By Dan Infalt
It is often said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. Think about that in relation to your hunting for a minute. Are you stuck in a routine?
Changing The Routine
It can get pretty confusing and frustrating for hunters who want to kill big bucks annually but are still struggling, only seeing small bucks and rare glimpses of big ones. Turn on the TV and watch a typical hunting show and one would think all you need to do is put a stand on the edge of a crop field. Open a magazine and you’re going to get the impression that you need to hunt scrapes and rubs. Both are going to make you think your lack of success is a direct result of you needing the newest product on the market.
If your like most, you have been there and done that, and you’re not seeing results. Well, here in the real world it takes more than a magic call or a field edge stand to kill a big buck, it takes skill. The big shots on TV and writing all the articles might be doing great with their style of hunting on cushy managed lands, but we are hunting crowded public land and the neighbor’s farm with six other guys, and we need to change it up if we want to kill big bucks that are pressured.
If what you’re doing is not netting the results you want, don’t stick to the routine. Figure out why it’s not working and change it.
The New Plan For Success
I have been very successful on pressured public and over-hunted private land, and I want to share why I believe I have more success than other hunters on the same ground.
First, I think time in the woods is important, but I also think it’s important for it to be in the right spot at the right time. You can’t kill a big buck while you’re sitting on the couch watching football, but it can also be said that over-hunting a spot or hunting it at the wrong time can also have bad results. To combat this, I spread myself thin. I hunt many public properties, a few private, some MFL open to the public, and I apply for some special hunts. So no need for me to over-hunt any one area or spot.
As far as timing goes, getting your scent in an area at the wrong time can kill the spot in the future. Believe it or not, it’s a proven fact that deer can smell where you have been for several days after you have been there. The key is to figure out why a buck would be there and when. Is it a rut spot? Is it staging for food? What time of the season is that food going to peak? Thats when you want to be there.
Hunting the same four trees over and over and hunting every day is not going to put mature bucks on your wall consistently in most cases. A lot of hunters put up several stands and cut shooting lanes in the summer to prep for the fall, then rotate thru those stands all season. The overall majority of my biggest and oldest buck kills came from the very first time I ever sat a spot, and of those, most were prepped in winter or spring or not prepped at all. I seldom ever hunt the same stand three times in an entire season despite hunting five or six times a week.
Scouting ( and lots of it ) and being able to understand and interpret what I see makes me more successful than others, in my opinion, as well. All spring and winter I am scouting for new set-ups and buck bedding areas. During the summer I am glassing and shining areas I hunt to find bucks to go after. I am always scouring topo maps and aerials of new areas.
Additionally, a key to my success is being mobile. Find a tree-stand system that will get you into any tree, that you can quickly and quietly set up. Pack it with you in and out and that way you won’t be hunting the same spots repeatedly.
You also need confidence. Seeing success based on your scouting work, and knowing how and why you killed a big buck gives you confidence. Unfortunately, you need to kill some bucks to gain that confidence. But once you have it, it’s a huge advantage mentally. If you lack confidence, you’re not going to hunt as much, you’re going to leave early, you’re going to make too much noise, you’re going to fidget on stand, you’re not going to be paying close enough attention, you’re mind will wander, you’re going to give up early, etc.
Knowing where the bucks bed and making a detailed plan on how to hunt the area is another one of my tricks for success. I think the importance of knowing buck bedding areas is way under-rated. Bucks only move a short distance in daylight, you need to be close, especially outside of the rut. Their beds are often set-up to view or smell areas hunters usually come from. If you don’t know where he is bedding, you may be spooking him before you even get to your tree.
Finally, I think the biggest mistake the average hunter makes is to hunt random sign. Hunters seem to sit places with big rubs, heavy trails, or right over food with no regard to where or how bucks bed. Deer are night animals and the majority of the sign they leave is done at night. If you have no regard for bedding and you just hunt based on sign, you’re probably going to have a long season unless you’re on premium managed land.
Stop The Insanity
If you’re ready to take the next step in your whitetail journey, now is the time to break your routine. Stop doing the same old things that aren’t working and focus on tactics that have been proven to work on mature bucks in high pressure areas. It’s time to stop the insanity, and change things up.
The big buck serial killer