Ushering in a New Age of Fair-Chase, Mature-Buck-Effective Whitetail Hunting

Whitetail hunters are a cussed lot. Once they discover how to take a deer, they refuse to try hunting any other way. Yet they often complain about how few of the deer they see in the woods while hunting are mature bucks, They typically conclude there are few mature bucks in their hunting areas and it’s not their fault.  If they don’t see them, they aren’t there. It therefore isn’t worth their time to try hunting rare whitetails some other way. Taking a yearling buck or doe every year or so is good enough.

For fifteen years my thoughts were similar. At age ten, I started out as one of a gang of twelve hunters who almost always “filled out” on opening weekend by making drives. During my very first hunt, I took three deer. Neighbors from miles around used to visit my Uncle Jack’s farmyard annually to gaze in wonder at all the deer we hung there. The only trouble was (as far as I was concerned), only one taken during those years was a decent buck, the kind I dreamt of taking before each hunting season began. Only once did I glimpse a big buck in the woods. When I complained about never having an opportunity to take a big buck, another uncle laughed and said, “You have to be in the right place at the right time to get one of those.”

“Where is the right place and when at the right time?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” he answered, laughing again, “but when you are there you sure will know it.”

Never satisfied with that answer, after earning three related college degrees, like no one else I know or ever heard of, I spent more than the next fifty years searching scientifically for right spots at right times and not just during hunting seasons. I was fortunate back in the 1960s to stumble on the best new way ever to discover unknown facts about habits and behavior of wild whitetails (including the largest of bucks): sitting at regular intervals year around during the next twenty years in primitive tree stands, beginning long before anyone ever heard of tree stands and long before whitetails learned to identify and avoid hunters in tree stands. In 1980 I began to share everything I had learned with other deer hunters. I’m still at it, During all those years of field research, I developed six great new ways to hunt mature bucks. Using these methods, my three sons and I have taken 98 mature bucks since 1990, many now on walls in our homes. That’s nearly one mature buck per hunter per year. Do you know anyone who has done as well? All were taken on public land in wolf country where there has never been more than 6–11 deer per square-mile while fewer than one deer was taken per 10 square miles in surrounding areas.

My sons and I have known many hunters who refused to believe our great buck hunting success was made possible by better hunting methods. “The Nordbergs have all the bucks,” many began saying back in 1980 (meaning, they believed all the big bucks in the area lived were we hunted). Soon they were saying, “We have as much right to hunt there as they do” and began making drives right behind our deer camp and using our permanent tree stands as well, In 1990 we therefore began searching for a new hunting area. Years later, one of those hunters stopped at my booth at a sports show and said, “We figured out why you Nordberg’s left your hunting area. You shot all the bucks. We haven’t seen one there since you left.”

It is beginning to appear we may be soon facing the same crisis. Other hunters are again obviously believing our great hunting success on public land is attributable to an unusually large number of mature bucks, rather than believing we could possibly be more knowledgeable and skillful at hunting mature bucks than they are. One large group made unsuccessful drives behind our camp and three others stand hunted within sight of our camp last fall.

Well, which kind of a whitetail hunter area you? Are you one who is convinced you already know everything about hunting big bucks and have one on the wall to prove it, or are you a hunter who would like to learn how to take a mature buck almost every hunting season with a gun or bow? Doc can teach you how to do it using one or more of his six new, fair chase (no bait or off-road motorized vehicles needed), mature-buck-effective hunting methods, Everything you need to know to become regularly successful at taking mature, super-elusive bucks (or does) is presented in his newly published Whitetail Hunters Almanac, 10th Edition. This 518- page 8” x 10” tome with 400 photos costs much less than dinner out for two these days and it is well worth it at any price because as promised by Doc, it will put you close to older bucks and other mature whitetails every day or half-day you hunt for the rest of your life. There is nothing else you can buy that can do that.

  This book is available in two forms; an Amazon Kindle ebook and a paperback book. For a taste of its extraordinary whitetail hunting value, click now on the following: Dr. Ken Nordberg’s Whitetail Hunter’s Almanac, 10th Edition, ebook   Then click on “Look inside.” To quickly and easily order the personally autographed 8″ x 10″ paperback version go to: http://www.drnordbergondeerhunting.com. 

 

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How to Become Regularly Successful at Taking Older Bucks

During my many years of presenting hunting seminars at Sports Shows and Sportsman Clubs across the eastern half of America, I was always amazed to discover great numbers of whitetail hunters, young and old, who were born with all the knowledge and skills needed to successfully hunt dozens of trophy bucks, therefore requiring no books or videos that explained on how to better hunt such deer. I wasn’t that fortunate. Starting from scratch as a farm kid at age 10, I had to somehow learn how to do it. During my first fifteen years of whitetail hunting, I had to settle for being taught by hunters with only one or two big bucks on their walls. Much of what they taught me either didn’t work or the deer I hunted didn’t do what they and magazine writers back then said whitetails do. Determined to finally learn the well-kept secrets of those who claimed to have dozens of ten-pointers or better on their walls, in 1970 I decided to try something desperate: study wild whitetails scientifically (part time at first and then almost full time). I then began to discover a world of whitetails little known by anyone. Soon my children and I began hanging mounts of ten- pointers or better on our walls. Between 1990 and 2017 my three sons and I took 98 mature bucks (8–13 pointers), all on public land inhabited by abundant grey wolves.

Such hunting success was made possible by our six new mature-buck-effective hunting methods, evolved first from the discovery of the inability of whitetails to discover me perched on primitive platforms only 6–9 feet above the ground, between 1962 and 1989, and second from discoveries made as a result of my hunting-related studies, between 1970 and 2017. These two overlapping periods now total 55 years.

My Whitetail Hunters Almanac, 10th Edition, took three years to write and edit because of the enormous amount of new field research completed since publishing my 9th Edition in 1997. This unusually large book (likely my last because I am now 83) was written to share with all deer hunters – beginners, veterans and advanced hunters – everything of greatest importance I have learned about whitetails and whitetail hunting since the 1960s. This includes deer signs that practically guarantee hunting success, habits, and range utilization of the five behavioral classes of whitetails, the many elements that affect the timing of whitetail activities, the four month and one week long whitetail rut with three two-week breeding periods, six new mature-buck-effective hunting methods and more. All play prominent roles in determining where, when, how and how long to hunt mature bucks or other mature whitetails at any site. Though the six new hunting methods introduced in this book were designed specifically for providing easy short-range shots at mature, unsuspecting (standing or slowly moving) bucks with gun or bow, they also provide regular opportunities to observe or take other deer. Used properly, these hunting methods keep you close to mature bucks and other deer every day or half-day you hunt. One or more of these new methods are certain to soon become your next favorites.

This book is available in two forms; an Amazon Kindle ebook and a paperback book. For a taste of its extraordinary whitetail hunting value, click now on the following: Dr. Ken Nordberg’s Whitetail Hunter’s Almanac, 10th Edition, ebook   Then click on “Look inside.” Information and forms for quickly and easily ordering a personally autographed, 518 page, 3–pound, 8″ x 10″ paperback version with 400 illusrations is now available in my website: http://www.drnordbergondeerhunting.com. Very soon after you begin turning the pages of your new Whitetail Hunters Almanac, 10th Edition, you are going to be astonished by all that is new about whitetails and whitetail hunting.

 

How to Become Regularly Successful at Hunting Mature Bucks

The biggest bucks in your hunting area are dominant breeding bucks, meaning they are dominant over all other bucks living within their ranges and while does are in heat, they breed all mature and yearling does living within their ranges. Most are 4-1/2 to 6-1/2 years of age. Their home or breeding ranges are generally about a square-mile in size. A few particularly aggressive bucks have home/breeding ranges up to two square miles in size. Within a square mile dominant breeding buck range live 14–29 other deer, depending on deer numbers and habitat. Four or five are mature does with young, fawns and yearlings, living in separate home ranges averaging about 125 acres. Three to five are other mature bucks, 2-1/2 to 6-1/2 years of age. Very few live longer, though rarely taken by hunters. These other bucks have home ranges that overlap with other buck ranges and encompass 2–4 doe ranges, generally 250 acres  (typical of 2-1/2 year-old bucks) to roughly 500 acres in size. The one deer that best knows the entire square mile, then, is the dominant breeding buck, typically claiming the most secure bedding area and utilizing all other deer in its range like radar to avoid danger.

Now then, let’s assume you are a skilled and knowledgeable buck hunter (though you might not realize it yet), meaning you stand hunt only at sites in vicinities where signs such as fresh mature-buck-sized tracks, droppings and/or freshly made or renewed ground scrapes are found. This is a good first step because dominant breeding bucks do not utilize all deer trails, watering spots and feeding areas within their square mile every day. Stand hunting where they are active right now logically improves your odds of taking that buck’

 The trouble is, dominant breeding bucks survive to their typical ages by being  superior to all other whitetails at locating, identifying and avoiding hunters. As long as they keep safe distances away from typically stationary, non-aggressive stand hunters during hunting seasons, they obviously know it is safe to maintain normal habits elsewhere within their ranges. Such bucks typically find and begin avoiding stand hunters within their ranges within the first three feeding periods of a hunting season, usually without the hunter realizing it. When determined to take a dominant breeding buck or any other buck 3-1/2 to 6-1/2 years of age, therefore, unless you take the buck at your original stand site by noon of the second day of a hunting season, you are generally wasting time hunting at the same stand site.

More trouble is, when a stand hunter is knowledgeable and skilled enough to actually be at a location where a buck one of these ages is near right now, the odds of being discovered and avoided by that buck before the hunter realizes that buck is  near favor the buck. During the rest of a hunting season, therefore, to keep close to that buck or any other mature buck (by then fully aware it is being again hunted by you), you must skillfully switch to another previously unused stand site within easy shooting range downwind or crosswind of other very fresh tracks and or droppings made by the same or another buck (or a freshly made or renewed ground scrape) 100 yards or more from any previously used stand site every day or half day. Sooner or later, you will then spot a mature buck within easy shooting range before it realizes you are near.

 This, my friend, is the basic recipe for becoming regularly successful at hunting mature bucks. Yes, it can be done routinely. Keep tuned.

A Midsummer Task That can Greatly Improve Fall Deer Hunting

The area in which I have been hunting whitetails since 1990 is a large, heavily wooded wilderness area with lots of rocky ridges and hills and only one logging trail. Having long ago discovered stand sites never used before (100 yards or more from any recently used stand site) near very fresh signs made by a mature buck are by far the most productive for taking a mature bucks, I often deliberately spend an hour or so during summer to study an aerial map on my computer screen of my hunting area (usually a Bing map), searching for sites I have never hunted before and/or sites I haven’t hunting for several years.

To illustrate how productive such a map study can be, just a few minutes ago I discovered a spot about a half-mile in diameter that neither me nor anyone else in my hunting gang has never hunted before. I also found a remarkably short tentative route (no specific deer trail yet selected) to get there from crosswind while the wind is blowing from about the south or north that connects with my previously established cruise trail — a series of connecting deer trails that circles widely throughout about a square mile. This trail is used to hike to and from other connecting stand site approach trails and is the only trail I use when scouting for fresh signs made by mature bucks in that square mile during a hunting season.

Now that I’ve discovered this new area, I can’t wait to scout it thoroughly in mid-October, then selecting 2–3 stand sites, and approach trails (existing deer trails), 100 yards or more apart in that same area that need little or no preparation for use with my backpacked stool. Having done this many time before, I know if I find fresh tracks and droppings made by a mature buck in that never-hunted area (almost certain—see above photo), my odds of taking that buck it will be much better than odds of taking a mature buck almost anywhere else in my hunting area.

Experience has also taught me it would now be prudent find 1–2 other promising spots to scout a up to a mile or more away on my map—backups in case something goes awry during my first encounter or two with mature bucks in November, which when hunting older bucks is not altogether uncommon.

Before scouting, I will download and print an enlarged copy of my map, likely taping to it copies of surrounding areas. After scouting, my computer wizard son, John, will superimpose trails and locations of my stand sites, info taken from his GPS, on a similar map, providing a day-to-day means of determining best routes to take and stand sites to use during current wind directions during the following hunting season. You can’t know how amazingly valuable such a map can be until you have one and make use of it yourself. If you haven’t taken advantage of free aerial photographs on the internet before, give it a try. Get help if needed. It’s worth it. If you do, next winter you will probably feel prompted to send me an email to tell me how great this tip was.

It’s a Wonder Anything is Left of Whitetails by the Time Hunting Begins

Right now hordes of flying insects are hounding whitetails for blood 24/7. Crawly things too, especially ticks. Even while brisk winds, rain or cool nighttime temperatures provide some relief, these deer find little comfort because bot fly larva, which cannot be dislodged by frequent sneezing or rubbing of noses with hind hooves until they are bloody, are crawling around in their sinuses and nasal passages, dining on tender tissues. If during a rush to escape flying tormentors a buck accidently injures the sensitive velvet enveloping its growing antlers on a tree branch, various meat-eating wasps such as yellow jackets join the chase, determined to carve off chunks of exposed velvet flesh for hungry larvae waiting in hanging paper nests.

Shorty before the end of August when antlers are finally fully developed, blood flow to velvet shuts down and these yet sensitive tissues begin to rot and smell, attracting a new wave of vicious flies and wasps. Typically sometime while attempting to rest, a buck won’t be able to stand it any longer. Upon leaping from its bed, it will rush to a nearby small-diameter tree trunk or woody shrub to rub off on it as much of its deteriorating velvet as quickly as possible, followed by some vigorous side-to-side thrashing of its antlers through deep grasses or leaf-covered branches in an effort to wipe off remaining tatters of velvet and blood. Generally, however, it will take 2–3 days of repeated rubbing and thrashing before the buck will finally find some relief.

Note: while driving during thunderstorms in deer country, keep an eye out for crossing fawns, many of which run without caution in such weather because they are still terrified by thunder. Two were killed near my home while trying to get past a concrete median barrier during our last storm.

 

Yes, There are Deer Signs That Ensure Hunting Success

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 those? That’s typical. Do you know about 40% of the 15–30 deer per square-mile in your hunting area are 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 are “fresh tracks of a walking deer in or next to a whitetail feeding area.” A walking deer is an unalarmed deer. If it remained unalarmed during the last period it fed there, it is almost certain to return to the same feeding area during the next period whitetails normally feed. 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, the deer that made them and probably others are 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 that 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 successive 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 properly stand hunt there). If you key on such deer signs in or near one or more current favorite whitetail feeding areas every hunting season, you can actually be a regularly successful whitetail hunter, or if you prefer, a regularly successful buck hunter (accomplished by keying on fresh mature-buck-sized tracks and droppings).

Keep in mind, no matter how skilled you believe you are at approaching a stand site and stand hunting, following 1–3 successive visits to one or more stand sites adjacent to any whitetail feeding area (or any other site), few if any mature whitetails will thereafter be seen there, meaning the deer that fed there now know you are there and it’s time to move to another feeding area. Never begin a hunting season without being prepared to hunt two or more feeding areas.

This means, of course, you must be able to identify whitetail feeding areas while scouting preseason. Certain farm fields and forest clearcuts likely to be feeding areas are easy to identify. If other hunters plan to hunt them too, however, their periods of productiveness will likely be short-lived, lasting only an hour or two. To be produtive, a feeding area must contain lots of fresh and old deer tracks and droppings. Typically, there are 4–5 other whitetail feeding areas in a square mile of forested whitetail habitat that are not as easy to identify, some of which may not be visited by deer until after a hunting season begins. Learning how to identify and properly hunt feeding areas is crucial to becoming regularly successful at taking mature whitetails.

 

A Day of Good Buck Hunting Begins at 5AM

Most of the 98 mature bucks my three sons and I have tagged since 1990 were taken in or near forest feeding areas during the first legal shooting hour of the day, beginning one-half hour before sunrise. To avoid wasting a minute of this most productive buck hunting hour of the day, we get to our stand sites one-half hour before first light or one hour before sunrise. This means we head to our stands in darkness. Because whitetails begin feeding shortly after 4 AM in the morning, mature bucks accompanying does will be near our stand sites when we arrive. Getting there without alarming those deer is crucial, of course. To accomplish this, My hunting partners and I take a number of precautions.

First, we select stand site approach trails that will make it very difficult for feeding whitetails to identify us via sight: coursing through dense cover and/or behind intervening hills or ridges right up to our stands.

Especially within hundred yards of our stand sites, 2-3 weeks before the hunting season begins, we remove dead branches from our approach trails, existing deer trails, to make them as silent underfoot as possible. We thus eliminate as much as possible one kind of identifying sounds so characteristic of approaching human hunters: sticks frequently snapping loudly underfoot.

While doing this trail work, we mark our approach trails with fluorescent tacks which light up like Christmas tree lights in the beam of a flashlight. We place them low on tree trunks about 10-20 yards apart to keep the beams of our flashlights low. This ensures we will not stray from our trails in darkness. A triangle of tacks along the way marks the nearest we can approach without deer beyond our stand sites spotting our approaching flashlight beams. From this point on, we depend on starlight, moonlight or northern lights to light our way. When light is inadequate, which isn’t often, we silently wait at this spot until the widening band of growing light along the eastern horizon finally makes it possible to see our way.

Avoiding being smelled by whitetails near our stand sites is simple: we always approach from downwind or crosswind only (it has been proven by recent research with K-9 dogs nothing available today can completely eliminate airborne human odors).

Until whitetails can finally determine something approaching (detected by soft footsteps and or visible motions) is dangerous, they won’t abandon the area. Knowing it is nearly impossible for human hunters and even wolves and bears to keep whitetails ahead from hearing their approaching footsteps, one thing we routinely do is deliberately avoid dragging our feet, foot dragging also being characteristic of human hunters. Especially when within 100 yards of our stands, we bend our knees with each step, raising our feet well clear of the ground, and then put them down lightly.

We Also use a ruse regularly used by the gray wolves of my hunting/study area: act as if not hunting, appearing currently harmless. Like hoofed animals the world over, whitetails do not routinely flee upon spotting a predator that is not hunting – merely resting or walking past without interest in nearby prey, passing nonstop at a moderate pace while keeping its head pointed straight ahead. While on our way to a stand site, we place our feet down as lightly as possible and also walk nonstop at a moderate pace while keeping our heads pointed straight ahead (even in darkness). By doing this, as we have repeatedly proven, whitetails ahead simply move aside and wait (usually in cover) until we have passed, thereafter resuming whatever they were doing. As long as we do not halt or suddenly change direction, they do not react with ruinous alarm – bounding away with tails up, snorting and/or abandoning their ranges. Whitetails feeding near our stand sites do the same thing. Upon reaching our stand sites from downwind or crosswind and then becoming motionless and silent, it will take up to a half hour, if nothing more we do is detected, before nearby whitetails will decide, whatever we are, we are now resting and therefore harmless or we have left the area without being heard. Though cautious and extra alert at first, they will finally resume feeding and move freely about the area, likely soon becoming visible. Right about then, legal shooting time begins.

This is why the alarm clock in the Nordberg deer camp always rings at 4 AM.

Note: For more about how to do all of the above, go to my newly publihed Whitetail Hunters Almanac, 10th Edition.

 

 

A Special Bonus When Ordering Dr. Ken Nordberg’s New Whitetail Hunters Almanac, 10th Edition During July

Receive one FREE autographed copy of your choice of the limited number remaining of Dr. Nordberg’s previously published Whitetail Hunters Almanacs, 3rd, 4th, 5th 8th or 9th Edition with each order of his newly published (second printing) of Whitetail Hunters Almanac, 10th Edition during the month of July.

See subjects covered in each book and ordering information in Dr. Nordberg’s website, http://www.drnordbergondeerhunting.com. Note: out-of-print copies of Doc’s Whitetail Hunters Almanacs have been selling for as much as $250–$1000 on ebay.

    Via his more than 800 outdoor magazine articles, 12 books about whitetails and whitetail hunting, seminars, hunting schools, videos and, more recently, blogs, tweets and YouTube presentations, all based on Doc’s independent, year-round, hunting-related field research with wild deer, Doc (now 83 years of age) has been improving the hunting success of whitetail hunters all over North America for more than five decades. His constant goal since the early 1960s has been to create a new hunting method that can greatly improve the odds of taking the most elusive of whitetails, seldom-seen bucks 3-1/2 to 6-1/2 years of age. He accomlished this and quite a bit more. Among the many new subjects introduced in his newly published, 518-page, 8” x 10” Whitetail Hunter’s Almanac, 10th Edition are six new mature-buck-effective hunting methods, each guaranteed to put you close to mature bucks every day or half-day you hunt deer. These methods enabled Doc and his three sons to take all but three of 98 mature, unsuspecting bucks at short range between 1990 and 2017 on public land inhabited by low numbers of deer and great numbers of gray wolves (two were taken at 400 yards and one was bounding). Meanwhile, they passed up hundreds of opportunities to take other deer. Don’t miss this unique, once-in-lifetime opportunity to learn everything you need to know to match or exceed the Nordberg family’s amazing buck hunting success.