John's Journal... Entry 171, Day 1
ROAD MAP TO WHITETAIL RENDEZVOUSES
Finding Your Deer
EDITOR'S NOTE: Bagging a deer can be 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. But finding a white-tailed deer often can be difficult, although it is the most-plentiful game animal in North America. Here's some routes to follow that will direct you to a whitetail rendezvous this winter.
Hunters may travel the highways and byways to hunt for the white-tailed deer, which 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 a deer in areas the animals rarely frequent. Many hunters will sit in a tree stand or a ground blind for four to twelve hours waiting on a deer to appear because they have seen three or four tracks in that region. Other sportsmen will waste their time in a spot waiting on a deer to come because they have found four or five droppings. Some hunters will set up their ambushes close to a tree where a deer has rubbed his antlers. Although all of these outdoorsmen are hunting over deer signs, these signs do not 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, day in and day out, 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, which although colorblind can detect the slightest movement of a hunter.
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. Ross (Skip) Shelton, Extension Wildlife with the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service, explains. "If there is a drought, the deer will be going to water. If there is a shortage of food, they will concentrate where food is most abundant. During the rut you will find bucks in places where they are most likely to meet does."
ROAD MAP # 2: Contact the wildlife biologist, conservation officer and landowner to determine the preferred terrain and 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 the states the terrain changes, and the road map to successful deer hunting varies. So, for this reason, the best information to be had in a particular region where you hunt will come from that state's deer specialists. They can direct you best 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 has seen the most deer. The county's conservation officer sees deer and hunters every day and will be able to advise you as to the best places to find your deer. And the game biologist is a trained observer who also can provide directions to make your hunt a success.
TOMORROW: ROAD MAPS 3-5