Where do you like to stand hunt? Anywhere in the woods? Where you have a great field of view? Next to a deer trail? In the middle of a large patch of brush? At the edge of a cornfield? Where you got a picture of a big buck with your trail cam? Next to a corn feeder or food/bait plot? At sites where you and your hunting partners have been stand hunting for years? Sure, every now and then someone takes a deer at one of these sites. What about mature bucks? Hardly see any of them? That’s typical. Do you know about 40% of the deer in your hunting area (including yearling bucks) are actually antlered?
“No way,” you say? This answer alone reveals you have much to learn.
Do you know there are deer signs than practically guarantee hunting success? If you knew what they look like, where to find them and how to take advantage of them, you can actually take a mature whitetail (not a mere fawn or yearling) or even a mature buck every hunting season.
One of the most productive of such deer signs is “fresh tracks of a walking deer in or next to a whitetail feeding area.” A walking deer is an unalarmed deer, feeding or approaching or departing from its current favorite feeding area. If such tracks are discovered without nearby deer realizing it before 9–10 AM in the morning or after 3–4 PM in the afternoon, that deer is in or very near that feeding area right now. If found after 9–10 AM or before 3–4 PM, that deer is currently bedded somewhere near or far from the feeding area. If not alarmed by a hunter meanwhile or if it has not yet discovered you waiting in ambush there, it is practically guaranteed that deer will return to that same feeding area during the next 1–3 periods whitetails normally feed, (the number depending on how skilled you are at stand hunting), practically guaranteeing you will have an opportunity to take that deer. If you key on such deer signs in or near current favorite whitetail feeding areas every hunting season, at several different sites per season if necessary, you can be a regularly successful whitetail hunter, or if you prefer, a regularly successful buck hunter (accomplished by keying on fresh mature-buck-sized tracks).
What you have just learned probably seems amazing, but troubling. You might be thinking this can only work if those fresh tracks happen to be close to your favorite stand site. Deer only returning to the same feeding area 1–3 times is probably another a troubling thought, suggesting you might need several new stand sites. This in itself is likely troubling as well because like most whitetail hunters you are probably unsure what a whitetail feeding area looks like if not a farm field or clearcut. For answers to all your newly aroused questions, watch for my future blogs.