12 Things to Learn Before Bowhunting Big Deer

By author of Brow Tines and Backstrap

Do You Purposely Pursue Big Bucks?

Bucks Have Their Own Personalities

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1 | Bucks Have Their Own Personalities

Every deer has its own personality. Different food preferences. Different bedding habits. Different social behaviors. Different toleration levels to human intrusion. The list goes on. So what does this mean to your deer hunting? It requires you to scout that deer, learn about it, and figure out what makes it tick in order to have a high chance of tagging it with stick and string.

Don’t Miss: 5 Mature Buck Personalities We Hate | The 8 Easiest Mature Buck Personalities to Hunt

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Bruce MacQueen

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Core Areas Shrink with Age

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2 | Core Areas Shrink with Age

It’s commonly believed that bucks’ home ranges increase as they age — meaning they “control more territory.” That’s false on several levels. First, for most bucks, the average home range and core area shrinks with age. Secondly, deer don’t “control” territory in the traditional sense. They don’t guard a piece of land like wolves and other animals do. Rather, they defend their status in the breeding hierarchy so that when a doe enters estrus, there’s less likely to be a bout at that time.

Don’t Miss: The Difference Between a Buck’s Core Area and Home Range

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Paul Winterman

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Mature Bucks Are Loyal to Their Beds

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3 | Mature Bucks Are Loyal to Their Beds

Most older deer are stuck in their ways. When in a given bedding area, they’ll generally use the same bed each time they’re there. They choose these beds over time as they grow their confidence in the choice. It’s all about safety. If that bed offers an advantage over predators and hunters, they’ll use it. If you know where these beds are, and you can effectively set up within 100 to 125 yards without getting busted, daylight sightings will increase greatly.

Don’t Miss: 15 Places Big Bucks Bed That Deer Hunters Should Hunt

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Bruce MacQueen

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Food and Survival Drive Everything

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4 | Food and Survival Drive Everything

Food drives everything, but survival is important. That means that while food dictates where they travel, their drive to survive dictates when they will do so. If there’s a lack of pressure and predators, they’ll bed closer to the food, even if it’s lower-quality bedding cover. On the flip side, if there are predators and hunters present, they’re more likely to use the most advantageous bedding area and travel to the food after dark — even if that means walking several miles each way. Keep this in mind as the hunting season progresses. Food sources constantly change. And bedding areas have the potential to change as well.

Don’t Miss: 10 Feeding Habits of Mature Deer

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Dean Fikar

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Strike as Soon as the Pattern Is Obvious

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5 | Strike as Soon as the Pattern Is Obvious

As mentioned, things can change very quickly throughout the season. That’s why it’s crucial to move in and hunt as soon as the deer establishes a solid daylight movement pattern. If you see the deer from the tree, glass it from afar, or have one or two days of daylight trail camera images, get after that deer. The deer could change its pattern if you wait too long to hunt it.

Don’t Miss: The Kill Box: Finding a Mature Buck’s Geographical Weakness

Photo Credit: Bill Konway

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Use Weather and Temperature to Your Advantage

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6 | Use Weather and Temperature to Your Advantage

Weather and temperature are key. Deer are more apt to move both earlier and further during daylight under certain conditions. Certain key times to keep a lookout for include: weather fronts, precipitation events, temperature swings, etc. Deer, and especially mature bucks, are seemingly more encouraged to move during daylight when these conditions are in play. Download two or three reliable weather apps and keep a constant check on the forecast. Hunt when the conditions are best.

Don’t Miss: 5 Times Mature Bucks Are More Apt to Move in Daylight

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Critterbiz

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Entry and Exit Routes Are Crucial

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7 | Entry and Exit Routes Are Crucial

It’s very easy to mess up a hunt before you ever make it to the treestand. It defeats the purpose if you bump deer before you get there. Decrease the probability of this happening by choosing stand locations and entry/exit routes that are less likely to spook deer. Don’t just think about bedding areas and wind directions, either. Keep in mind your ground scent and that deer will smell where you’ve been long after you’re gone, too. Try to prevent this from happening if possible by choosing routes that not only keep deer from getting your wind but also are along paths deer rarely cross or use.

Don’t Miss: 10 Ways to Improve Entry and Exit Routes

Photo Credit: Brad Herndon

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Body Language Is Key

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8 | Body Language Is Key

Knowing how to read whitetail body language is crucial. This helps you understand when a deer is alert, calm, spooked, etc. This is extremely important for situational tactics and moves such as when to use calls, when to draw your bow, when to shoot, how to aim, etc. Understanding what different things mean will give clues on what your next move should be.

Don’t Miss: 20 Things to Know About Deer Body Language and Behavior

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Tony Campbell

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Learn How They Use the Wind

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9 | Learn How They Use the Wind

Mature bucks almost always use the wind to their advantage. That doesn’t mean they always walk with the wind in their face, though. But they do use it to their advantage when bedding, when traveling from bed to feed, and during the rut — especially during daylight hours. Predicting such behavior will help you know where to and where not to set up for the hunt.

Don’t Miss: How Mature Bucks Use the Wind

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Tony Campbell

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Understand the Power of the Staging Area

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10 | Understand the Power of the Staging Area

A lot of deer use staging areas. Typically, staging areas are near bedding areas and likely have a small food source that deer feed on before heading on out to larger food sources after dark. Being able to locate these locations is important because most big deer rarely make it past them during daylight — and most buck beds are located near a staging area of some sort. Oftentimes, these are micro food plots, lone oak trees that are dropping, small patches of soft mast, a concentration of forbs, etc. It can also be thick, heavy cover with minimal food sources, too.

Don’t Miss: How to Deer Hunt in Staging Areas

Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Ricardo Reitmeyer

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History Is Extremely Valuable

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11 | History Is Extremely Valuable

Looking back on the information you have from past seasons (and earlier in the current one) is helpful. It’s not uncommon for bucks to follow the same patterns year after year. It’s also not uncommon to see new bucks bed and feed in the same locations as past bucks did during previous seasons. Use this information to help predict what deer will do before they even do it.

Don’t Miss: How to Use a Trail Camera Timeline to Pattern Mature Bucks

Photo Credit: Brad Herndon

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Every Buck Requires a Different Play

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12 | Every Buck Requires a Different Play

Every buck is different. That’s why, when bowhunting mature deer, you have to formulate a game plan specific to that deer. If you don’t, the odds of killing that deer drop drastically. Target a deer, determine its weakness, and design a plan for hunting it. And if a different deer walks by that you’d shoot, call an audible and loose an arrow on the surprise buck instead.

Don’t Miss: How to Deer Hunt

Photo Credit: Midwest Whitetail

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Mature whitetails are creatures all their own. There’s a huge difference between hunting deer and hunting mature deer. And there’s a big difference between bowhunting and gun hunting mature deer. Nothing against gun hunting — I love to gun hunt and do so regularly. But bowhunting is more difficult and takes a different skill set.

While gun hunters also need to know the following things, it’s paramount that bowhunters take them to heart. And the reason is simple: proximity. As long as you get within 300 or 400 yards — and have enough visibility — you can kill a deer with a rifle. While rifle hunting is in no way easy, it’s not as important to get inside the mind of the deer you’re after — especially when hunting in open terrain and ag country. You can afford to be wrong or a little off in your scouting and planning. That said, it’s a different story in big woods and thick habitat — as you’re limited to near-bow-shot ranges anyway. And it’s definitely not so with bowhunting. You have to be inside of 50 yards, and even when you have that deer in range, there’s so much that could go wrong. Here’s 12 tidbits of information that will help close the distance and seal the deal.