John's Journal...

Try These Last Resort End of the Season Big Buck Deer Tactics

Day 2: You’ll Have to Work Hard to Take a Big Buck in January

Editor’s Note: On the last week of deer season if you haven't taken your buck, what can you do to insure your success? How can you bag the biggest buck of the season? At this time of the year, the older bucks know more about what you'll do than you do. To take them, you must do the unexpected.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewAt the Tombigbee River swamp in west-central Alabama on the last hunt of the season at the hunting club I belonged to for 30 years, a few of us always would attack the seemingly-impenetrable gallberry thickets there, sometimes 1/4- to 1/2-mile long. Although all season we had known the deer probably held in these immense thickets, we also realized we had no way to hunt those deer. But on the last day of the season every year, the younger hunters would act as drivers after the older hunters climbed into their tree stands quietly on the edges and the end of a gallberry thicket. We younger hunters would carry our shotguns on our shoulders with slings. Then we'd get down on our hands and knees to crawl through the head-high thickets. We always wore hunter orange to help the other hunters spot us as we started our man-crawl upwind of the thicket and tried to crawl through the thicket as slowly and quietly as possible. Standers received instructions to only take their shots when a buck stepped out of the cover and never to fire into the gallberry thicket. With this crawling tactic, the wind carried our human odor through the deer's bedding area and forced them out of the thick cover, enabling the other hunters to take shots.

To make this strategy work, we had to get the standers to their stand sites quietly. By having standers on the outer perimeter of the thicket, not only could they get shots at deer, but their human odor would flow down the sides and out the back of the thicket. If a buck came out of the thicket, and a stander didn't get a shot, his human odor formed a scent wall that made the deer jump back into the thicket and move toward the end of the dense cover where he didn't smell other humans. Then the buck would come out the end of the drive where other standers waited.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewThe low-crawling drivers carried their shotguns on slings with them as they crawled, because they often had opportunities to bag nice bucks. The bucks could smell the human odor, but they couldn't hear humans crashing through the cover. In the deer's minds, hunters walked upright and didn't crawl. Often a driver would have the chance to see a buck in his bed, take his shotgun off his shoulder, ease his safety off and get off a shot before the buck ever stood up. However, many times the drivers observed the deer sneaking through the thick cover, before the deer reached the outer perimeter of the gallberry thicket. Using this slow-crawling, hard-working technique, our hunting club consistently took two or three really-nice bucks at the end of every season. I never found slow crawling on my hands and knees in heavy winter clothes for 1/4-mile or more fun, but the hard work did produce trophy bucks.

For more deer-hunting tips, get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,”
How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” and “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” or to prepare venison, get “Deer & Fixings.” Click on each, or go to, type in the name of the book, and download it to your Kindle, and/or download a Kindle app for your iPad, SmartPhone or computer.


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About the Author

John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) 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: How to Blast Deer Out and Make Them Nervous to Get Them Out of Thick Cover

Check back each day this week for more about Try These Last Resort End of the Season Big Buck Deer Tactics"

Day 1: Hunting Deer Backwards at the End of the Season for Success
Day 2: You’ll Have to Work Hard to Take a Big Buck in January
Day 3: How to Blast Deer Out and Make Them Nervous to Get Them Out of Thick Cover
Day 4: Rattle the Deer Out and Become a Night Hunter at the Last of Deer Season
Day 5: Hunt the Slack Times and Out-Hunt the Green Field Hunters in January

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Entry 752, Day 2