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Hot Off the Press

Five more rules to help bag that monster buck


As I predicted Tuesday, many readers have had plenty of time to read and study about bowhunting deer the last couple of days with the devastation caused by the hurricane. At our home, we've had no power, no Internet or TV, so we've done quite a bit of reading by our generator-powered lamps.

On Tuesday, I talked about three rules my friend, longtime deer hunter Toxey Haas, from West Point, Miss., follows to bag a monster bow buck. Today we'll discuss two more essential rules for bagging a mature buck.

# Rule No. 4 Don't hunt the deer's food source: "Dr. Harry Jacobson, one of the nation's leading whitetail deer researchers, has said that you rarely will find a mature buck at his food source during daylight hours, except late in the summer," Haas says.

Haas concentrates his hunting on or near the buck's bedding area. But if you spook a buck out of his bedding region, more than likely you can't hunt him at that same spot again. Therefore, Haas carefully keeps from spooking the deer he attempts to take when he hunts these sites.

"I look for a natural funnel a buck has to walk through to get to his bedding area," Haas explains. "I don't hunt in the deer's bedding area, butI want to hunt as close as I can to that bedding place."

# Rule No. 5 Eliminate noise: Most bowhunters spend time, energy and money eliminating odor. Yet, they rarely expend as much effort eliminating the noise they make when they hunt. But Haas believes that hunter noise often spooks as many if not more deer than hunter odor does.

"I think deer know that hunters ride four-wheelers," Haas explains. "I've watched deer in the woods. When they hear a pickup truck, they often won't even raise their heads up from feeding. But if they hear the faintest purr of an ATV engine, they'll alert immediately, begin to stomp their feet,snort and run back into thick cover.

"Many hunters have the mistaken idea that they can drive closer totheir hunt sites with four-wheelers than with a pickup truck and not spook the deer. But if I use an ATV to go to my deer stand, I'll leave my 4-wheeler further away from my stand than I will leave my pickup truck."

Also, the sound of your placing a tree stand will put a buck into the wind, waving goodbye with his white tail.

"To get a big buck in close, you must put your tree stand up in the tree and climb there without ever making a sound," Haas says.

Haas has noticed that a trophy buck rarely moves much during hunting season. If you've found a bedding site where a trophy buck should hold, more than likely when you go up the tree, the buck will not be very far away. He'll hear you if you're not as silent as a worm crawling across fresh-plowed ground.

As Haas explains, "I prefer to use fixed-position stands. I try to putmy stands up in the summer or well before deer season arrives. If I have to place a stand during the season, I go to that stand site in the middle of the night. Then I put my stand up close to the bedding area when I know the buck is not nearby. Even if he is close, I may not spook him if he's never heard the sound of a tree stand at night."

If Haas drops a piece of equipment or inadvertently makes a sound he believes will spook the deer he plans to bag, he'll generally leave that section of land without going up his tree stand and not return to that standsite for at least two weeks.

"Remember that a trophy buck has learned every sight, sound and noise that a hunter makes," Haas says. "To survive, he must remain away from areasduring daylight hours where he hears, sees or smells anything that lets him know that a hunter is in the region."

Sometimes a bowhunter will spook the trophy buck he hopes to take because he doesn't leave his stand site as quietly as he has come to it. If a bowhunter makes noise and spooks the buck as he leaves the stand, he may not can hunt from that stand again the rest of the season because the buck will have changed his bedding site. Then the bowhunter may not find the buck again for another year or two.

"Once I enter the property I plan to hunt, I try and eliminate noise until I'm back on the highway headed home," Haas says.

Many bowhunters may consider Haas a fanatic about hunting trophy bucks with his bow. However, Haas has learned that to consistently take a well-racked buck each season, he must give even the smallest details of the hunt his maximum attention. The best big-buck hunters in America consistently do more to prepare and hunt trophy bucks than the average bowhunter does.

Sept. 1, 2005