By Eric Clark | PUBLISHED November 3rd, 2021
Please don't listen to me for advice on killing a mature whitetail buck because I haven't done that yet. Now, if you want to get eyes on more mature shooter bucks, I have had some success getting closer to them over the last few years.
I've been able to talk with over 200 whitetail hunters on our Okayest Hunter podcast. Two primary lessons took some time to sink in and put to practice fully.
Mature buck killers spend more time and energy focusing on scouting for human sign than deer sign. From there, they use this intel to get farther from other hunters or develop a strategy for hunting within and use that hunting pressure to their advantage.
Some assumptions can be made when considering how most hunters will access a particular area of hunting land and where they'll set up.
Using water to separate yourself from the majority of other hunters is a great strategy to use. Whether that means putting on some hip waders, getting in a canoe, or getting brave and crossing a creek, it'll make an impact on your success in seeing more deer and fewer people. Get creative with access points, too. Have your buddy or friend drop you off away from the primary hunting access if possible. Every little thing can help.
Moreover, consider using your paid time off during the week. Taking off on Thursday and Friday is nice because it bolts up to the weekend. However, you may see significantly fewer hunters if you hunt Monday through Wednesday instead.
Speed scouting new properties, scouting in spring, and scouting your way in have proven to be effective in identifying if a mature buck is even occupying the area you're hunting.
You aren't going to see any deer if they're simply not there. I speed scouted and hunted new public land parcels early season in search of any indication of bucks occupying the area. I covered a lot of ground-working transition lines and looked for any sign of deer. Where there was little to none, I checked off my list. This wasn't an excellent indicator for the late season when things may heat up, but it helped me learn new properties and determine if it made sense to come back and hunt.
Scouting In Spring:
Scouting in spring is a no-brainer. You'll have more insight into how the deer are moving through the property if there are tracks in the snow. You'll be able to identify bedding areas quickly. You can get very comfortable with newer properties and pre-plan a few setups for later in the year. Additionally, you can potentially identify other hunting sign. Look for tree stands, boot tracks, and even trail cams to help inform how others are accessing and hunting the property.
Scouting Your Way In:
Scouting your way in has been one of the most significant game changes for me. I used to walk right past the fresh deer sign because I was going to a pre-planned spot. A specific setup had more to offer to minimize my mistakes when presented with a shot opportunity. Now, I've found getting closer to the deer is more important than a great setup off the mark.
Tucking into a brush pile or using a shrub as a backdrop has more to offer in some cases if it means a shooter buck will be within 20 yards when you're at full draw.
Again, I don't have monster bucks on my wall, so if you're interested in learning more about how to tag a mature buck, you'll want to read another blog from a reputable whitetail killer. If you're looking to learn some things from another everyday Okayest Hunter with Okayest Hunter stickers plastered across his bow case, I hope you found this helpful. Hopefully you can apply some of these lessons and improve your odds out in the deer woods!