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: 



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: 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.


My Apology to Well-Meaning Deer Hunters who Use Bait

Sometimes I feel sorry for being a defender of “fair chase” whitetail hunting in America. I realize using bait to attract whitetails to stand sites in the many states where it is legal today was likely the first and continues to be the only known means of successfully taking deer for a lot of U.S. hunters — actually millions. A big reason is, stand hunting near bait proved to be far more productive and practical than using old traditional hunting methods. Though I fail to understand why deer that have been flourishing on wild foods for more than 10,000 years now suddenly need bait foods with greater amounts of protein to be healthy, such hunting does have some benefits. It does not generally cause deer to abandon their ranges or become nocturnal during hunting seasons (though few stand hunters know how to take advantage of this). Temporaily, at least, it enables more hunters to take part in keeping deer from suffering the tragic consequences of starvation due to overabundance in winter. The trouble with using bait is, most mature whitetails soon realize it is dangerous to approach bait and stand sites where human airborne and trail scents are prevalent in daylight hours during hunting seasons. Most deer taken by stand hunters using bait today are therefore inexperienced fawns and yearlings. Except for hunters determined to take mature bucks, this seems to be acceptable to most huntrs.

My trouble is, I’m a relic of the “old school”of whitetail hunting. I’ve been hunting whitetails 73 years. I began when hunters like my rural grandfathers who were yet suffering from the hardships of the Great Depression were being forced to get use to the idea that they could no longer take deer year-around to feed their families. About that time it had become obvious whitetails and other edible American wildlife could no longer sustain suitable numbers under the pressure of year-around hunting (subsistence hunting) by growing numbers of Americans. Concerned hunters and politicians of that period scrambled to do something to save deer and other wild game while at the same time preserving our American heritage of hunting. To do this they decided deer hunting should only be a sport, limited to taking one deer per hunter per year during a limited hunting season and no hunting method should provide an unfair advantage over deer. Words like “sportshunter, sportshunting, sportsmanship, ethical hunting” and “fair chase hunting” thereafter described American deer hunting and hunters adhering to these principles were admired and respected.

The trouble is, annual, large-scale culling of less-fit, easy-to-hunt deer by millions of American hunters inevitably produced a race of whitetails that is far less vulnerable to old traditional hunting methods today, including stand hunting. To add to this vexing problem, about six decades ago forest whitetails began invading intensely farmed, suburban and even urban areas where their numbers are difficult or impossible to control via hunting. Using bait to attract whitetails to stand sites was soon discovered to be a practical way to alleviate matters (though not very productive for taking mature whitetails after bait has been widely used in any area for two or more years). Using bait thus became legal in many U.S. states. Unfortunately, it’s not “fair chase” deer hunting.

Many of us old school whitetail hunters feel using bait to hunt whitetails is not only unnecessary but downright disgraceful. If we say something that makes you younger hunters who use bait feel “blasted,” however, I for one am truly sorry. I know you are all “good guys,” many of you have become real experts at using bait and I also realize you and most others who use bait only do it because it is legal and much ecouraged in your state today, but now maybe you understand why some of us are beginning to feel a need to begin protecting our once revered principle of “fair chase” whitetail hunting.

Actually, while a beginning deer hunter back in the 1940s, I too soon became dissatisfied with old traditional hunting methods, not because we didn’t take a lot of deer back then, but because we so seldom even saw bucks like those commonly pictured on covers of outdoor magazines and calendars. Thus in the 1960s I began scientific hunting-related studies of habits and behavior of wild whitetails never done before by anyone I have ever heard of, hoping to discover more productive ways to hunt deer, specially older bucks. Beginning in 1980, I began sharing what I was learning in the first of more than 800 articles in popular outdoor magazines and 17 books. I was a pioneer of tree stand hunting and the first to accurately describe the whitetail rut. Since 1990 I developed six new variations of mature-buck-effective, “fair chase” stand hunting methods that without the help of anyone else enabled my three sons and me to take 98 mature bucks on unfenced public land in wolf country during the past 27 years where deer numbers have have never exceeded 11 per square mile and where only one buck could be legally taken per hunter per year. Many are now on our walls. By any standards, this is unusually great, do-it-yourself buck hunting.

It now being my goal to help preserve “fair chase” whitetail hunting and our country’s much revered, 85-year-old heritage of sportshunting, I am going to try to teach as many American whitetail hunter as I can how to use one or more of my new, much-needed, mature-buck-effective hunting methods, all “fair chase.”

Meanwhile, I promise to go easier on you guys who use bait.

How to Finally Outfox an Unpredictable Buck

The five phases of activities of whitetail bucks related to breeding are about to begin — beginning about September 1st and ending shortly after January 1st. Breeding of does will be limited to three two-week periods during these months and will have little affect on day-to-day locations of mature unalarmed does and their young. Whenever you hunt whitetails during the coming fall and winter period, however, breeding-related activities will be influencing the timing and locations of unalarmed antlered bucks every day you hunt. Triggered by specific ratios of darkness to light, the onsets of each of these activities (one also influenced by air temperature) are very predictable and each phase has characteristic deer signs that aid in determining when it is in progress, contributing to greater buck hunting success for hunters who recognize these activities and their identifying deer signs.

Aside from weather, moon phases, availability of water and specific foods which also contribute to predictability of whitetails, though not always in ways that favor hunters, nothing makes whitetails less predictable and less vulnerable to hunting more than hunting by humans. The one response of whitetails being hunted by humans that is most ruinous to whitetail predictability and subsequent hunting is alarm great enough to make whitetails raise and fan their white tails and bound away with all possible speed. Whitetails that do this are not only likely in the process of abandoning your hunting area and becoming nocturnal for extended periods of time, but they are warning other deer along the way via sight, hearing and scent emitted by their tarsal glands to do the same. Over the long run, therefore, your success as a whitetail hunter or buck hunter is determined by how often you make whitetails raise their tails and bound away, which can  happen much more often than you realize.

One important key to becoming regularly successful at hunting whitetails, especially elusive mature bucks, therefore, is to learn how to hunt in a manner that does not cause whitetails to raise their tails and bound away. Yes, there are such hunting methods: certain forms of stand hunting. The trouble with any form of stand hunting is, today’s mature, stand-smart whitetails living within a half-mile, especially older bucks, generally find and identify stand hunters at stand sites, typically without stand hunters realizing it, within the first 1–30 hours they are used and thereafter avoid them. To eliminate this handicap, the stand hunter must become extra difficult by various means for nearby whitetails to possitively identify while hiking to and from stand sites and while hunting at stand sites. The hunter must also switch to a different, yet unused stand site 100 yards or more away once or twice daily. There ‘s more, but once a proper stand hunting method is mastered, the hunter can finally become regularly successful at taking any class of whitetail, including older bucks, seldom seen, if at all, by other hunters during hunting seasons.

Why Fewer Americas are Hunting Whitetails

Fears & concerns that keep people from becoming deer hunters are common today. Take what was said about deer hunting at a family get-together I attended a few years ago. An 18 year-old nephew there asked me if he could hunt deer with me during the coming November firearm hunting season. “I’d like to try it at least once,” he said. Before I could say a thing, his parents and other members of his family immediately began exclaiming, “A gun, bullets, hunting clothes, boots and a license cost hundreds of dollars. You don’t have any of those things amd you don’t know a thing about deer hunting or using a firearm. Wandering around in the woods and using a gun is dangerous. You could get lost and freeze to death. Why would you want to kill a deer anyway? They don’t hurt anyone. We don’t need venison and no one in this house would eat it anyway because it tastes gamey. You can’t afford deer hunting and neither can we, so forget it!” Thus ended the dream of one potential new deer hunter.

Yes, hunting gear is expensive these days. The Model 94 Winchester carbine I purchased for $31.50 in 1945 now costs more than ten times as much. However, I know I’ve spent much more on hockey gear for three sons than hunting gear, which we somehow always managed to afford. Partly by encouraging my sons and daughters early to earn and save money to purchase needed hunting gear, I saved money of hunting gear. I also saved by outfitting my beginners with well cared for clothing and boots no longer large enough to fit older siblings. One daughter and a son took mature bucks during their first hunts without new deer rifles, instead using shotguns loaded with slugs, guns I originally bought second hand for them to hunt grouse and ducks.

Imagined danger is another matter. Having raised five avid buck hunters who are now in their 40s and 50s, I can honestly state, with proper training deer hunting is less dangerous than organized park board or high school sports. All three of my sons wore casts on arms or legs that were fractured on hockey rinks and football fields, never in deer woods. In the beginning, however, I admit I was somewhat fearful of turning my children loose in the deep wilderness area where I hunted whitetails. Number one on my list of tasks to get them ready for deer hunting was therefore teaching them to become “skilled woodsmen.” A common fear among beginning and even many veteran deer huners is “becoming lost.” Rightfully so. Few hunters I have known who weren’t farm kids like me who grew up surrounded by forests that were home to whitetails ever learned what “woodsmanship” is. It’s “being at home in the woods” and “never having to worry about becoming lost.” Beginning 2–3 years before my kids were old enough to begin hunting hunt deer, I took them with me while hunting grouse and scouting before deer hunting seasons, always warning them they would be in charge of leading us back to our pickup or camp. I let them work it out themselves whenever they took wrong turns, at least until sunset. In time they became experts at off-road deepwoods navigation, completely familiar with the topography, major deer trails and landmarks of our entire deer hunting area and how to get back to it if they they wandered away from it, When they began hunting whitetails, they were fully prepared to find their way to or from distant stand sites while alone in darkness, while snow was falling heavily or while it was foggy. I even taught them how to spend a comfortable night alone in the woods in winter, if necessary.

Next, my kids had to learn to become very accurate with a rifle or bow, capable of dropping whitetails in their tracks with a single shot from their rifles up to 100 yards away every time. They were well trained for safely while using firearms, archery gear and elevated stands. Today, they love to shot nocks off each other’s arrows at our archery ranges.

Finally, my kids learned to be experts at hunting mature bucks, the most elusive and wary of whitetails. While learning, they contributed much to the research and honing that led to the development of our six favorite buck hunting methods. Two of my sons and their sons prefer tree stand hunting on opening weekend and the rest of us, including myself, prefer ground level stand hunting using backpacked stools throughout a hunting season. Thus our fair chase, mature-buck-effective stand hunting methods are designed to provide equal effectiveness for both styles of stand hunting, though I think with necssarily somewhat greater difficulty for tree stand hunters.

One great advantage provided by our stand hunting methods is, they rarely cause mature bucks to abandon their ranges or become nocturnal. We are therefore as likely to take a mature buck on any day of a hunting season as opening day. A remarkable number were taken on the last day of a hunt. Aside from greatly limiting extents of trails we use during hunting seasons and deliberately avoiding buck bedding areas, we never make aggressive drives, never wander about the woods displaying hunting behavior, never use baits and never use one stand sites more than one half day, sometimes two, per hunting season. We switch to yet unused stand sites 100 yards or more apart almost every half day of a hunting season, always located near fresh signs made by mature bucks. This keeps us close to mature bucks every half-day we hunt and makes it nearly impossible for most mature, stay-at-home bucks to endlessly avoid us like othr hunters. All this, of course, greatly improves our success at hunting older bucks.

As I’ve also learned during the last 55 years, about 89% of veteran whitetail hunters are stubbornly resistant to changing anything to do with whitetail hunting, especially old traditional hunting methods.  I can understad that. To me, half the fun of deer hunting is living in my big wall tent in the woods where I hunt, which I’ve been doing since 1985. I was a tradition breaker in 1960, however, because I wanted to hunt in a different area using different hunting methods to improve my odds of taking mature bucks. All members of my original gang with whom I endlessly made drives during my first fifteen years of whitetail hunting never quite forgave me for doing this.

Since then I have occasionally invited experienced deer hunters to join me and my veteran gang of avid buck hunters in my tent deer camp. Not all elected to continue hunting with us after opening weekend and some did not accept invitations to return the following year, typically saying, “Getting up a 4 AM and heading to stand sites in darkness is not my way of hunting deer, I like to sleep late in a warm place in the morning, use an indoor toilet, have a nice hot breakfast and then sneak around the woods when I can see where I’m going.” Some admitted they could not stand sitting in one place up to 5–6 hours at a time and passing up all deer except mature bucks like us, deer they admitted they never saw anyway.”

A lack of sightings of older bucks by invited hunters generally meant they were definitely doing something wrong, likely a lot of things wrong, even after I previously took the time to explain to them what and why certain things must be done, or not be done, in order to see and take mature bucks. A couple of guest hunters routinely headed back to camp to get warm by 9 AM each morning, not being outfitted well enough to withstand cold weather longer than that. They typically departed a short time before fresh tracks were made by mature bucks near their assigned stand sites. Though I never complained, this never sat well with me, having wasted especially promising stand sites on such hunters. A couple of adult hunters that visted my camp actually became quite upset about how we were hunting, insisting we were doing everything wrong even though we had bucks hanging on the pole behind camp and they didn’t. After three days of fruitless hunting his way in an adjacent area well tracked by deer, wandering aimlessly about on foot from dark to dark (never a good way to hunt wolf cuntry whitetails), one guest hunter packed up and departed, insisting it was a waste of time to hunt there because wolves had obviously eaten all the deer (I took a mature buck there four days later). “If I don’t see them” he insisted, “they aren’t there.” Decades after having been once invited to my camp, a couple of friends still often ask me if we still use the same “crazy ways” to hunt bucks. The fact that my three sons and I have taken 98 mature bucks during the past 27 hunting seasons, many now on our walls, never impressed these two enough to consider hunting differently. For a hunge number of whitetatail hunters, changing old deer hunting methods and traditons is unthinkable, even going as far as heading out the door smelling powerfully of pancakes and sausages every morning and mainitaining the exact same order of drives like the gang I originally hunted with. All those guys are in  heaven now (hopefully), likely often sitting together with grins on their faces while discussing the number of deer they usually took (mostly young and antlerless) during their routine opening mornng drive behind the Koski farm.

Is there actually a need for changes in whitetail hunting? Absolutely. The largest and best equipped army of whitetail hunters the world has ever known has long been unable to keep deer from becoming overabundant in many areas in a gret number of U.S. states, proving beyond a doubt our old traditional hunting methods—making drives, still-hunting (wandering about on foot) and stand hunting as it is popularly done today—are no longer as productive as they once were. Why? Because mature whitetails, 2-1/2 years of age and older, especially bucks, have become much more adept at avoiding hunters using traditional hunting methods. This is a natural consequence of the massive annual culling of easier to hunt, less-fit deer by millions of American hunters during past centuries, plus the ability of young whitetails to learn, being eager imitators of older deer that learned how to survive previous hunting seasons.

Many frustrated hunters today have quit hunting deer in recent years and don’t recommend it to others because of the increasing difficulty of taking mature whitetails, especially older bucks. Lots of other reasons are commonly given such as, “There are no longer many older bucks in the woods, it is awaste of time to hunt deer after opening weekend, there is less public land in which to hunt whitetails, it now costs too much, fewer hunters are sportsmanlike, fewer hunters respect hunting areas of others, chronic wasting disease may be making deer hunting risky, using bait is destroying fair chase hunting” and “people who use deer rifles and assault-like weapons  to murder large numbers of children and adults are tainting our once greatly respected image of the American whitetail hunter and our heritage of whitetail hunting.”

Another symptom of waning effectiveness of old tradition hunting methods is the increasing popularity of hunting whitetails in a manner that is not a “fair chase” hunting method.  Many luckless beginners and veteran hunters as well who have been unable to take whitetails or mature bucks while using fair chase hunting methods have turned to using a method that is not an “ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North American big game animals in a manner that does not give the hunter an advantage over such animals—the Boone & Crockett Club and America’s long revered definition of fair chase hunting. What is this method? It’s using bait piles, bait (food) plots and/or electronic bait feeders to attract whitetails to stand sites.” Using bait is now legal and big time in many U.S. states where the principle of fair chase deer hunting is unaccountedly being ignored. As most hunters using bait eventually discover, however, bait does not long improve deer hunting success because most whitetails that have survived two or more years where baitng is popular fully recognize the danger of approaching bait sites in daylight hours during hunting seasons.

What American whitetail hunters, whitetail hunting and whitetails sorely need today are new, fair chase hunting methods that are mature-buck effective (and-all-other-deer-effective) that can be easily learned and used with much improved success by all deer hunters from beginners to veteran deer hunters. The six new, well-proven methods taught in my newly published Whitetail Hunters Almanac, 10th Edition are such hunting methods. Once learned, they will surely encourage veteran deer hunters it is worthwhile to continue hunting deer. Fathers and others who have exerienced the much improved hunting success provided by these methods will as surely teach beginning hunters who will then enjoy early hunting successes, making them avid deer hunting partners for life (I know this well). American deer hunters will begin passing on again a strengthening and respected American heritage of whitetail hunting. Fair chase hunting methods will again become the rage. This will greatly benefit whitetails by helping to keep their numbers within the carrying capacities of their ranges, thus reducing the tragic consequences of overabundance in winter.

Whitetails need whitetail hunting. They need skillful whitetail Hunters. Aside from the fact that these deer can double in numbers every year and therefore require large scale annual hunting success by hunters, money spent by whitetail hunterss is needed to continue supporting the protection and management of whitetails and their habitat and all other wildlife, game and non-game, that share their habitat. Don’t let our whitetails and all those other wild creatures down. Keep hunting. Learn to become a more knowledgeable and skillful deer hunter. Teach others to be more knowledgeable and skillful deer hunters as well. Do your part as a caring and responsible deer hunter to make whitetail huntng as popular and respected as it was 50 years ago.

For all of the above reasons, don’t begin another hunting season without learning how to use one or more of my new mature-buck-effective, fair chase hunting methods. Go to my website today to learn how to get started:

Also vote.


Advice for Deer Baiters Determined to Take a Mature Buck

Be at your opening morning stand site at the crack of dawn. Avoid alarming all deer there. Unalarmed does, yearlings and fawns (like those pictured above) are the very best of mature buck decoys. Your best odds for taking a mature buck at your bait plot, bait pile or electronic bait feeder will occur during the first 1–30 hours of the hunting season, unless you have been regularly laying down fresh trail scent there (which mature whitetails can identify during the following four days) while anxiously checking your trail cam and/or bait, in which case the damage may have already been done. If you don’t take a mature buck during those first 1–30 hours, your odds for success at that site will thereafter be slim because by noon on day two it is almost certain all whitetails living within a half mile that have survived two or more hunting seasons will have discovered you with or without your knowledge, after which mature bucks especially, the most elusive of whitetails, will subsequently avoid your bait during daylight hours throughout the rest of the hunting season. You will then have three viable options: 1) settle for a mature doe, fawn or yearling, 2) move to an unused bait plot, bait pile or electronic bait feeder 100 yards or more away and begin the above cycle anew, but with lesser odds for success  because by then all mature bucks will realize they are again being hunted by humans and will thus be taking the precations that enabled them to survive previous hunting seasons, or 3) try mature-buck-effective deer hunting.

A Teacher’s Greatest Rewards

My most important work as an outdoor writer, I have long insisted, is to teach other deer hunters to be more successful at hunting whitetails, especially older bucks, seldom seen by hunters using today’s popular hunting methods. To do this, beginning back in the early 1960s, I spent the next 55 years learning all I could about wild whitetails, conclusions all based on what 80-90% of thousands of the five different behavioral classes of whitetails — fawns, yearlings, mature does, 2-1/2 year-old bucks and 3-12 to 6-1/2 year-old breeding and non-breeding bucks — did in the wilds all over America under similar circumstances over periods of ten years or more — the only way I know to establish truths about whitetails and create more productive ways to hunt them. This made much of what I write and teach seem quite different from what others teach and write about whitetails and whitetail hunting, I know, but that’s because no one I know of has been doing the kind of scientifically-based research I’ve been doing throughout the past half-century. I’m still at it at age 83. Why? Well, because it’s fun, a lot like whitetail hunting and my determination to do this work honestly makes it truthful and somthing to be proud of, but mostly because I have often been given a teacher’s greatest reward for doing it, like the following email I received only a week ago.

Ken, your Whitetail Hunters Almanac Second Edition taught me so much. I’ve given it to at least half a dozen friends to read. I see evidence every year of what you taught in that book. You were ahead of your time for hunting from elevated tree stands. Thank you for taking the time to do it. I’ve had years of great memories and a wall full of racks.

That book, published in 1990, was special to me. What I wrote in it made me the first person ever to accurately describe the whitetail rut. That $6.95 book, out of print for many years, now regularly sells for $250.00 – $1000.00 on ebay. The knowledge presented in it is not lost forever, however. Along with six new mature-buck-effective hunting methods, it is now also found in my new Whitetail Hunters Almanac, 10th Edition (learn more about this new 10th Edition in my store in

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, each encompassing 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 and utilizes the entire square mile, then, is the dominant breeding buck, typically claiming the most secure bedding area and using 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 currently 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 one is active right now logically improves your odds of taking such a 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. The easiest of hunters for them to avoid are those who continuously move about on  foot. Such bucks typically find and begin avoiding stand hunters located anywhere within their ranges within the first three feeding periods of a hunting season, usually without the hunter realizing it. 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. When determined to take a dominant breeding buck or any other mature 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 they are 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 — the basic recipe for becoming regularly successful at hunting mature bucks. Sooner or later, you will then spot a mature buck within easy shooting range before it realizes you are near.

Yes, it can be done routinely. To learn how, 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.