Keys to Getting Your Elusive Buck
It happens all too often. You put in a ton of effort scouting during the preseason, and you get one picture of a super nice buck, and never see him again. Now it is very possible that this buck was just passing through, but if there is a chance that he stuck around, you want to be able to get a shot at him. In this article, we are going to go over exactly how to find that buck a second time and what to do to get the best odds of an encounter.
Find the Safest Locations on the Property
If you scroll through your local hunting Facebook group, you will likely see plenty of young bucks that people have killed. There is nothing wrong with taking a younger buck, but if most of the bucks that are shot are young, then the ones that grow to maturity did not get there by being dumb.
These mature bucks have likely had a run-in with a hunter or two before, and they know which areas are more dangerous than others. If they want to stay alive, they avoid those dangerous areas with a lot of hunting pressure.
So the first step to finding that big mature buck is to figure out where the safest place on your property is for a deer. Deer almost never stay on a single property either, so that safe haven may be on a neighboring property. As long as you can figure out where that safe haven is, then you will have a good idea of where mature bucks are going to be when hunting pressure increases.
Use a Ton of Cameras
If you already had cameras out during the preseason, the work is not done. You need to keep using and checking trail cameras throughout the season to see how buck behavior evolves throughout the year.
After you find the safe areas, hang as many cameras as possible at areas of interest. Ideally, these would be cellular cameras, but they can get expensive. So if you hang normal trail cams, be sure to make time to retrieve the SD cards.
After a few days, go get your cards. If you do not have pictures of that buck, move them around. I would only move the cameras you are not so sure about. If you have an area you feel really good about, leave the camera there a while longer.
Then it is really just a game of cat and mouse. If you manage to get a picture, you can start to hone in on this buck and hang more cameras around where you saw him. After you get some data on this deer, you should be able to figure out exactly where to hunt and when.
Remember not to hang a stand directly in his bedding area. If you are hunting a smart mature buck, he will bust you after any little mistake. If you walk through his bedding, he may smell you hours later and stop using your property altogether. So tread lightly.
Know When Not to Hunt
Bucks like this are extremely smart. If he ever gets the idea that you are in his area, he will be gone for the season before you know it. You have to be very particular about your hunts and when you get in the stand.
Now if you are just aware of a nice buck, but will still be happy with a little bit smaller buck, then by all means hunt other areas when conditions are not right for Mr.big. Plus most of us do not have very many days to choose from for hunting, so we hunt when we can. All and all, just make the best of your situation.
So when should you not hunt your number one buck? Well if the weather is just garbage, or you can’t sit very long, don’t go. You want your sit to count, so if your tree is swaying back and forth or if it is super hot out etc, you can bet that buck is not moving. If he is not moving, you do not want to run the chance of bumping him or leaving your scent for him to find later.
Although a light to medium rain is not so bad for deer hunting. Rain, or rain to come, gets bucks on their feet more often than not.
Be Aware of Rut Timing
During the early season, we know that bucks are going to be focused on their normal summertime patterns. When the pre-rut comes through, they will likely change their entire daily range, so preseason trail cam pictures may not be very useful during the season.
Then again at the end of October, these mature bucks are going to start moving to their rutting locations. Then they will fall back to their former home ranges at the end of the rut.
So bucks are going to change their range multiple times in a year. You have got to know what the rut is doing in your area so you know when this buck is going to change its behavior.
This is especially true if you are not sure where his rutting range is. Then you may only have a few weeks in October to hone in on him before he leaves for the year, so don’t waste any sits
Written by Patrick Long of Omega Outdoors