Dawn, it was another warm morning when I settled into my treestand  for a sunrise set.

November 2, pre-rut much hotter than normal. The breeze was flat as glass and humidity hung thick throughout the timber canopy. Adding insults to my poor odds, the full moon had yet to set so with all the looming factors, I realized conditions weren’t ideal for killing an old whitetail, but when are they?

Over the years I’ve found that Whitetail reproduction occurs despite the eliminates at hand and thus being in the woods despite bad conditions can sometimes leave my hands bloody. So I loaded an arrow tipped with a deadly Grim Reaper Broadhead and put my bow on the hook then nestled myself in for a long mornings wait.

I was waiting on the edge of a thick clear cut not more than a three acre patch of new growth within a stand of mature white oaks. A good hiding place for a doe who may be avoiding Big Luey, I figured. I as well as Big Luey knows these things and so the ground work was laid for a simple plan that over the years has put me within bow range of many a big bruisers who were cruising for a doe in heat.

A buck’s sense of smell is his utmost supreme means of defense and likewise a tool to locate and identify receptive females. After a lifetime of hunting deer I have witnessed numerous bucks using the same courting ritual time after time. They cruise the down wind edge of bedding cover scenting the thermals for does in hiding. Their acute sense of smell affords them a thorough look into heavy cover without ever having to enter the lair. Until bingo, he smells her.

When scouting, one will often notice the distinct trails, rubs and scrapes along the outside edge of cover. These travel routes become main highways for cruisers come rut. A buck will cover vast country moving from bedding area to bedding area until eventually he finds her or we kill him. Older bucks often are aware of the danger but can’t resist the desire to breed a doe. So he sneaks is way along, checking the thermals for the smell of his desire while stopping to listen and look for danger. I position myself down wind of these corridors, far enough out to avoid his direct line of sight yet close enough for a passing bow shot.

It’s a simple strategy that is responsible for half the bucks I’ve killed. Even so, let’s be real. I’m no wizard. I simply hunt more than the average bobcat. Big bucks are dang hard to kill. The odds of success each time I set such an ambush are dismal at best but adding days or weeks of persistence and your odds are now as good as any other method out there that doesn’t include a spot light.

I for one must admit, on this hot morning aloft my mind was only partially in the hunt when suddenly I heard a low raspy grunt off to my right. I reached over and picked up my bow looked back and there he was!

Methodically he moved along the outside trail, smelling overhanging branches and stopping to listen and look as the old warrior eased my way.

Not fifty yards out the trail split and he began to take the wrong one so I softly snort wheezed once. Instant, the buck turned and looked my way. Yes, it was a gamble, I know but it payed off for the buck turned and rubbed and thrashed a clump of brush beside him. He then stiffened up and walked into range.

I waited until the big heavy horned eight point turned his head. I then drew my bow but he must have heard or sensed the danger for the moment the nock touched my cheek he looked right up at me. Too late, for I sent it.

He spun to run but the Grim Reaper Broadhead ate the five year old buck up pretty quick and laid proof that an old trick still works on the wisest of wise.

Big whitetails will always be who they are. A cut above the rest, smarter, shyer and far less in number. Yet over time their genetic molds give big deer similar traits. They do what big bucks do and what worked on Big Luey may work on your target buck as well…….

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