John's Journal...

Beating the January White-Tailed Deer Blues

How to Find Bucks in January

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Several states enjoy deer hunting that lasts until the end of January, particularly some of the southern states. But deer hunters often find hunting miserable during most of the month of January because the deer know more about you than you do about them. The deer know ...
* what time you go hunting,
* what time you break for lunch,
* when you'll return to the woods,Click to enlarge
* where you've located your tree stands,
* where you hunt most often,
* where you seldom hunt,
* how and where to get you to waste your time hunting, so they can go on with their daily routines. To sum the situation up, the deer have psyched you out and outsmarted you. However, if you think outside the box (or blind), there’s still time for you to bag a quality buck.

Scout from Above:
If most of your hunting buddies don't bag many bucks in January, then you have to learn how and where to hunt in places they're not hunting. “One of the best ways I've learned to scout any piece of property that I'm going to hunt after the leaves have fallen off the trees is to rent an airplane and fly over the property," says George Cochran of Hot Springs, Arkansas, a two-time Bassmasters Classic champion, and an avid deer hunter. "From the air, you can spot deer trails that you more than likely won't be able to see if you're on the ground. You can look down in thickets and see openings that you'll never see from the ground. You can oftentimes spot bucks out in the middle of sage and grass fields that you won't ever spot if you've spooked them. Too, you can identify bottlenecks and funnel areas that you may not have been able toClick to enlarge see from the ground." In many areas, you can charter an airplane for a $100 an hour or less, save a tremendous amount of scouting time and locate many bucks that you probably won't spot unless you get above them.

Use Trail Cameras:
I can't think of any better tool for locating big bucks, especially at this time of yearClick to enlarge, than trail cameras. These motion-sensor cameras not only will tell you if you have an older-age class buck on your property to hunt but also will let you know in which direction the deer has gone, what time of day or night the deer moves  and the size of the deer. Too, these cameras can identify the ghost bucks that live on your land that you've never seen.

"Trail cameras have taught me that there are more deer in the woods than any of us have ever imagined," says John Frank of Rubio, Iowa. I interviewed Frank about why, how and where he hunted for shed antlers. From that interview, I learned that he considered trail-timer cameras the best scouting tools deer hunters had to keep up with big bucks rarely seen in the daylight. "I've photographed one huge buck on my grandparents' property and gotten three pictures of him at different times," Frank comments. "Although I know exactly where he lives, I've never seen him when I've been hunting. This buck is totally nocturnal, and the only pictures that I have of him have been taken at night. But because I know where this buck lives, I can go in and hunt for his antlers after the season and take his trophy rack, even if I never take him with a gun or a bow." Frank, a student of deer and deer movement, has put together more information that will help you bag a buck this month.

Tomorrow: When to Hunt Big Bucks in January

Check back each day this week for more about "Beating the January White-Tailed Deer Blues"

Day 1: Why Smart Bucks Live
Day 2: How to Bag an Older-Age-Class White-tailed Buck During January
Day 3: How to Find Bucks in January
Day 4: When to Hunt Big Bucks in January
Day 5: How to Fool January’s White-Tailed Bucks


Entry 493, Day 3