For the last several years, I’ve used a tactic that I call “blitzing a buck.” I use it when I know a buck is in the area, but I’m not certain on how or where to kill it. This method generally answers that question for me. It generally takes seven to eight days to really get a feel for what a given deer is doing. Yes, it’s aggressive. But it works.
Now that you know of a buck in the area, and you’ve made an educated guess on where it’s living, gather as many cameras as you can muster (four to five is optimal). Look at the aerial map that you’ve marked up and determine where you should hang your cameras. Don’t get too close to where the deer is bedding. This is an aggressive tactic, but you don’t want to take it as far as to spook the deer you’re hunting.
The goal by surrounding the deer’s core area is to try to determine which end it’s spending the most time on. After the four days are up, check the cameras. Leave any cameras that captured the deer. Pull cameras that didn’t produce and move them to a new spot closer to the camera(s) that had photos of your target buck(s). Give it two to three days.
Check cameras again. You’re hoping to get the deer on most of the cameras by now. Move any that didn’t produce. Leave the cameras alone for one to two days.
Now you have the intel needed to hunt. You have a good idea of where the deer is bedded during daylight hours and where it’s going to feed. All that’s left is to hunt the deer. It’s best to wait for ideal conditions such as a cold front, dropping temperatures, rain events, good lunar positions, etc. But if those aren’t on the horizon (within the next day or two), go ahead and hunt. You don’t want to wait until the peak of the rut hits, as the deer will likely change its patterns by then.
I’m not an advocate of pressuring deer. But typically, you have to get close to a buck’s bed to see it move during daylight. Understanding that, putting in the work to find buck beds, and learning how to sneak in and set up within 100 to 125 yards of their beds is an art that must be mastered. It’s risky, but once you learn how to accomplish it, you’ll start seeing way more deer during daylight hours.
Mature bucks use the wind in their favor. Always. They choose bedding areas, travel routes, and feeding destinations, all based on wind direction.
Don’t worry. I’m not that guy who says bucks always walk with the wind in their face. That’s absurd. All the big bucks would be chilling in Canada if that were the case. That said, mature bucks still use the wind.
That’s why you must hunt winds that are ideal for the deer you are after. It makes sense. Historically speaking, looking at past hunts, I’ve seen more mature deer during marginal winds than when the wind was perfect for me. Maybe it’s coincidence. Maybe it’s solid proof. But the correlation is stunning.
As responsible hunters, we analyze deer patterns and choose the best stand locations for prevailing winds. That's a good thing. But allow me to offer another plan: Analyze deer patterns and think about what wind is best for them to show up in that location during daylight. Then choose a stand location based on that decision. It's unorthodox, I know. But it worked for me.
Some choose not to use calls. Others do. I’m somewhere in-between. But I most certainly use calls when the situation calls for it. Pun intended. Knowing when those moments arise is key. Recognizing them and acting when acting is necessary is the real skill. The risk? Sometimes deer respond negatively. Sometimes they react the way you hope they will. And that’s why calling is on this list.
Decoys can work for sure. But they can also spook deer when used incorrectly. Before learning how to use a decoy, you need to learn how not to use. It’s vital to have a game plan. You can’t just wake up one morning and decide you’re going to toss a decoy out for the heck of it.
Think ahead. If you’re hunting one evening and see bucks chasing does, go ahead and plan for a decoying attempt the next morning.
Plan an entry route that has quiet access that will not bump deer.
Allot plenty of time to slowly walk in. You don’t want to work up a sweat.
Upon arrival, make sure you set the decoy up properly and remember all factors.
Use a grunt call to add realism.
The direction you face the decoy is crucial for success. You can’t just drive stakes in the ground and point it in any direction. Care has to be taken. The lesson? Quarter the decoy slightly away.
Furthermore, avoid the does (they typically spook), stay scent-free, have patience and don’t miss when an opportunity presents itself.
Scent lures have been on the market for decades. It’s not new. But it’s a tactic than many hunters swear by. I don’t personally use them for much other than in scrapes and starting mock scrapes. But others go all out and use scent drags and other scent strategies. If this concept peaks your interest, check out more of our scent-related content.
Finding a deer that’s bedded, devising a plan to stalking within range, and then executing said plan is a hard task to achieve. But it is attainable. And while it comes with a real risk of bumping and pressuring deer, it also offers a great deal of opportunity and success if done correctly.
Still-hunting is a very good method of success — with experience. It isn’t as easy as some might think. It isn’t as simple as easing through the woods. But once you learn it, it’s a tactic that certainly holds value and offers high-risk/high-reward value.
Like dog hunting, deer drives can be controversial. But it is effective. And millions of deer hunters have used this tactic. The key is to learn how to use it. There are different varieties of drives you can do.
Variations: Hard pushes, soft pushes, wind pushes, etc.
Learning how to correctly do each type of push is the important thing to remember. It’s easy to make mistakes when conducting deer drives. You’ll make mistakes, but you’ll learn from them. And remember, always keep safety as your primary priority when doing deer drives.
Bait is a touchy topic in the world of deer hunting. Some love it. Some hate it. But there’s no denying that — where legal — is an effective tactic. For those who choose to do it, it isn’t as simple as dumping out a bag of corn, though. Just like anything else, it’s a skill learning how to do it with consistent success.