Reverse Scent Control

Here’s a tactic that is so deadly on big bucks, that I hate to share it with you. I call it, “ Reverse Scent Control”.

I first came across this idea immediately after I used Limburger cheese to change the deer’s travel pattern and entice them to travel underneath my stand. Whitetail deer are extremely adaptable and it wasn’t four days later when the deer had become accustomed to the stink of the Limburger and were back to their old travel patterns and my stand was once again useless.

I knew where there was one hell of a deer highway through the heavy timber. I saw big bucks every day from my stand. The problem was with scent control. It seems no matter how careful I was the bucks were picking up faint traces of my scent and leaving the area before I could get a shot. I reasoned if the deer could become accustomed to the scent of Limburger cheese in only four days maybe I could get them accustomed to small amounts of my residual odor.

This stand location was only 20 min. away from my work at the lumber mill. Every day for a month prior to hunting season I would jump in my pickup, drive the 20 min., jog to the base of the tree which held my stand, and return to work before my lunch hour was over. It worked like a charm and I successfully harvested over half a dozen trophy bucks out of that stand over the years. Of course, I took extreme caution to keep my hunting clothes and boots clean. I entered the stand atleast two hours before I expected any deer movement, but I never had to resort to using cover scents.

*A word of caution: this tactic only works in locations you can visit on a daily basis. If you think you can visit your stand once a week or even every other day and produce enough residual scent for the deer to become accustomed to you, you are sadly mistaken. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to hunt on your own “back 40″ this can be an extremely effective tactic.

*Please note: I spread my residual odor around the stand during the middle of the day when the deer are least active. It does little good to try to spread residual odor when the deer can see you. All you will be doing is educating them to the fact the residual odor comes from a man and they will more likely leave the area altogether or only come through after dark.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Up Your Aspiration

In hunting there is a relationship between what you aim for and what you get. Those who set their sights for bigger deer generally harvest bigger deer. Those were willing to settle for less get less.

However, there is a downside. While the hunter with high expectations will harvest more and bigger bucks over the long haul, they will also suffer from more failed hunts. The caliber of buck you are seeking may not exist where you hunt. Often, aspirations set too high can prove to be counterproductive.

In hunting, as in much of life, it is difficult to tell the difference between high achievable goals and goals set so high they are doomed for failure.

“ Harvesting the big buck is not the goal, but rather the result of doing things right.”

A visit to your local taxidermy shop can give you a good idea of what is considered a trophy in your area. It probably isn’t a wise idea to set your goals any higher than the average mature buck in any given area.

With all this said, one of the quickest ways to harvest bigger bucks is to up your aspiration.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

“The Outdoors Experience” on AM-560 WIND

I interviewed with Steve Sarley on Chicago’s WIND radio this past Sunday. Steve has one of the most listened to shows in the Chicago area and you have a chance to win a free copy of my book “Buck Naked – The Straight Dope on Trophy Whitetails,” Listen to find out how.

You’ll want to listen to the 8/19/2012 podcast.

Steve Sarley through “The Outdoors Experience” offers you incredible information that you will not be able to find anywhere else.
The Outdoors Experience Airs Live Every Sunday Morning from 5am-6am on AM-560 WIND in Chicago.
Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Button Hookin’ Bucks

I’ve always been a fast learner. I can learn anything if you show me it enough times. Big bucks have the nastiest habit of looping back on their own trails in order to see if anything is following them. I only had to be button hooked by big bucks a kajillion times before I figured out what they were up to.

Day after day, season after season, I would get on the trail of a big buck only to have him pop up out of nowhere and skedaddle before I could get a shot. Albert Einstein once said, “repeating the same pattern over and over again while expecting different results is insanity.”

I spent the first several years of my hunting career in a state of “Pure Insanity”.

Eventually and with some reluctance on my part, I discovered if I paralleled the deer’s trail 30 to 40 yards on the downwind side I had a much greater chance of intercepting him. It doesn’t work every time, nothing does, but for a change I was putting the odds in my favor.

The first time I tried this technique I killed a big 4 x 4 buck lying in his bed at seven yards. He was watching his back trail, expecting to catch me following him and was totally unaware of my presence until it was too late. I’ve been able to trail and harvest several big bucks over the years with this technique.

You can learn more about this and other techniques in my new book, Buck Naked; The Straight Dope on Trophy Whitetails. Available in bookstores and on the Internet.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,


Mountain Time

Several years ago, a bunch of nationally known archers predicted the next world record whitetail would be harvested somewhere in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. This never materialized and odds are it won’t. While it is possible for a record deer to come from just about anywhere, one look at the record books will show your odds are about 20 times greater in the Midwest and the grain belt of southern Canada than anywhere else.

However, there are some outstanding opportunities to hunt oversized deer in the Northern Rockies. The whitetails inhabiting the foothills of the Rocky Mountains are large deer, often achieving live weights between 200 and 250 pounds. Most hunters who traveled west are after elk, mule deer, and bear. They generally overlook the whitetail. This limited hunting pressure is exactly what the whitetail needs to grow big. Also, the country is steep and rugged, which discourages many hunters and offers superior seclusion for the deer.

Out west deer numbers dwindled dramatically the further one gets from crop fields. Though the numbers of deer in the mountains is limited, the percentage of big bucks within the herd is extremely high. The odds of encountering a trophy buck in the Rocky Mountains is as good as any public land hunting on the continent.

Low deer density and the vastness of the area generally prohibit effective stand hunting. The name of the game out west is tracking and still hunting.

Still hunting is one of the purist forms of hunting. Very few people will ever master still hunting. Most people think still hunting is simply taking a walk in the woods and hoping to run into something big and brown. This rarely happens. The best way to think about still hunting is to picture a moving stand. The idea is to move slow and deliberately enough to see the deer before he sees you. This requires extreme self-control and discipline. Generally, after a couple of hours of still hunting I’m left physically and mentally exhausted.

The vast majority of people who attempt to hunt whitetails in the Rocky Mountains will give up, go home, and never return. Those with the mental discipline and physical strength required will find it high adventure.

Good luck And Good Hunting,

Shift Happens

My good friend Russ Maas used to tell me, “when the velvet comes off, the brains go in.”

What Russ is talking about is the dramatic change in big buck behavior that occurs after the velvet is shed . This is not a subtle or gradual shift in behavior, but an instantaneous and dramatic shift. This change in behavior literally takes place overnight, like the flipping of a switch.

Throughout July and August the bucks have been coming out into the crop fields like clockwork. Sometime around the first week of September we’ll notice the first shreds of velvet coming off the larger buck’s antlers. Within a day or two, buck we’ve been watching all summer seems to vanish into thin air.

The fact is, the bucks are still there, but will now become very secretive until the rut is in full swing. A lot of hunters call this the “Transition Period”. It is the time of the year when testosterone levels in the buck begin to rise and they try to establish a pecking order. Adolescent bucks begin to challenge the older deer, much in the same way that adolescent human males challenge old men. Big bucks are wary and timid by nature and generally give the younger bucks some space, preferring to save their energy for the rutting season. The bucks are becoming more nocturnal, more solitary, and sometimes move off to different food sources altogether. The comradery and friendship of the bachelor group has vanished, not the deer.

For those of you who have been patterning a big buck with the hopes of arrowing him in the coming archery season, the race is on. If you don’t stick him before the velvet comes off you will more than likely have to re-patterned him. Sitting on the edge of a crop field after the velvet comes off is hit and miss at best. Remember you’re only going to get one, maybe two shots at it before shift happens.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,


Crunch Time

I watched several hunting shows on the television this past weekend. It seems that over half of the deer harvested on TV were killed on the last day of the hunt. Why is that?

In my dim and distant youth I get some work as a hunting guide. The same thing held true for us. Over half of the animals we harvested were in the last two days of any hunt.

The reason for this is simply – deadlines. As humans, when we’re running out of time to complete any task our intensity and intention becomes clarified. We focus our efforts and achieve the results we seek. After all, most of us are 11th hour players.

Back when I was in school, I had teachers who would assign term papers at the beginning of the semester. A few of the students would begin working on their term paper and slowly turn out their work over the next couple of months area but most of us, at least 95%, would wait till the evening before the paper was due to even begin thinking about it, let alone begin writing.

The same principle applies to hunting. Those that maintain a clear intention and work towards those goals over a long period of time are more successful than 11th hour players. Generally speaking, hunters are poor planners. They spend more time reacting to circumstances than preparing for them. Scouting and planning are essential in any successful endeavor.

The most effective way to preseason scout is to back track the deer. This often gives you a rare glimpse into the buck’s daily life. You’ll find out where he stages before entering the field, where he stops to eat available mast, and where his trail intersects the doe’s trail (usually indicated by a cluster rub from a previous season). All of these are great stand locations if the wind is favorable.

Don’t wait until the season starts to do your homework.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,