- Know the Deer You Hunt
- Scouting, Being Detected
- Gear & Gadgets, Over-Dependence
- Patterning our Hunting Pattern
- Where, When and How
By John Sloan
Mistake #4: We get patterned doing the patterning.
Can we pattern a mature buck? I don’t think so. If we could, the odds are that we’d get patterned long before we could pattern the buck. We spend too much time at the wrong time walking, exploring, hanging stands and generally polluting the woods with our scent when we should have been prepared and just biding our time, waiting for the perfect day.
The very best chance we have to kill a mature buck is the very first time we hunt him. Yet we continue to walk around our stands, looking for fresh sign, freshening scrapes and generally messing things up. We repeatedly walk to our stands on the same trail. We think our scent spray will keep him from smelling us, or our rubber boots will keep him from smelling where we walked.
But we push limbs out of the way with our hands and we wear the same hat every day. Deer smell where we place our hands far more than they smell where we walk. Rubber boots are of no advantage, I believe, and our hats stink (our hair holds odors for a long time). To think otherwise is a mistake, a big one.
Mistake #5: Despite knowledge to the contrary, hunting the wrong times.
When do deer move? The plain fact is they move whenever they want. Except for truly hot weather, as a general rule deer are no more active at daylight than they are at 10:30. In fact, more mature deer are killed between 10 a.m. and two p.m. than at any other time. The hunter who can effectively hunt all day has a huge advantage, but very few can. The operative word is effective. After three or four hours, most of us are just occupying space, not effectively hunting. By limiting our hunts to three or four hours in the morning and afternoon, we often miss the prime hunting time for mature whitetails.
During the rut, I routinely hunt four stands in one day, spending two or three hours in each. My final stand is usually on an approach trail or edge of a field. Often it is a ground blind, because a deer in a field is twice as likely to spot you in a tree stand as when you are in a properly placed ground blind. The other stands are in the timber.
I have killed as many bucks from 10:30-11:30 a.m. as at any other time. Think about it. Often, I am the only hunter in the woods at that time. And the deer know it. To skip midday hunting is a mistake.
Obviously, there are other mistakes we make and, just as obviously, we can make these five mistakes and still get lucky.
Luck is when preparation meets opportunity. If you are making these mistakes, you are not properly prepared.