John's Journal...

How to Hunt Spooked Deer

Day 1: What’s a Deer’s Home Range

Editor’s Note: Deer do strange and unpredictable things when the hunting pressure builds-up over their range. This week we’ll look at how to modify your tactics to take these spooked deer.

Click for Larger ViewThe old, wide-antlered buck had been spotted by several hunters for 2 or 3 years. But all that had been seen were his white tail and his broad antlers as he escaped. The buck was smart. He seemed to be able to read every move that the hunters made and anticipated each step they took. And, the size of the buck’s antlers proved his wisdom. However, big deer and older deer are not without their Achilles heels. They can be patterned. Once you know what makes the deer move and why, and where the deer moves, you can take him.

This majestic buck was only seen when hunters were entering the woods. The deer was always heading in the opposite direction from the hunter. Finally one day my friend Richard Sharp laid a game plan to try and outsmart the wily whitetails. Richard got up at 3:00 am, came in behind where the deer usually was seen and waited on the buck to escape. Richard thought his game plan was a can’t-miss scheme to take the old buck when he escaped from hunting pressure. But Richard overlooked one critical ingredient in mastering an ole buck – wind direction. The wind that morning was coming from Richard’s back. Richard had failed to realize that his scent was being swept into the section where he expected the big buck to move.

Click for Larger ViewThat same morning another friend Jimmy Shipman and I also hunted the big buck. We eased into the woods where we thought the deer might be. Since Sharp had the deer’s retreat cut off, we felt that the worse we could do was to drive the deer in Sharp’s direction, so he could take the deer. What we didn’t know was that the wind brought Sharp’s scent into the deer’s range as we were approaching from the opposite direction, and the big buck had buried himself deep into the thickest cover available.

Click for Larger ViewI walked into a briar thicket hoping to jump up a smaller deer. All of a sudden the sky was filled with ivory-colored antlers and the wide, brown back of a magnificent buck. With my Remington 1100, I fired in the center of the deer’s back. The 00 buckshot broke the animal’s back and drove him to the ground. He was a trophy – the deer of a lifetime – and a buck I always would remember.

Click for Larger ViewSince my hunting club members hunted the same 2,000 acres every weekend and several days through the week regularly, some sportsmen might assume that that much hunting pressure would drive big deer out of a region. “But that’s not necessarily true,” Dr. Keith Causey, retired professor of wildlife science at Alabama’s Auburn University and longtime avid deer hunter, explains. “From studies that have been done on deer using radio telemetry, we now know that the whitetail usually spends his lifetime within one square mile. Of course there are exceptions to this rule. But most of the time the deer will not leave his home range. Once Dr. Larry Marchinton, now retired wildlife professor from the University of Georgia, attempted to drive deer out of their home ranges by constantly harassing them with dogs. Of all the deer that Marchinton studied, only one animal left its home and did not return.”

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.

For information on making jerky from your deer to provide a protein-rich snack, you can download a free book from

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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: What Deer Fear Most About Man

Check back each day this week for more about How to Hunt Spooked Deer

Day 1: What’s a Deer’s Home Range
Day 2: What Deer Fear Most About Man
Day 3: How to Hunt Pressured Deer
Day 4: How Deer React to Hunting Pressure
Day 5: Where Deer Will Hide During Intense Pressure

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Entry 850, Day 1