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John's Journal... Entry 106, Day 1


Different Ways to Hunt White-tailed Deer

EDITOR'S NOTE: Dan Perez of Bowling Green, Missouri, has bowhunted deer for the past 35 years and has taken 17 official Pope and Young bucks. He also has several more racks not yet scored that will surely make the P&Y record book. With outdoorsmen everywhere getting ready for fall and the beginning of deer season, I talked with Perez about some of his unusual deer-hunting tactics.

QUESTION: Dan, how long have you hunted deer?
ANSWER: I've hunted white-tailed deer for 35 years.

QUESTION: How many Pope & Young bucks have you taken?
ANSWER: I've taken approximately 17 deer that have been scored and four others that haven't been scored. Of course, unless the buck has been scored, it isn't officially a P&Y buck.

QUESTION: Tell me about one of the weirdest ways you've ever taken a buck.
ANSWER: I don't know if the buck was weird or if the way I took it was weird. But ever since I bagged a buck with a sledgehammer, particularly when there's a hard freeze, I'll break the ice on a pond or a creek with a sledgehammer to provide an easy watering hole for the deer. I don't think this method is weird, but someone else may consider it unorthodox or different.

QUESTION: Let's talk about the deer you took and the method you used when you first sledgehammered your way to a deer.
ANSWER: After an unsuccessful hunt one morning, I got down from my tree stand and walked down to the agricultural field nearby. Although the time was the middle of November and the rut was kicking in pretty good, I hadn't seen many signs of rutting activity. I checked out the field that morning looking for what I call buck-chasing-doe tracks -- big tracks with wide-spread toes just behind sets of smaller deer tracks. Those tracks were all over the field, so chasing had gone on there a lot. I dropped off to the end of the field where the timber paralleled the field. As I reached the timber, I saw a creek about 20 yards away. Water had been hard to come by that season, and now the creek water was frozen. I went down to the creek and saw a spot where the deer had tried to paw the ice to get to the water. I went back to my pick-up truck, got a shovel and busted a big hole in the ice. I hung a tree stand downwind of that little spot, and then vacated the area.

QUESTION: Why did the deer paw at the ice?
ANSWER: To get to the water beneath the ice. Everything was frozen. The deer couldn't get a good lick of water other than the moisture from morning condensation. I busted a good hole so they could access the water easily. The next day, I hunted other spots during the morning. I didn't want to go into that field for fear that I would scare the deer off. I went back in to the field about 10:30 a.m. Between 11:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., several does followed by seven different bucks came down to get water. Then just before 2:30 in the afternoon, two does came down to get a drink. Pretty soon a nice 10-point buck with 20-inch-wide antlers came over the levee. When he put his nose up, he could smell that neither one of those does was in estrus. So, he walked down the levee, crossed the creek and came back up the other side. I didn't let him get far before I shot him about 15 yards away from the watering hole. He wasn't the first buck I'd taken using this method of hunting.

QUESTION: Was this creek close to a field?
ANSWER: Yes, it was close to a field. Fields are good food sources. Does come out of the timber to feed in the fields, and bucks follow the does into the fields during the rut. In the rut, fleeing does and pursuing bucks need water. When everything freezes up, deer have a hard time getting water. Busting the ice is a surefire method for taking deer. But no deer hunter runs around in the woods with a sledgehammer like I do. So, many hunters think carrying around such a tool while hunting is pretty weird.

QUESTION: What was the deer's score that you killed?
ANSWER: He was a Pope & Young buck. He scored in the 140's.





Check back each day this week for more about Dan Perez...

Day 1 -Different Ways to Hunt White-tailed Deer
Day 2 -Funnel-Forcing Big Bucks
Day 3 -Perez Takes Another Funnelled Buck
Day 4 -Perez's Snow, Wind and Rain Methods for Taking White-tailed Deer
Day 5 -Hunting in Urban Areas and In Late December

John's Journal