Hunting Whitetail Bucks at Feeding Areas — Part VI

Nothing can long eliminate the strong odor of rubber boot soles.

Few hunters realize many of the myriad of odors emitted by human hunters cannot be eliminated by items bought in sporting goods stores (despite claims), odors of firearms, for example, or human breath and hair or rubber boot soles. Most of these items merely add another unique smell to the cloud of odoriferous molecules continuously emitted from a hunter’s body, clothing and hunting gear, including odors created by the millions of bacteria that normally live on human skin. The only way to be completely certain hunted whitetails with noses estimated to be 10,000 times more sensitive than human noses cannot identify you via trail or airborne scents is to approach sites where you expect to see deer from downwind or crosswind with the breeze angling toward one cheek beginning 100–200 yards downwind or crosswind and then stand hunt downwind or crosswind of were you expect to see the deer. Never hesitate to make a wide detour, if necessary, to get to a downwind or crosswind starting point 100-200 yards away before turning toward your stand site.

Mature (experienced) whitetails routinely approach a feeding area from downwind to assess airborne scents drifting from the area before exposing themselves there. In the morning, then, its okay, actually best at first, to approach a feeding area on a downwind deer trail because the deer you hope to take will already be feeding there — upwind and unable to smell you. Freshly made deer tracks and droppings on your trail will prove they are there (that’s always exciting to discover). Keep in mind, however, you will be depositing your fresh human trail scents along the way and those scents will persist at least four days unless it rains or snows soon thereafter. Unless the wind changes direction midday, your trail scents there might be the reason no deer show up at that feeding area that evening and why it might be best to wait four days or more to hunt at that feeding area again if you fail to take a deer there the first day.

In the afternoon, I make it a rule to get to my stand site by 2 PM because under certain conditions whitetails sometimes show up as early as 2:30. Getting there early eliminates the possibility of being seen or heard by feeding deer while approaching my stand site. Later in the day, deer will approach a feeding area from downwind as usual, meaning, it is best to approach a feeding area on a different deer trail from crosswind and then stand hunt crosswind in the afternoon and evening. While hiking crosswind, the breeze should be angling toward one cheek from left or right because your scents will spread right and left as they drift downwind from your stand site. Angling crosswind will help ensure whitetails approaching the feeding area from somewhere along the downwind end will not be able to smell you unless directly downwind.

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Keep in mind many whitetails bed where they can keep an eye on the area where they intend to feed next. Where adequate cover is available, some whitetails, including mature bucks, will temporarily bed in the middle of a feeding area. This is especially common and can continue for a couple of weeks after acorns begin falling or corn ripens. For these reasons, never cross a feeding area to get to a stand site.

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