Mature bucks aren’t dumb. They’re incredibly adept at staying alive. The slightest hint of human intrusion and they’re in the wind. So what do you do to dupe a buck’s senses and instincts? Well, you have some options. Here are a five of them.
1. Hunt a Just-Off Wind
Deer don’t always walk with their nose into the wind. But a lot of big bucks do use the wind to their advantage when they travel about the landscape. Because of that, sometimes you have to let a deer think it’s in control. That’s often what you’re doing by hunting a just-off wind. Your setup is crafted just so a deer thinks it has the wind in its favor, but the wind is just off enough that your scent is skirting by undetected.
A decoy can be a great way to tick a buck off. That can be just enough of a trigger for a deer to throw caution to the wind and come waltzing in to your setup.
Personally, when decoying, I prefer a buck decoy over a doe decoy. Buck decoys only lure in bucks. But doe decoys attract bucks and does. And you don’t want a doe coming in to your setup. All that will do is lead to stomping, snorting and blowing.
One way to score on a buck that doesn’t walk during daylight is to find its bed and beat it back to it of a morning. This is risky, though. And it requires a very early morning to achieve it. But it can be done.
Get back into the thick stuff — within 75 yards of the deer’s bed — and climb a tree about three hours before daylight. Wait for the buck to return. This will probably happen before daylight arrives. However, even if the buck beds down, it will rise and walk around near its bed sometime during the morning daylight hours. Be ready for when it stands up.
A lot of hunters won’t go the extra mile to get in those hard-to-reach places where big bucks live. Long hikes into hill country, crossing bodies of water to reach less-pressured deer, taking the long entry route to ensure deer aren’t bumped — most hunters won’t do these things. But you will. That is, if you want to kill a big one.
Think unconventionally. Try (legal and ethical) tactics that other hunters aren’t willing to use. Do things other people don’t know how to do. It’s all about being effective and strategic. Only hunt the highest-odds days. Hunt the not-so-obvious spots on public and pressured ground. Hunt a different tree every time you go into a location. That’s what it takes to kill deer where pressured mature deer live.
Whitetails make the hunting world go round. Josh Honeycutt, deer hunting editor and "Brow Tines and Backstrap" blogger, knows a fair bit about killing mature deer. He was raised up hunting the river bottoms of Kentucky. And he still hunts there—among other places—to this day.
Follow along as he shares his adventures, experiences and knowledge of the white-tailed deer.