine had successful mature buck sightings during that period. Below are a few nice bucks that surface or were taken during that time frame. Keep an eye on moon cycles, weather patterns, and barometric pressure as you plan your upcoming hunts.
Taking a buck in the early season is never easy, but with planning it can be executed rather effectively. The trick is to find a deer that shows some sort of pattern and to capitalize on that movement. If this can be done there may be success to be had, otherwise the early season may be just a waiting game for you. This weekend’s cold front produced some great hunting for many hunters. Deer activity was great, even the mature bucks where on their feet in daylight.
Success stories often litter the internet on a daily basis, here are a few shows that highlight some great successful early season hunts: Bill Winke’s son Drew takes down a mature buck that Winke had all but patterned with good daylight photos. Seth Harker of Growing Deer TV puts down an incredible opening day buck in a food plot. Some of the Drury’s have also put down some nice bucks to start the season as well. Mark and Taylor both harvested mature 8 point bucks very early in the season. Check out the Drury Journal for more details.
A good number of the hunts focused on food to get the job done. Don’t neglect food in the early season, it will often pay dividends. Beyond that aim to target deer that are showing daylight movement patterns. If you stick to these two guidelines your odds for success should improve.
Keep after it in the early season but play the odds and don’t burn out your best spots.
The whitetail season has kicked off with a bang as always, some guys like myself are still waiting to get going while others are putting down some fine bucks. The early part of the season continues to be about food and that will often result in success if you’re sure to factor food into your stand choices.
Bowhunting.com started their show off quite well as John Herrmann arrowed a fine Wisconsin whitetail. John was well aware of the food source the deer preferred to feed in and he also made note of some oaks that the deer where feeding on in the area. Oaks are a dynamite food source in the early season.
Most notably Mark Drury put down a fine buck on Missouri’s opening day. Mark is one of the best at getting it done early in the season.
How to hunt over food sources effectively:
Keep tabs on those food sources (acorns, fruit trees, alfalfa, corn, ect) to locate a buck, use spotting scopes or cameras to do this, reading sign can also work
Play the wind when hunting food sources, whitetails’ are cautious when feeding
If you have a mobile stand set-up, place your stand just before you hunt the food source, otherwise hopefully you’ve put your stand in place and have it ready to go, if you desire to hang a stand before the hunt hang the stand around mid-day preferably when it’s raining to minimize scent
Move in on a cold evening, it may get that big buck you’re after feeding in daylight, hotter weather may force you to consider hunting a water hole
If you’re not hunting on the food, consider hunting in the morning between the food and beds to catch deer on the return, it sure worked for John Hermann of Bowhunting.com
You likely won’t get many great opportunities on a food source to capitalize, so do your best to make the first hunt count
Midwest Whitetail has the most comprehensive collection of online shows. Each day of the week throughout the season one of their regional teams uploads a video for viewers to watch. Throughout the season I’ve come to truly appreciate the wide array of coverage Midwest Whitetail provides. The team covers the majority of whitetail hunting regions in the US. To my knowledge I don’t know of any team that covers more of the whitetails range. Midwest Whitetail is producing film just about anywhere the whitetail roams. Learning the differences of each region can be of great value to the hunter that travels to different states to hunt. Viewing hunts that take place within your prospective state gives the viewer an idea of the caliber of whitetails professionals are harvesting. More importantly it reveals tactics and stand placement ideas for different regions of the country.
Check out this — highlight real — that the Midwest Whitetail main show put together.
Much thanks to Bill Winke for putting together this great team to film hunts across all corners of the whitetail range.
Not long ago I posted about a double kill from Midwest Whitetail. Well I’m calling this one the double double. Growing Deer TV produced a double doe kill and a double buck kill. This is quite the hunt. I’ve truly never seen anything like this in one episode. View the hunt here.
A few takeaway’s from these hunts:
Early season doe management is a practice that many hunters follow. This time of season or the late season are common periods for hunters to capitalize on doe management. Keeping doe to buck ratio in check is an important part of deer management in your local hunting area or anywhere you hunt.
Killing two bucks is such a rare feat. In this case the hunter being filmed and the camera man were each able to take a deer. In states that allow hunters to take multiple bucks I’d rarely encourage a hunter to take two bucks in one sitting as that could kill your entire season, but in this case each hunter was able to fill a tag. What a hunt, and it’s hard to believe this is the second double kill I’ve seen on film in this early part of the season.