Hunting > Whitetails

10 Wily Whitetail Tips

Tips for outsmarting that big buck in any situation.

1. Sound travels at about 1,130 feet per second (fps). An arrow fired from a fast compound is lucky to clock 300 fps. No wonder a buck is apt to hear your bow go off and dodge an arrow. To quiet your rig, PSE’s Dan Perez says to tighten all screws frequently, tie on string silencers and use an arrow that weighs at least 6 grains for every pound of a bow’s weight.

2. Each evening after work, walk out back, focus, draw your bow and launch one arrow into a 3-D deer target. You’ll be lucky to get one shot at a buck this fall. This mental training will help you make that one shot count. Fire more arrows on weekends to keep your muscles toned and your eyes sharp. 

3. If you shoot right-handed, pick a tree 15 to 30 yards to the right of a deer trail. Strap your stand 17 to 20 feet high so that it faces a food plot or acorns. When you hear a buck coming from behind, pluck your bow off its hook, stand up slowly and get ready. The tree between you and the animal will help hide your movement. 

4. Some whitetails hear bow noise and “jump the string” while others don’t. To cover both bases, aim for the lower third of a deer’s vitals. If the animal drops you’ll take him through the middle or the top of the lungs. If he stands still, you’ll make a low lung/heart shot.

5. A buck that is 30 to 50 pounds heavier than other deer leaves a bed of matted grass or leaves up to 4 feet long and 3 feet across. In early bow season, several king-size beds together tell you the big boys are still running in a bachelor’s club.

6. Immediately before heading afield log onto, click on “Hourly Forecast,” get the wind directions and speeds for the next 48 hours, and then pick your stand to hunt.

7. Before you buy a climbing treestand, check the “boot straps” on the bottom platform. They should be well positioned and easy to adjust. The better your boots fit and stay in the straps, the easier and safer you’ll be when climbing a tree.

8. Want to take cool photos that will help you find and pattern bucks? You’ll need at least one trail-monitoring camera for every 100 acres you hunt. Go to for the best selection of film, digital and video deer cams on the market.

9. One evening Brad Farris center-punched an Illinois giant. Or so he thought. The arrow blew through the deer, but it wasn’t covered from broadhead to nock with blood. Farris, a former bowhunting guide who has trailed hundreds of whitetails, followed the blood for 100 yards, but then backed off. He came back the next morning and found the buck 150 yards farther up the trail. A quick autopsy confirmed that his arrow had clipped only one lung and missed the liver entirely. The lesson: “If you think you double-lunged a buck but don’t find him within 100 yards, then your arrow probably hit only one lung,” says Farris. “Don’t push that deer. Let him lie down. Wait at least four hours. He shouldn’t be far.”

10. Go to Home Depot and spend $20 for an assortment of rubber-coated hardware hooks. Screw a few hooks into the tree around your stand and hang your pack, binocular and rattling horns within easy reach.

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