How to Keep Deer in Their Home Ranges Throughout Hunting Seasons – Part II

One deer drive can fill a huge area with lasting human odors in minutes. One aimlessly wandering still-hunter hunter can fill an entire square mile or two with intense human odors in a single day. A number of independently hunting stand hunters can keep a sizable area filled with intense human odors for an entire hunting season. Where it is impossible for whitetails to find areas free of intense human odors within their home ranges, they soon depart. My hunting partners and I keep this from happening four ways.

First, we greatly limit the number and extent of routes we use during a hunting season. To determine where these routes should be located, we scout extensively on and off-trail 2-3 weeks before each hunting season begins, thus ensuring our trail scents will no longer be influencing whitetail travels on opening weekend.

Second, within each square mile we hunt we select a roughly-circular, wide-ranging series of connecting deer trails we refer to as a “cruise trail.” Branching off from this trail are our stand site approach trails. All our trails are existing deer trails. These are the only routes we use during a hunting season.  Portions or an entire length of a cruise trail may be used daily. Each of our stand site approach trails are only used once, sometimes twice, per hunting season. Thus we greatly limit where whitetails will discover our fresh trail scents during a hunting season. By limiting our travels on foot to these trails only, large portions of our hunting area remain untainted by human odors throughout a hunting season, enabling our deer to live normal lives everywhere except within 100 yards or more of trails and stand sites recently used and scented by hunters.

Third, though products claimed to eliminate human odors are not 100% effective and long-lasting, we use them routinely regardless because as human noses are able to discern, they do minimize human odors. Whitetails passing downwind of silent and motionless stand hunters that do not emit strong and unusual odors are very unlikely to react with enough alarm, if any, to prompt them to abandon their ranges, greatly improving the odds of seeing those deer during following days. Hunters emitting strong and unusual odors are likely to trigger immediate and lasting range abandonment by mature whitetails.

Fourth, to avoid being smelled and thus avoided by whitetails, we always approach and always stand hunt downwind or crosswind of trails or sites where we expect to see our intended quarries, made evident by very fresh tracks, droppings and/or ground scrapes made by mature bucks.

All of the above tactics have played prominent roles in helping my three sons and me to take 97 mature bucks plus a few yearling bucks on any day, even the last day, of our past 25 hunting seasons on public land inhabited by grey wolves.


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