By Mark Kenyon

As we all know, there are a million different strategies, tips and tricks that can help you bag the buck of your dreams. But on the other hand, there are just as many, if not more ways to screw it all up. Hunting mature whitetails is an exercise in walking the thin line between success and failure. You can use all the latest and greatest gear, spend months preparing and devising a fool proof strategy, yet still throw it all away with one careless mistake. So today, rather than looking at strategies to get that big ole buck you’ve got your eye on, lets take a minute to discuss four ways you can ruin your season right now. (Spoiler alert: These are things you DON’T want to do)

Hunt Your Best Spots Now: Early season success can be had, thats for sure. But you don’t want to sacrifice possible success during the rut  (AKA whitetail superbowl), if you’re just hunting blindly early in the year. Plan to hunt a couple of your good spots once or twice in the very beginning if you must, but then leave those spots alone til that rut period. Hot rut spots include funnels between bedding areas, bedding areas themselves and primary scrape areas. Although they may look enticing now, hold off and then hit them hard the when the gettin is good. If you over-hunt them early, you’ll most likely blow them out before you ever get to capitalize on that awesome early November timeframe.

Walk Through Food Sources Before Your Morning Hunt or After Your Evening: Want a sure fire way to alert your local deer herd that you’d like to stick an arrow in em? Go ahead and walk across that alfalfa field the first morning when you go into your stand. Then when you leave at night, climb on out and hike back across to your truck. Those snorts, stomps and flagging white tails? Don’t worry about em. Thats just your 2011 hunting dreams flitting away. No big deal, right? Wrong. When you’re heading to or leaving your stand, you MUST have an access route that avoids deer activity. If you consistently blow out food sources, these deer will become more nocturnal or avoid the area altogether. Don’t let that happen. In the mornings, access your stand in a way that keeps you downwind of food sources and out of eyesight. In the evenings, try to have a easy access route that you can get to without walking the edge of any nearby fields. If you have to  hunt a field edge, at least try busting the deer out of there before you climb down and say “Hey, I’m a human! Been sitting here all night!”. One option is to have a buddy drive a truck or four wheeler near the field to clear it after dark, so that you can then sneak out with them gone. Want more advice on how to create better entry/exit routes? Check out “Spray, Clip, Rake Your Way To Big Bucks”

Hunt The Same Stand Over and Over Again: You found a good spot, right? And I’m assuming you’d want to be there as often as possible, because it’s so good, correct? Well unfortunately this line of thinking is popular, but as they say, too much of a good thing isn’t very good. I’m very guilty of doing this in the past, as I’d sometimes get stuck on a certain area or spot. But you really need to space out your hunts in certain stands. The most successful sits in a given stand are almost always within the first three. After that, you’ve left enough scent and caused enough commotion that any nearby mature buck is probably on to you. Plan as many different stand locations as possible, and rotate so that you don’t over hunt one spot too early and too often. Want to learn more about the importance of not over-hunting properties or stands? Check out our more recent article “Hunt Less, Kill More”

Don’t Worry About The Wind Because Of Your Carbon Clothing Or Scent Eliminators: A popular hunting clothing company once used a slogan of “Forget the wind, just hunt” to promote their clothes and boy did that backfire. Not only is that a bunch of bull, but they also got sued. Unfortunately the real travesty was the fact that lots of hunters believed it. And if you’d like to blow your chances on Mr Mossy Horns this fall, go ahead and do the same. But if you’re like me, and you’d rather eat venison than a tag, I’d recommend you keep wind top of mind. I use every scent eliminating tool in the book, but wind is still a key factor. No matter how much scent you eliminate, it can never takes care of 100% and even that little itty bit of human scent blowing down the draw can ruin your season. So practice all the scent control you can, but at the end of the day, make sure you’re playing the wind right too.

So please, if you’re looking to let your bucks grow another year older, follow these four tips to the “T”. I don’t think I’ve ever been more confident with a recommendation, so if you’d like to ruin your season, this is the recipe for success.

But if not. If you’d rather follow a few drops of blood on a frosty November morning with a tall tined rack at the end of the trail, I’d say you ought to avoid these four mistakes like the plague!