Are Some Whitetail Bucks Unpatternable?
During the summer of 2009 I watched a couple huge whitetail deer that would easily score over 160 inches in the State of Missouri. As you know, and as Iíve stressed Missouri Deer Hunting is phenomenal. With many years of whitetail deer hunting experience behind me, and 14 Pope and Young whitetail deer in my trophy room sometimes you think youíve seen it all. However these particular two trophy whitetail deer have taught me a lesson I would like to forget, or at least this far would like to forget. It made me ask the question, ďAre some whitetail deer simply not patternable?Ē
I have been whitetail deer hunting a farm in Northern Missouri over the past several days that simply holds no rhyme nor reason to the movement of its whitetail deer herd. I started this summer scouting an 80 acre bean field bordered by big oaks with an attached clover field and creek running through it. Literally the farm has such great whitetail deer trails that it looks like a group of motorcyclists have been riding dirt bikes everyday throughout the farm. I mean whitetail deer trails a foot wide and 3 inches deep in the ground covered in fresh muddy whitetail deer tracks. Each evening I watched the majestic soybean field in the summer. Several shooter bucks would enter and exit the field while feeding along with a handful of does. Each night both the does and the bucks would enter and exit the field in totally different locations. One night the whitetail deer would enter the field on its East end. The next night they would enter on the far West end of the soybean field. The next night they might come out come the middle of the tree line which is due South. Other night they would not appear. Literally I have tried an array of different tree stand setups to harvest one of these monster whitetail deer but how? If a whitetail buck isnít on any type of pattern and itís not the rut, so you can utilize topographical advantages to the fullest extent, then how do you harvest these whitetail deer?
Two of the largest bucks are totally distinguishable. One is about 160 inches. His main beams nearly touch each other in the front and he has a 3 inch kicker point coming off of his right G2. The other deer I seek is 100% Boone and Crockett. I massive long tined 10 point whitetail buck that is perfectly symmetrical. This whitetail deerís rack slants slightly upward due to the angle of his main beams. His mere rack style and size make him totally recognized up to great distances.
Evening one of my whitetail deer hunt on the field, I went after the smaller of the two bucks with the kicker off the G2. He had cut the corner of the soybean field on its Eastern end two nights in a row. I sat up a perfect stand for interception and sat it three nights in row. He was a no show all 3 nights.
Then I did some scouting inside the woods but very cautiously. I located a 5 acre soybean field he apparently had been headed to a mere 100 yards away. I went down mid morning and setup one of the tree stand setups that I thought would be a slam dunk. Again he did not show up. In fact that night the farmer called my cell phone and told me that both deer were a mile away across the road in his clover field and described them to a perfectly. This was the 2nd time these deer had crossed the road and went into the clover a mile away or so.
Talk about frustration. There is absolutely no routine or pattern to these two whitetail deer at all. It may be due to massive acorns production. Could be they are just meandering about the woods, and not having to commit to a specific feeding location each night because everywhere they roam they have acorns in plentiful amounts. Hell, Iím beyond frustrated, Iím starting to get mad. Even the does on this field donít appear or enter the field at any specific location. Itís just like they are a bunch of gypsies without a plan. Iím to the point of giving up on the area, but the whitetails bucks Iím watching are so big I canít talk myself into leaving the area for another farm. It would be one thing if it was rifle season, but Iím forced to get within 30 yards, or bow range of a trophy whitetail buck that hasnít given a hint of being on any type of routine at all.
Ever found yourself in this situation? Itís certainly a new facet of whitetail deer hunting for me. Normally early season hunting for whitetail deer in Missouri and is fairly predictable and routine. Most of the time whitetail deer are bedding, and using a travel route to and from a specific food source, until crop cultivation begins or the rut breaks open. During early season whitetail deer normally enter and exit a food source at the place at the same time each evening unless they are feeling too much hunt pressure.
Strategies for the Unpatternable Whitetail Deer Scenrio
In the aforementioned scenario two common denominators are present. #1. I am definitely in an area of trophy whitetail deer and have it narrowed down to one farm. This at least puts me ďin the ballparkĒ or travel area of trophy whitetail deer. I have viewed these bucks only doing two things on a regular basis. The first or #1 thing I know is one out of every two or three nights they are across the road on the clover field a mile away. Although it will be difficult to leave the majestic glowing green soybean river bottom field to hunt the mere 40 acre clover field across the road these particular trophy whitetail deer are entering the clover field at the exact same place when they are indeed present. Thus for the time being I will spend the next few outings on the clover field and await them to complete their cycle of travel, hoping I am on the clover entrance one of the evenings they come to feed. This will give the river bottom bean field a break regarding hunt pressure. After spending several nights on the clover field both whitetail bucks did not appear. There are some locations that a big whitetail buck will travel through but arenít his core area. This clover field was one such location.
The #2 factor that is present is that these particular trophy whitetail deer are utilizing a oak ridge lying between the clover and the soybeans, as they travel back and forth. I may need to hunt on the oak ridge to intercept one of the trophy whitetail bucks. I have not done this as it would take major penetration. What I mean by penetration is that I would most certainly be walking deep into the heart of where they could be bedded up and spook them completely out of the area. When a whitetail hunter closes the distance and goes right into a bed area after them you need to have exhausted all other resources first. Why? Because this is the last card to play on killing them and itís a card when played that can spook the whitetail deer totally off an area. You canít just rush right into the heart of any trophy whitetail buckís bed area and think you arenít taking a big risk. This should only be done when all other strategies have been exhausted. However in this case I will be forced to do so sooner or later before the rut arrives. Why? When the rut arrives these whitetail deer could travel miles away chasing does. Right now I have them at least in a general area. In a few more days I may charge into the oak ridge, but for now I refuse to run into the core area chancing spooking off the deer.
A third thing I have noticed is that on nights these whitetail bucks enter the beanfield only they do it at the very last minute of dark. Between the bean field and the bottom of the oak ridge lies a level strip of ground wherein possibly they could be ďstaging upĒ and eating acorns refusing to enter the field until last light. Working the ridge base poses some advantages and risks. The advantage is catching the big whitetail bucks during shooting light just off the field where they feel safe. The disadvantages include winds that will swirl at the base of any ridge as well as when hunting at the bottom of ridge whitetail deer often spot you as they work from a higher level of elevation to a lower level of elevation. When they walk down the ridge at some point your at eye level with them. So with swirling winds and the ability to visually spot me I am also a bit timid to proceed in this manner for a few days.
Of course one could just simply continue to be persistent and hunt the same tree stand on the soybean field and wait for the night they walk by. This I find to be insane as its trying the same strategy over and over with the same results. Without doubt a move must be made.
So in review weíll try the clover field for a couple nights, then maybe hit the soybean field one more night, after which I will try the ridge base, and at a last effort I will march into the bed area and try to set right up on them chancing the risk of spooking them. ARE YOU FOLLOWING CLOSELY, IF NOT REVIEW THIS WHITETAIL DEER ARTICLE AS A PUZZLE.
Up to this point this has been an article I have not finished and has literally layed in my computer as I didnít know how to finish it. Why? Because I didnít know the ending. Rather than attempt any of the strategies above that I was contemplating at the time I decided I would ďpunt the areaĒ. This phrase means I decided I would move to a totally different part of the farm where I had not been whitetail deer hunting. I moved to a big oak timbered draw on the farmís western half. I did position myself just inside the timbers edge about 30 yards in the middle of some trees dropping acorns heavily. I moved for two reasons. #1. I was getting tired of striking out on the bucks I was hunting. #2. I wanted to see if a fresh area would produce more whitetail deer sightings.
The first night in the stand I climbed 25 feet into a white oak with my Ole Man Climber. There I sat awaiting night fall. The last 1 Ĺ hours of light I was covered in deer. All the deer stayed inside the woods eating acorns, despite them being less than 50 yards away from their choice of clover or beans. I literally couldnít even move as whitetail deer were 5 feet from my tree stand for what seemed like forever. Now letís get real and raw since thatís what I pride my articles on. Finally after 1 Ĺ hours I decided that as the deer were grazing away from my position finally I would finally be able to urinate. I slowly pulled out my urine bottle from my pack and completed the task. When I went to place the urine bottle back in the pack their was a doe I hadnít seen that never saw me in the tree but she heard me. She stood and blew at me for what seemed like 30 minutes. I thought to myself, ďIf a buck was coming, he sure isnít now.Ē I was right.
At dark I headed for the truck and called some buddies. I ask them after being blew for 30 minutes straight (meaning she was alerting other whitetail deer to my presecence by snorting loudly) should I go back to the same location the next night. My buddies thought I should return the very next night. I refused. I simply went a day without hunting to let the area rest.
Yesterday I went back in to hunt the evening. At 5 PM I was sitting in my stand and a 160 inch bruiser waltzed just out of bowrange from my location. As he meandered off, I thought to myself, ďWell that was a thrill but its not gonna happen again tonight.Ē An hour later 7 does came running into my timbered area in a panic. They looked spooked and were looking behind them. Initially I thought I had a trespasser or at the least a coyote in my area spooking deer to my position. Then out of the corner of my eye I caught movement. A fine 140 class 8 Point was 30 yards away and closing the distance quickly. It was as if he was chasing them. Surely not on September 26th for the rut was more than a month away still. By the time I got my bow of the hook and put a bead on his chest he was a mere 5 yards away. I sent a 2 bladed Rage Broadhead through his chest and collected my 15th Pope and Young Buck of my life.
SO WHATíS THE MORAL TO THE STORY:
In retrospect I was so fixated on the area of the farm and two bucks I had been watching that were almost unpatternable I had been missing out on the larger picture of my whitetail deer outings. By moving to a secluded area of the farm where we have never hung a stand before and trying something new, I was successful. Donít become so fixated on trying to pattern specific trophy whitetail deer that you forget other areas of your farm that may be producing trophy whitetail bucks that are more easily harvested. My hunters will kill the 160 inch and the Booner this year. Iím simply happy with my fine 8 point. Now I can relax and enjoy watching others hunt. Killing early season trophy whitetail deer in Missouri and other States, can be done by patterning them as I did in 2008 or by hunting areas of the farm you havenít paid any attention to as I did in 2009. Donít forget to hunt those locations on the farm that you simply arenít paying attention to.