First Rule for Successful Buck Hunting

My family of whitetail hunters and I became addicted to hunting mature bucks after using primitive platforms nailed six feet above the ground between adjacent tree trunks in the early 1970s and using doe-in-heat lure scents introduced in the early 1980s, making buck hunting remarkably easy. By the late 1980s, however, mature bucks were beginning to prove they were learning to identify and avoid hunters using both of these hunting aids. It was then that we began searching for new and improved hunting methods, the relative effectiveness of each tried determined only by numbers of unsuspecting mature bucks seen within 50 yards during a specific (multi-year) period of time. It was then that we discovered about 85% of the mature bucks we were taking were spotted during the first three legal shooting hours of the day beginning one-half hour before sunrise, half during the first hour. We also then discovered it takes about a half hour for unseen upwind whitetails within hearing distance of our stands (50–200 yards away) to quit being especially alert and cautious after we sit down at our stands (then becoming completely silent). To avoid missing a minute of effective hunting time during those first three hours, in 1991 we made it a rule to arrive at our stands (in trees or at ground level) one-half hour before legal shooting time begins (one hour before sunrise). To facilitate unerring travel on foot in darkness, we mark our stand trails with fluorescent tacks that light up like Christmas tree bulbs in the beam of a flashlight. Today, this precaution remains our first rule for earning opportunities to take mature bucks.

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