John's Journal...

Road Map to Whitetail Rendezvouses

More Road Maps for Hunting Bucks

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Effective hunters utilize a combination of various road maps to bag their bucks because they know that four driving forces – food, water, fear and sex –cause deer to move in a direction or toward a destination where a hunter can intersect with a buck. These outdoorsmen also understand that whitetails are creatures of habit using the same paths and performing the same routines every day, except when changes in the weather and the availability of food affect these routes. They are aware of the deer’s acute senses – good hearing, a keen sense of smell and sharp eyes. Although color-blind, deer can detect the slightest movement of a hunter. Here are routes to follow that will direct you to a whitetail rendezvous this winter.

Road Map #6: Realize that deer will overcome many obstacles to feed on their favorite foods. Empty white oak and water oak acorn shells directed Allen O’Dell of Clanton, Alabama, to a hardwood bottom in a southern river swamp last season. O’Click to enlargeDell knew the deer were feeding on the acorns in this particular bottom because he had done pre-season scouting and found a great number of tracks, droppings, cracked acorns and uneaten acorns. However, before O’Dell could hunt the deer, it rained. His primary hunting area was flooded, with the flats where the deer ordinarily fed now under 3 to 8 feet of water. Most of the ridges were very-narrow and contained little food. But O’Dell decided that the ridges were the only possible places deer could be.
As he started to wade a slough, he saw some movement in the water out of the corner of his eye. At first, he thought the movement might be ducks, so he stood motionless. Then, he observed a doe standing chest-deep in the slough, 20 yards from the bank, feeding on floating acorns. “Apparently, as the water came into the bottom, the acorns floated up and formed a ring for about 20 yards out around the edge of the flooded area,” O’Dell remembers. “The deer stuck her nose into the water, picked up the floating acorns, let the water run out of her mouth and began to feed.” For the next two weeks, O’Dell hunted the Click to enlargeslough. “I’d see as many as 20 to 30 deer in a drove moving through the slough, eating the acorns out in the water,” O’Dell reports. “When they’d depleted the acorn supply, I watched and learned that the deer still came to the slough. But instead of eating there, they’d cross the water and go to other feeding areas.” Normally, hunters don’t expect to find deer in water. However, you may find a buck there when the preferred food is in the water.

Road Map #7: Find the trails the whitetails are traveling to their main food sources. From scouting, O’Dell found the deer’s primary food source (acorns) on the water. Then, he noted their principal paths through the water to additional food after their main supply of food was exhausted. “There were three places where the deer crossed the bottom,” O’Dell recalls. “After some investigation, I found that these three crossings were underwater ridges. The deer could cross on these ridges and only be in 3 or 4 feet of water, while on either side of the ridge there may be 5 to 8 feet of water. In two weeks of hunting, I bagged three bucks and saw between 150 to 200 animClick to enlargeals.”
Hunting primary food sources is a good highway to travel to a deer. However, the trail the deer utilizes to go to the food source often is the best place for sportsmen to take their stands. Sometimes, there will be more than one trail leading to a particular food source. So, most hunters will guess which trail will be the most-productive. Barbed-wire fences in the area may give you the information you need to steer yourself in the right direction. “One of the best methods I’ve found to determine if deer are using a trail is to check the part where the trail goes under fence,” Dr. Skip Shelton of Mississippi, explains. “Most of the time, there will be deer hair in the barbs of the fence, if the deer are using this trail. Remove the hair each day. Then check daily to see if new hair is stuck to the wire.” A well-worn trail will have many deer tracks on it. Look for a large amount of fresh deer droppings on the path to help you decide if the trail is being frequented. The freshness of the droppings can be determined by the touch test. Pick up a dropping between the thumb and the index finger, and then squeeze gently. A fresh dropping of a couple of days or so will be soft and pliable, whereas an older dropping will be harder and drier to the touch.

Tomorrow: Funnel Deer to Your Hunting Spot

Check back each day this week for more about "Road Map to Whitetail Rendezvouses"

Day 1: Ambush a Buck
Day 2: Utilizing Food Sources
Day 3: More Road Maps for Hunting Bucks
Day 4: Funnel Deer to Your Hunting Spot
Day 5: Let the Does Do the Work



Entry 381, Day 3