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Best Hunting Advice

“Did you see anything yesterday afternoon?” questioned a camo-shirted hunter, as I was filling my pickup with gas. Before I could respond he added. “I didn’t go out. It was just simply too hot! Deer probably weren’t moving. Weather is supposed to be cold now, at least cool. I hate hot temperatures during the hunting season would rather stay in camp and watch football.”

“Should have gone! I saw seven bucks and three does including a monstrous ten point. It may be hot for this time of the year, but I guess at least some of the deer like it that way…. Supposed to go to raining later this week. Always welcome rain!”

“Not me, deer don’t move in the rain, so I probably won’t go out. Never have seen deer move during the rain.” I smiled at his comment as I recalled one of the most handsome bucks I have ever taken, shot on the Sandstone Mountain Ranch near Llano, Texas during a cold rain storm! Maybe the reason he had not before seen deer move during the rain, was as he had stated. He had never hunted while it was raining

I got tickled by the comments of the reluctant, fair-weather hunter. Apparently he was looking for excuses not to go hunting and excuses as to why he had not been successful in taking a deer. Something told me too, his mind was made up and he was not about to change.

As a wildlife biologist/manager, hunter, writer and television show host, I have over the years been in more than a fair share of hunting camps. I have noticed there are many, not sure I would truly call them hunters, like the person Just mentioned, who looked for excuses not to go hunting. “It’s too cold!” “It’s too hot!” “It’s snowing!” “It’s raining!”, “Too many acorns!”, “The moon is wrong!” “Wind is blowing too hard and from the wrong direction!”, “It’s the middle of the day, the deer don’t move but early and late!” The list goes on and on! But does making such statement make them true. Me thinks not!

I get to hunt a lot. I have to, as the co-hots, film episodes for “DSC’s Trailing the Hunter’s Moon” television show which airs year around on Pursuit Channel. But even with doing a great number of hunts each year, I NEVER get to hunt as much as I really want to.

One of the things I have noticed in visiting many hunting camps, especially for deer, most hunters hunt early in the morning and late in the afternoon. During the mid-day they are back in camp watching tv, eating, visiting, sleeping. Me? I like hunting all day long, regardless of the weather, moon phase, status of the rut or other “factors”.

Love the fact they are that way because it gives me access to pretty well all the property hunted. And to let you in on a little secret, I have taken my best antlered, old, mature bucks between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm when most hunters are back in camp.

I particularly like hunting all day when there is a full moon or no moon at night. But regardless of the moon phase or time of the year, I like hunting deer all day long. Most deer may move early and late, but that huge racked buck I am always looking for, likes to move around during the middle of the day.

Is the mid-day movement a naturally occurring thing, or, something we have taught the deer because that’s when most hunters are back in camp?   To me why they move mid-day, especially mature bucks, is immaterial! What is important is that some older bucks do indeed move during the essential noon hour.

While hunting in Kansas with Stan Christiansen, an old friend and outfitter a few years ago, I shot a near Boone and Crockett record book buck at 11:30 am. I was seated behind a Nature Blinds Stalking Shield next to a barbed wire fence overlooking a long narrow food plot Stan had planted with Tecomate seeds. The buck emerged out of the dense creek bottom we were watching. He walked along the edge of the field, weaving in and out of cover. Finally, he stopped and gave me a shot at a bit over 300 yards. I had practiced that shot many times at the FTW Ranch’s SAAM ranges with my Ruger American .270 Win/Hornady American Whitetail combination. The deer went down at the shot. Mid-day hunting had proved successful once again.

On another occasion it was hot even for the Brush Country of South Texas. The temperature hovered back and forth the century mark. Not only was the mid-December temperature nearly unbearable, the wind was blowing, at a steady twenty miles per hour, with gusts to twenty-five. Actually the stout south wind made the temperatures bearable.

Whitetail Deer Hunting

In spite of high winds, furnace-like temperatures I prepared to take my ratting horns and head toward the back part of the property. It was ten o’clock. Two hunters in camp proclaimed I had likely been out in the sun too long, which had indeed affected my thinking. Another hunter proclaimed me an idiot.

Smiling, I headed to the brush. My first stop I set up crosswind from a dense thicket, where I could see any deer approaching, regardless of the direction. I had hardly brought the horns together, just started meshing them, when the first buck appeared. He looked like he was a three-year old with about a mid-140’s ten-point rack. Almost at his heels came a second ten-point, this one possibly four years of age and just a little bigger.

I kept rattling and within the ten minutes I did so at that one spot, I rattled in a total of eight bucks, all youngsters. When action slowed, I moved about a quarter mile into the wind and again found a stand near a dense creek bottom thicket. At this stand I rattled up six bucks, including one I almost shot. He had twelve long typical points, with main beams spread about twenty inches. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I looked at him a bit closer. He could not have been over three years of age. I could only imagine what he might look like in three or so years!

The third stand I only rattled in two young bucks.

The fourth set-up, three bucks came in at the same time. They charged in. Watching them, I almost missed the fourth responding buck. He came warily slipping in. He was thick of neck and tarry hocked. No question he was mature, at least six years of age. His inside spread was w-a-y past his ears. I could see eight points and possibly some “trash” around the bases.

Up came my Ruger No. 1, 270 Win. The 130-grain Hornady took him squarely through the shoulders. He went down before I could reload. I could hardly wait to show those back in camp what I had taken. But then after doing some thinking…I decided to stay out until dark, then bring him back to camp. If asked when I took them, I decided to tell them about thirty minutes before dark. No reason to spoil a good thing. Kind of liked having the entire property to myself, during the mid-day!

This leads to a question I am often asked, “What is your best hunting advice?”. My reply is always the same, “Go hunt! Don’t look for excuses not to go hunting, simply go hunt!!” To me that’s the best hunting advice there is!

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