The Best Place to Find a Buck Deer in the Early Season with Bowhunter Jerry Simmons
Day 1: Bowhunter Jerry Simmons Realizes the Value of Scouting to Take Deer
Editor’s Note: Every bowhunter recognizes the importance of scouting for deer before, during and after the season. Longtime bowhunter Jerry Simmons of Jasper, Alabama, gives us tactics for the most-effective scouting.
Some years ago, a landowner had a problem. Alabama's Department of Conservation had recommended the removal of 26-unantlered deer from his property to keep the herd from over-browsing. But the members of the hunting club on the landowner's property preferred to hunt and take only bucks. Before deer season, the landowner called avid bowhunter Jerry Simmons and asked him to solve his problem. Nationally-known bowhunter Simmons created Simmons Sharks, which produces the Interceptor and the Land Shark broadheads and bowhunting accessories. His ability to find and take deer has become legendary throughout the country. When hunting season arrived, Simmons harvested 26 deer off the landowner's property in 26 days. The landowner had the animals cleaned and the meat given to needy families.
“I saw about 10- or 15-trophy bucks that I would have liked to take with my bow, while I was hunting the 26-unantlered deer," Simmons says. "But since my mission was to leave the bucks and harvest the does, I let the trophies walk under my tree stand unmolested. At first, shooting a deer a day was fun. However, after the first week and a half, the deer wised-up to what was happening. I really had to hunt hard to get the required number of animals off the property. Also, I had a lot of work to do in a hurry, what with all the field dressing, dragging deer out of the woods, skinning and quartering the animals and then returning to the woods to scout for the next day's hunt."
Simmons uses a simple system of finding and taking deer in the early season, and you can too. He scouts before the season and in the early deer season, until he pinpoints the very-best place in any area to bag a deer, especially a buck, with his bow. The year Simmons took 26 deer in 26 days, he hunted a region that had experienced a mast crop failure. "During a mast crop failure, remember that deer travel much more in the early season because of the food shortage," Simmons explains. "I especially found this true in the area I hunted, which had no agricultural crops nearby. Knowing that the deer had to move quite a bit during daylight hours to feed, I looked for bottlenecks and sites where the terrain pinched the land down."
On one end of a bottleneck where Simmons hunted stood a thicket where the deer could bed between a creek and rimrock. From his stand, Simmons could see a concentration of deer under a hickory nut tree. "I couldn't understand why the deer would feed under a hickory tree, unless another nearby tree had been dropping some type of mast," Simmons mentions. "When I investigated the hickory tree, I saw that for some reason the hickory nuts had fallen off before they were mature. The deer were eating those green, soft nuts. I couldn’t believe it." Simmons moved his tree stand to within 15-yards of the hickory tree. The next day he saw two 6 points feeding within easy bow range. But he waited and bagged an 8-point buck from his stand. "I know deer don't eat hickory nuts, but on that day and in that place, I watched them do it," Simmons reports. "The experience taught me a key ingredient in finding the best place to take a buck. You must let the deer tell you what they want to feed on, regardless of any pre-conceived notions you may have."
To learn more about bowhunting deer, get John E. Phillips’ new ebooks “Jim Crumley's Secrets of Bowhunting Deer,” “Bowhunting Deer: The Secrets of the PSE Pros” and “Deer and Fixings.” Go to www.amazon.com/kindle-ebooks, type in the names of the books and download them to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.