The 7 Deadly Sins of Whitetail Hunting

Apple Creek Whitetails Photo

The 7 Deadly Sins of Whitetail Hunting

1) Lack of Scouting

The number one cause for failure in whitetail hunting is the lack of scouting. The second greatest cause for failure in whitetail hunting is not knowing what to look for while scouting. Proper scouting is for more than just seeing big deer. We must learn to differentiate between deer sign left by does and deer sign left by bucks. Furthermore, we must be able to differentiate average buck sign from exceptional buck s ign.

2) Lack of Scent Control

Too often hunters enter the field with little regard to their scent. Scent control requires more than simply wearing clean unscented clothing. We must be aware of wind direction at all times and how the morning and evening thermals drift our scent through the forest. Cover scents are nice, but seldom do they put venison in the freezer.

3) Lack of Awareness

We must stay focused on the task at hand. If we allow our thoughts to drift elsewhere, when the buck shows we won’t be ready. Hunting trophy deer often involves many hours of boredom. Keeping our minds in the now is crucially important. One way to help accomplish this is to focus on our breathing whenever we find our thoughts wandering away from the hunt.

4) Lack of Shooting Proficiency

Practice, practice, practice. We should be so familiar with our bow or rifle that shooting it and shooting it accurately is second natur e to us. A hunter fiddling around with a weapon he is unfamiliar with has saved the lives of more big bucks than just about anything else.. Our focus needs to be on seeing dear. The shooting should be automatic.

5) Lack of Whitetail Knowledge

Deer are not people. We tend to attribute human characteristics to the deer. Unfortunately, deer view the world completely different than humans do. An understanding of how deer react to different stimulus is critical. We need to understand both a deer’s physical needs and which type of habitats deer prefer.

6) The Inability to Adapt to Changes in Deer Behavior

Nothing in nature is static. Everything is in constant flux. Weather and wind direction can change rapidly. A food source that was available weeks ago has now dried up. We must constantly evaluate changes in the environment which affect deer behavior and adjust our strategies and tactics to adapt to the current situation.
7) Lack of True Intent

Odds are you will only harvest a buck as big as what you are willing to settle for. Hunters with a good visual image of the buck they want generally harvest bigger bucks. Simply stated, everyone wants a big buck, but if you’re willing to settle for less that’s what you’ll get.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Jim

http://www.amazon.com/Buck-Naked-Straight-Trophy-Whitetails/dp/1466498234

The Lifeblood of Hunting

Apple Creek Whitetails Photo

Of all the skills you can learn to be more successful, scouting is by far the single most valuable skill you could ever master.

Although it seems a daunting task, scouting is one of the easiest and fastest skills to master. It’s also one of the most misunderstood skills.

In fact, if you are a hunter or thinking about becoming one, you will need to develop your scouting skills, and fast. Don’t for even a minute start thinking your hunting style is different and you will never have to do any real scouting.

Your success in hunting will depend directly on your ability to scout deer effectively.

Scouting is the life-blood from which all your hunting dreams and goals are accomplished. So how can you learn to scout better without working so hard at it?

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Jim

Hunt Rub Lines

I prefer hunting over rub lines as opposed to scrape lines. First off, bucks make rubs, does don’t. Secondly, bucks rub trees for three months each fall, while ground scrapes are limited to a few of weeks during the rut. Thirdly, scrape lines almost always follow rub lines. You can take it to the bank. Most important, it is far easier to tell the potential size of a buck from a rub than from a scrape.
I’m looking for a tree with a rub length of 24 ” or more.

Hunting rubs is more effective earlier in the fall before the urgency of the rut sets in.

Jim

Antler Rattling

Apple Creek Whitetails Photo

Rattling is most effective immediately prior to and immediately after the prime rutting period. Even though I’ve rattled and several whoppers, it’s not my favorite method of calling. Horn rattling can be a little too aggressive for the more timid big buck.

Big bucks are increasingly wary in areas where a lot of hunters are pounding antlers together. However, in areas with little hunting pressure it is still one of the most effective w ays to harvest a big buck. Just remember the buck always approaches from downwind in hopes of catching the scent of the bucks he believes are fighting. It’s important to have a good shooting lane downwind from your rattling position.

I begin by crashing the antlers together. Then I twist and work the antlers together in an effort to imitate the sounds of two bucks sparring. My entire rattling sequence only lasts about 15 seconds. I try not to rattle more than once every 10 to 15 minutes because the last thing I want is a buck to catch me rattling. It’s happened more than once and every time the results have been less than desirable.

Today, I rely more on bleat calls and grunt calls. I still carry rattling horns with me, but use them more as a last ditch effort.

Many times I’ll have a big buck approaching my stand and for no good reason at the last minute he’ll turn and walk out of range. As soon as he is out of sight, I’ll crash the antlers together for a few seconds. Often, if the buck is not on a hot doe’s trail, he’ll immediately return to investigate and I’ll be waiting.
Jim

Stand Placement

Apple Creek Whitetails Picture

Morning stands are generally more productive than evening stands. With the exception of early-season hunting in mountainous terrain. In those instances an evening stand at the base of the mountain is for more productive since it utilizes the evening air thermal direction.

For the rest of the season morning stands rule. I try to keep my stan d on the highest ground possible. There is more deer activity in the bottom lands during daylight hours, but the danger of the daytime air thermals lifting your scent and spreading it for several hundred yards in all directions is just too great. Always opt for a stand high on the ridge.

Throughout most of the United States the prevailing wind direction comes out of the southwest. Approaching from the east keeps us from stinking the whole place up before we even start to hunt. I like to keep my stand, whether it’s a tree stand or a ground blind, on the eastern side of the funnel for the same reasons.

It’s hard to find a perfect set up, but the basic principles of wind direction, undetected approach and concealment hold true no matter where you hunt. Having the prevailing wind in your face and an undetected approach to the stand are crucial for consistent success.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Jim

Deer Calling Tips

Apple Creek Whitetails Photo

Unfortunately, most hunters calling efforts only succeed in educating the deer to their presence. Consequently, the deer become increasingly wary and cautious in their response to calls. Rattling has been so overdone in some sections that when a buck hears the horns come together he instinctively runs in the other direction. Who could blame him? If every time he hears antlers crashing he bumps into a hunter, he ’ll soon figure out what’s up.

Most hunters called too often and too loud. Remember, were not trying to seduce some sex starved bimbo. We are only trying to stimulate an instinctive response within the deer.

I called very sparingly, no more than once every 15 min. to half an hour. I’m trying to piqué a deer’s curiosity, not running out of the county.

For detailed instructions on how to effectively call deer, read the book Buck Naked; The Straight Dope on Trophy Whitetails.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Jim

Taking Advantage of the Buttonhook

Apple Creek Whitetails Photo

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.

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 wor k 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,
Jim:

The Buck Communication Hot-Line

Apple Creek Whitetails Photo

Most communication between mature deer is through the use of scent. Every hunter knows about scrapes and some even understand their importance in buck hierarchy. While scrapes are important, they don’t start showing up until immediately before the rut. This leaves us wondering where the bucks are the rest of the year.
While all scrapes are used to communicate a bucks presence to other bucks, all scrapes are not equal. The scrapes which are most important are the ones with a well used “licking branch” above them. These are the scrapes which will be visited by several bucks.
The most important roll of scrapes to a hunter is in helping him to locate these “licking branches”.
To a deer, a licking branch has more meaning than a scrape. Bucks use “licking branches” throughout the entire year. Licking branches hold scent better than scrapes. Urine deposited in scrapes dissipates quickly. Pre-orbital scent on licking branches stays considerably longer.
One way to really get the a buck’s attention is to remove a licking branch from one area and place it over a scrape in an area where you plan to hunt. It won’t take long for the bucks to notice an intruder is in their area.
Licking branches get way more attention than scrapes.
-Jim

Buck Analytics for Dummies (Part 1)

Buck analytics is a method of turning data into insights which will allow us to better predict deer behavior. It helps the hunter to segment this data, uncover hidden patterns, and to make optimal decisions on where and when to hunt. The challenge is to figure out what data is useful and what should be ignored.

Turning data into predictable insights includes:

Finding the ideal buck to hunt.
Locating the ideal stand location.
Optimizing your valuable hunting time.
Increasing your success rate on big bucks.

Today hunters can find all of the data they need to dramatically improve their hunting success. There are harvest reports from wildlife departments, satellite images from outer space, and trail cameras. Our ability to gather data has changed the way we hunt forever.

While gathering data has become relatively easy, segmenting that data can be difficult. Start by defining what you want to achieve through analytics. What will have the biggest impact on your hunting? Is your focus on finding new locations to hunt or are you trying to determine how to better hunt an existing location? Perhaps your biggest concern is limit unproductive days? The questions you ask yourself up-front will narrow the amount of data you’ll need for any scenario.
-Jim

Early Season Stand Placement

Apple Creek Whitetails Photo

There’s an old saying, “When the velvet comes off, the brains go in.” By now the majority of bucks have shed their velvet and are entering the transition period between summer hangouts and the rut.
Bucks who were as predictable as clock work have seemed to vanish. Bachelor groups are now breaking up and the bucks are establishing a pecking order.
Early season hunting is not as productive as it will be when the weather cools and the rut kicks in. Early in the fall, stand placement is critical for success.
This time of year I do most of my hunting in the afternoon. It’s just too easy to spook deer while trying to get to your stand in the early morning. I focus on feed and place my stand between bedding areas and the primary food source.
Big deer like to enter a field on a inside corner and this is an excellent place to place a stand. Mature bucks are always the last to come into a food source. Often the bigger deer don’t show until it is too late to shoot, for that reason, I prefer to place my stand a 100 to 200 back form the inside corner of a food plot.
I like my stands high and 20 feet above the ground works real good at keeping your scent above the deer. Be sure to hunt only when wind direction is favorable. You don’t want your scent blowing towards the trail where the buck will becoming or blowing directly towards deer feeding. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been busted by my scent drifting down on feeding does.
Jim