By Mark Kenyon
The infamous “bump and dump”. Widely popularized by Andrae D’Acquisto, founder of Lone Wolf Treestands, the “bump and dump” is a high risk/high reward, dagger to the heart type tactic for big whitetails. To pull this off, it takes precision, timing, gusto and a brass pair of … well, you know.
In an interview several years ago, Andrae had this to say about the “bump and dump” tactic …
“I think it’s all in peoples’ minds about not hunting where they jumped a big buck. Very few people have the confidence to hunt that spot, because maybe it’s something they read over the years. The old ‘forbidden taboo’ area. I just can’t wait to dive into there and get in there.”
The B&D, as we’ll call it for short, is not a strategy for all whitetail hunters in all areas, but it can be a deadly strategy for some. So today we’re pulling the covers off of this under the radar tactic , as we discuss how to pull off the “Bump and Dump” for monster bucks.
What Is The “Bump and Dump”?
Lets start at the very beginning, as thats a very good place to start. What is the “bump and dump”?
At it’s most basic level, this tactic involves bumping a buck out of his bed (sometimes purposely, other times not), so that the hunter can determine the exact bedding location of this deer. Then, with this new information, the hunter moves right into the bedding area and sets up a stand in a position to shoot that buck when it returns to it’s bed. Many times, the hunter will hunt that stand immediately or the very next morning. When the buck returns, hopefully, to check on his bed next, the hunter will be waiting.
While this is a tactic that seems pretty counterintuitive in the context of the “low pressure hunting” ideals preached by many (including myself), for Andrae D’Aquisto this has worked on a number of monster whitetails.
Photo courtesy of the Whitetail Addictions Facebook page
My friend Todd Pringnitz explained, in an article several years ago, why Andrae D’Quisto believes this strategy works for big, mature bucks.
“He believes that these particular bucks are bedded in those areas not by accident, but because these spots give them an advantage for survival. In other words, a buck chooses the areas he beds based on his ability to get out alive when he feels threatened. When you bump a buck from his bed, the buck’s plan worked. While the buck may be somewhat spooked for a short period of time, the buck also gains confidence in the effectiveness of his plan; which is to spot, smell, or hear a threat and get out alive.”
In some situations, because these big, mature bucks are so comfortable in their bedding areas, there’s a better than average chance that they’ll return to their beds and you’ll get a crack at them.
W2H contributor Dan Infalt of HuntingBeast.com had this to say about about Andrae’s use of the B&D…
“Andrea sets his standards pretty high. There is usually only one buck on any given property he hunts. Knowing the exact bedding spot is critical in killing the buck. Although bucks get pretty edgy about harassment, they do have to put up with hikers, farm dogs, coyotes, and wolves in some areas and often get bumped out of their beds. They will put up with a certain amount of this type of harassment. Sometimes they will put up with one bump, sometimes several, or sometimes it’s the first bump and they’re gone. I often tease Andrea about his “bump em and dump em” tactic and tell him in the public marsh we call it “Bump em and never ever ever see them again”, but to be honest, it has sometimes worked here too.”
Keys To A Successful “Bump and Dump”
With the basics of what the “bump and dump” is covered, lets next examine what the specific factors are that you should consider when trying to pull this tactic off.
First off, this kind of strategy isn’t recommended in all kinds of areas. From what I’ve heard, and what common sense tells me, this isn’t the type of gamble you want to take when you’re hunting a small property. Bumping a buck on purpose is obviously high risk, and many times I’m sure it can lead to a buck relocating (especially in high pressure areas). With that said, if you only have a small area to hunt, you don’t necessarily want to take this risk. Where it seems this kind of strategy works best is on larger properties and those that have less hunting pressure. To quote Andrea from the previously mentioned article again …
“And a lot of it has to do with the size of the property. Maybe a guy already knows the property, and he handles it a little differently. If you only have a 20-acre area, you certainly don’t want to bump a deer onto the neighbor’s property. But when I hunt 400- to 600-acre parcels, sometimes I’ve intentionally pushed the deer … Would I do that on 20 acres? No.”
Secondly, timing of the bump is important to consider. Timing the bump for the late afternoon seems most popular, as it allows for the buck to naturally just move on towards his feeding destination. This leaves the hunter time to set up that evening, and then return the next morning before the buck does. When discussing this, Dan Infalt explained the alternative, “when bumped early in the day they will head to another bedding area, and then there is a good chance they will bed in the new spot rather than the spot you bumped them from.” This obviously isn’t ideal, so in a perfect world the afternoon bump is better.
Speaking of timing, I’ve also heard from a couple sources that they like to wait to try a bump and dump until the moon phase is right for deer to be returning to their beds a little later in the morning.
When it comes to the actual bumping of the buck, how this is done also seems to be important. It’s important to spook him enough that he gets up and moves off, but not so much that he’s completely surprised by your appearance. Dan refers to this as a “soft bump”.
Dan elaborated by saying “A hard bump is when you aggressively push a buck from his bed with the intent of him relocating to a new spot. A soft bump is where you move him, but try not to scare the crap out of him. To soft bump a deer, a person does not want to walk directly towards the animal. Angles make it appear to the animal that you’re just passing by. Also, when the deer stands or trots off, don’t stop walking. Make it appear as though you could care less what the deer does. On Andrea’s property they are used to ATV’s occasionally crossing the property so he will sometimes cruise past a buck bedding area with the ATV and see what gets up.”
“To soft bump a deer you generally need to show up where he expects you to show. A lot of bucks have their beds placed for vision or scent reasons, it’s placed in a manner that allows him to see or smell your expected approach from a certain direction. The bump is intended to get him up and moving without getting any closer to the bed than you have to. Coming in from a different direction than the buck expects danger to come from could cause him to freak out a little more.”
Once you bump the buck, it’s time to move in and get set. When setting up your stand location, it’s crucial to consider wind direction and how you think the buck will return to his bedding location, if he does in fact return. Many mature bucks will “j-hook” when entering their bedding area, which essentially means they will walk a path similar to a J around their bedding area, allowing them to scent check it before heading in. Keep this in mind when planning where you’ll be set. In the image below, created by Dan for a post on his site HuntingBeast.com, he diagrams several different buck “j-hook” approaches into beds.
A final consideration is the kind of gear you’ll need to pull this kind of strategy off. Given the fact you’ll be moving in and setting up a stand on the spur of the moment, you’ll need a high quality portable stand. I’ve used both the Lone Wolf Assault portable hang on and Lonewolf Sticks, and the Muddy Hunter Pro stand and Muddy sticks. They are both great options. A good climbing stand can also work well in this situation.
Real World “Bump and Dump” Success Stories
You might be thinking this kind of tactic sounds a little crazy, and to a degree, it is. But while I haven’t tried it myself, I have heard from many others that have. And believe it or not, it can work.
That said, I wanted to share a few success stories from our very own Wired To Hunt readers.
First, we have a bump and dump story from Mark Cunningham of Tennessee. He wrote;
“This method worked for me last year when I harvested a 140 inch buck in east Tennessee. I accidentally stumbled across this buck and bumped him out of his bed. He escaped. After jumping him, I took my time in the area. I didn’t walk all over it and get my scent everywhere. I simply noted in my head exactly where he was bedding and, based on the terrain, narrowed down where he likely entered his bed. Once I figured this out, I located two or three trees that I could hunt out of based on my ability to access the area. I waited a week before hunting his bed. I needed a specific wind direction and wind speed to hunt the area so he would not catch my thermals (he used the falling thermals to approach his bed from below).
An hour and a half before daylight, I took my mobile set up (3 LW sticks and tree saddle) and climbed up the mountain. The buck didn’t show until 30 minutes after first light. After working a primary scrape, I shot him as he was approaching his bed.”
A similar story came from my good friend Corey Fall (above), who actually used this tactic to kill his first Boone & Crockett buck this November. His story is so good that I decided we needed to devote an entire article to it. So click the link below to read this tale of Iowa big buck glory!
The “bump and dump” can be an aggressive, risky maneuver for mature whitetails or a savvy way to make the best of a bumped buck. Either way, it requires a carefully planned approach and some real confidence in your strategy.
Next time you’re after a single big buck, if you’re looking for a hail mary pass, this could be it. And on the other hand, if you mistakenly bump a biggun, it’s not the end of the world. You may have just uncovered the final piece of the puzzle you needed!
Either way, the “bump and dump” is definitely a handy trick to have up your sleeve!