Let Them Know You’re There “Become the Hunted”
By Barry Dart
When I first started hunting Whitetails I had many questions about “how and where” to find and hunt them. With no mentor to guide me I purchased “many” hunting magazines and books which, to this day I still maintain gave me the basics and I often refer to them as well as to new magazine issues for hunting tips. Now that I’ve hunted deer for 15 years and been successful at harvesting 9 mature bucks, there are a few things I’ve learned. One is the true art of calling them. As a deer hunter there is nothing more rewarding then running through a call and rattle sequence, then hearing the sound of approaching hooves in the fallen leaves.
There are many theories and techniques on how to call deer. I’m certainly not going to say my way is best and I don’t call them every time I hunt. What I will say is between the deer I’ve called and either let walk or the ones I’ve harvested, I’m very pleased with my continued success. There are two basic questions to ask yourself. Where do I sit and how much noise do I make.
I look for an area where either a hardwood or cedar bush is open below the canopy and drops down away from where you sit so you can see deer approaching. Be sure to “hunt the wind”. I like to sit about 50 yards in a bush with an open field behind me which acts as a natural barrier. Mature bucks like the safety of the forest and seldom venture into the open during daylight. Don’t push in too far to allow a sneaky deer to get behind you. Most mature bucks will try. Using a camp chair I sit in or around dead fall to help hide my movements and break up my outline. Once I’ve found a spot to sit I prepare for what I like to call a true “theatrical performance”.
With a set of real antlers in hand and a grunt tube in my mouth I first start with a couple grunts, followed by light antler rattling, all this while doing a dance in the leaves, stepping around and kicking them. Don’t be afraid to make noise. I like to say “make it sound believable “. I steadily increase the grunting and rattling into a full on fight.
Mimicking the sound two that bucks make, I also keep kicking up the leaves, stomping around and breaking branches. It can be a real work out. Over about 5 or more minutes I keep the sequence going, increasing and decreasing the intensity of the fight. Then I tuck into the dead fall on my chair for up to 45 minutes. Mature bucks are cautious and can be slow to respond. Always carry a good set of binoculars. It’s amazing what you can focus in on even in the bush with them. As a buck approaches he will almost always hang up as he looks for the intruders that are fighting over one of his does. At this point you have become “the hunted” so limit your movement.
I’ve been lucky enough to hear bucks fighting in the bush a couple times and I know for a fact that they make lots of noise. Also consider the fact that when you get a pair of testosterone filled deer bidding for the affection of a lady, they’re not quiet about it.
There’s really no wrong way to do it. Get set up, be creative with your calling sequence, then sit back in your chair with your binoculars, relax, watch and be ready.
Remember, hunt smarter not harder