Beating the January White-Tailed Deer Blues
Why Smart Bucks Live
Editor’s Note: Several states enjoy deer hunting that lasts until the end of January, particularly some of the southern states. But deer hunters often find hunting miserable during most of the month of January because the deer know more about you than you do about them. The deer know ...
* what time you go hunting,
* what time you break for lunch,
* when you'll return to the woods,
* where you've located your tree stands,
* where you hunt most often,
* where you seldom hunt,
* how and where to get you to waste your time hunting, so they can go on with their daily routines. To sum the situation up, the deer have psyched you out and outsmarted you. However, if you think outside the box (or blind), there’s still time for you to bag a quality buck.
Smart bucks live because they’re not where hunters think they should be. For example:
* You find an oak tree that's dropping acorns, plenty of deer droppings on the ground, hulls of acorns everywhere that the deer already have gotten the meat out of, and numbers of acorns not yet eaten. Also three deer trails lead to this site with tracks going in both directions. Although a textbook-perfect hunting site, you may sit there for 3 days and never see a buck.
* There’s a major deer trail coming to a green field with some huge tracks on the trail and out in the field. You're convinced a big buck uses this area, but in 3 days of hunting, you never see deer or get a shot.
* You locate an active scrape line beside an old logging trail. The strong scent of fresh urine wafts through the air from the pawed-up earth underneath the scrape. You can tell by the size of the tree that the deer rubs that he's huge. But once you set-up to hunt this spot all day Saturday and Sunday, you never see the buck.
According to every book and magazine article you've ever read, all these locations look like slam-dunk sites for bagging big bucks. But at this time of the year, often you can't depend on what you see. To take older-age-class bucks at this time of the year, you must understand hunting pressure and its affect on mature whitetails. For a deer to reach the age of 3-years old or older, he has to avoid hunting pressure, regardless of his hunger, his sleepiness or his need to breed a doe. Older-age-class bucks have learned that human encounters result in their deaths. By avoiding humans, they can survive to feed, breed and live through another deer season, which means most of them will become nocturnal.
The less hunting pressure an area experiences, the greater your odds for bagging a big deer there in January. The more hunting pressure a region receives, the slimmer your odds for success. By January, most of the dumb, young bucks reside in some hunter's cooler or freezer. The remaining, older, smarter bucks become even harder to take. That's why deer hunters find January hunting so tough. The bucks that have survived until January already have learned how to dodge hunter pressure. The deer have learned to feed and move after dark. If deer must move during daylight hours, they only walk in areas where they've never seen or smelled a human. For these reasons, if you hope to take a buck during January, you've got to think like a buck, learn where he'll most likely move during daylight hours and realize you only may have three hours in any day to bag an older-age-class buck.
Tomorrow: How to Bag an Older-Age-Class White-tailed Buck During January