John's Journal...

Deer Hunting Tips to Take More Bucks

Day 4: Don’t Move or Panic When a Big Buck Deer Is Close - Watch His Eyes

Editor’s Note: Fifty-one year old Joe Shults of Newport, Tennessee, is a member of several Pro Staffs for outdoor companies and is a member of the Drury Outdoors “Dream Season: The Journey” TV show ( When Shults was out of work due to a factory closing, he hunted and fished often. He realized there wasn’t a sporting-goods store for miles from his home, so he opened one.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewSince I've been hunting, I've taken 17 bucks that have scored 150 or better. I took a really-nice buck in Wisconsin with an inside spread of his main beams scoring 24-1/8-inches but without much tine length. So, he only scored 167 on Pope & Young. I’d seen this buck the day before I actually took him on a morning hunt. The buck was returning from feeding and was going to his bed. Before this buck came out of that field where he could see the entire field, he studied the timber with his eyes and looked into the timber where his vision would be limited. We were 20 yards inside the timber. This buck was very cautious. He looked right up in the tree at me and my cameraman two or three different times. I whispered to Scotty Blair, my cameraman, “I'm afraid this buck is going to pick us out, and I won’t have a chance to shoot him.” Scotty and I stayed as still as possible in our Mossy Oak ( from head to toe. Finally, the buck came on into the timber where we were, and I took him.

The real secret to taking mature bucks when they're in close is to not move or panic. Often a deer will look straight at a hunter for a long time and put his head down like he's going to feed. Then, he’ll jerk his head up quickly to see if the hunter has moved. If you reach for your bow or your gun when a big buck is close, if he’s been staring at you and finally lowers his head toward the ground, when he jerks his head up quickly to look at you again, he’ll spot you. Most hunters are so afraid that a big buck will leave an area before they can get their rifles to their shoulders or pick up their bows that they move too quickly, and the deer sees them. So, always watch the deer’s eyes.

Click for Larger ViewClick for Larger ViewDefensive backs have learned over the years to watch the quarterback’s eyes. When he drops back to pass, the quarterback’s eyes tell the defensive backs where he’ll throw the pass. Just before the quarterback cocks his arm to throw the pass, he has to see the receiver in his peripheral vision or look straight at the receiver. Just like this, the deer’s eyes will tell you what he's going to do. If a deer has been staring at you and lowers his head like he's starting to feed - watch his eyes. If his eyes aren’t looking straight down at the ground but are looking off to the side of his head, that buck is watching you in his peripheral vision. A deer’s peripheral vision is much better than ours. If you're watching a buck’s eyes when he drops his head, he’ll start rooting around in the leaves for an acorn or something to eat and drop his eyes from looking out the side of his head to looking at the side of his nose. That’s when you pick up your bow and come to full draw or bring your gun to your shoulder. When you can’t see the buck’s pupils in his eyes, that’s your signal to make whatever movement you need to make to get the shot. I think many hunters don’t understand how effective an older-age-class buck’s peripheral vision can be. But like the defensive back on a football team, if you'll watch the deer’s eyes, you'll soon learn when you can and can’t move.

To get John E. Phillips’ Kindle eBooks and print books on hunting deer, “How to Hunt and Take Big Buck Deer on Small Properties,” “How to Hunt Deer Up Close: With Bows, Rifles, Muzzleloaders and Crossbows,” “PhD Whitetails: How to Hunt and Take the Smartest Deer on Any Property,” “How to Take Monster Bucks,” “How to Hunt Deer Like a Pro,” and “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and Bows,” or to prepare venison, “Deer & Fixings,” click here 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: Texas Deer Management Can Help You Produce More and Bigger Bucks

Check back each day this week for more about Deer Hunting Tips to Take More Bucks

Day 1: Find the Best Deer Hunting Spots and Get Permission to Hunt Them
Day 2: Kentucky Has White-Tailed Deer, Elk and Bears to Hunt
Day 3: Take White-tailed Deer by Leaving Home
Day 4: Don’t Move or Panic When a Big Buck Deer Is Close - Watch His Eyes
Day 5: Texas Deer Management Can Help You Produce More and Bigger Bucks

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Entry 849, Day 4