In the world of whitetail hunting, there isn’t much more exciting than finally getting a buck on camera that you want to target. Now it becomes a game of chess trying to make the very best decisions that allow you to get in close, but not too close to blow the hunt. Over the years we’ve had a lot of opportunities at bucks on our place that we want to specifically harvest and have found certain things to be very helpful to seal the deal.
1. Put out as many cameras as possible. The more intel you have, the better off you’ll be. Cameras, especially cell cameras if legal, are a great way to know what’s going on in your hunting area without ever disturbing a thing. It allows you to follow weather patterns as most cameras show the temp along with moon phase. It also allows you to see where bucks are coming from and going to so you can establish a pattern. We like to place a rub post, mock scrape, licking branch and water tank in front of each of our stands so it gives them a reason to go in front of our cameras. Watch for daytime activity and the moment you see your buck in front of your stands, begin hunting him as soon as possible.
2. Try to establish where the buck is feeding and where he is bedding. This will help you figure out his core area. If he’s hitting your cameras in front of your stand late each night, this probably means he’s not bedding very close and it’s taking him awhile to get there. Once you figure out where he’s coming from you can possibly move closer to intercept him earlier.
3. Watch which bucks he hangs with. This is super important early season as it can be very helpful. Sometimes the younger bucks will come in earlier but if you know that’s the group he’s hanging with you can be on alert and often times prepared before he even steps out.
4. Pay attention to your entrance and exit. You want to ensure your wind isn’t blowing into where he’s bedding on your walk in or out each day. This could put the buck on alert before you ever get to your stand, so try to think about the habitat around where you come in and out, pay attention to the wind, and make it as quiet as possible. This may mean cutting branches, mowing a path, whatever it takes to keep your entrance and exit as silent as possible.
5. Always spray down. Regardless whether you’re going in to put up a camera, scout, hang stands or go sit on stand, take the time to spray down with Scent Killer Gold before hitting the field. We always spray our rubber boots thoroughly when leaving the truck as we don’t ever want deer to spook from our path in or let bucks know we were in the area. Deer’s sense of smell is their best attribute, so do everything possible to keep them comfortable and unaware of your presence.
6. Practice throughout the season. So many people will shoot their gun or bow ahead of season, ensure it’s sighted in, and then forget it. Lots of things can happen with gear getting bumped, or people just out of practice so any chance you get take the time to shoot a few shots throughout the season to make sure both you and your gear are prepared. The last thing you want to happen is for your target buck to final step out in front of you and then miss for one reason or another. Things can happen, but do everything in your power to minimize those chances.
7. October trick. Before the rut heats up it can be frustrating on what can draw a buck in. One thing we’ve found is that mock scrapes do a fabulous job on this during October. We live in a state where you’re not allowed to bait, so this is a great way to get bucks coming in front of your stand, getting their picture taken and checking out the area.