Prospecting for Whitetail Bucks

Every deer hunter has felt the frustration and disappointment of not filling your deer tag during the season.  Some hunters have to live with the fact that they blew an opportunity to harvest a trophy. We have all felt this way and at the end of the season, we are left to contemplate about and learn from our mistakes.

One of my inner demons is always asking me if I could have done more. More times than not, the answer is always in the affirmative. During my years as a hunting guide, I learned a few tricks that have helped me find unexpected success and I hope they will help you extend your own bag of tricks.

If you think about the amazing spontaneity of the whitetail rut, it makes sense that we hunters should all be in our bow hunting tree stands the entire rut, but it is just not practical. There is something so laborious about sitting on a tiny stool in the big woods for hours at a time, but since we do give it a good effort, you might as well be utilizing that time in the most productive manner possible.  This should involve using deer calls way more than you ever previously considered.

It is a simple concept, you can’t catch a fish if your line is not in the water, and you can’t call in a buck if you are not using a call. Obviously over-calling a buck that you can see is dumb, but hunters don’t see most bucks that are living in the woods so you need to call to them.  During the pre-rut and prime rut, bucks are traveling around trolling for hot doe scent. They often quarter into the wind and not only smell the path they are walking, but the quartering wind will let them smell the greater area perpendicular to their travel routes.

This means that bucks are out there covering great distances at a time, and I have learned that making aggressive buck grunts and snort wheezes every few minutes increases my odds of attracting a curious, unseen buck to my location to investigate. Bucks cover a lot of ground while walking with a purpose, so you will have to call a lot to try to intercept a trolling buck. You are in a sense prospecting for a buck, and it does work. I never do this when other deer are in sight though, for obvious reasons, as I don’t want to scare the best decoys in the woods, live deer.

So when you find yourself sitting a tree during the rut and the deer activity seems dead, do more for yourself and try calling to unseen deer.