Spring turkey seasons are coming to a close, and unless you have a bear adventure planned, boredom is probably starting to set in. The good news: It doesn’t have to. There’s plenty to do now to get ready for fall, and frankly, there’s no better time to find this fall’s buck. Here are three serious reasons why:
Explore Buck Bedding Areas
Big bucks love sanctuary and spend a good majority of their lives on their bellies with their feet tucked underneath them. Because mature bucks spend so much time in and around their bedroom, it’s a prime place to explore. The problem: You never want to spook a big buck out of his crib, right? That’s right – except for this brief spring/summer window when you can invade known big buck haunts and come out with a plethora of new knowledge that will give you a leg up on your quarry once season rolls around.
For years I’ve wanted to explore a vast bedding area on a particular whitetail spot near my home. I always procrastinated doing so, and once season started, I didn’t dare to venture in. This past week I took the plunge. Yes, I blew deer out, but I didn’t care. Penetrating a bedding area this time of year doesn’t hurt a thing. What I found were several large beds, multiple scrapes and a pair of massive rub lines. More importantly, I found a secluded trail, one that wasn’t nearly as beat down as the others. The tracks in the spring mud were heavy and big, and occasionally I would come across a massive rub. The trail led me to a river crossing – a crossing I never knew existed. I hung a camera over the crossing and the first picture that popped up on my computer screen after plugging in the SD card was of a big-bodied deer with new growth emerging from his head.
Walk Your Hunting Property
I’m a big fan and a big believer in Google Earth and other related programs. I love looking at aerial images of the properties I hunt, but nothing trumps hands-on scouting. For the first time, I took a full day to walk every inch of the aforementioned property (135 acres). I’m glad I did. Why? Nothing will show you how a property ties together like walking it. That’s what the deer do. They walk it every day and know every square inch of it. When you just study a property via an aerial view or explore certain parts, you’re only scratching the surface. Deer survive and outsmart hunters because they know all the ins and outs of the landscape they call home…do you?
Walking an entire property is when you find and discover those new locations for a small kill plot or a sure-to-kill-a-deer-out-of stand. On this recent venture, I found a spot for a ground blind I know will present me with a shot opportunity – a spot that caused my heart to jump with excitement the second I saw it. A pair of dense tamarack bushes merged together 25 yards off a major trail junction. The trails – three to be specific – were beaten down with tracks.
While walking your deer haven, carry a pair of pruners, a Hooyman Saw and some lightweight climbing sticks. There is no better time to drop some limbs out of a prospective tree or Paul Bunyan some brush to make a perfect hole for a ground blind. Yes, you may have to trim some more come fall, but if most of the work is done during the spring and summer months, you won’t be disturbing your coveted hunting area nearly as much during prime time.
Watch High Protein Food Sources
Secretive nocturnal bucks that make us want to pull out our hair during the rut become visible on a regular basis during the spring and summer. Locate a couple of alfalfa fields or other high-protein crops, and put your glasses to work one evening. You may be surprised what you spy through your optics.
Though I usually don’t start posting up off a high-protein food source until the first part of July, I went out the other night and saw a total of five bucks feeding together. They were all sprouting head gear, and I was sure, based on a noticeable left-hip scar, that one was a buck I was targeting in 2014. My plan: to start watching this field once or twice a week until the season opener. Why? What happens when you live with somebody and interact with them every day? You learn a lot about them. You get the point.
So go find your 2015 buck and keep me posted on how the search goes. I love to get trail camera photos, photos through a spotting scope and the like. Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.