What Do You Do When the Whitetails Go Underground
During the months of July, and August as a whitetail deer outfitter, I have my employees as well as myself set on food plots with video cameras and video trophy whitetail deer on our ground. The strategy is they sit on a food plot or field of their choice in one location and film any record book whitetail deer that comes out. It makes for some exciting whitetail footage, and informs our whitetail deer hunters just exactly what we are seeing.
Normally, early season whitetail deer hunting is awesome here in the Midwest. (although its never as good as the rut.) We recently ran into a week in 2009 that was tough for patterning whitetail deer, especially trophy whitetail deer. Let us discuss as a hunter and a Missouri Whitetail Deer Outfitter and guide what we did to sway the odds to the favor of our whitetail deer hunters. Perhaps these same tactics are the things you need to do in order to turn your game around during those few times when things can get rough with whitetail deer movement. You know the times. The times when the whitetail deer just seem to be “underground.”
Most generally we set up tree stands on locations where we have been watching trophy whitetail deer feed or negotiate terrain, and wait for our early season whitetail deer hunters to arrive for camp. This year in 2009 in Missouri, Deer Hunting as a Missouri Whitetail Outfitter some of the whitetail deer threw us for a “loop”. It was like when the whitetail deer hunters came in, the deer just stopped moving and went underground. In fact one morning we had 7 hunters in the woods and they only saw 12 deer between the 7 of them. I was so embarrassed and tried to explain the unexplainable to them. My guides were dumb founded and the whitetail hunters in camp were all frowns on that particular day. As a whitetail deer outfitter I find myself being one of two things all the time…………your always a hero or a liar. While 95% of the time our hunters are happy and seeing and harvesting trophy whitetail deer, there is that 5% of the time something will go wrong. Usually its weather or the hunter’s abilities but on this particular occasion it was neither. It was just like the deer had went into hiding. It’s the kind of thing that as a whitetail deer outfitter makes me go crazy.
It was time to put our “thinking caps” on that week, as whitetail deer outfitters and guides in Missouri. Since the big whitetail deer had stopped hitting the usual food sources and were acting weird we starting strategizing weird in return. When all else fails and deer are not being sighted in normal places, you need to change strategies and do things and hunt places you wouldn’t normally do and go.
We utilized the following strategies to tip the odds in our favor:
1. Hunting whitetail deer in acorns: The whitetail deer that had been coming out so casually in our fields to eat beans disappeared. We knew with the dropping of acorns it would be wise to hunt the acorns. We also knew the whitetail deer hadn’t vanished and were still in the areas we whitetail hunt. This increased sightings dramatically on morning hunts. In an article previous to this I have went into great detail about acorns. It is an article that is both scientific to understanding acorns, and provides knowledge that as a whitetail deer hunter you need to study. Thus we began to center morning whitetail deer hunts around acorns instead of bed areas.
2. Clover Food Plots: Next instead of hitting the green bean fields in the evenings where we had been watching trophy whitetail deer all summer long, we abandon them and went to clover food plots in secluded areas. The food plots that produced the most were those in river bottoms where the temperatures are much cooler than hill country. These lower temperature ranges were drawing whitetail deer with some locations being up to 10 degrees cooler for them to move earlier in the day during shooting light. As a result on 9-19-2009 Ryan Brignac broke the ice and climbed into a stand right on the edge of one of our food plots near a riverbottom where temperatures were slightly lower due to elevation issues. Brignac hovered over the food plot at 4 PM. He saw many deer but on 6:20 PM he put a Rage Broadhead through is first Pope and Young of his life. Another key to hunting early season whitetail deer.
3. Dense Thickets: Also we implemented strategies wherein instead of hunting the wide open food sources we “jumped ship” and concentrated some whitetail deer hunts on the thickest nastiest bed areas we could find. Some of these places paid huge rewards while others seemed lifeless. Several whitetail deer hunters during those outing came out of the woods says I stopped counting and don’t know how many whitetail deer I saw during my whitetail deer hunt. This is another key to hunting early season whitetail deer.
4. Keep Scouting for Whitetail Deer: As the season changes so will whitetail deer patterns, routines, and feeding locations. Thus a good whitetail deer outfitter will watch new locations and food sources from a distance while his hunters are in the woods. Although as a whitetail deer outfitter we always do this for our clients that hunt with us here at IMB Outfitters, we really worked hard that week to find the big whitetail deer and where they had moved to. We found many trophy whitetail deer in strange places. Places that were mostly secluded from human activity. In fact in a mere 48 hours we found over a dozen new record book whitetail deer and began to hang tree stands where we had not planned on hanging them initially. Yet another tip to hunting early season whitetail deer or whitetail deer that have gone underground.
5. Hay Bale Blinds: As green bean tops turn yellow in the Midwest, the whitetail deer will abandon them and move to green bean fields that are not as mature. Some whitetail deer will abandon the bean fields all together and go to freshly cut clover fields with big round hay bales in them. Although an article will follow in days to come on hay bale blind hunting, we setup several Hay Bale Blinds in these locations that a company named Chasing the Outdoors manufactures. My preferred Hay Bale Blind of the entire hunt industry. They can be viewed on our sponsors page at www.imbmonsterbucks.com As a result this evening one hunter say in the hay bale blind and saw a Boone and Crockett Whitetail Buck and another with him just over 150 inches. Hay bale blinds are another key to hunting early season whitetail deer that have vanished or changed their pattern of movement.
6. Never handcuff yourself to a certain area. This means if you’ve been watching a big whitetail deer all summer long, but when hunt season opens you simply cannot find him, don’t be dumb and continue to hunt the same spot over and over with the same bad results. The wise hunter will move with continual scouting efforts to place himself within weapon range of a different whitetail deer he wishes to harvest. Hunting one particular buck can be a painstaking and often unrewarding excursion. Don’t handcuff yourself if you want to find deer that have moved and changed whitetail deer patterns.
7. Utilize scouting cameras. During that one tough week we collected a dozen cameras from the woods and reviewed over 1000 photos taken in an effort to locate trophy whitetail deer with scouting cameras from Stealth Camera Company. They were helpful to us as well to increase numbers and odds for our whitetail deer hunters during a down trodden time. In the morning we will place a couple hunters on a huge monster buck that was caught on camera on one of our farms. With the help of the Stealth infrared camera we may be field dressing him tomorrow.
8. Talk to landowners. On one particular day I spoke to the landowner of a farm we have and he confessed to seeing a big whitetail buck bed up in an old thick ditch. That evening we approached the ditch holding the big whitetail buck with the wind in our favor and the hunter had the deer at 5 yards by the day’s end.
In a nutshell as whitetail deer hunters you simply have to stay persistent and continue your pursuit of whitetail deer no matter what happens. It’s those whitetail deer hunters that give up and become disgruntled both at home or with a whitetail deer outfitter that are not successful. Winston Churchill once delivered a message to a graduating class at Harvard University. They thought he would have some long drawn out speech full of wisdom, yet when he stepped up to the podium he simply said three words and only three words, “Never Give Up.” I agree with Mr. Churchill in many aspects of life but especially as it may apply to hunting trophy whitetail deer. Never give up. Nobody every kills a trophy whitetail buck by giving up. For each minute you spend in the woods in pursuit of whitetail deer you are one minute close to shooting that trophy deer of a lifetime. I have found Missouri Deer Hunting on a norm that two in ten trips to the timber in pursuit of a trophy whitetail deer I will get chances to shoot a record book whitetail buck. Remember you may just be one hunt away from your next wallhanger. Therefore you can’t ever stop and get mad and quit.