This article is all about bow hunting large whitetail bucks. A large buck can be a very challenging to harvest. As a buck gets older, he increasingly grows smarter and often times more nocturnal. If it wasn’t for the rut, harvesting a large whitetail buck may be nearly impossible.
I have stalked elk and even mule deer, but have never had any luck sneaking up on a whitetail buck. That is not to say it can’t be done, just saying I have never done it.
Generally speaking whitetails hide in dense cover, which means the spot and stalk technique is not useful with whitetails unless your a ninja.
That leaves us with planting our butts and letting a big buck come to us. We can do that on the ground or in a high vantage point like a tree stand or hunting tower.
Luckily large bucks have a few flaws or nobody would ever kill them. Bucks get crazy and throw logic to the wind during the rut. They live in a small area of approximately a square mile. Plus they tend to follow patterns. All three of these flaws can be used against a large whitetail buck.
Preseason scouting is crucial in harvesting a large buck. Because bucks generally live in a small area a hunter can learn a lot about how bucks will move. In a couple hours of scouting a hunter should easily be able to identify bedding areas of thick cover, water sources, and food sources. A scouting trip will also educate the hunter on trails, rub areas, and scrape areas.
Image credit: “Quivira-Whitetail-Buck” by Jerry Segraves
Where Do I Make My Stand?
The location of where you plant your butt is crucial. A hunter will have little success setting up in a random spot. After a good preseason scouting session a hunter should have a pretty good idea where to set up.
Generally speaking a buck will spend the day in a dense cover bedding spot. To leave this bedding area a buck will generally follow a path to their favorite eating or watering spot. The trail connecting the bedding area and eating or watering area is a great place to set up.
During the rut a buck may leave his bedding area more frequently during the day to police his area for does in heat. He will often follow a trail and leave plenty of sign behind like scraps and rubs. Near a scrap or rub is an excellent place to set up.
In most cases, feeding areas are only visited by large whitetail bucks during the cloak of darkness. However, during the rut a buck may be lured into a feeding area by does that are feeding. Setting up on feeding area can be a great idea for harvesting a doe or small buck and for a large buck throwing caution to the wind.
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Scrapes are areas where a buck is leaving his scent and telling other bucks that this is his area and that they should leave immediately. Scrapes can vary in size from a couple of feet to over 10 feet in length. A buck will paw all the leaves and sticks from an area clearing the ground. He will then urinate in the area. A buck may visit the scrape daily to freshen his scent and check for the scent of other bucks.
Rubs are trees that a buck has scraped his horns until the bark is removed. During the rut bucks are filled with testosterone and will take this aggression out on innocent trees. Bucks will visit these rubs often to freshen their scent and release aggression.
Ground blinds can be useful in some cases. The disadvantage of ground blind is that you will need to place your blind in a spot that takes advantage of the prevailing wind. Another disadvantage is that the hunter is eye level with a buck.
Advantages to a ground blind include ease of use and the ability to move the stand quickly if the wind or situation changes.
Tree stands will help keep the hunter’s scent higher in the air. Don’t plan on a tree stand completely hiding your scent, but if the wind currents are just right it may help. A hunter will often have a better vantage point in the air as compared to a ground blind. Also a hunter will be above the normal site level of a buck. Bucks are not used to danger coming from the trees. However, I have seen plenty of cases where deer will look up into a tree so try to restrict your movement as much as possible.
Disadvantages of tree stands are that they are more work than a ground blinds to move and they require extra equipment and precautions to stay safe.
Harvesting a large whitetail buck can be very challenging and will require a large amount of sitting time. However, the wait is worth the sense of enjoyment the hunter will receive from harvesting a very sneaky animal that will challenge your hunting skills. I wish you a successful hunt.
Next article: How To Increase Your Rifle Hunting Success
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