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Hot Off the Press

Tips on how to bag that monster buck this year


With the hurricane arriving, you may have the opportunity to read by lamplights or kerosene lamps some of your bowhunting magazines, since the season starts within six weeks. I talked with my friend, Toxey Haas about what to do to bag a monster bow buck.

Rule No. 1: Hunt An Area That Homes Big Bucks: "Regardless of the tactic you use, if no big buck lives on the land you hunt, you can hunt there for the rest of your life using trophy-buck tactics and never arrow a trophy buck," Haas explains.

Many archers have the misconception that because an area homes a number of deer a trophy deer should live in that region. But scientists have found this assumption not necessarily true.

Haas explains that, "You can find a trophy buck on public lands. But you have to scout more and work harder than the other hunters who'll settle for taking any buck, if you want to find and bag the really big bucks."

To locate trophy bucks on private or public lands, search for these big deer in places inaccessible or overlooked by most hunters.

"In heavily-hunted regions, older-age-class bucks often will discover that the closer they bed to spots people frequent but don't hunt, the fewer hunter encounters they'll have," Haas says. "Even on busy public-hunting areas, you often can find those little overlooked pockets of thick cover that will hold a trophy buck. If you learn how to hunt these places, you can arrow the bucks other hunters never see."

To see a trophy buck during the season, Haas learns the deer's preferred food sources during July-September. When the deer go to these preferred foods during these warm months, they won't act as cautious and often will come out into open fields, knowing the hunter presents no danger.

Using his binoculars, Haas looks for the bucks he wants to plan to hunt in October and November. "In Alabama where I primarily hunt during October and November, I spot trophy bucks feeding on soybeans, poison ivy, honeysuckle and some late-summer clovers during July-September," Haas says.

Rule No. 2: Prepare To Hunt A Trophy Buck: "You have to assume that you may have only one day all year long to take a trophy buck," Haas says. "You'll find your odds for bagging a really-big buck with a bow the best the first time you hunt that deer. Therefore, plan and prepare for that first day you hunt the deer as though you'll only hunt him that one day. You only may see that trophy buck within bow range once before he dies of old age."

Haas begins his preparation for hunting a trophy buck in the late summer months. He spots the buck, patterns the buck, finds the deer's bedding area, puts up his tree stand and waits for the best wind condition and best weather conditions to go to that stand site. Before he goes to the stand, he does all he can do to eliminate odor and noise. Much like the knights of old preparing for battle, Haas studies his adversary, cleans and polishes his equipment, has his bow fine-tuned and noise-free and his broadheads sharp and takes every precaution he can to ensure success on the day he goes afield.

"Once you get in the tree, pick the spots where you can make a shot if the deer appears," Haas explains.

Haas mentally sets up a boundary for a trophy buck. Once that big deer crosses that boundary and comes into the area where Haas knows that if he makes the shot he can down a buck, Haas takes the first good shot the deer offers. He doesn't wait. He doesn't hesitate, because he realizes that he only may get one shot.

Rule No. 3: Become a Scent Fanatic: "I've become a scent fanatic," Haas says. "I realize more bowhunters spook the deer they try to take because the buck smells them than for any other reason."

Haas believes that odor elimination begins first with your diet. "Two or three days before you plan to bow-hunt, don't eat spicy foods or a lot of red meat. Try to eat a bland diet. Then when you sweat, you won't give off a strong acid smell."

Haas also scrubs his body with an odor-killing, odor-neutralizing soap as if his life depends on his body being clean and scent-free. Next he puts on his camouflage. As an extra precaution, Haas sprays his outerwear from head to toe with scent eliminator. He also chews chewing gum to try and clean his breath.

"If you don't try and eliminate the odor coming from your mouth and nose, then you don't effectively eliminate odor," Haas explains. "Often the most odors you emit, especially if you have sinus problems, come from your mouth and nose." Haas also cautions you to never go into an area where you think you have a chance to take a big buck without the wind in your favor.

Aug. 30, 2005