John's Journal...


Trolling for Bucks with Ray Eye

Editor’s Note: Ray Eye has hunted deer for more than 30 years and has been a member of Hunter's Specialties Pro Staff since 1985. This week Eye will tell us about weird places where he's found big bucks. To take a trophy buck, you need to locate a big buck in a region where nobody else is looking for him. Many times these little overlooked spots can and will produce that dream buck you've searched for your life. After reading about where Eye has discovered big bucks, start searching for overlooked honey holes this season to take the buck of your dreams.

About 90% of the bucks I've taken over the past 30 or so years, I've bagged while hunting from the ground. I'm certainly not opposed to hunting from a tree stand, and I've hunted from them quite often. However, I feel that whether I'm turkey hunting or deer hunting, being on the ground and calling deer or turkeys is the most-effective way to take them. When you're on the ground, the call is coming from the ground. When deer are walking through the woods, they walk on the ground, not through the treetops. Therefore, I believe that a call coming from the ground sounds much more natural and much more believable than a call coming from a tree.Click to enlarge I also know that deer move when they call. Very rarely will you see a deer stand in one place and call and call and call and not move. I've learned that when I'm moving and calling I can attract more bucks, cover more ground, locate more bucks and take more bucks than I can if I'm sitting in a tree stand. I like to use a three-grunt series, pause, then give one more grunt, then wait, look and listen for 10 to 15 minutes. If I don't hear or see any deer, then I'll move slowly and quietly to another calling spot and repeat the same process.

One of the real secrets to make this tactic work for you when you're moving from calling spot to calling spot is to move slowly and quietly and try not to spook any critters. Using this technique, I was hunting a ridge a few years ago, and I had given two different sets of grunt calls. About 50- or
75-yards away from me, I saw a twig moving on the side of a tree. At first I thought a bird had left the limb and shaken the twig, or perhaps a squirrel had jumped off this little sapling and caused this twig to move. But as I continued to watch, I noticed that not only the twig but also the entire sapling was moving. When I put my binoculars to my eyes and looked at the sapling, I brought the binoculars down toward the ground and saw a nice buck beating up that sapling with his antlers. As I continued to watch, the buck had his ears back, was bristled-up and was walking stiff-legged toward me. When the buck stopped, I blew the grunt call again, and Click to enlargehe beat up another sapling and marched within 30 yards of me. So, I took the shot. Most hunters don't realize how effective a grunt call can be, especially when you're on the ground and moving. If you have the opportunity to watch a buck that's grunting, you'll see that most of the time he's moving when he's grunting. He may stop, grunt and then start walking again. But generally a buck won't stand in one place and grunt and grunt and grunt.

As I mentioned, I'm basically a three-grunt-call-pause-one grunt-type caller. However, during the rut, I'll give those little short, hard and fast grunts that some hunters call popping or clicking. If you've ever watched a buck chasing a doe during the rut, he's usually giving those short, fast grunts. That's why I use the popping-type grunts during the rut. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that a grunt call is the magic bullet that always makes bucks come in to where a hunter is. I've grunted deer before and had them turn and walk away from me. But, I've been so successful grunting and moving for so many years, that I've come to believe that this is one of the best tactics I can use when I'm hunting on the ground and moving through the woods. I think if you'll try it you'll see it works for you, too.

Click to enlargeJust walking through the woods and calling isn't the ultimate hunting tactic. You can't use this strategy and forget everything else you know about deer hunting. You still have to hunt into the wind slowly, stay as scent-free as possible and be as quiet as possible. I believe that using the Tru Talker as I move through the woods gives me the advantage of seeing more country, learning more about what the deer are doing and where they are doing it and greatly increases my odds of taking a buck. While I'm hunting, I'm also scouting. I'm not just standing on that one spot where I have my tree stand placed to produce the deer.

Another tactic I use when I'm moving and calling bucks is a tactic I've learned from turkey hunting. If I'm calling to a buck that's out in the field, and he starts moving away from me, or he's just plain ignoring me, but he's walking or feeding toward one direction, I'll back away from the field's edge. I'll circle the buck, get in front of him and start calling to him in the direction he wants to go, just like I will if I'm calling a turkey. I've found that often several of the strategies I use for turkeys are deadly effective for hunting bucks.

Check back each day this week for more about WEIRD PLACES I'VE FOUND BIG BUCKS WITH RAY EYE...

Day 1 - The Camp House Buck
Day 2 - More Weird Places to Find Big Bucks with Ray Eye
Day 3 - The One That Got Away with Ray Eye
Day 4 - The Backward Buck with Ray Eye
Day 5 - Trolling for Bucks with Ray Eye


Entry 269, Day 5