John's Journal...


Plot the Direction of Your Buck

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: You can blueprint a deer's movements and accurately predict when, where and from what direction you can expect a deer to show up. But to have a successful deer hunt, you must get to your stand without spooking the buck you hope to take. Although most deer hunters know this fact, few sportsmen understand how to accomplish this feat. This week we'll look at ways to plot your way to a buck.

The woods birds began to wake up. The sun's early morning glow peeped through the shroud of darkness on the edge of the cane thicket. "I know that buck's there," I told myself. "I have the wind in my favor, the buck didn't hear me come to my stand, and I believe he's coming from the cornfield back to this cane to bed. Unless someone else has spooked him, he will show up." I waited for daylight and scanned the hardwoods on the edge of the cane thicket. Fifteen minutes later, I noticed a flash of ivory 50 yards in front of me on the trail I expected the buck to come down -- an easy shot with my Mannlicher .30-06. But I didn't want to take a head-on shot. Besides, if the buck did what I hoped, he would give me a broadside shot at 30 yards. The trail the deer was on made a sharp turn to the left and went into the thicket.

Click to enlargeThe deer continued to walk down the trail. After one more glance at his massive rack through my 3-9X scope, I brought the crosshairs to the buck's shoulder and waited for him to turn. As the deer continued on his route, his image grew larger in my scope. I carefully adjusted my scope from 9X back to 5X. Now I could see the whole deer and could concentrate on aiming for the buck's shoulder. The buck came to the bend in the trail. As I had predicted, he made a sharp turn to the left. Just before entering the cane thicket, he hesitated and gave me my dream shot. At the crack of the rifle, the 9 point's knees buckled. He dropped where he stood. The deer never moved again.

I thought to myself how much I loved a plan that came together. The buck I took on that morning had done exactly what I had expected him to do. I had drawn a blueprint I thought the buck would follow and predicted almost to the minute when the deer would appear. Once I field dressed the buck, I dragged the animal along the shortest route back to my truck. I didn't get lost either, a major accomplishment for me. To get into your stand before daylight, 1/2- to 1 1/2-miles from the nearest road, you Click to enlargeonce had only three options. You could ...
* leave flagging tape marking the path from your stand site to the truck. However, you also told every other hunter in the woods to follow your flagging tape to your tree-stand site. Often another hunter would move to that spot with a wrong wind and spook the deer you planned to bag. Or, on the morning you wanted to hunt, the other hunter might be at your stand site when you reached it.
* attempt to find your way back to your stand in the dark without getting lost. If you'd hunted the same area for years and had good navigation skills, you might could walk a straight line for a mile or more in the dark. But I couldn't without becoming lost. Before I'd find my tree stand, I probably would walk around it three times and leave human odor all over my hunt site.
* follow a compass course at night in the dark without using your flashlight to get to your tree stand. If you turned your flashlight on, a deer could see it for a great distance. Even if you used a flashlight, your compass would not put you exactly at your tree stand.
* wait until first light to see the direction you needed to go to reach your tree stand and hope you got in your stand before the deer came along the trail you expected him to take.

Click to enlargeAll these options have problems associated with them. However, you can solve these hunting problems by utilizing a hand-held Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver like Magellan's Color Meridian. Once you log your stand site as a waypoint in your GPS receiver, you can navigate back to that stand site within 20 feet at any time of the day or night without getting lost. You also can walk a straight line back to your vehicle using the GPS receiver if you've marked your truck as a waypoint.

A GPS receiver allows you to go to your stand site in the dark without getting lost. The GPS receiver also will tell you how far you are from your stand and keep you on course. Then you'll walk the shortest distance from your vehicle to your stand site. Successful deer hunters usually get to their stand sites long before daylight and well ahead of the bucks.


Check back each day this week for more about PLOT YOUR WAY TO A BUCK...

Day 1 - Plot the Direction of Your Buck
Day 2 - What To Do When The Wind Changes
Day 3 - How To Time Your Hunt
Day 4 - How To Find Your Buck
Day 5 - Why You Hunt More Effectively With GPS


Entry 276, Day 1