Now that most whitetail seasons are over, many hunters feel like their opportunity to shoot a nice buck is over. However, now is the time to really try some off-the-wall things to try and harvest a nice buck. These are a few of the tactics I like to use when I am finding myself with a whitetail tag still in my pocket this time of year.
Chase ‘Em Like a Goat
Antelope out on the prairie are animals that can at times, have very poor depth perception. I like to treat a lot of spot and stalk deer hunts the same way. If I am trying to move in on a buck who is walking in a line, instead of walking straight at him, I will mostly move in a quartering to fashion so that the buck thinks maybe I’m just a cow or coyote or something else out in the field and that I am not necessarily a threat trying to close the distance. Even if this only allows me to cut the distance in half, I can often be close enough to try a shot. The key to this tactic is to watch the behavior of the deer you are after. If he starts getting anxious then I recommend not pushing it too much, but if he doesn’t seem to think much of you press on!
Don’t Hunt the Herd
Out on the prairie when mature bucks are on lockdown with their does they will often pull her away from the crowd and hold up in what seems like the middle of nowhere. If you have ever seen deer do this in certain areas, now is the time to make a milk run of places to look. If mature bucks have pushed a doe into certain areas before then another buck will most likely do the same thing. When you have certain places that just happen to hold them, drive around and if possible, glass the heck out of these areas and try to locate deer. If you are unable to find one, keep going to the next spot until you do.
We are getting close to the end of the main rut when the last few does (before the next heat cycle hits) are in heat and the mature bucks are isolating them from the pressure of the small bucks around. I would imagine everyone has been out hunting and seen several nice size groups of does and wondered how there could not be a nice buck hanging around with them. That exact scenario happens because of this. Even though I say at the start of this to not hunt the herd, never totally abandon the area. When I say the bucks pull the does into the middle of nowhere, I’m not saying they are 5 miles away. Generally, 2 miles is the max distance I would be talking about but the specific topography and terrain you’re hunting will either increase or decrease that radius.
Even though it seems like it’s an obvious statement, deer love abandoned farmyards. I find though, most people don’t want to hunt near a lot of buildings just because it makes them feel uncomfortable. (Disclaimer: I’m not saying go hunt next to everyone’s houses). Abandoned corrals and uninhabited farm places usually have a lot of overgrown weeds, bushes, etc that create a matrix of edges for the whitetails to live amongst. Whitetails are edge creatures and that is why we often see them on the edges of CRP plots, crop fields, and tree belts. Farmyards have fences, weeds, trees, and other structures that give them a variety of edgy feeling habitat. Between the habitat and the oftentimes little pressure, these types of places are great for holding nice deer this time of the year.
While the majority of people are about ready to focus on the feeding areas to chase last-minute whitetail bucks, I like to continue targeting those mature bucks who are taking advantage of the final does in heat. These are a few of the tactics I like to use in order to put the odds in my favor when trying to hone in on a mature whitetail this time of year.