Tracking is the most effective way to take a big, northern whitetail buck. But it’s not easy. Of course, tracking will work anyplace you can find snow and whitetails, but tracking whitetail bucks works best where there is a good supply of snow and big expanses of land. That is often the situation in the northern regions of the whitetail’s domain. From Montana to Maine, tracking may well be the most effective way to hunt trophy whitetail bucks.
One big advantage is that the entire time you are on the track there will be a trophy buck someplace in front of you. No other method of deer hunting can make that claim.
Step 1: Find the Track
As you follow the tracks, other clues about the deer will emerge, such as scrapes, rubs and antler marks in the snow.
Step 3: Note What the Buck is Doing
If you are in a place with a good road system, take a little time to drive the perimeter and look for its tracks. If you don’t find the buck, you know it is still someplace in that block of land. If you do find the buck’s tracks crossing a road then you have eliminated a lot of the distance that you would have walked in following the track. You will also have a better idea of what it is up to.
Either way, you have a clue as to its intentions. If the buck is coming out of a likely bedding area, like a mountain top covered with thick spruce trees, and if it is moving on a determined line and covering ground, you might do better to find another track. But if the buck is heading into a likely bedding area, it is a good candidate to follow.
Step 4: Follow the Track
One big mistake is to keep your eyes on the track. If you do that, all you will ever see of that buck is his disappearing tail. Look at the track, then pick your eyes up and look for the buck while you move. Work out a rhythm so that your eyes are always moving. Glance at the track now and then to be sure you are following the right deer, but keep your eyes looking for the deer most of the time.
Step 5: Don’t Give Up
Often a smart buck will run a short distance and then stop on the other side of an opening to look back and see if you are following. So when you approach a place like that, be careful and be ready.
Remember that other methods of hunting are not successful every time you try them. Tracking will not be either. Be persistent and sooner or later it will happen.