Most deer hunters will eventually cross paths with a mature buck, but it takes a dedicated, experienced and skilled hunter to consistently drag big bucks out of the woods each year. I define mature bucks in my area as anything 3 1/2 years and older. If I were hunting in an area with less pressure and more restrictive limits, I would bump the age up to 4 1/2 years and older.
There are endless strategies for hunting big bucks, everyone has their favorite. Manufacturers spend big money to advertise the latest and greatest gear hunters need – deer calls, deer scents, cover scents, camo patterns, scent reducing clothing, deer stands, firearms, ammo, range finders, optics, etc. While improvements in the technology of our gear are helpful – I think the most necessary tools for killing a big buck cannot be purchased.
Three Simple Keys To Remember:
1. Know when and where to be in the woods – the more you hunt the more you develop an instinct for knowing when to be in the deer stand and where to set up to see a mature buck. Having your finger on the pulse of the rut is not an easy task – especially if your hunting opportunities are limited, but timing your hunts around peak rut activity will greatly improve your chances.
2. Hunt the wind – this is the same advice your Granddad gave you. It is wisdom. If the wind is not right, don’t hunt the stand. Its simple, but all to often hunters ignore the wind direction – some lessons have to be learned the hard way! I recall years ago watching a buck downwind of me through optics about 500 yards away. He was working his way towards me on a major powerline. At about 350 yards, he stuck his nose in the air and caught a whiff of me and immediately turned and retreated to cover. I was in a set up to see this buck because of the perfectly straight and long powerline, but just think how many bucks have winded you that you never had a chance to see.
3. Old-fashioned patience – pure and simple, you can’t kill a deer if you are not in the deer stand. In an age of instant gratification, being patient is not easy. There is no substitute for staying in the stand and spending time in the woods.