John's Journal...

How to Hunt Bucks Under Pressure Like Those in the Late Season

How and When Deer Respond to Hunting Pressure and Using Preston Pittman Calls


Editor’s Note:  To bag big, smart deer late in the season, you must do something that everybody else isn’t doing.

Click to enlargeArmed with this information from public-land hunter (see Days 1 and 2 John’s Journals #543), I researched further how and when deer respond to hunting pressure. A prime source of information was John Demp Grace, an avid bowhunter, who is a purist and continues to hunt with a bow and arrow, even during gun season. When I asked him why, he replied that, “Big bucks are easier to take on management areas during gun season with a bow than at any other time of the year. Instead of having to guess where a deer will show up like I do during bow season, I more accurately can predict where hunting pressure will force that buck to be. I can bag him much easier when I have hunters driving him to me than when I must wait on him to walk by me. Deer don’t like to cross breaks in the terrain. If unmolested, they will remain in deep woods and thick places and only cross creeks, fields, and openings when there is no other option. The more hunting pressure deer feel, the more likely they are to move and travel in thick cover. To see and bag more bucks, I pinpoint funnel areas on aerial photos, and that’s where I set up my tree stand.”   Click to enlarge

Grace does most of his scouting from aerial photos, because the photographs show where clear-cuts corner into creeks, where a pine plantation necks down a large expanse of hardwood timber or where a river makes a big loop and nearly meets itself forming a tight neck. Although you will need to check these sites out on foot, instead of wandering around in the woods searching to locate deer, by studying aerials, you can walk straight to a funnel where deer naturally should be,” Grace comments. “However, often you won’t see well-defined deer trails or a large amount of deer droppings, because usually deer meander through these areas rather than staying on a trail.” Grace primarily depends on aerial photos, which depict the land as flat, since he usually hunts flatlands. But other hunters rely heavily on topo maps to hunt mountainous terrain. When hunting in mountainous regions, one of the natural places for deer to cross the mountains is in saddles, which are low spots. Because you generally can’t see these saddles on an aerial photo, you must study a topo map that shows elevations to pinpoint these areas. Something else that a topo map will show is where three hollows run together into a big, low bottom. These are all places where you can expect deer to naturally funnel through.Click to enlarge

Combining the information of the old-timer who has hunted public lands in your area with the knowledge of maps will aid in pinpointing some of the best spots on any public lands to take bucks under pressure. If deer normally will move through funnel regions and saddles that neck the land down, then more deer will be forced through these funnel areas when and iClick to enlargef hunting pressure is applied on either end or both ends of that funnel. Knowing this, the next step to choosing the best location to take a stand on any public-hunting area at the end of the season is to develop a hunter-pressure flow chart.

That flow chart works like this. Generally on public-hunting areas, sportsmen enter the woods from roads and walk straight into the woods in the early morning. As the hunters move, they spook the deer in front of them. Within a day or two after the opening of deer season, the smart bucks already realize that heavy road traffic and slamming doors signal danger. So, they begin moving away from those noises. Just before first light is generally when the most activity occurs in the woods all day long. Therefore the deer will leave the regions where the most hunting pressure is exerted and either retreat deeper into the forest or into their hideouts to avoid hunter pressure.

Pittman Game Calls Preston’s Green Grunter – This multi-tone grunter can produce a full range of deer vocalizations, thanks to its adjustable o-ring and extendable tube. Call (800) 958-4868, or visit for more information.

Tomorrow: Productive Late-Season Hunting Sites and How to Locate Them and Carry-Lite Decoys

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Hunt Bucks Under Pressure Like Those in the Late Season"

Day 1: Big Bucks Under Pressure and How to Take Them and the HuntVe
Day 2:Tips for Taking Big Bucks in Public-Hunting Areas in the Late Season and Wearing Longleaf Camo
Day 3: How and When Deer Respond to Hunting Pressure and Using Preston Pittman Calls
Day 4: Productive Late-Season Hunting Sites and How to Locate Them and Carry-Lite Decoys
Day 5: Equipment for Taking Big Bucks


Entry 543, Day 3