Some Hunters Deserve to Starve

Time and again I run into hunters who are looking for success or are just plain waiting for success to find them. They dream of harvesting a trophy buck, but they just don’t know how to get started. It’s like the “big buck” is barely out of their reach. They are waiting for a break-through or a new and unique product that will revolutionize their hunting world. They have the misconception that if they can just hang in there long enough success will find them. Sadly, it rarely works this way. The truth is, waiting for success to find you is like waiting to be struck by lightning. The odds are it won’t happen.

Years ago I took a friend, Fred, hunting. Fred told me he wanted to learn about hunting trophy bucks. I had a couple of stands already hung in a good deer runway and we hunted there. Shortly after climbing the tree a young 4 x 4 buck crossed below us.

“Don’t shoot,” I hissed, hoping for something bigger.

A couple of hours passed, we saw a lot of deer but nothing worth shooting and Fred was ready to go home.

“That was the biggest deer I’ve ever seen in over 30 years of hunting. Why didn’t you let me shoot him?” Fred asked.

I tried to explain how I was looking for something better than average for him to harvest and offered to take him again tomorrow.

Fred declined my offer and complained that sitting in a tree wasn’t the way he learned how to hunt. Fred confessed that he was expecting me to take him to a secret location that would guarantee success. He was convinced the tactics taught to him by his father were correct (even though Fred’s father had never killed anything larger than a forkhorn)and all he was lacking was the right location. I tried to explain that proper timing and application of tactics was far more important than location, but Fred wasn’t having any part of it and we parted ways. Fred, like most people, was hanging on to old, ineffective tactics and myths.

I have taken more people hunting than I would like to remember. In almost every case, I’ve been told that he or she doesn’t want to hunt the way I hunt. They want to hunt the way their fathers or uncles taught them to do it. If you hunt the way your father or uncle hunted, then you can’t expect to kill any more or bigger deer than they did.

Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

We must be willing to change ourselves and the way we hunt if we expect to change our results. I hope that you will join me as I uncover the truth about trophy hunting, what it takes to achieve consistent success.

The Three Most Important Qualities

The Three Most Important Qualities a Hunter Can Possess

1. An understanding of one’s self (self-mastery)

2. An understanding of the nature of deer

3. An understanding of how to carry out a real investigation

We will manage the hunt by first mastering ourselves. There’s a world of difference between mastery and control. The average hunter will attempt to establish his self-importance by controlling his environment. The more experienced hunter may actually have more difficulty practicing proper scouting techniques than a relative novice. He may think he’s seen it all and thus will miss subtle but essential changes in a deer’s behavior. Thinking we “know it all” is the kiss of death in hunting. We must lose our ego and look at everything with fresh eyes. That’s where the novice has it over the seasoned veteran.

Putting the Stinky Limburger to Deer

Thinking differently than most hunters can turn out to be your UNFAIR advantage.

Note*: I recommend the following tactic only as a last resort, when no other solutions are available.

I hate to bear bad news, but unless you’re “out of the ordinary” your chances for consistently harvesting trophy bucks isn’t good. Thinking differently has created solutions that have generated a boatload of big bucks for me over the years. And thinking differently can bring you solutions (and a lot of big bucks) for you too.

Several years ago, I found an alfalfa field in which several big bucks were feeding. The problem was, I did not have permission to hunt that property. There were a total of four different property owners whose land butted up against field. Only one would give me permission to hunt. Unfortunately, the big bucks were not traveling through this piece of land.

I watch the big bucks for several nights and they consistently came out of the timber to the North. I approach the landowner and again asked permission. He told me I could take all the pictures I wanted and I could walk around his property, but under no circumstances was I to hunt on his land. He told me he reserved hunting on his property for his family and his neighbors.

I thought for a while about what I could do to convince the deer to change their travel patterns. I decided that I would use scent, not as an attractant but as a deterrent.

My grandfather, John Chervenell, loved Limburger cheese sandwiches! As a young boy, whenever grandpa would eat one of his strong smelling sandwiches, my brothers and sister and I would cover our noses and make gagging sounds as we ran off. Some people say Limburger cheese smells like BO, and others say it smells like dirty socks, but I think it smells like sh__.

The next evening armed with two bricks of Limburger cheese and a camera, I decided to take the property owner up on his offer to photograph deer on his property. In reality, the camera was just a disguise. I walked all three dear trails the entire length of his property cutting off a small wedge of Limburger every 10 yards.

The result was unbelievable. As dusk approached, the woods came alive with snoring, stomping, and brush crashing. The sound level was almost deafening. It was obvious that deer do not like the smell of Limburger cheese anymore than I do.

The following evening I sat in a tree stand on the property which I did have permission to hunt. A couple of does crossed underneath my stand late in the afternoon followed by a large 4 x 5. I recognize the buck as one of the deer that had previously been using the stinky Limburger trails. The deer was 20 yards in front of the stand when I bleated to stop him, and shoved an arrow through his neck.

Sometimes doing the opposite of what other hunters do is the surest way to increase your odds for success.


Jimmy Buffet Music

Jimmy Buffet

Jimmy Buffet

Since today is Father’s day I am going to sit around all day listening to Jimmy Buffet music. Not that I’m a huge fan, but I truly love his message.

Life is too short. Enjoy life, do something that makes you happy, and make sure you pass on your values to your kids. Take some time to do something with your kids for crying out loud.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got came from my Dad, “Life is short, try to have a little fun while you’re here.”

I lost my Dad five years ago and still miss him. He was my hunting and fishing partner and best friend. My best memories of Dad revolve around the many hunting excursions we took together.

Spend time in the outdoors with your kids and grandkids. They’ll remember you for it.

I live to hunt whitetail deer. It was a gift given to me by my father. When I’m hunting, I’m a kid again, in the playground of the woods. Life can’t get any better than that.

Now go play some Jimmy Buffet music and enjoy a Happy Fathers Day..


Dad and I hunting deer 30 years ago

How Deer View the World

Let’s skip, all the technical mumbo-jumbo. It should be enough to say that deer don’t see the world the same ay we do. (See the image above) All deer are red/green colorblind. This means a deer can tell blue from red, but not green from red or orange from red. Deer actually see blue, violet, and indigo extremely well. This is why it is best not to wear those colors if you hope to remain unseen. Many hunters worry about wearing blaze orange, believing it makes them more visible to the deer. The truth is deer can hardly see that shade at all.

Keep in mind is that deer see the ultraviolet (UV) spectrum much better than we do. Ultraviolet is the shortest wavelength of light and is nearly invisible to humans. Our eyes filter out these wavelengths, allowing us to see better during the day and protecting our eyes. Because a deer lacks this UV filter, he’s prevented from seeing detail during daylight, but his night vision is enhanced. Don’t bother trying to sneak up on deer under the cover of darkness, it just doesn’t work. With any kind of ambient light at all, deer can see as well at night as you can during the day

A deer’s vision is geared primarily to detect motion. Even the slightest movement seems to be noticed. To top that off, a deer’s eyes are on the side of its head, giving it over a 310 degree field of view. Only when we can’t see the deer’s eyes can our movements go unnoticed. So if you must move, move so slowly the deer does not notice. The key to eluding a deer’s eyesight is lack of noticeable movement. If you hope to see the deer before he sees you, you must either be very still, or move slow enough that the deer does not detect motion.

Nugent Endorses Book

Was I ever surprised!!
Ted Nugent called this morning offering endorsement of my new book; BUCK NAKED.
I had a real nice conversation with Ted. He is awesome. What a great American and a true sportsman. He is going to help with the promotion of the book. It’s wonderful to have Ted’s support.
It’s quite an honor when a famous person like Ted takes time out of his schedule to help a little guy like me out. Thanks Ted.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,
Jim Collyer

How Much Brush

How much brush is needed to hold big deer? The answer is a lot more than you might think. It takes fifteen to twenty acres of undisturbed brush to consistently hold big deer. These are bedding areas. Don’t ever walk into a bedding area while scouting or hunting. Above all else these areas must remain sacred. Your scouting should lean towards feeding and transition areas. If you jump a big whitetail buck from his bed he will never return to that bed for the remainder of the season. Certainly, I don’t want to disturb any deer I might want to hunt, so I stay out of these brushy areas completely.

Instead, I start on the downwind side of the brush patch and look for signs of deer. I don’t necessarily look for scrapes or rubs as those sign posts are found after the velvet has been shed, and are most commonly found near feeding areas or where the buck’s trail meets another deer’s trail. What I’m looking for are oversized tracks or droppings where the pellets have been compressed into a turd. Now, I realize that a lot you rolled your eyes at that last statement, but after more than forty years of hunting, I have found pellets compressed into a turd to be a far more reliable indication of a big buck’s presence than even hoof dragging. Once I find either of these signs, I’ll leave the area immediately. The last thing I want to do is to spend several days hunting a deer that’s no longer there because I spooked him.

How Smart are Deer?

How smart are deer?

That question has been going around for as long as I can remember. Many scientists believe the deer are incapable of thought. They insist that deer simply react to stimuli like robots without the ability to think or feel. I don’t quite swallow that, do you?

Deer are born with an innate knowledge that is far superior to ours. They instinctively know the difference between edible and inedible plants, between predators and prey animals, how to walk, and how to suckle. Some research shows that they even can tell the difference between venomous and nonpoisonous snakes. It seems the most important task a doe has to teach her fawns is the lay of the land

While I agree that the majority of a deer’s actions are in direct response to a stimuli, I also recognize there is some cognitive thought process going on. Deer can learn. If a deer bumps into a human every time he travels on a certain trail, he will learn to avoid that trail. If a deer is spooked while he is bedding, he will, more than likely, never bed in that spot again. Those are learned responses and not innate knowledge.

I’m not saying that deer don’t think, but they certainly don’t think the way humans do. First off, we think in language and the deer don’t have one. Imagine what it would be like to think without language and you will probably have a pretty good understanding of what is going on inside a deer’s mind.

Some deer have great memories. I have had deer bust me in a tree stand and remember that stand location even the next year. Now that’s a good memory. Dear certainly can recognize the shape or silhouette of a man and don’t need any confirmation from a second cents to flee the area. And what about a big bucks tendency to button hook?

A big buck will often hook back parallel to his own trail so that he can watch to see if anything is following him. Sounds like a little thought process is going on to me.

A deer’s brain is quite a bit smaller than ours, about 1/6 the size. But that doesn’t mean he’s not intelligent. I suppose the best way to understand how dear think is to evaluate how information is received by the brain.

All sensory information must first be received by the brainstem. The brainstem or primitive brain is reactionary and files all information into three categories.

1. Is this something I can eat?

2. Should I flee or should I fight?

3. Is this something I should mate with?

Since we don’t fit into the food or mating categories, we need to concentrate on not doing anything that could trigger a flee response in the deer.

Most of the time when we find ourselves in a stare down contest with a deer it is because the deer has not decided what we are or how to respond to us. We would do a lot better in hunting if we were to think about all of our actions and make sure not to trigger a flee response.


Deer Feeding Patterns

Many hunters are under the impression that big deer only feed at night. While deer are primarily nocturnal, they can’t go all day without feeding. The demand for nutrition is just too great. A buck must feed at least every couple of hours, even if it is a small amount. A deer is most vulnerable when feeding and they eat very fast. During the day buck will bed right in a food source if possible. He can stand up, feed for a few minutes, and lay back down without much movement. This has been the undoing of a lot of bucks.

During the fall, whitetail deer movement centers on feeding and ruminating. A hunter who understands the dynamics behind this daily routine can dramatically increase his odds for success.

It takes a tremendous amount of vegetation to support a whitetail deer. A mature buck needs over eight pounds of forage a day. That’s twenty-five thousand or more bites of browse and graze each day. Deer typically spend more than a third of their time feeding, a third of their time ruminating, and slightly less than a third of their time resting.

A deer’s greatest period of wakefulness begins near dusk. After resting and ruminating for several hours the deer are hungry. As evening cools, they get up from their beds and begin to move towards their primary food source, often a clear-cut, crop field, or pasture. Along the way they will stop and briefly gather mast crops. These include acorns, berries, apples, and other fruit. Mast is easily digested and requires little if any rumination, so the buck moves quickly from here to his prime food source.

Ambushing deer on their way to a primary food source is one of the best ways to harvest trophy animals. However, a hunter who understands a deers feeding pattern during the middle of the day will be more successful year in and year out. Take time to find out what plants the deer feed on during the day and plan to hunt those areas this fall. If left undisturbed the deer will bed right in the middle of these spots. It’s always best to play in front of the deer and getting into these spots before the deer do is essential.

Unfortunately, most people treat their hunting like the lottery. They spend a little time in the woods and pray for a win, which rarely comes. And I’m sorry to say, it’s the same thing happens to most people who play the lottery. Only a tiny percentage make any money.

The truth is, and I’m sure you know it from personal experience, that most hunts are duds, losing tickets. Want to know why your success in hunting isn’t as much as you’d like it to be? The answers are in the book.


Zen and Whitetails

Zen equals Awareness

We have all had those moments when we are thinking about something else and a buck appears out of nowhere and vanishes before we can react. We should have, could have, and would have harvested him if only we had been more alert, more aware.

What we need to do is to cultivate a peace of mind that does not separate us from our surroundings. We need our minds to slip into zen. That quiet place between thoughts.

Zen is a state of consciousness that lies between the past and the future and is totally immersed in what is happening now, right now.

The best way to describe zen is to picture a train traveling down the tracks. The engine is you. The boxcars and all that they contain are your past. The tracks that lay before you are the future. Zen is that two-dimensional plane that exists at the front edge of the engine. It is where the cutting edge of reality exists and where we need to be. It is what is happening right now at this instant. This is where the action is. It cannot exist anywhere else.

The boxcars represent the internal dialog of our past speaking to us. Spending time in the boxcars is like thinking about where you were instead of where you are. Looking down the tracks, even if it’s only a couple of feet, is trying to look into the future. This leaves Zen or the front edge of the train as the only reality. The past exists only in memory and the future exists only in our plans. Internal dialog keeps our minds in a rigid attachment to the past and doesn’t allow us the freedom to be creative.

The whitetail woods are never static. We must be able to be creative in our tactics if we wish to achieve a more consistent level of success. This self-talk, this internal turbulence keeps us a prisoner of past conditioning and won’t allow us to properly react to the environment around us. Too much self-talk and we become stagnate in our approach to hunting.