October 31, 2013
Hunting Mature Bucks Over Bait Not as Easy as You Think - 1
Hunting over a pile of corn is the strip-club bachelor party of deer hunting tactics. Almost every guy will do it if given the opportunity (and it is legal in many whitetail powerhouse states like Texas, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Ohio), but it’s not exactly something you brag about. And of course there’s the argument, usually presented by hunters from no-bait states, that hunting deer over bait is too easy.
And maybe it is—if you’re happy shooting 2 ½-year-old bucks every year. But if you want to take a mature buck over bait, you have to work just as hard and smart as no-bait hunters. Recently, I conducted an informal survey of 13 outfitters from around the country who all utilized bait last year. Combined, they killed hundreds of deer in the 2012 season, but of all the mature bucks taken, fewer than half were killed on a bait site. If you want to buck that trend this season, here’s a plan of attack for getting mature deer to take the bait.
The Setback Stand
This is the time to hunt a setback stand, says deer guru Neil Dougherty. Explore downwind of the bait site and look for the first trail through thick cover. Hang the setback stand downwind of this trail, during the middle of the day and before the rut starts. In dense woods, you should start looking for a spot about 100 yards away from your primary stand. In more open timber, you might have to go 200 yards or more. Play the terrain and find a location where wind currents funnel to a point and allow a buck to easily scent-check the area from safety.
Hunt before winter storm fronts and on colder days. Temperatures 10 degrees below average and light precipitation will push deer to feed earlier in the day. If you hunt smart, you’ll have a chance to take that mature buck as he makes his way to an easy meal.
Insider Tip: Killer Kernels