Although I’ve only been hunting whitetails a few short years, I no longer wander around undecided about where I will hunt. This season, I learned something that other Buckmasters fans might appreciate.
I’m blessed to hunt 2,000 acres of private land, so picking a spot to hunt can be a little overwhelming at times. Heck, it’s hard for me to choose a stand on 100 acres, much less 2,000.
By my second season of hunting this property, I began to learn the likely places to see deer through scouting, shed hunting, putting out trail cameras and photographing good looking stand locations.
Although I was starting to grasp the deer’s bedding areas, travel habits and feeding spots, figuring out exactly where and when to sit was proving to be a shot in the dark.
When the 2017 season arrived, I concentrated on three decent-seeming areas to hunt: a major travel corridor, a stand of white oaks, and a field the does seemed to prefer.
As the season progressed, I rotated hunting these three areas, determining a stand by which direction the wind was blowing. I also a chose a few other random places so I wouldn’t overhunt these favorites. Still, I was not having much luck with the big boys.
One late December morning, I was in major turmoil over which stand to choose. I’d hunted my white oak stand only two days before and logic told me to let it rest.
There was another spot that had gone nearly untouched since the beginning of the season. A buddy told me he thought I might see some nice bucks there and suggested I go there.
But a little voice kept nagging me to return to the white oaks, even though logic and my friend pointed toward the unhunted spot. I decided to listen to the little voice and go with my gut instinct.
The walk to my white oak stand was quiet because I used a rake before the season started to clear my trail. In the pre-dawn darkness, I could hear deer near the stand, milling about and looking for acorn remnants. I already felt it was going to be a good day.
Several young bucks came through early, along with a string of does, but then the activity ceased.
Late in the morning, my gut told me I should keep hunting. After a while, I noticed a set of antlers in some brush on the next ridge. A shooter buck was bedded down.
I continued to wait patiently, and sure enough, the buck eventually stood and started heading my way! It came within 20 yards and presented me with a quartering away shot.
I sent the arrow flying and placed it exactly where I was aiming. The arrow was deeply embedded, and the buck disappeared across the other ridge.
Soon, I heard a loud crash, so I took a deep breath, gathered myself and excitedly prepared myself to go find my first bow buck.
I waited 45 minutes before I got down just to make sure it had passed.
I spotted it in the leaves, and as I approached, it became increasingly clear this was a mature buck even bigger than I originally thought!
Had I chosen a stand or left my stand based on logic rather than relying on my gut, I wouldn’t have taken this fine buck.
I’m learning that hunting success is a culmination of hard work and knowledge. But adding your natural hunting instincts to the equation is just as important.
– Editor’s Note by Tim H. Martin
Lee’s observation reminds me of another Tip of the Week about our God-given instinct as apex predators.
The Apex Predator = You
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