Hunting Whitetail Bucks at Feeding Areas — Part V

The hunting value of a feeding area is short-lived for several reasons. For one, few hunters are able to approach a stand site without being identified by feeding deer because of identifying sounds they make: loud footsteps, dragging heels and twigs and branches often snapping underfoot combined with frequent brief (ominous) periods of silence (halts). On a quiet morning all these sounds are readily recognized up to 200 yards away as those of a dangerous hunting human by experienced whitetails 2-1/2 years of age or older.

Another common reason stand hunters are quickly identified is, few hunters heading to a stand site use adequate intervening cover or terrain to make their their moving silhouettes indistinguishable to deer in a feeding area. Most hunters ignore the fact that whitetails normally begin feeding about 4 AM and can see, hear and smell hunters and their approaching ATVs, snowmobiles or other motorized vehicles as well in darkness as in daylight.

Moreover, few hunters heading to a stand site in early morning realize the beam of a flashlight is a dead giveaway. The hunter must be prepared to reach a stand site without the aid of a flashlight while in sight of a feeding area (the place to begin determined in daylight). Actually, this is not often difficult to do. After my flashlight is turned off upon reaching a special marker made to remind me to do this, a triangle of three fluorescent tacks low on a trailside tree trunk, I stop to allow my eyes to adjust to darkness for a minute or so. After that, moonlight with or without clouds or starlight on a cloudless night usually provides enough light to enable me to quietly make my way along my familiar path to my stand site. Whenever existing light is inadequate upon reaching my warning marker, I sit down on my backpacked stool and silently wait for black evergreens about me to begin turning green (about 40 minutes before sunrise) and then silently proceed to my stand site.

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