I know we have all heard some tall tales about deer hunting. From huge bucks that disappear never to be seen again to impossible shots that can hardly be believed. Hunters are never scared to tell a good story, they are also never scared to give their best advice. I mean, how many of us have heard that only big bucks rub big trees or that dominate bucks get their pick of the does? How about big bucks always walk into the wind? Well, I have spent some time researching scientific journals on whitetail behavior – Arkansans love their deer and love to study their habits then write about them. So here is my collection of myths and my two cents.
- Deer cannot see hunter orange! This is only partially true. Research suggests deer have red/green color blindness, which means they see red/green in shades of black and white. Their eyes are also equipped to pick out violet, blue, and yellow colors. So it is more likely the case they see hunter orange as more of a yellow. So stay away from lighter shades of orange and instead go to for the darker blaze orange with timber break up. This will make it fall into their red spectrum and appear more black and white.
- Big bucks leave their home range when the shooting starts! Well research of collared bucks reveals that regardless of human pressure, dogs, or gun fire, deer seldom stray far from their normal haunts. Fear prevents them from seeking refuge in unknown territory. Odds are more likely your trophy has gone nocturnal and rarely leaves his bed. So tread lightly but don’t think your buck has abandoned you. Ease off him and let him make a mistake.
- Do not pee anywhere near where you hunt! We have all held it to the point it was unbearable because someone told us not doing so was a recipe for disaster. Well if we really think about it, a deer would have no where to go if it strayed away from where a predator urinated. Research has found that after-shave, human urine, peanut butter, or even new-car scent are just as likely to attract bucks to scrapes as commercial scents. So pee if you have too, and if you are really concerned dig a boot hole and cover but don’t hold it.
- Whenever they can, Big bucks always walk into the wind! Well if this were true, all the big bucks would end up in the same place within their range. We sometimes forget these animals can see just about as good as they can smell and hear. Their ability to detect motion has had many of us frozen in fear in our climbing stands – half standing with our bows extended. Always remember, a whitetail bucks never turns his senses off. He is always ready to go, and go fast. A bedded buck will always face towards his best vantage and will trust his nose and ears to protect his six. When entering an open field to feed, he will usually keep the wind to his back and again trust the nose to cover his back. When he is done gallivanting around, he will approach his bed with the thickest parts into the wind – to let him know if a predator has taken up residence. So if you hunt a field, expect the big boy to have the wind at his back. If you are catching him going home to bed, look for him to enter wind in front.
- Scrapes are mostly worked at night! This is true! About 85-98% of scrape activity occurs in the darkness. So cool – you have bucks in your area and the game cam pics are nice, but always try to cut him off by his bed or his kitchen.
So true to form, I told you stories and gave you my best advice. I think there is no research that adequately substitutes being in the woods and observing individual whitetail behavior. However, if you hunt the wind, pay attention to the weather, and know where the food and the ladies are, I bet you will do just fine. Good luck this season everyone. We hope you will enjoy a hunt or two on Our Tracts.