John's Journal...

How to Hunt Bad Stands to Take Great Buck Deer

Day 2: How to Hunt Deer by Being Invisible

Editor’s Note: "To take the biggest buck on any piece of property, always hunt the worst stands," Dr. Keith Causey, a former wildlife researcher at Auburn University, told me. "I let everyone in my hunting club pick the stands where they want to hunt, and I go to the places left. Since no one hunts these areas, the older-age-class bucks can hold there to dodge hunting pressure. If you take the worst stand on your hunting club or public land, then that stand will be the best stand to see an older-age-class buck, 90% of the time."

Click for Larger ViewOne year, my brother started taking more and bigger bucks than I ever had bagged. As you would expect, he wouldn't tell me where and how he'd taken these deer. When I questioned him about how he found those big deer, he'd answer, "John, when you've hunted as long as I have, and when you've learned as much about deer hunting as I've learned, then you can take the size bucks I do." I knew he had a secret for finding and taking big bucks. Every Saturday we'd put on a man-drive at the club where we hunted. All the standers would walk into the woods and take stands, as the drivers yelled, hollered and beat the bushes with sticks to drive the deer to the standers. My brother always chose the same stand beside some flooded timber. When Archie began to take big deer from that stand, other hunters immediately wanted to start hunting from the magical stand. However, no one could seem to bag deer there except Archie. No one could determine how Archie consistently bagged big deer from this stand where other hunters seldom saw deer. I decided to solve the riddle. The next weekend I became a driver, and my brother returned to his favorite stand. Archie always carried a big pack and a climbing tree stand with him. Once the drive began, I took a position, so I would drive right along the edge of the slough where Archie hunted.

Click for Larger ViewWhen I got about 75-yards from Archie's stand site, I yelled to let him know my position. But he never answered me. I sat on a log on the edge of the water and used my binoculars to look for my brother. However, I couldn't spot him on his stand. I knew he always had taken deer off this stand, and I couldn't understand why he'd move to another stand. After I sat on the log for about 10 minutes, I heard my brother whisper loudly, "Get out of here, John; I'm trying to kill a deer."
I looked as hard as I could, yet never saw my brother. Finally I asked, "Where are you set-up, Archie? I can't see you." He replied, "Never mind that; I'm invisible. Just get out of here, so I can take my buck." But I had set my jaw. I wouldn't leave the area, until I found out where my crazy brother had hidden. "I won't leave until you tell me your location," I said. Again Archie's voice came drifting down through the flooded timber. "I told you, John, get out here. I want to kill a deer, and I can't kill one with you standing there."

Click for Larger ViewI don't know if you have a brother or not, however, if you do, then you'll understand that I had no-other option than to fire back, "I won't move until you reveal your location." I used the tone that my brother had come to learn over the years meant he might as well not try to reason with me. "Ok, look out here in the water," Archie said. I looked out in the water and still couldn't see Archie. "Look higher," he ordered. I still couldn't see him. "Look even higher." Finally I spotted my brother. He must have climbed 50-feet up in a tree with his portable tree stand. There in the middle of the flooded timber, he looked like a big bear trying to stay balanced in the top of a small tree. "Why have you climbed up there?" I asked. "I'll tell you all about it tonight," Archie growled. "Now, just get out of here, and let me hunt." I left the area and couldn't wait to sit down with my brother after dinner at camp that night.

Click for Larger View"No one hunts out in the flooded timber," my brother told me later. "By getting as high as I can in the trees, out in the water, I can see for 1/4- to 1/2-mile all the way through the flooded timber. I've watched drivers walk along the edges of the water, and I've seen bucks move-out into the water to let the drivers pass by them. None of the drivers look for the deer out in the water. The deer never get attacked from the water. And, the deer don't look up when they stand out in the water. By climbing high in a tree, I don't get seen by the deer, the drivers or the other standers. I also can see deer that other hunters can't spot. I can watch the drivers, and I can see where the bucks hide to avoid the drivers and the standers. Now if you tell anybody my technique, I'll kill you." I assured my brother that I'd keep his secret safe. For the next 15 years that we hunted that land, I never told a soul where or how my brother and I hunted to take the big bucks.

To learn more about hunting deer, get John E. Phillips’ new eBooks “How to Hunt Deer like a Pro,” “PhD Whitetails” and “Deer and Fixings.” Go to, type in the names of the books and download them to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.

Tomorrow: How to Hunt Buck Deer near Telephone Poles and Other Places

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Hunt Bad Stands to Take Great Buck Deer"

Day 1: How to Hunt – Remember Deer Hunters Don’t Like to Get Wet
Day 2: How to Hunt Deer by Being Invisible
Day 3: How to Hunt Buck Deer near Telephone Poles and Other Places
Day 4: How to Hunt Deer in Pine Plantations and Thick Cover
Day 5: How to Use Maps to Aid You in Finding Deer

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Entry 688, Day 2