Just about any deer hunter will tell you to find where a deer beds and where a deer eats. Put your stand somewhere between those two spots and you will likely get a shot. It seems like great advice. Unfortunately, everyone else is doing the same thing and it doesn’t take long before mature bucks figure out where most hunters hunt and they learn to avoid those places. If they don’t avoid them, they don’t become mature bucks.
If your goal is to see a lot of deer or kill a nice buck, those common ambush points are great. But if you want to kill a special deer, one people will be talking about for years, you’re probably going to have to enter a buck’s bedroom. It is a risky move but the payoff can be incredible.
The first thing you need to do is identify a big buck’s core area. Where is he going to go when hunting pressure picks up? A buck that has survived several seasons has done so by seeking out safe locations. Find the places other hunters don’t go. Backwater swamps, places that require a boat to access, brush choked draws, rugged terrain, islands of cover in an open area, and suburban hotspots like subdivisions, golf courses, and apple orchards. These spots don’t get a lot of pressure and allow bucks to get old enough to grow record book racks.
Once you’ve chosen a general area, scouting is required to pinpoint a likely hunting spot. Many hunters scout lackadaisically. This can be a big mistake and often leads to hunters blowing up their hunting spot before they even put in a stand. Use scent control strategies, move quietly, and wear camo when seeking out trophy deer hunting spots. Trail cameras can also be a big help but don’t check them too often. Four or five weeks may seem like a long time but if you check them too often you’re disturbing the property too much. If you can afford the new trail cameras that send photos directly to your phone or computer, even better.
If you’ve hunted an area long enough to know where the buck bedding areas are, you can hang stands during the summer and avoid worrying about disturbing bucks during the season. But if you’re moving stands during the season, you can’t beat a rainy day or even better, a rainy night. Rainfall erases your scent. The sound of rain hitting leaves and lower visibility also helps conceal your presence. Be sure to plan your entry and exit points as well.
Sometimes getting close to a buck’s core area still isn’t enough to get them under your stand. In these situations a mock scrape, a mineral lick, watering hole, or small food plot is needed to close the distance. Some states or management areas don’t allow these tactics so check regulations before trying them. A decoy and/or calling can also lure a buck to your location.
When mature bucks go nocturnal, sometimes the only way to kill one is to move right in on their core bedding area. It’s a move deer hunters won’t commonly make. But then again, you’re looking for an uncommon buck.