John's Journal...

How to Hunt Deer – the Most-Productive Hunt Plan

Day 3: Gathering Sheds, Keeping Detailed Records to Take More Deer and Setting-Up Trail Cameras

Editor’s Note: Thanks to new developments in photography and GPS navigation, you’ll find taking a trophy buck easier than ever. You can learn where that buck lives, and where, when and why he travels. With that information, you can select a tree-stand site along the route the buck takes and bag him. Although in the past, hunters spent hundreds of hours to gather that kind of information, that’s no longer the case.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewJohn Frank of Rubio, Iowa (see Day 2) continues to check his cameras throughout the spring and summer months and hopes to find the sheds of the bucks he’s studied. From his research, Frank has determined the best time to have the best chance to take a really-big buck. “When I’m hunting deer or sheds, I make notes as to the time of day when I spot deer movement,” Frank mentions. “Then when I get home, I check the phase of the moon on that day to attempt to learn at what moon phase bucks move most during daylight hours.” From keeping very-detailed records, Frank has learned that deer move the most when the moon’s directly under his feet or directly overhead. “From my personal observations and from my trail cameras, I‘ve found that the first quarter of the moon’s the best time during October and November to see deer moving during daylight hours,” Frank explains. “I get the most photos of big bucks during the night when the moon is full.” In most instances, Frank hunts in places where other hunters don’t hunt, often at a time of day when most hunters don’t hunt. Motion-sensor cameras enable you to learn more truths about the deer, and more specifically, about the bucks on the property you hunt, than you ever will gather without the cameras.

How to Set the Cameras Out:

Click for Larger ViewTo start your photography reconnaissance, buy, or borrow several inexpensive motion-sensor cameras, and place them in various spots over a wide area to get a better indication of how-many deer and specifically how-many bucks you have to hunt. To locate motion-sensor cameras to develop the best hunt plan you possibly can for the opportunities to hunt big bucks:

  • search for, and put your cameras up near traditional scrape lines. Bucks in an area will use the same scrape lines year after year.
  • don’t overlook watering holes, often prime spots to locate a big buck, especially during the summer months and early fall.
  • look for creek crossings and fence crossings, other places you may spot that buck of a lifetime.
  • identify dim trails. Oftentimes, big bucks move on small, almost-obscure trails that lead to green fields, agricultural fields or bedding or scraping areas. I’ve seen older-age-class bucks walk down dim trails, often downwind of major deer trail, and never venture on the major trails that other bucks use.
  • find winding trails. I define a winding trail as a trail that a buck can use that’s 30- to 50-yards downwind of an agricultural field or a green field. By walking this trail, the buck can smell every deer on the field without leaving the woods and walking out into that field.

Click for Larger ViewTo learn more about hunting deer, get John E. Phillips’ new eBooks How to Hunt Deer like a Pro,” “PhD Whitetails,” “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows” 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.

About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (AMA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors. Click here for more information and a list of all the books available from John E. Phillips.

Tomorrow: Move Trail Cameras to Buck’s Core Areas to Learn More about Deer

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Hunt Deer – the Most-Productive Hunt Plan"

Day 1: How Technology Has Made Taking a Buck Deer Easier than Ever
Day 2: What About Bucks You Can’t Take and When to Start Hunting Deer
Day 3: Gathering Sheds, Keeping Detailed Records to Take More Deer and Setting-Up Trail Cameras
Day 4: Move Trail Cameras to Buck’s Core Areas to Learn More about Deer
Day 5: How to Best Plan Your Deer Hunt

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Entry 693, Day 3