The season is beginning soon and you have just located a bruiser buck. Whether you see this buck while you are watching a food source in the preseason or viewed him in the timber during the season, there are a few things you have to do immediately if you want a chance at this buck. First, and what I feel is most important, get the maps out. Print out aerial, terrain, and boundary line maps. Learn the terrain inside and out. How steep are the hollow walls? Are there any draws that this buck may be using? Where are the edges? Does the satellite map show you any edges of clear cuts or pine stands where these bucks will skirt and/or bed? Where are the pinch points and funnels? How does the terrain work for the deer? Think as if you were a mature buck trying to void anything that may harm you. How would you move through this terrain? Also, what looks like the best entry and exit routes to hunt this location?
Before you go into scout you should know these things. Here in Pennsylvania, the PGC’s website has every Game lands mapped: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/state_game_lands/11363 These are topographical maps that will show you boundary lines, roads, terrain, and parking areas. You can go to Google earth which has a nice tool that I use all the time called “historical view.” This is under the “view” drop down. What historical view shows are all the aerial pictures taken from the past. You will find images that show the tree canopy during one year and a winter picture with all the leaves off another year.. I use it mainly to locate pine stands and clear cuts before I go into an area.
If it is early season and you want to hang cameras and scout for a place to hang a stand, wait for a rainy day to make your move. Use scent control to the nth degree. If you think you know where a bedding area may be make sure the wind is in your face and not blowing toward it. This does not eliminate the chances of you bumping the buck but it will let you sneak around quietly and hopefully unnoticed.
Get in and get out! This is a fragile time and mature bucks here in PA will not tolerate much of an intruder. Try to be as low profile as you can. You did your homework with the maps so you should have a good idea of how to use the terrain to possibly see this buck while hunting. I prefer to try and wait a buck like this out until late October before I hunt him, but sometimes I can’t help but to challenge myself early season with him. Seek and chase phase, just be on stand at some sort of a travel corridor and hunt all day. Early season I will try to find trails leading to and from their main food source and areas these bucks will stage.
Finally, know your crops. If that buck is coming out to beans then he may switch up to acorns once the season starts. If you can find a good oak tree that is producing between the bedding area and fields then you are in business. If there is clover and alfalfa in the fields like many places here in Pennsylvania they will continue to feed on it even when they prefer the acorns. It is exciting to go to the stand when you know a certain big buck may walk under or by your stand! Do you homework and give yourself the best chance possible to harvest him.
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