Like anything that we love at some point our abilities and results plateau when we get lazy or reach a level of success and don’t try to continue to learn from our mistakes and experiences! I have been looking for deer hunting tips and tricks to see more deer my entire life! And it started to become an obsession when the deer seemed to vanish from our hunting lease.
It happens to all of us! But how do we improve on something that we love and learn to continue to grow in success?
By continuing to learn, that’s how! We learn from each other! I’m sure I can learn from you as well! If we keep the attitude of improving we can all supersize our chances of harvesting a big buck!
I’ll bet you have had cameras that see amazing amounts of deer movement, yet you can’t seem to see these deer if your life depended on it! I have ! And I will tell you that this is one of the most frustrating things I encounter.
That was my exact question when I started to do research into why I was seeing less and less deer movemnent while my cameras weren’t seeing a decline in deer movement, and my feeders were still gathering places for big mature does and bucks !
I decided to take a poll of deer hunters and keep the records of my findings .
Let’s talk about this phenomenon and see what causes we have found and what causes we have in common!
What I found was really less than Earth shattering!
Where in the world do the deer hide when I am in the woods?
I know you have been there if you have been hunting very long at all! We all have been there! The deer that seemed to be everywhere just last week have gone underground and simply aren’t moving at all!
I have had this problem just like everyone else from time to time, and it is usually not an easy thing to figure out!
I understand that deer stay put and stay in their bedding areas more when the pressure of hunting season gets on and a little time has gone by. I have been hunting in November and didn’t see a deer for a few weeks! But that is nothing like the way they can just disappear when they are still in the late summer and fall patterns!
While deer are deer ad hunting is hunting we may never figure out every aspect of deer hunting! But we can optimize our efforts and time in the woods by doing some pretty simple things when the deer go into their tunnels!
Let’s share some ideas that myself and some friends have used and been effective using over the years when it seems like the deer left!
1-The wind is always important!
It is one of the basic elements of being a successful hunter to watch the wind direction and only hunt a stand when the wind is in your favor. But I have made the mistake before of not considering the wind direction when I’m traveling to and from my stand. The results are usually not really good!
When bucks are still in late summer and fall patterns they may tolerate your presence to a point if they briefly catch your scent while they are bedded, but not often and it’s surely not guaranteed that they won’t slip out the back door when they pick up your scent!
But let a late season pressured buck catch your scent and chances are that you would have a more successful day sitting in your recliner with a beer watching football!
It’s a little embarrassing that it took me a while to actually start practicing wind direction discipline at all times when I am in the woods. And it has paid off big time !
Now I am conscious of my scent at all times when I am hunting, not just while I’m on my stand!
To optimize your scent control efforts, it’s a really good idea to consider the wind direction when you are traveling as well as wearing rubber boots and gloves at all times in the woods!
I found this out while hunting a massive 400 acre clear cut a few years ago on public land!
The deer were bedding in the clear cut during the chilly December days, and soaking up those warm rays of sunshine. So my main tactic was to be as quiet as possible when entering the area where I always hang My Summit Viper SD ! But on this day the wind was a little out of the north-east and my scent stream went straight across the clear cut!
Deer shot out of that clear cut like they had been launched from a cannon! There must have been a dozen deer bedded in front of the tree where I had planned to hang my climber!
Scent control is always a top priority, or it should be! And yes even when walking!
2-Change it up! Don’t let the deer pattern YOU!
I have noticed in recent years that I see more deer on our hunting lease when it is late season. The reason isn’t mind boggling at all!
I and my fellow members have added more stands with an effort placed on having multiple stand locations to use in the effort to hunt the wind. But that isn’t the only welcome effect that multiple stand shave made !
I was sitting in a ladder stand on a ridge that is about 150 yards from another stand that I had been hunting pretty hard earlier in the season.
I had seen several deer moving across a gorge and even saw a really nice chocolate horned buck patrolling the scrape line that I had been hunting while I was hunting the other stand earlier .
While I was watching the deer, there was movement about 60 yards from me and as i watched an old gray doe stepped out very cautiously and moved along the edge of the ridge towards the other stand, She seemed on alert and I thought there might be some hogs on the other side of the ridge, because the ground was littered with acorns.\
As the old girl moved closer to the other stand she stopped no less than 4 times and looked up directluy at that stand !
As she got closer to where the other deer had been moving earlier, she stopped and looked at the stand for what must have been a good half minute!
Then she turned her course and retreated back the way she had come with her tail held high! She never blew or ran, but it was obvious that she knew that stand meant danger and she wanted nothing to do with it!
Keep a few stands for playing the wind direction and you might just keep the deer from patterning you and learning your ways!
I have also started putting my stands a little further from my hunting area when rifle hunting as well! I can still be very effective with my .270 WSM and Vortex scope !
When I am bow hunting, I like to hunt the trails leading to food sources and bedding and stay as far away as possible so that I don’t spook any bedded deer!
Another awesome way to change it up and watch the wind is with the use of a climbing tree stand. I love using a portable climber and keep one in my truck all deer season and being a big guy I absolutely love the Summit Goliath SD! There is nothing like having the comfort and portability to hunt all day!
The use of a climber gives you mobility as well as the ability to hunt in different places and play the wind.
3-Rethink scents and lures
When getting ready to write this article I tried to set an order of which of these tios is the most important to me. But every time I got close to deciding an order, I would change it!
There is one thing I want to add here that I firmly believe in and will likely be the biggest area of disagreement from other hunters.
At one time I was all about the cover and attracting scent rage! But I had several circumstances that has evolved my tjinking over the years and now I never use scents anymore!
I am imaging that someone out there is grinding their teeth at me and saying that I have no idea what I am talking about because he killed a buck once over a spilled bottle of human urine, or a spray bomb thing full of doe estrous and he has used that method ever since!
I am not telling you that you are wrong, I am merely stating the simple steps I have taken over the years to regularly see and harvest deer. And not using attracting scents is one of them!
I’m sure that you have steps that you use every time you go hunting that you know work and don’t plan on changing them! I’m the same way! If something is working I don’t fix it, but I will explain why I stopped with the attracting scents. Maybe it will help you or someone else who reads this article. At least I hope it does!
My main theory about attracting scents is simply based on the fact that it is not natural to the woods where I hunt.
Deer are very smart and instinctive animals. They know when something has been introduced to their area that isn’t normal. Can we agree there?
Now as a test I want you to get yourself a 20 ounce coke bottle and wash it really good and let it dry out. After you are sure it’s dry, and clean urinate in the bottle, and put the lid on immediately. Once you have done this put that bottle somewhere until the next day. The next day remove the lid and take a big old sniff of what is in the bottle! It will stink and not smell anything like it did the day before !
The reason for this exercise is that deer are very keen to their surroundings, and effected greatly by things that aren’t supposed to be there! If someone walked through your living room and stopped to take a leak in your carpet, do you think you would notice? You darn right you would, and if you are anything like me would be looking for the new owner of a can of whoop ass!
If you are sold on your cover scents and attracting scents by all means do what works for you! But I know for a fact that since I stopped using them, I see far more deer!
4- Late season time change
If you are anything like me an most every other hunter that I personally know, you absolutely hate the fall time change! If there is one thing that I think is absolutely stupid its the daylight savings time BS ! It just doesn’t seem natural to be dark at 6 PM!
But there is another time change that can help you see more pressured deer and help you successfully harvest a big buck in late season! I call it the deer woods time change!
Here in South Carolina we have a long deer season! In fact, we have the longest season in the country! Parts of our state has an open deer season in mid August and it rns through January 1st! But the early season is miserable because the deer don’t move much in the 95 degree deep south heat and it’s a real task to swat mosquitoes that look like Apache helicopters and try not to step on an Esstern Diamondback rattle snake! With that in mind, my hunting efforts are centered between early to mid October till Jan 1st.
That stupid time change is a real drag when you are trying to leave work and get a couple of hours in your stand, so the bulk of my deer hunting is on the weekends after the time change!
The time change coincides with the main rutting activity here and I want to spend every minute that I can on stand! So when the time changes, my time changes too!
I start going to my stand when it is light enough outside to not use a flashlight and blaze orange can be easily seen.
There are several reasons for that.
Early in the season I want to get in the stand about an hour before daylight and let the woods settle, and I will usually hunt until about 11:00. But when the rut hits I go in after daylight and sit until late afternoon or till it gets dark again. I do this for 2 reasons.
- I don’t have to use a flashlight and can see where I’m going and what I am stepping on. So that gives me the benefit of not stepping on sticks and twigs in the dark, not to mention the sight of a light waving around in the woods
- The bulk of buck activity I see is mostly mid day. If I get in the woods an hour before dark, I become restless and my butt hurts by mid day and I am ready to go. But when I go in after daylight, i can sit all day about half the time!
I have seen at least twice as many deer since giving up the morning flashlight!
Another tip that I use is to of course be as quiet as possible on my way to my stand. When I get to the stand I like to immediately use about 3-4 tending grunts in my Extinguisher deer call in the hopes of covering any noise I have made with the sounds of another deer.
The extinguisher is always hanging around my neck on every hunt anyway, so I may as well make use of it at every opportunity!
5- The ATV Debate
One of the most ongoing debates among hunters and club members is the use of ATVs and when they should be used. I would like to share another perspective with you and see if you have had some same issues!
My father-in-law was my hunting and fishing buddy for many years until he passed away this past March. He had an issue that required him to use his ATV pretty much all the time because he had a health issue due to a formerly broken pelvis and not being able to walk as much as some rest of us on the lease.
As much as I hate using ATVs on the hunting lease during deer season, I would never have dreamed of saying anything negative about it around my father-in-law.
There are absolute needs for some hunters to make use of an ATV during deer season and to be completely honest, some things take presidence over others!
That being said, the use of ATVs on your hunting lease during the season is detrimental to your efforts and that is common sense. We all have our opinions on different aspects of hunting, and I will be the first to admit that I am not always right. But after years of being on the same hunting lease I have seen absolute proof to support my views on ATVs.
For many years I didn’t get to hunt as much on the weekends due to work, and I spent most of my hunting time during the week days by myself.
For a long time I would see some really good deer movement during the week and I and the others would see a dramatic drop in deer movement on the weekends when the ATVs came off the trailer. The same has been said of the beginning of deer season for several years now. Early in the season we would all see pretty good deer movement , but after a few weekends the deer movement would almost stop except for the deer I would see during the week.
Most hunting clubs and leases have made rules that ATVs can only be used to retreive a harvested deer. That is a huge step in the right direction, but overall the more you leave ATVs on the trailer, the better off you are especially when discussing late season deer movement.
6- Technology can help more than you may think
I am not a believer in many of the “cure all” products for deer hunting that we see on the market today. And depending on where you are in North America different products work differently. For instance, I have had some limited results using rattling antlers during certain times like the rut. But in other areas like the Midwest and south-west rattling is a staple of buck hunting!
A couple of years ago, a friend of mine bought an Ozonics Ozone device for hanging on his tree while hunting. He told the rest of us in our little club that it helped mask human scent with ozone, and of course we laughed at him! I think one guy told him that he needed to learn how to hunt! Cruel!
This past year I had an opportunity to test one of these little ozone producing units and even did an Ozonics review after testing with it. I have since bought my own unit that was used and have purshased a new unit this year! Now some guys make fun of me too! But I don’t care because I know that my little Ozonics HR200 works! I have used it on every hunt this year and have had many deer directly downwind of my location and none have spooked!
If you want to do one big thing that will help you during the late season and every other time of the deer season, you may want to try the Ozonics out! It’s an amazing little device!
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The debates that take place surrounding the tradition of deer hunting is part of the fun for me, and always have been. I like to hear other people’s ideas and rituals when it comes to deer hunting as I’m sure you do as well.
There are some common sense things that we can do to better our odds and see more deer during all phases of the season. And there are some things that are completely out of our control. The biggest of these is the uncontested fact that deer hunting is still deer hunting and everything doesn’t have a remedy or cure.
I would like to seriously thank you for taking the time to read this blog post/ Article and I hope I have helped shed a little light on some things with our conversation!
If you got value or enjoyed this article would you leave a comment, question or suggestion in the comments section below please? It is with your feed back that I can better serve my readers!
As I leave I have a question for you.
What do you do that makes you feel that you have an edge on pressured late season bucks?
Have a great day, and see ya in the deer woods !