Road Map to Whitetail Rendezvouses
Ambush a Buck
Editor’s Note: Bagging a deer is relatively easy. All you have to do is have a deer in your sights, know that your scope is accurate, make a steady squeeze on the trigger and permit your bullet to do the rest. Although white-tailed deer are the most-plentiful game animal in North America, finding one may be difficult. Hunters may travel the highways and byways to hunt for white-tailed deer that inhabit the U.S., except for parts of some far western states where the weather is too dry. However, not all sportsmen know the most-direct route to a buck encounter. Thousands of outdoorsmen spend hours attempting to take deer in areas the animals rarely frequent. Many hunters will sit in tree stands or ground blinds for four to 12 hours waiting on a deer to appear because they’ve seen three or four tracks in that region. Other sportsmen will waste their time in spots waiting on deer to come because they’ve found four or five droppings there. Some hunters will set up their ambushes close to trees where bucks have rubbed their antlers. Although all of these outdoorsmen are hunting over deer signs, these sign don’t guarantee that the hunters are in the ideal place to take a deer.
Effective hunters utilize a combination of various road maps to bag their bucks because they know that four driving forces – food, water, fear and sex – cause deer to move in a direction or toward a destination where a hunter can intersect with a buck. These outdoorsmen also understand that whitetails are creatures of habit using the same paths and performing the same routines every day, except when changes in the weather and the availability of food affect these routes. They are aware of the deer’s acute senses – good hearing, a keen sense of smell and sharp eyes. Although color-blind, deer can detect the slightest movement of a hunter. Here are routes to follow that will direct you to a whitetail rendezvous this winter.
Road Map #1: Determine which of the buck’s major needs is in the shortest supply and set up an ambush close to the location of that essential. “One of the ways to find deer concentrated in a particular area is to locate a place where either food, water or sex is in the lowest supply and the highest demand,” Dr. Skip Sheldon of Mississippi, explains. “If there’s a drought, the deer will be traveling to water. If there’s a shortage of food, they’ll concentrate where food is most abundant. During the rut, you’ll find bucks in places where they’re most likely to meet does.”
Road Map #2: Contact the wildlife biologist, conservation officer and landowner to determine the preferred terrain, food and/or the deer’s greatest need. This pre-trip scouting can increase your chances of taking a deer this season. While traveling through even one state, you’ll find that the terrain changes, and the road map to successful deer hunting varies. For this reason, the best information in a particular region where you hunt will come from that state’s deer specialists. They can best direct you to read signs in your region that will lead to a buck encounter. The landowner knows the land, the deer and their habits, and can tell you where he’s seen the most deer. The county’s conservation officer sees deer and hunters every day, and will be able to advise you on the best places to find deer. The game biologist is a trained observer who can provide directions to make your hunt a success.
Road Map #3: Hunt the most-productive terrain for your area. Oftentimes, in hunting as in traveling, the most-direct route to your designation may be through unfamiliar terrain. “Terrain is a key factor in locating deer,” Nate Dickinson, a wildlife biologist in New York, says. “In many parts of New York State, the southern slopes of hills and mountains will be where most of the nut-producing trees will be found. Since these trees produce some of the most-favored food of deer, sportsmen in our region will do best to hunt the southern slopes. Also, bowmen will look for open areas like old farmsteads that may have abandoned apple orchards on which the deer can feed. Current topo maps available from sporting goods’ stores and the United States Geological Survey (U.S.G.S.) will be an immense help in spotting desirable deer terrain.” Horace Gore, a wildlife biologist in Texas, suggests, “Break-in terrain like fences and lanes on either side of fences will direct hunters to more deer in the wide-open spaces of the West and the Midwest.”
Tomorrow: Utilizing Food Sources