Hunting > Whitetails

When to Get Out of that Stand (Page 2)

Sometimes deer hunters need to make something happen. Here’s when to get proactive and what to do.

But he knows every rule was meant to be broken, and to him this one can be broken when bucks hook up with a hot doe. A breeding whitetail pair will spend anywhere from 24 to 48 hours together and oftentimes bedded in one location for rest. It’s not at all uncommon for hunters to spot bucks guarding hot does and to then plan a close encounter rendezvous.

“If I spot a 150-inch deer chasing a doe back and forth, I believe hunters should stay put. It’s better than putting a lot of scent out around your stand and running the risk of bumping other deer or even turkeys that can spread alarm,” relates Volkmar. “Spot-and-stalk works great when you spot a buck that has bred a doe and he’s bedded beside her. They’re not going anywhere, and even if the buck spots you advancing he won’t leave that doe if she remains bedded.”

It can be that simple, but multiple bucks surrounding a hot doe can make an advance tricky at best. Stalkers should be especially wary of downwind locations where adolescent bucks bed to keep the hot doe located via olfactory senses.

One of my hunting haunts has a high ridge that overlooks wooded timber below. Whitetails routinely run the open ridge above as well as hole up in the dense stand of timber below. One morning I opted for a spot-and-stalk hunt using the high ridge as a vantage. Halfway through the morning a buck slipped past me pushing a doe and they dropped into the timber below. I scrambled to gain good visibility and finally located the duo in a breeding hideyhole. Crawling on my stomach, I eased up to the rim of the ridge and patiently waited for the buck to reveal itself in an opening below. Thirty minutes later lover boy nudged the doe through a Volkswagen-sized opening and I aimed for his next move. When he stepped through I barked like a coyote and followed that bark with one from my .300 Winchester Magnum.

Leave Your Stand
As outfitter Volkmar remarked, leaving your stand is a risky venture. Will the buck still be there after you clamber down? Will you bump other deer en route to the buck? Sometimes the action is too enticing or the buck too big to ignore. When you see action unfolding just out of shooting range, you either need to hold tight and possibly move your stand site after dark or you need to roll the hunting dice. Every encounter demands careful consideration. If I’m only hunting an area for a day or two I seldom have second thoughts about slinking into better range. If the cover appears welcoming to an advance, I also may creep in to slap my tag on a deer hock.

Al Kraus has no qualms about abandoning a treestand when opportunity knocks just out of range. The South Dakota bowhunter and owner of Black Hills Archery in Rapid City had to make a “stick with the ship” or “jump” decision last season. On the last day of his hunt he watched a mature buck slip past his ground blind and retire into the bushes of a wetland in South Dakota’s prairie pothole region. He couldn’t get out of the blind fast enough.

Believing the buck was resting, Kraus marked the trail where the buck disappeared into the wetland jungle with a pine bough. He then slipped away for a quick bite, but returned well before sunset to stalk in close. High winds helped his advance into the cattails. Kraus located himself adjacent to the trail where he could watch for the buck to stand and have a clear shot when the buck passed. He didn’t have to wait long.

Kraus was standing so he could see into the cover. He was soon shocked to see the buck already on its feet and staring straight at him. He sighed in relief realizing the buck was actually looking beyond him at the picked cornfield—its evening dining destination. Once the buck began tiptoeing down the trail Kraus hunkered, drew his bow and, seconds later, shot the buck as it passed by on the same trail it used to enter the wetland. Would he have been as lucky waiting in the blind? Who knows? Putting a vacancy sign on your stand from time to time may be the best option to tag rutting bucks.

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1 Response to When to Get Out of that Stand (Page 2)

Bill wrote:
November 11, 2010

Excellent still hunting advice. Use your glass! Two weeks ago I still hunted an intermediate ridge about 1/4 to 1/2 mile into the forest off of the pastures/alfalfa fields. I raised my binos to see a bedded 5x5 elk looking over his shoulder at me. I think he heard me and turned to look and that movement caught my eye, that's when I glassed him. I smoothly set the binos down, raised my rifle, and shot him through the neck at 110 yds - he never got out of bed that morning. Still hunting with your techniques, especially use your glass to reach out and see way farther ahead than you can with the naked eye, it works. And be quiet and don't smell!