John's Journal...

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

Equipment for Taking Big Bucks

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

A characteristic of many sportsmen is that when they buy shotguns and rifles, they expect to take game at the maximum ranges of their weapons. Few deer hunters will purchase a 7-mm-rifle or a 3-inch 12-gauge slug gun and attempt to bag deer at 15-20 yards. Therefore the short-shot areas always will have the least amount of hunting pressure. A friend of mine, Don Taylor, who is a student of how to hunt trophy bucks, utilizes the fact that hunters do not want to go to extra trouble or take short shots. His technique of hunting has produced three trophy bucks for him in recent years. “I look at an aerial photo of the property I’m going to hunt and pinpoint places no one in his right mind would try and hunt,” Taylor reports. “Often the spot may be a clear-cut that’s several years old and has bushes, shrubs and small trees over head-high. I look for small pieces of land in flooded timber that I must use a boat or a pair of waders to reach. Sometimes I’ll only be able to see 10 or 15 yards in front of me in much of the territory I hunt. But that’s where I locate trophy bucks.”Click to enlarge

Taylor has found that sportsmen with weapons capable of taking game at great distances believe the more expanse of open land they can observe, the more game they will bag. Therefore the more-open parts of the woods will experience the most hunting pressure, since most hunters want to be able to see and take game at greater distances. The least amount of hunting pressure will be in the thicker areas where the hunter’s visibility is limited. Since bucks must hide in thick cover to survive, the outdoorsman who learns how to penetrate thick cover has the greater chance of harvesting a nice buck than the sportsman who hunts the open regions. As Taylor comments, “I search for small ditches, gullies and creeks or maybe just one open spot out in a clear-cut where I can see 10 to 20 yards. Usually that’s where I find my bucks.”

But not all deer hideouts are difficult to get to or hard to hunt. Many times smart bucks will elude hunting pressure in overlooked places. In the South, finding a trophy buck lying in the middle of a cotton field is not uncommon – although everyone knows that usually deer don’t bed in cotton fields. However smart bucks can dodge the hunter during daylight hours in the middles of these fields. A friend of mine once took a trophy buck within 100 yards of his clubhouse where a barking dog stayed in a kennel throughout hunting season. Because hunters believed that deer would stay away from an area with a lot of human scent and barking dogs, no hunting pressure was exerted there. A trophy 8 point survived in a briar thicket, until he was ferreted out by a novice who broke the hunting pattern.Click to enlarge

Any knowledge learned has no value unless it is applied. One time before I hunted an area known for heavy hunting pressure, I sifted through the information I had learned from all the people I talked with about where bucks went during times of intense hunting pressure. Then I applied what I knew. I beat the sun into the place I planned to hunt for the day. The fog rose from a little branch at the bottom of the hill. In the clear-cut, I heard animals moving as the woods birds work up and greeted the new day with their various songs. I felt sure this would be the spot where I’d find a buck. I had researched the location carefully the day before and talked with sportsmen who regularly hunted there. I had learned that this particular 400-acre site had not been hunted at first light for most of deer season. Although these woods had heavy hunting pressure, most outdoorsmen stalked the front side of the property first each day. Because they moved slowly and carefully, they never reached the backside of the land where I was hunting until about 10:00 am. So, from daylight until 10:00 am for the first 6 weeks of hunting season, this region had had no hunting pressure. I decided the night before that instead of taking the route utilized by other hunters, I’d begin my stalk on the backside of the property. I had located a stand site where a clear-cut on the side of a hill dropped into a hardwood bottom bordered by a creek. The edge of the clear-cut and the creek provided a natural funnel area where I was convinced deer traveled because of numerous deer tracks and droppings. Also the white oak acorn hulls on the ground revealed that deer were feeding as well as moving through this area.Click to enlarge

At first light, I spotted five bucks that were too far away in cover too thick for me to make an accurate shot. As the sun came up, the deer meandered along the creek bottom. Within 20 minutes, a fine 8 point stood less than 30-yards away from my stand, as the crosshairs on my scope settled on his neck. I squeezed the trigger and downed the buck. Although many of the important elements, including edge, food and a natural travel lane made this particular place a productive stand site, I’m convinced that the lack of hunting pressure on this region from daylight until 10:00 am was the main reason the buck appeared, and my hunt was a success.

The old adage that to take a buck you must think like a buck is no longer true in many parts of the nation as deer herds respond to larger numbers of hunters in the woods than ever before. Often a deer relies more heavily on his flight instinct than any other factor to determine what he’s going to do and when, where and how he will do it. Today a new adage may be more reliable in aiding a sportsman’s quest for trophy bucks: “If you understand the hunter and his hunting habits, then you can determine where deer must be and when they must be there. Applying this information will shorten the amount of time you must scout, shrink the size of the land you must hunt and greatly increase your odds of bagging a trophy buck.”

New Product:
Southern Game Calls BuckShot Deer Call – The BuckShot is for the hunter who wants to increase his percentage of success. The cocobola barrel helps make the subtle sounds of a deer, from buck ticking to estrous doe and all contented and aggressive sounds. Each BuckShot is hand-tuned and features cocobola wood with a brass band. Call (800) 881-1964, or visit

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 5