Patrick Meitin has degrees in journalism and range and wildlife management. He’s been an outdoor writer, specializing in bowhunting, for more than 20 years. An expert with both traditional and modern archery equipment, Meitin lives in northern Idaho with his wife, Gwyn, and their two Labrador retrievers.
Worthless Advice On Bowhunting Whitetails
Enough with the whitetail gurus.
I know I'm not alone when I say I'm sick and tired of reading worthless information dispensed by "whitetail experts" operating only in the ideal Midwest. Today, when absolutely everything is rendered into an ego-driven contest, "expert" translates into anyone who kills the biggest bucks most often. Not surprisingly, these "experts" are almost entirely based in a handful of Midwestern states; Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois and Wisconsin.
These states also happen to relinquish insane numbers of record-book bucks annually. It's no mystery why. Tightly-controlled firearms hunting, abundant and highly-nutritional food and superior genetics produce large overall deer numbers, and bigger antlers at younger ages.
Look at a state like Minnesota, which has the food and genetics, but also relentless rifle-hunting pressure through the heart of the rut. Minnesota should produce more big bucks (and it does cough up a handful every season), but few bucks survive past their third season. The harsh reality is, rifle hunting during the rut is bowhunting's (and QDM's) biggest spoiler.
Then there are places like the Deep South, for instance, where there are plenty of deer, but noticeably little true big-buck genetics. You can limit hunting pressure, feed them well, but outside of statistical anomalies, they'll never grow Booner antlers with the regularity of better whitetail regions.
I guess what rubs me wrong in all this is not that my backyard whitetail hunting isn't as good as those Midwestern gurus, but the notion that's been successfully sold to the hunting public saying no matter where you hunt, how poorly managed your regional deer herds, how subpar the feed, how lackluster the genetics, you, too, can kill a world-class buck - if you'll only heed the advice laid down by one of these whitetail authorities. Failing to get your big buck, of course, simply means you're not as hunt-savvy as the in-house sage.
This can leave those bowhunting outside golden territories feeling inferior, disillusioned, maybe even less enthusiastic about a passion that's supposed to be about fun, not a contest with your peers. I want to arrow a monster buck as much as the next guy but, in my book, I'm infinitely more interested in learning how a bowhunter from Georgia, New Jersey, Michagan or Pennsylvania -- just for instance -- regularly tags 125-inch bucks, verses the "guru" in Iowa who kills 160-plus bucks every year without fail.
I hear it regularly; "Sounds good on paper, but I've never witnessed anything even remotely resembling those results." The Midwestern guru's "Five Sure-Fire Stand Sites," "Calling All Deer," Decoying Success" and advice on "Ruling The Rut" are all, no doubt, perfectly sound in his ideal, heavily-managed backyard, but essentially worthless in lesser areas with few mature bucks and a stand in every woodlot.
It's time we face reality. Whitetail hunting is still a straight-forward endeavor. Place a stand somewhere deer want to be, keep scent to a minimum and religiously play the wind. And then put in your time. In all likelyhood you won't kill a monster like those gracing the covers of hunting magazines. But climbing into a stand, still-hunting a wind-swept oak ridge, is still all about respite from nasty lives spent in tedious toil and providing healthy venison for family and friends.