Too many bowhunters make the whitetail game more difficult than it need be. The worst mistake is trying to close-in on deer in places that make them virtually unhuntable. It’s time to tackle the easiest place to hunt whitetails—field edges. Indeed, knowing where deer are most likely to end-up is half the battle. Here is a summary of how to make your next hunt a personal field of dreams.
Always start a field hunt from a distant vantage point such as a hill or fence row. Lay back and err on the conservative side before moving in for the kill. This allows you to scout potential primary spots while hunting secondary trail crossings.
Afternoon hunts are more effective than morning hunts, all factors being equal, for two reasons. First, navigating in the dark means bumping some deer on the way to your stand. Second, changing thermals means deer will be leaving evening bedding areas (low-lying areas where cooler, heavier air settles) for daytime bedding areas (higher elevations where air gathers as it rises). At first light, deer could be anywhere—from fields and fence rows to creek bottoms and ridge lines. Not so for evening hunts: You know where the bucks are (security cover) and where they want to be (fields).
A telemetry study conducted in the Southeast revealed that deer routinely bedded at one end of their home range and fed on the other. But in the agricultural zone of the Midwest and Canada, deer often bed relatively close to a preferred food source. When given the choice, always pick those distant bedders who are less likely to wait till dark before getting up. (Their destination is a considerable distance away, making the journey longer.)
Human activity can alter a whitetail’s feeding cycle. For example, the more remote a field is, the better the odds that deer will enter fields before darkfall. But fields situated along busy roads or easy-access routes make deer “suspicious,” causing them to linger near their beds or “stage” where they can nibble on secondary browse before chowing down on lush, high-protein vegetation.
Plan access routes with the wind in mind, even if it takes the proverbial extra mile to enter and exit each stand location. (Stuff extra clothing in a backpack to avoid overdressing and sweating-up during long-distance treks.)
In Part 2, we will cover tips dealing with wind reversals, cover, topography, transportation to your hunting site, spooking, location rotation, and looking to the moon.