Catch ‘em by Surprise

There is not a stand hunter in America who can’t wait to return to a stand site where he or she took or saw a mature buck last year, or the year before or the year before that. I do it myself, even though my many years of hunting related studies have taught me there is a better, more sure way to take another mature buck.

 The most productive buck stand site provides great downwind or crosswind silhouette-hiding cover for the hunter, means of getting there without being positively identified by nearby whitetails and fresh nearby tracks and/or droppings or a freshly made or renewed ground scrape made by a mature buck. Nonetheless, if it is located where mature bucks living in the surrounding square mile have discovered a hunter stand hunting one or more times, typically happening without the hunter realizing it during the first 1-30 hours of stand hunting there each year, the odds of thereafter taking a mature buck at that site won’t be particularly favorable.

There is a reason. Mature whitetail bucks and does have excellent memories. Wherever you have hunted two or more years, all mature deer (not including a few possible mature newcomers and lone fawns or yearlings) will remember what you smell like, look like and sound like (including your unique footsteps) from hunting season to hunting season. They’ll even remember the trails and stand sites you commonly frequented, making it easy for them to avoid you right from the outset of a subsequent hunting season, doing the things that enabled them to survive past hunting seasons.

 The best way to overcome this mature-buck-hunting handicap is use a new (never used before) stand site often during a hunting season, each at least 100 yards away from any previously used stand site. Catch big bucks by surprise at stand sites where they have never discovered you before. They have no defense for this. As long as each new stand site has all of the above characteristics, each time you move your odds of taking a mature buck will again be usually favorable, but remember, only for a short time, not day after day for an entire hunting season or year after year. Older bucks are too smart to fall victim to that.

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