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The more I hunt and chase mature bucks the more I believe there are actually a fair number of these elusive creatures out there but they are the least likely to be harvested. Why is that? Undoubtedly a buck will get smarter with age but their inherent behaviour changes as well. As with most things not all mature bucks are the same. Different bucks will have different habits and exhibit different behaviours but for the most part I think they are not wanderers. Mature bucks can be found in core areas where they feel safe. They don't seek with the same intensity as younger bucks and when they do decide to travel it is under the cover of darkeness or in the thickest nastiest areas. A doe will often seek out bucks during the rut too, I have called in does to core areas imitating a buck making a rub with one antler and doing deer footfalls by plunking the same antler into the forest floor. ( I was trying to lure a the buck in..lol) So how do you hunt such an animal? I think a great way is to sneak into their core areas on foot after things have settled and birds and squirrels are doing their thing. Another option is to get into his bedroom before he does and wait on him. Trying to sneak up on a buck in his core area is no easy task. Take few steps at a time and use terrain and wind to determine your route. In NorthWestern Ontario, rock tops and moss are great for reducing noise. Wearing clothes that don't make unnatural sounds is a big help and your footfalls should be as silent as possible. Your going in basically on tiptoe and on edge. If you step on a stick wait a good while before you proceed. Sometimes imitating another deer is a good idea. Think of the sounds you hear when you have watched deer at close range in the past. The sound of a deer walking on leaves is certainly different than a human walking. I remember watching a Jim Shockey video where he carries two antlers and walks through thick nasty buckbrush with the antlers in front of him. He sounded like a buck going through thick stuff. Once you get in close you can choose to sit in the thick stuff and wait. I like to find some sort of location with decent natural shooting lanes. You could keep going and try forcing the issue. See who sees who first or try calling him out of his bed. Probably the best odds are for you to wait him out. He will get up periodically to stretch his legs and will often do a little circle of about 20 to 70 yards and bed down again, nail him on the stretch. Best times for this tactic is when you have nothing else to lose like near the end of your hunt or in new areas. Definately a little positive wind and wet conditions help drastically. Soft snow is the ultimate. If you still hunt a lot you will find areas where there are rubs everywhere on thick diameter trees. Often these areas are elevated and in key areas with good sight lines for bedded deer with many escape routes. These areas are often tough to access without tripping alarms. Those are the areas where you just may be standing in a mature bucks living room. I've been busted far more times than I care to remember but I've had some reel fun trying to pinpoint core aeas and going into them midmorning. The core areas of mature bucks are usually the same year after year as long as things have not changed drastically in the area I'm hunting. There is definately advantages to hunting the same areas over periods measured in years. Going after the King in his bedroom is one stillhunting tactic of many you can employ.

Obviously every area is different and this type of approach lends itself to areas where you have room to play. In smaller woodlots and tracts of private land you don't want to go tromping through core areas and security zones. Maybe only on the last day of your hunt. Good luck if you try sneaking up on the King.


The blue spots are examples of where I might sit for awhile. I usually call every now and then. Usually upwind of my location.

The diagram is and example of a still hunting route. It's November 1st. Temps Overnight -1C daytime +6C Winds SSW at 10MPH. Barometer is shifting and it rained a bit the evening before. It is overcast and wind is pretty steady expected to switch to West by late afternoon. Great conditions for a stillhunt. I've been on stand a lot lately. It's time to go for a walk in that crown land area with all the rubs I seen last year. Maybe the King is around besides, seen some huge tracks going into the area earlier this fall. Maybe...just maybe.

I will choose a still hunting route that takes me primarily into the wind but often will see me working crosswind in key areas. In the "hot" zones I move especially slow and take a zigzag approach. I will move faster and with less caution in "cold" areas where I don't expect to bump deer. I am always spending half my time planning my next steps and the rest of the time looking for deer parts. You will rarely see an entire deer. Look for a backline, a white patch from throat or tail or maybe even the glint of antler tines.Binoculars while an excellent and essential tool in open country is a wickedtool for picking through thick cover, if you have never tried using bino's in the forest try it. I never hunt without them.
 
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