So here’s the situation. I’m in a bit of a pickle. As many of you saw already, I had a great encounter with a buck I call “Six Shooter” this weekend. Two encounters in fact. To summarize for those that missed it, I watched this buck come in and bed 90 yards from me Sunday morning, and spend about two hours bedded or milling around me. Around noon he left. I snuck back in that afternoon and watched him reappear, and spend that evening hanging around this area for another two hours. He ended up coming in towards my stand, but passed about 10 yards out of range. In addition to these two sightings, I have trail cam pics of this buck in this general area over the course of the last 2 weeks. So all that being said, I feel relatively confident that this is an area he’s spending a lot of time at. With these kind of early season sightings, part of me says I should get after him a little harder.
But on the other hand, my original plan for my property this fall was to keep it as low pressure as possible. I only have 90 acres, and I wanted to hunt it very lightly until the rut. So my dilemma is this…Do I go in hard to try to capitalize on this buck now, or stick to my plan of not over hunting the area, and hunt it sparingly til the rut? The next question I asked myself after that, was do I stick with my current stand or do I make a move to get closer to the area that I’m seeing this buck?
I asked myself these questions over and over again, and then I decided to pick a few more brains as well. Specifically the brains of some of the top whitetail hunters on this piece of rock. No surprise, these folks were generous enough with their time to provide some advice into how they would handle a situation like this. So take a look below for expert opinions on my situation from Todd Pringnitz (Founder of White Knuckle Productions & Whitetails Inc), Bill Winke (Creator of Midwest Whitetail), and Dan Schmidt (Editor-in-Chief of Deer & Deer Hunting Magazine)
“First, he was there then, if you know he’s still there, I’d be hunting him. They don’t stay in one area and bed for the season. They are cyclical like we are as habit forming humans, but they rotate through a pattern that revolves around food, cover, water, and a basic instinct to not stay in one place for too long (unless they don’t have a choice for lack of cover).
I’d move right back in for a couple hunts, and then pull back out. If you keep seeing him, stay on him and make adjustments until you either blow it, or kill him. I learned that from some really good hunters years ago. The common theme was “if you blow it you blow it, but if you don’t try, you may never get a crack at that buck again. Once the rut starts, it’s anyone’s guess where that buck will be”.”
“My suggestion would be to NOT employ an aggressive approach. You’ve played your cards correctly so far. Given that the property is small (relatively speaking), you run a high risk of spooking this buck if you try to move your stand closer. Several different things at play here. Mainly, it seems like you did a good job of placing your stand. Being able to observe him in his normal routine indicates that. He’s smart, though. He knows how to use that CRP to his advantage. My recommended plan of attack would be to do what you are doing. Take a subtle approach. Hunt this spot once a week, mabye twice if the wind is perfect, and let the chips fall where they may. It appears that this is the buck’s core area. You can’t really run him out of there, but you will definitely change how he uses the area if you try to move closer now.
The rut will change everything, including where this buck may wind up. His home range is likely a square mile. This core area could be the 90 acres you are hunting. However, during the rut, he could roam as much as 5,000 acres searching for does. What I would do is keep a few spots in mind where you could go commando during the rut — get in, hang a stand, get out — and hunt it hard, say, from Oct. 31 through Nov. 15. (ballpark). During that time, bucks will be coming out of the woodwork, especially if you have a couple of established doe groups in the area.”
“It is rare to ever have a mature buck pinned down. When that happens you need to do everything in your power to get him right away before he changes his patterns. I think it is fair to say he may not always bed in the same exact spot nor leave the field via the same trail, so before moving, I think I would hunt the existing stand at least one or two more times. If you see the same behavior, then it is worth moving. I would not make the move based on just that one sighting – like I said, he may do slightly different things each day. But be ready to act once you see the pattern narrow down. I think at that point, if you can move in closer without the buck realizing you are doing it, that is the best strategy.”
Great insights there for sure, and one thing to note, is that no two people completely agreed on the same strategy. And isn’t that beauty of chasing mature whitetails? There is no one right way to go about it. So with that in mind, I’ll be taking all of this advice in mind, as well as the great tips I’ve gotten from you the readers and put together a game plan of my own!
- As an update, I did end up going back in to this stand tonight (Wednesday) and had another encounter with Six Shooter, nearly identical to the experience Sunday night. Thats three sits in a row now. So with that in mind, I’m planning on adjusting slightly, only hunting the area on the right wind and still being very careful. But I am going to go in after him.
Any more thoughts from you, the Wired To Hunt Nation, are always appreciated as well!