Today we’re welcoming Chris Eberhart on board as a new Wired To Hunt contributor. Chris is the author of four whitetail bowhunting books: Bowhunting Whitetails the Eberhart Way, Whitetail Access, Precision Bowhunting, and Bowhunting Pressured Whitetails. His writing has also appeared in Deer & Deer Hunting, Bow & Arrow Hunting, Petersen’s Bowhunting and many other publications. He specializes in do-it-yourself freelance whitetail hunts, hunting public land, and getting the job done on pressured whitetails. Chris will be bringing to the table some different perspectives and opinions on the whitetail hunting world, new ideas and a tremendous amount of whitetail knowledge. I’m excited to bring some new views and voices to Wired To Hunt, and I’m definitely looking forward to learning from him right along side of you! – MK
Just about everybody has trail camera pictures like this one, a mature buck at night, which means almost everybody has mature bucks to hunt. That there are mature bucks in the area is a fact almost everywhere. No matter where you hunt. Even in the heaviest hunted areas there are a few mature bucks that survive beyond their third birthdays, which is what I consider mature in such circumstances. Bucks that grow to maturity in the heaviest hunted regions, like in Michigan, New York, or Massachusetts, among many others, become almost like ghosts, moving mostly under the cover of darkness. I grew up hunting in one of the heaviest hunted areas in the nation, in northern Michigan. Through decades of serious bowhunting the Eberhart family has deciphered important deer behavior, developed tactics, and techniques (as early as the late seventies and early eighties) that have brought regular success on these bucks that most people consider unkillable. And the truth of the matter is that no buck is completely nocturnal nor impossible to kill. The primary limitation to being able to kill one of these ghosts is access to the right areas, and your own skills as a bowhunter. This means you can kill any buck, if you can get into the right position at the right time. There is always a way. The key is understanding a few buck and doe behavior patterns that allow you to capitalize. You may have to concentrate on a single aspect of a particular buck’s routine and employ unconventional tactics, and you may only get a single opportunity per season, but it can be done.
Using sports as an analogy (of course hunting has nothing to do with the modern use of the word sport), bowhunting is not a level playing field, particularly when it comes to hunting whitetails. Some places are simply better than others for producing big mature bucks, and private deer management practices are tilting the field more and more every day. The good news is that you don’t have to own and manage land to regularly kill mature bucks. And you don’t have to blow the majority of your “hunting” budget on seeds, fertilizer, and farm equipment to grow deer. They grow fine all by themselves, and have lived without our help for literally millions of years. The line is currently being blurred between deer farming and deer hunting. That QDM is here to stay is a mere fact that hunters have to deal with, but more about that in another post a bit later on. Not all that glitters is gold. I’m sure everyone reading this would love to have large tracts of exclusive property at his disposal, myself included, but this is simply not reality for the vast majority of bowhunters. Most guys are in a position more like mine. I don’t own property, lease property, nor pay to hunt whitetails.
The point is that the Eberhart Way is about pure hunting, and putting in the work necessary to kill bucks on their own terms, where they live, without needing a bulldozer or golden goose to do it. There are no shortcuts or secrets. If you’re looking for some kind of magic bullet (arrow), you are reading the wrong writer. The only way to kill mature bucks without the benefit of unlimited cash is to hunt smarter and harder than the rest. It takes work. Put some faith in yourself and develop your deer knowledge and refine your skills and success will come, and once you reach that level you will be able to kill nice bucks anywhere, from east to west and north to south, anywhere whitetails roam. The most important weapon you have is you. Bowhunting the Eberhart Way comes down to answering a single question. You already know there is a mature buck living where you hunt. “Where is he while you’re hunting?”
With a little thought and determination you can answer that question for the mature buck haunting your hunting area. When you know the answer to that question you can kill that buck. It is that simple. Over the next six months I will delve into the details that will make a difference in your whitetail bowhunting success. Then it’s up to you to get the job done on that elusive pressured mature buck that acts nothing like the ones you see all the time on television
– Chris Eberhart
For more from Chris, visit his new blog Bowhunting Wild Food