Defeating The Whitetail Noseon Sep 30, 2012
The Golden Rule
One of the most important factors to being successful when hunting mature bucks is being able to do so without them knowing that you are hunting them. A big buck that knows he is being hunted is almost impossible to kill. The first key to flying under the whitetails radar is a bulletproof entry and exit route to and from your stands. An average stand location with perfect access and exit routes is much better than a fantastic stand location with bad access routes. Let me say that again. The best stand location in the world will do you no good whatsoever if you can't get into and out of it without alerting deer. I would rather hunt where there is mediocre sign but I can get in my stand and get back out every single time without spooking anything. You may see deer from stands with poor access, but the chances of harvesting a mature buck are very slim.
It is best to always pick your access route into an area first, and then pick a stand location based on that. When looking for such areas, consider ditches, creeks, fence-rows, logging roads, and other terrain features that will hide you and keep noise and scent contamination to a minimum. Personally, I avoid walking downwind of bedding areas or anywhere I expect deer to be while I am walking into or out of my stands. Ideally, I can pop out of these access routes almost at the base of my tree. If I do have to walk through the woods for a distance to get to my stand, I do so quickly, sometimes even running to the base of my tree. I have found this actually alerts fewer deer than trying to sneak through the woods on crunchy leaves.
Studying aerial photos can help you find the best way to access your stand undetected.
Direction is Key
The second key to beating a whitetail's nose is to NEVER hunt a stand with a bad wind. Even if the stand is hot, it will only serve to educate the deer and effectively ruin the spot; especially if you are busted by deer that get downwind of you. This is why on every farm I hunt, I have multiple stand locations so that I can hunt multiple wind directions. Deer are very intelligent, and they will remember where they have encountered human odor. I had a doe a few years ago wind me in a stand, and every time she came near that area after that she would look over in that direction. I finally moved the stand to the other side of the trail. One morning she came in and looked away from me towards where the stand used to be. That day I was able to put an arrow through her. She remembered busting me one time, over two months before that, yet she was still leery. If you are able to keep deer downwind of you they will remain calm and at ease, and will be more likely to continue using the area. This is especially important when hunting food plots.
Big mature bucks are usually the last deer to enter crop fields. Whether or not they come into the field depends on the behavior of the deer already in the field. All the other deer must be relaxed and feeding in order for the mature bucks to feel comfortable enough to come out of hiding. Keeping the does and younger deer from winding you is important in order to draw out the bigger deer. If even a single doe comes out in front of you and blows, your chances of seeing a nice buck are virtually eliminated. Therefore, keeping the deer upwind of your location is vital to success.
Some of the ways I accomplish this is by placing my stands so there is some sort of barrier that prevents deer from approaching on the downwind side of me. Things such as rivers, steep hills, or thick brush will accomplish this. This gives me confidence because as long as I only hunt the stand on a good wind, I should not have a problem with deer winding me.
If you are winded by a big buck, he will not soon forget the encounter.
A third crucial element to staying undetected in the deer woods is scent elimination products. This is a subject that has been and will continue to be debated between hunters all over the country. Some will say that it doesn't matter as long as you play the wind and that scent control products are just a marketing gimmick. Others will swear a deer cannot be killed without using special soaps, laundry detergent, toothpaste, deodorant, sprays and layers of carbon clothing. So where does the truth lie? Well, the answer is somewhere in between.
Recently, I had the opportunity to pick the brain of someone who is at the forefront of scent control research and development. This individual told me that any claim that a garment can completely eliminate human odor is false. Furthermore, no technology currently exists that is capable of such a feat. However, there are things that can help minimize human odor by destroying bacteria and containing scent so it does not escape to the atmosphere. Along those lines, there are two types of odors that hunters must contend with. These include Organic odors: those generated by the hunter such as body odor, and Non-Organic: man-made odors such as food, chemicals, gasoline, smoke, etc. He also said that the manner in which you combat the two is slightly different.
As far as organic odors, as much as 90% of human odor is generated by a person's hair, scalp, and face. This may come as a surprise, but when you think about it, our scalp contains may dead skin cells that are constantly falling off. Likewise, our skin secretes oils, and our hair will attract and hold any odor it comes into contact with. Plus the bacteria in our mouth can create a tremendous amount of odors as well. This isn't to suggest that we are all gross, smelly people walking around the woods. However, to a deer and their highly sensitive nose…..that is exactly what we are.