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Couple Questions


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1. Many of the podcasts I listen to including yours talk a lot about how to hunt for the trophy bucks. From what I have gathered, the bigger bucks are harder to hunt and thus mean less room for error.

 

With that being said, is there a different strategy to apply if I were to just want to target an average 6 or 8 point? Or instead should I just start trying to implement the strategies used to target big bucks with the understanding that I am going to get busted because of my inexperience but those busts will only be the trophies and with some luck I should still be able to have some shots at the younger bucks?

 

2. I have been e-scounting and in person scouting a piece of public land close to my home. I have placed a few trail cameras out, discovered some buck bedding and other promising deer sign. The layout of the property limits everyone to a northern access. The first ¾ mile from that access point drops you down into a deep valley then the rest of the property is two other ridge systems.

 

I have only scouted the first portion of the property but have identified promising areas based off the topographic and satellite further back in the bottom half. My goal this summer is to locate multiple spots so that I can pick and choose the day of based off the weather conditions. I have heard on multiple podcasts that one needs to be careful not to overhunt a spot too early.

 

With that in mind, do you think I should focus on locating good early season type spots closer to the access point and then work my way deeper into the forest and off the beaten path as the season progresses, basically start my season close to the truck then gradually work my way back in? This will “budget” my good locations and ensure that when hunting pressure does rise when rifle comes in, that I will have already moved on from the easy access locations into the harder access locations.

 

 

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hunting a mature 3+ year old big buck will be different than a nice 2.5. Big bucks move smarter. I have found that the big guys rarely take the main runs, I've observed most of them going through stuff you wouldn't think any animal would. So if you're targeting just that big guy, your setup needs to be near and off of the main runs or at pinch points. Thing about this setup is you're more likely to have more days not seeing anything at all. Of course any big buck can be caught with his pants down during the rut. But generally very early on you can get them near food and later on you can catch them near doe bedding areas that need to be approached very carefully and selectively as they spook easy.

You can hunt deeper stands early and closer stands late, if you're good with scent control. Overall do not burn out any stand regardless of time of year. Again I think early on you play food source and later on you play bedding areas, travel zones and runs. Also consider what pressure may change behavior later in the year. Something I've started doing recently is to a hunt a few times the first week of october as you can catch deer that are totally causal and then really leave the woods alone until halloween. Can you kill deer then? of course, I have a nice 8 on the 22nd and another nice buck that same week. But it's usually warm and the october lull will be there. Save your vacation and calm your excitement by letting the woods recover a little from the early pressure as you get ready for the rut. 

 

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Big bucks are completely different type of animal compared to any other deer in the woods.  However if you learn to hunt them you can have a chance of getting on a good buck or any buck.  The big bucks will most of the time have the best bedding spots with the youngest on the outskirts.  So you can hunt a big buck and get a chance at a smaller one. 
 

Mature bucks are hard to kill and are mature because they are smart and aware of everything around them especially if they have lived on stateland their entire life.  Just remember a 2.5 on heavy pressured stateland is even a hard deer to kill.

As for setting up don’t think you need to be 1mile in just because pressure is up.  All you need to find is the spot hunters aren’t going and sometimes that’s right next to a parking lot, corner of 2 roads, middle of a swamp water deters many people.  Just stay on the hottest sign and you should get on something.  
 

If you get busted or winded and don’t harvest a deer for a year or 2 just try to learn something every time you go into the woods. Get busted don’t get mad or upset try to figure out what you could of different.

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To first hunt trophy bucks you will need to find them. Do you know they exist in the areas your hunting/scouting now? I can tell you my spot might have 2-3 a year pass thru that I would consider a trophy, but I try to get something that is 5 points or better as my personal goal. I think it's different for each person. My first goal is to get a deer in the freezer and hopefully that's an early doe. Then I try to play cat and mouse for a decent buck.

There is a big difference too in how to hunt them pending your location and even the specific area your in. For instance if your in the Adirondacks generally tracking and a lot of boot mileage is needed, if you hunting heavy pressured land then finding the areas they think are safe, if your hunting on farmland maybe it's just being over food for many days and hope the does bring them thru.

It's all about learning the hunting area and what's available. There sure isnt any guarantee you'll even see a big buck. Cams can be a big help but at my spot I will hardly get more than a buck or two on cam all summer. But once fall comes around that all changes and I will get 8-10.

I am far from a great trophy hunter but have a lot of time in the woods. The best advice I can give is to enjoy the chess match and time in the woods. Have realistic expectations yet always think that big one could come out at anytime. Get to know the area you hunt as best you can and spend time over target in only the right wind direction.

The time around the rut prob gives the best chance for a big one from end of Oct to mid Nov. Unless you've got one pattered. The biggest bucks also tend to be more active at night and hard to get daylight eyes on. Good luck and look forward to hearing stories about your hunting experiences this year.

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I wouldn't call myself a good hunter so take what i say with a grain of salt.....While every deer i have killed has been a trophy to me, i have killed two that i really consider trophys.  I have blown 3 other opportunities at "trophy deer" . IMO, Time in the woods and on stand is the most important thing. I have killed two very nice 9 pointers (my two deer i consider real trophies) and didn't have either of them on trail cam nor did anyone else i hunted with. They both screwed up chasing doe and walked by stands that had been hunted by myself and others in my party all season. You just have to be in the right spot when they walk by and capitalize when they do....That being said i will happily take a 6 or better and have many times..... Spend as much time in the woods as you can, you will learn something with each encounter and enjoy being there...

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I see alot of great advise! If your spot is limited in size bevespecially carefully not to over- hunt a great spot.

A great funnel is a great funnel as long as the deer feel safe using it. Especially during the rut. It doesn't matter if it's right next to the rd.

I find more than 1/2 the battle is is patterning the people on state land. Everybody else is reading the same books.lol

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Best advice is approach to  area is critical.   Public groubd is also a big factor of hunter pressure. A great spot on a map may not be great id everyone else see it as well .  

If your new  my advice is kill  a few deer and enjoy yourself before you decide you want to kill  a trophy buck .  The amount of stress and disappointment you will endure may cause you anxiety and distaine for hunting.  

Most hunters evolve into a trophy hunter taking many deer before the reach that phase if they reach that phase at all.  ( a lot forget that they took small buck when they started out) 

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I appreciate all the responses. One thing though, I may have presented my first question in the wrong manner. My goal is to just shoot a deer, not go after a trophy buck. However all I hear on podcasts is how to hunt for big boys. I know that is more difficult. I want to know the “basic” “level one” tactics a guy can apply on public land to see a deer and shoot it.

Dont care if the deer is a doe, spike or monster.


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Ah,that should be much easier and is a great approach. You can only practice shooting deer by shooting deer. 

You plan sounds pretty good,stay closer to the access and work your way in later. You have to consider your approach as the deer will often smell your way in after you have left.

If there is an access road or path stay on that as long as you can because deer will be used to foot traffic on that.

Look for signs of deer activity,browsed saplings and brambles and look for droppings. That should give you an idea of active areas. Check the trees for mast crops,a great food source in the woods. White oaks are earlier and more searched out by deer than red oaks,partially because the white oaks rot much faster.

Like others said,pay attention every time you are in the woods and enjoy your time,you will see deer soon enough. 

If you can find some milkweed seeds they are an excellent tool to learn about wind and thermals. Much better than a puffer as you will be able to see the milkweed for a long time.

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Tons of awesome advice in this thread and only one other member mentioned something that is pretty important... And that is patterning the other guys and gals.  I know of 6 or so "regulars" by the vehicles they drive and Ive learned over the last 4 years as to what areas they go to.  Most of the time that will greatly influence me as to what area Ill go to and how to access it.  The place I go is very difficult to hunt and easy access is not very apparent.  Getting to the areas where the deer get pushed to public is a great stratagy.  I do see a lot of deer this way.

Naturally, this doesnt work every time, especially when gun opens, but during bow season, I see a lot of deer doing this.

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