The stories of a deer wandering up to a newbie hunter, only to be felled by a fumbling shot, are the stuff of legend. Though possible, these are cabin legends in the same category as hitting a deer with your truck after a weekend of failed hunting. Expert hunters do not rely on luck. The right equipment, knowledge and patients make a skilled hunter. Tree stands and ground blinds are useless tools if used improperly. Even a rifle is only a club if you do not know how to shoot. To bring down a mature buck, you need to understand the animal and use your gear properly.
Pick a Location
Any seasoned hunter knows that it is crucial to do as much research on hunting locations as possible before choosing a spot. In April, NorthAmericanWhitetail.com released a list of the 20 Best Whitetail States for 2014. The states on this list were ranked by a various factors including, “…cost and ease of acquiring a license, quantity (and quality) of public land and hunter density…overall harvest…ratio of kills to the number of hunters…per hunter in each state, how many deer total and record book bucks were harvested.”
States that made the list include Missouri, Iowa, Colorado, Mississippi, Nebraska and Illinois. Although states like Colorado and Iowa are more expensive when it comes to acquiring a hunting license, they make up for it with lower hunter density and public land size.
Know The Land
Deer roam in limited area. As a buck matures, his living area decreases. According to the updated King Ranch study, the average ranging area for a mature buck is only about 151 acres. This is where a tree stand and a good pair of binoculars come into play. Expert hunters know that the first part of the hunt is visual. Place yourself in the tree such that you have at least a half mile of view. Then wait and watch. This part is not about spotting the buck and taking a shot. Your goal is to learn the movement patterns and rutting objective of the buck. With this information, you will be able to gain your shot and guarantee the kill.
Find The Entry Point
Ted Marum, owner of Tri-State Outfitters and expert hunter, says that deer use different lands depending on their season, not necessarily using the same land for grazing as for mating. Finding the entry points between the two will give you the best possible shot. Use a sound proofed ground stand to place yourself in the middle of the buck’s entry point into the new land. You can also force the movement of the buck by creating rubbing posts. Bucks rub their antlers to mark their scent as the dominant in the herd. By placing posts or tying back trees, you can make “rubs” that will increase the likelihood that the mature buck will come into your range.
Camp On Their Doe
Like humans, mature deer do not have the energy of their young counterparts. Mating is still a prime motivator but running and springing about is the purview of the young. The mature buck will look for a group of doe, usually in a limited area. By finding their doe, you are assured to eventually find the buck. Since a buck achieved its maturity by being smart and safe, expect the deer to be very wary. Mating is an olfactory instinct so your smell is as important as the sounds that you make. Be sure to keep yourself downwind when sitting on the doe and use squirrel or turkey calls to mask your noise.
Effects Of Age
The maturity of the buck is one thing but the age of the hunter is another. Rick Fahr wrote a great article for the Arkansas News with expert tips for the maturing hunter. They revolved around techniques to keep you off of Funniest Home Videos and out of the hospital while still letting you bag the kill. After all, the best tree stand means nothing if you cannot climb into the seat.