Still-hunting whitetail bucks with archery tackle is the most difficult way to bow-bag a racked deer. You must not only move quietly through his stomping grounds, but you must also sidestep that incredible nose of his and stay low. In the early season, you can up your chances at a good bowhunting shot by discovering where the bucks like to feed each evening.
Glass Suspected “Big Buck Diners”
Glass from a safe distance in late summer and early fall. Old mowings, grown-over pastures, deserted vineyards and abandoned apple orchards are all good places to begin. You’ll need to stay until the last scintilla of light yourself, and then scan the shadows with a good pair of light-gathering optics.
Do Some Midday Scouting
You’ll need more information before you can get close enough for a ground shot. The season’s first rubs and over-sized tracks should give you some good clues as to where the bucks are bedding and the routes they are using to reach early fall food supplies.
The good news is that they are on the clock now making their feeding and bedding routines quite predictable. In farm country, I start the season off by pussyfooting through these feeding grounds. I also like to work ravines and fingers of brush that lead to the edges of active agriculture. Other good routes include hedgerows, creek beds, fence lines and irrigation ditches that bisect large fields of standing corn. Also good are the edges of small wood lots and brushy meadows that border overgrown openings and green fields of alfalfa, beans or peas.
In big woods or wilderness areas, prime early-season still-hunting routes include gas lines, power lines and other rights-of-way, edges of clear-cuts and creek beds. And if there is a good mast crop, try the ridges just above beaver dams, two- to seven-year-old clear-cuts, and river basins.
Close In On Bucks
You’ll be surprised how close you can get to these early-season bucks as long as they have not been disturbed by your previous scouting forays. Simply work the cover surrounding their preferred early-season food supplies.