By: Brian Stephens & Spook Spann
When you go bowhunting this season are you hunting any buck or hunting a Mature Giant? The way you approach your hunts will vary based on what your answer is. There is not right or wrong answer to this question but there are some sure fire things that you need to consider if you are hunting a Monster buck. Right now is the time to get those game cameras out, so you can see what is roaming in the woods. This time of year bucks in your woods are using a fairly consistent travel pattern and bedding area. As you know a game camera can help you identify an animal you hunted last year or to see if the bucks you passed up are still there and how much bone they have put on. Lets talk about some of the strategies and tactics you will need to consider if you are going to hunt a particular animal.
Lets first start with some common factors that all deer revolve around and they are 1) Food , 2) Water, and 3) Cover. These factors will vary as the season evolves from Summer to Winter. One of my favorite times of the year to hunt a mature animal is the Early Season. After I consider the monster mosquitos and the blazing heat in the Southeast that time of year. A mature buck will typically have a consistent travel pattern to food/water and bedding on a daily basis this time of year. There has not been a lot of hunting pressure and water/food are forces driving his travel pattern. If you can locate a food source, water, and bedding area you have part of the mission accomplished. All right, next think about stand location that is near his food source and water. Consider a tree that is near the food source or water source. Pick a location for a tree / blind that will catch him traveling to it to minimize him at full alert once he gets there. It makes it harder to draw your bow or take your shot if you are right on top of it unless you can find a tree that provides really good backdrop / cover.
The other critical factor is finding a location or locations that allow you to manage the WIND. This time of year it is warm and you will sweat no matter what you do to manage your scent. I will be the first to admit that I have found great locations in early season but gambled on the wind. Guess what, I lost! So what do I do? I do not go hunting until the conditions are right. I know that is hard when you may only have a few days to hunt and you cannot kill him in your house. Well, if he busts you the chances of getting him again until the “rut” are slim. Several resources that we use are scent elimination clothing, sprays, and other products to help manage my scent as much as possible (washing clothes, storage, field management). The other resource that I use is Moon Phase / Game Forecast Charts to help me determine when they may moving during the time I would be in the stand. We have Game Forecast Charts for you to use on StickemArchery.com.
It is October and you did not get him. What next? Still think about 1) Food, 2) Cover, 3) Water. Cover and Bedding are still a very important piece of the puzzle with Food being the dominant driving force for deer behavior. Even with the best food plot or deer supplement these deer are going to prefer acorns to build up reserves for the “Rut”. Position your stand/blind location in an area that offers you a shot as the deer is moving from the bedding area to the acorns in the evening or from feeding to bedding area in the morning. Again, manage the wind. Pick several stand locations to allow you to work around the wind and still be able to hunt.
It is early November. Find the food source and you will find the does. Then you will put yourself in the best situation of finding him. Be prepared to hunt him all day and again factor in the wind!!!
As winter gets here find the food source again. Ensure you work around the conditions such as Moon and Wind. Having multiple food sources to hunt with stands located in these areas help you manage the wind. We cannot work around the Moon. Yes, there are times when a buck will walk out in the middle of the day in the winter to feed or chase a doe. I use the Moon Phase / Game Forecast as a determination of what days to hunt if I am limited on schedule. I will first choose those days according to the best moon phase. Then work the wind around that. This puts me in the best position to harvest that Monster I am hunting.
Here are some additional tactics to consider when hunting a particular animal….
What if I find a buck that I did not know was there, how do I set up on him?
You need to very careful how and when you set up on this deer. Go in at night to set up and even better go in at night while it is raining. Work around the idea that you CAN NOT let that deer know you are there and hunting him. Be smart, be strategic and be patient to find the right time to get in and out. The reward is huge but the planning is critical. You may spend hours planning, preparing, and waiting for that ONE moment.
How do I travel in to get to my stands when I am hunting a Monster?
Think about your travel route in and out of your stand location. Use creeks, vehicles, or the long way around. Again, the point is doing everything you can to prevent that Monster from knowing you are there or hunting him. Have someone come pick you up or wait until dark, dark, dark “thirty” so you can get out like a Special Forces sniper. A deer that has reached a mature age of 4.5 years to 6.5 years is very smart. They are keenly aware of their surroundings, so put every factor into your favor that you can.
When the conditions are right and you have picked the right location based on that time of hunting season. You are putting yourself in the best possible position to harvest that Giant. For additional articles, videos or expert content please visit Stick’em Archery, The A to Z of Archery.