Your detective work has paid off and you’ve found the perfect spot to set up on a monster buck. Now the trick is to not blow your cover.
To help control your odour, a moisture-wicking underlayer and moisture-wicking socks are a must during all stages of the hunt. Silent outerwear is also critical, especially during the archery seasons.
No matter what stage of the rut you’re hunting, always position yourself with the wind in your favour—the whitetail’s nose never stops working.
Scrapes found in open areas have almost always been made at night, so don’t bother hunting over them. The same goes for beds in a meadow—you won’t find bucks there during legal light.
Ideally, you should have six or seven stands or ground blinds to hunt from, and you should only visit them three times a week at the most. That way, the deer won’t pattern you. And leave nothing behind, or the deer will find it and steer clear of your set-up.
Mature bucks have a knack for seeing things that are out of place in their territory, so fasten some natural cover around your treestand to break up your outline and help hide movement. Cedar, pine or hemlock boughs are ideal, as they stay green longer and add a natural cover scent. Pruning shears, twine and zip ties help make quick work of this stealthy project. Just make sure the added brush doesn’t interfere when it comes time to make the shot.
Plan the entrance and exit routes to your set-ups with care. Never walk through nighttime feeding areas on your way in during the pre-dawn darkness. Similarly, don’t walk past or through the bedding area on your way in for the afternoon hunt.
Try calling and rattling during all stages of the hunt. The trick is to make sure you’re set up in a location that forces the buck to reveal himself when he tries to circle downwind of you. If you’re positioned properly, the buck will cross one of your shooting lanes and provide a clean shot before he discovers you.
Long-time contributor Mark Raycroft is an accomplished hunter with an expertise in game-animal behaviour.