When it comes to hunting Monster Bucks, especially early in the season, patience is the name of the game! They say patience is a virtue, but in this situation it might be better explained that in order to make the best of a difficult situation, we have to understand the circumstances and deal with them accordingly. I believe that when it comes to chasing these big Dominant Bucks, you have to hunt them hard during the rut, but you have to hunt smart early on.
In early October, these animals are home bodies, they are not moving much at all and not very far when they do. Once you invade this core area of their early season travel pattern, you have to get it done before he realizes what’s going on or his pattern can change overnight! That means no mistakes, we can’t afford them right now, so we have to hunt smart and be patient. Like I’ve mentioned before, I like to hunt from the outside in, starting from a safe distance and watching the area develop – hopefully catching a glimpse of the deer I’m after making a mistake. I want to know first-hand what he’s doing, when he’s doing it and how I can capitalize on it before I make my move! The worst thing you can do early is move into a spot and not get it done, then alert deer to your presence when you try to leave the area after dark.
Case in point: I’ve been watching the buck I’m after here in Ohio all summer long. I have numerous trail cam pics from this summer and from last season also, (yes he beat me last year) so I thought I had a pretty good idea of what he’s doing. Since returning from my trip to Canada and Wyoming a little over a week ago, I have watched this big buck on 4 separate occasions and each time he’s done something a little different! On my first evening back, I went in and sat in my observation stand to see if I could get a glimpse of him, and I did, he was bedded in the beans in the opposite direction of where he had been all summer a couple hundred yards away. Two nights later, I went back to the same stand and after getting settled in, had the buck stand up in the beans, only 30 yards away! I filmed him for two hours and luckily he fed off in the opposite direction enabling me to get out of there undetected! The following day I hung another stand a couple hundred yards away to be safe, and have watched him get up out of his bed within bow range of that stand on two more occasions.
If I would have waited for season to open up before watching the area, I would have either busted him up out of his bed or he would have winded me on my way into the stand! Instead of him bedding in the CRP field like he did all summer, he’s now bedding in the standing beans or in the fencerow where my original stand is located, ( within 50 yards of it )! After observing his movements and learning his new travel pattern, I’ve set 3 new stands in the past week, getting closer each time, and think I finally have it figured out and hope to get a get a crack at him before his pattern changes again. I’ve had to pretty much abandon my initial game plan with him bedding that close to my stand, but big bucks change patterns regularly, and sometimes we need to also!
You might ask, why not hunt that set up in the morning, if he’s bedding that close to your stand….good question! All of my intel that I’ve gathered has been in the evening. I have no idea what he’s doing in the mornings…. no idea where he’s coming from, how he approaches his bed, or even when he does it, just that he ends up there. Because of the location and the size of the area he’s using, I can’t really watch the area in the morning without taking a huge chance of him picking up on it. I would rather let him have the mornings to do his thing comfortably, and key in on the evenings, saving a morning ambush for a last resort. It’s very difficult to beat a buck back to his bedroom during early season, and most importantly if I did try a morning and didn’t get it done, I probably couldn’t get out of there without him knowing it!
Try not to make any mistakes, It’s too early in the game to tip off that big buck that you’re on to him! Play it safe, be patient and hunt from the outside in, waiting for him to make a mistake during daylight hours before you dive into the kill zone!