The First Time in Is Your Best Shot at Filling Your Tag
Pressure. It has the ability to virtually ruin a good hunting spot. And whether we realize it or not, we pressure deer every time we go afield.
Walking through the woods. Checking trail cameras. Hanging treestands. Scouting for sign. Actually hunting. Everything we do applies at least a little pressure to deer. And even if we don’t alert deer to our presence while afield, the scent we leave behind can be detected by whitetails long after we’re gone. So, don’t think just because a deer didn’t blow at you while hunting that you didn’t (or won’t) spook deer. They pick up our ground scent when they cross our entry and exit routes, too. And that equates to pressure.
Numerous studies have shown that your odds of killing a mature deer drop significantly each time you hunt that stand. Some have even shown that your chances drop by half each time. That’s something to heed and remember.
I'm a firm believer in waiting for the right time and moving in only when the odds are at their highest. Interestingly enough, 10 of my 12 best whitetails were a product of a first-time (for the season) stand location sit. My 2018 Kentucky season followed the same theme. I saw the deer from one stand location, then did a hang-and-hunt the next day closer to where I saw him and closed the distance. It resulted in my biggest buck to date — a clean 8-pointer that gross green velvet scored 170 inches.
It’s also important to note that bucks are much less likely to uproot and choose a new core area if spooked after the middle of October. So letting stands sit until late October or early November not only ensures you’re hunting low-pressured rutting bucks but it also means if you do spook deer or don’t fill a tag on that first sit, your odds will typically decrease at a slower rate for each sit thereafter. The only time I wouldn't wait that long is on properties that historically see more deer activity during the early season and pre-rut.
All of this and more is why your best shot to kill a deer is the first time you sit in that stand location. There are several things to keep in mind when deciding when and where to make your stand. Here are some of the most important ones:
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.