FINDING KILLABLE BUCKS
Bowhunting success relies on natural movement. It is tough to push deer to a bowhunter and have any kind of success. It is fun but soon the deer tire of the game and leave that property and your season comes to a screeching halt before it even starts.
So we must rely on deer that are moving on their own terms and somehow we need to further anticipate where they will move and when. To solve this puzzle we need as much information as we can get our hands on and a good plan.
When: If you have been watching the previous episode carefully, you will have noticed how we focus on daylight trail camera photos and on cold fronts. Those are the two factors that lead to bowhunting success especially in October. I have written a bunch about October Cold Fronts, so I am going to focus on using trail camera photos to find killable bucks.
It is really simple; when you are getting daylight photos of a buck in an area that you can sneak into without alerting him, he is very killable. That is the ultimate green light. Don’t ever let a single such event slip past you without hunting the buck because behavior can change fast and bucks can get shot by neighbors (as I have well learned!),they can get hit on the highway or simply leave before you can take advantage of their daylight patterns.
When they are moving in daylight during the open season, take your best shot.
Where: The ideal locations for any bowhunt are those that you can sneak into and out of without a single deer knowing you were there. That means you have to be really focused on entry and exit routes, as well as getting the wind right when on stand.
Many bowhunters are good at considering which stand to hunt based on the wind direction, but they fall short in figuring out the best routes to and from based on that same wind and where the deer are likely to be when they (the hunters) are on the move. This is tough to pull together – lots of moving parts. You may have to stop hunting some stand sites you have hunted for years once you realize you are educating deer on the entry and exit.
This is why I start with the entry and exit routes when scouting and then select a stand that is the best of all the available options along those routes. In other words, working backwards makes the most sense. That way you won’t get bogged down in the emotional battle of having to walk away from great looking spots because they aren’t huntable. Don’t even look at sign or travel routes until you have mapped out all the low impact entry and exit routes.
So, you are really looking for daylight active bucks in areas where you have the entry and exit advantage. Again, I try not to tempt myself into making dumb decisions so I keep most of my trail cameras near areas that I know I can hunt effectively. Sure, I may miss getting photos of a few bucks in other areas, but I will be all over the ones that are killable.
That is exactly what Chad did when scouting and patterning the giant non-typical in this episode and what Erik did when hunting the great Wisconsin eight pointer. If you pay attention to the underlying themes of many of our encounters during the 2015 season you will see these same key points: we find daylight active bucks in places we can hunt effectively. That is the magic formula.
Keep working and keep looking until you find them. That is the real hunt in whitetail hunting. Sitting the tree or blind is just the final step. The chess match that led to that final step took place months ahead.