Bucks like this one – outside of South Texas, maybe – require careful preparation to outwit. Now is the time to start making your preparations. In fact, if you waited until now, it might be too late. Of course, being able to hunt a property with big bucks in residence is a big plus, but a lot of work on the part of the hunter can help insure the deer are there.
There is a lot written about supplemental feeding programs, but it is not always possible to do this. Hogs, coons, and squirrels will all raid food supplies intended to “grow trophy racks” – and supplemental feeding gets expensive and is not allowed on public lands or even on some leases. Other actions hunters can take to attract deer might be more worth their time and effort – even in summer.
Does attract bucks, and a good way to attract the does that attract the bucks is to keep a water source in dry weather, along with food “treats” such as corn and various deer pellets.
Salt or mineral blocks also help make deer feel “more at home” on YOUR range!
OK, so we are doing what we can at this point in time to get deer on our selected hunting property, and hopefully hold them there. Now is also the time to be working on new stands, cutting or trimming shooting lanes, and getting food plots ready to plant. And those guys in other states who curse us for using corn think our methods of hunting are easy! Any major changes to the environment such as these should be completed long enough before deer season to let the critters become accustomed to seeing them. It is a good thing to know the distances for a stand you will likely be shooting, and to be sure of your marksmanship at those distances. Your firearms of choice should be sighted in and practiced with at the expected ranges – but also know where they will shoot to at unexpected distances. I missed my first South Texas deer because it was closer than I had prepared to shoot, and I shot over it.
When I was young, most of our outdoor magazines were published in the East, and the more prominent writers hunted either the east, the far west, or northern areas like Michigan. These guys always recommended spending time in the woods before deer season, maybe hunting squirrels with a scoped .22 to get ready for larger game. That is still a good plan, but doing a whole lot of shooting in the area you hope to hunt is maybe not. In Texas we have abundant feral hogs to hunt which we can shoot with our actual deer rifle. This also helps thin down the hog population, which helps the deer herd. Unfortunately, it also is a noisier activity than hunting squirrels with a .22. This is another good reason to have a suppressor equipped rifle for hog hunting. Personally, I hope to get my loud handguns well sighted in far enough in advance of deer season to not need to fire them in practice. My .460 Rowland with the compensated barrel makes enough noise to vibrate all the deer out of the woods for miles around. On the other hand, I’m not sure deer or most other animals are really spooked all that much by gunfire. Still, it makes sense to be careful and take every advantage available. I also don’t night hunt for hogs immediately before or during deer season on the property I plan to deer hunt on. It is not necessary, I don’t think. to try to stay out of the woods altogether, as wildlife becomes at least somewhat acclimatized to human activity. If possible where you hunt, have a backup plan for doing some still hunting, or using a natural “stand” (sitting on a stump behind a screen of brush perhaps”), instead of spending all your time in a box blind. Also, being able to rotate between a few stands might help locate deer, and keeps your attention level up.
Like a good little boy scout, BE Prepared! Have sufficient cooler capacity to handle your meat, plenty of ice, sharp knives, and rubber gloves for cleaning your kill. Make sure you have the proper license and tags, and double check regulations – as some may have been altered from last season. Be prepared to take good pictures, and know the phone number of the taxidermist you want to use should you take a wall-hanger. On slow mornings when I plan to stay in a stand for most of the day, I bring something to eat and drink and usually reading material. I actually have begun to prefer my Kindle for this.