The average whitetail deer hunter hunts less than 12 days a year. That information was given to me by one of my sponsors a few years ago from an independent study from someone. I do forget who that company was. I apologize for that. That number sounded a little low to me until I really started talking to more hunters around the country and just asking hundreds of sportsmen how many days a year they actually were in the field. I was truly shocked to find out their answer.
While there are many hunters who get out there after deer all fall, every weekend and even during the week sometimes, the majority of people I questioned were predominately working class folks with families to raise. Their time actually hunting was extremely limited. Hence, the average of less than 12 days a year. Then it all made sense to me. That number, for an average, is probably real close to correct if not spot on or even a little high.
Having said all that, when you’ve only got a few days each year to try and fill your deer tag it only makes sense that when you get a chance to go, you’re going. The weather might not be just right. The conditions may in fact be terrible. The wind may be terribly wrong. This day is your day to go hunting and you need to go regardless. I understand. My advice is go. Just take a deep breath, get dress, load up your truck and head to the woods. It’s just that simple. Don’t waste the day away waiting for everything to be perfect. I have news for you. It will never be perfect. So just go.
I also know that most hunters are hunting very small parcels of land. Once again we’re going to be talking about ‘average.’ But the average sportsmen is hunting less than 50 acres. I only mention this because if you are hunting a small piece of property then this dramatically narrows down where you’re going to be setting up to hunt. That’s just common sense there. Here’s what you can do when you get to your hunting location to help you up the odds on being successful. Always put out a scent buffer before you begin your hunt.
I can promise you I do. Here’s where I learned that important lesson.
A number of year’s ago I was hunting just outside of Chanute, Kansas during rifle season. That particular day the wind was howling over 30 miles per hour and it was snowing so hard you could barely see to drive your vehicle. The weather was just terrible. At that time we were shooting video on a $50,000 Beta Cam and with the weather as nasty as it was I just didn’t want to risk getting that expensive gear ruined with all the heavy moisture in the air. So we simply pulled the truck up on a high spot to wait it out.
The longer we set there the harder it snowed. However after about an hour the snow didn’t stop but at least it slowed down a bit. Looking straight down across the field towards the neighbor’s fence line about 350 yards out I saw some movement. I actually stepped out of the truck with my binocs to get a better look. What I saw was amazing. Standing right there with a doe was a truly giant whitetail buck. I mean giant. I stuck my head back into the truck and told my camera man, ‘There’s a monster buck standing down by the fence line.’
I quickly ran back to the front of the truck and leaning on the side of the hood I steadied myself to get a better look at him. His body was so big he dwarfed the doe he was with. He had a typical 10 point frame and everything about it was over size. His rack mass was tremendous. His tine length was enormous. He was at least 25 inches wide. He was the buck of a lifetime. And there wasn’t a thing I could do about it. I walked back and climbed into the truck.
“Can you see at all that buck standing down there about 300 - 400 yards?” I ask. “He looks like a good one,” he stated.
“No. He’s a giant. He’s pushing 200 inches if not more,” I replied.
“ You going to shoot at him? What are we going to do?” he ask.
“Nothing,” I answered with a disgust in my voice. “He’s standing on the wrong side of the fence.”
And he was. He was just standing there with that doe right up against the fence line where we didn’t have permission to hunt. It was the neighbor’s property. I didn’t know who they were at the time. I just knew they had been over there hunting. I also knew I was not going to shoot, asmuch as I wanted to. After a few minutes both deer turned and walked back into the timber and were gone.
Part of me was really disappointed. Another part of me was really excited. Just seeing and knowing a buck like that was in the area fired me up. The next morning I don’t have to tell you where I decided to hunt. I was right down there on that fence line setting up in a small thicket and the waiting game had begun. I knew on this trip that I wasn’t going to shoot anything accept that particular buck. No way. I knew how big he was. Bucks like that are one in several million. I was going to shoot him or absolutely nothing. I had made up my mind.
Over the next several days the hunting was really slow. Finally another winter storm was brewing and I decided to send my camera man home. So my wife met me in Coffeyville, Kansas for supper. The kids were still little so she brought them along so they wouldn’t forget what their daddy looked like. When she left she took the camera man with her back to Tulsa and I returned to Chanute to stay and hunt that buck. The hunt for that world class buck had turned personal. I didn’t care if we filmed it or not. The weather was going to get worse and I was going to be out in it with or without a camera. In other words I only had a few days left and I was going regardless.
With only 2 days left in rifle season I pulled the truck up to my usual spot to park and when I unloaded my UTV I immediately noticed the wind was completely wrong for that morning’s set. I decided to risk it. It was a chance I was willing to take. I pulled down and parked my rig in a heavy thicket and walked over to my usual spot where I had been setting. Since I was literally only a few feet from the fence line I didn’t put out a drag rag with deer lure. I just plopped down on the ground and tried to stay warm as I waited for the sun to make it’s first appearance of the day.
It was a good morning. It was clear, cold and other than the wind being from the wrong direction it was a perfect morning for whitetail’s to move. I was right. It didn’t take long before I heard my first vocalization.
You guessed it. The noise came from the timber on the other side of the fence. It was loud and it was distinct. There was a doe (I assume) over there blowing and snorting at me. It had winded me no doubt. You know that feeling you get when that happens. Other than shooting and missing a deer it’s just the worst feeling in the world. You know all the deer in the area are now on alert. If that wasn’t bad enough, in only a few minutes another deer started to blow and carry on something fierce. My heart sank. I was already there. I decided to just set and tough it out.
This scenario repeated itself several times that morning. I never saw a single deer but I heard plenty of them. I must have really stunk that day.
Finally about 10 a.m. I decided to call it quits and went back to my motel room in town. After sulking a bit I called the property owner to give him a report of my morning’s hunt. He was a real country boy with a great sense of humor. He just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to really give me a good poke in the ribs as only he could do.
“Well you know they tell me they make this great deer scent stuff named Whitetail Maniac 150. You know they say that stuff will draw deer in and it’s so good you can put it out and you don’t even have to worry about your own scent. Oh boy, it’s good stuff. Too bad you didn’t have any of that to put out,” he sarcastically informed me laughing the whole time he spoke.
Then it hit me. He’s actually right. Why didn’t I put out Maniac 150 even though I wasn’t making a scent trail? I only had about 10 bottles in my truck at the time. Why wouldn’t it work as a scent buffer? What did I have to loose? Nothing. What did I have to gain? Everything.
I took a quick nap and headed back out to my hunting local. I did the exact same routine as my morning’s hunt only this time I put some Maniac 150 on a scent rag and just stuck it up in the bush about head high right next to me. The wind had not changed one bit. It only had grown stronger as it tends to do in this country. I hadn’t been setting there 40 minutes when I saw movement down the fence line about 100 yards. It was a small buck. I say small. He was small compared to the giant I was looking for. He was probably a 3 year old buck with about 110 inches of rack. He just stood there looking my direction. He wasn’t on alert. He was throwing his head up sticking his nose in the air and smelling the 150. It worked. Instead of blowing at me and alerting all the other deer in the area. He just slowing walked off and disappeared into the timber.
15 minutes later another buck appeared and he was a dandy. Had I not been trying to shoot that monster buck I would have taken this buck. He was in the same place as the other buck only he was a mature buck. He had the strangest rack which made him really unique. On his left side his rack was heavy and tall. In other words he was a shooter. But on his right side he just had one single spike or beam sticking out about 15 inches with no tines. I had a chance to look him over good. He was in no hurry. He stood there and did the exact same thing the other buck had. He just stuck his nose in the air and kept smelling the air - smelling that scent.
Case in point - I now never go into the woods that I don’t put out a scent buffer. I use the Whitetail Maniac 150. I believe the interdigital gland mixture with the deer urine just helps calm whitetail’s nerve. Whatever the reason I know it will help mask your human odor and you don’t have to ever - and you should never - put it on your self. Just put it on a rag and hang it in the wind.
Let’s face it. Your time in the woods each Fall is probably limited. If it’s your day to hunt and maybe your last chance to hunt for the year, I say go ahead and risk it. I’d also say always put out a scent buffer to boot. Try and cut down on your human odor as much as you can. www.scentcrusher.com has products that will help you with that, and we use them. You can really increase your odds of success, and the deer not smelling you by using the wind in your favor, putting out a scent buffer with my Whitetail Maniac 150 or 155 (available on my Web site) and using a Scent Crusher bag for your clothes, boots and gear. These are the things I do, and have had some success. Let me know about yours.
Good deer hunting to you my friend!
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