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36,082 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
With the immediate elimination of baiting deer for hunting in the LP, I thought it would be interesting to hear from some experts who have traditionally not hunted over bait even when it was legal to give everyone some of their best hints and techniques on hunting deer without bait.

Obviously, patterning deer and hunting their primary and secondary trails (secondary for the big bucks) are effective. Hunting trails leading to natural food sources or planted food sources are also highly effective.

Would love to hear more techniques in this thread.

2,798 Posts
Scout out and use natural terrain features that funnel deer to bedding or feeding areas, search out water sources especially during warm dry spells. Spend time in the field glassing with binoculars from a distance, watch for a pattern...sneak in to hunt only when the wind in your favor. Use scents and calls during the correct part of the season.....do your home work and put the time in......You won't get your deer sitting at home pouting.

2,675 Posts
I look for pinch points and funnels between bedding areas and desired food.

If it has been a dry year I like to hunt near water.
I only hunt opening morning, after that it is just evening hunts until after Oct 21st.

If you want to hunt deer, hunt where they are during daylight. They are in their beds, find that pinch point/funnel/saddle or draw that the deer use.

Also be sure to setup with a shot in mine. Make sure there are spots to pull you bow back. When cutting shooting lanes, less is more. Also do not touch any limbs you cut with your skin. Wear gloves when you trim your lanes.

I do not like to hunt destination spots, deer tend to wander. I like spots that funnel the deer to me. I set every spot with a "kill zone" and it's inside 20 yds. I shoot no further than 20.

My other favorite spots are staging areas, bucks will hang out here to enter a field or oak flat at dark. Look for browse deer like, acorn tree, beech nut tree. There is not a lot of food here, but enough to graze a bit.

2,675 Posts
If you can a bait plot is nice for shooting some does.

Small plot that brings the deer close for archery. I do have two of these I use for shooting does.

2,240 Posts
For every hour that I hunt on stand I first scout out the area for at least two.

In farm country during the pre rut it's hard for me to get to the stand in the afternoon without deer seeing me. The bucks are watching the fields for does at that time. For that reason during that time of year I almost exclusively hunt mornings by sneaking in under the cover of darkness.

Premium Member
12,995 Posts
I love hunting oak ridges adjacent to big cover for bow hunting. During the rut any funnels between beding areas are great. Rifle huntiing = escape routes and small drives are often effective. i also do ag fields and food plots.

228 Posts
find the travel corridors between feeding and bedding areas. preferably in or near heavy cover which bucks will use more often. i have more luck using these methods than i ever did when i would try bait. some people are upset now but i believe deer sightings are going to increase for many hunters that put their time in.

8,514 Posts
This is going to be long fellas, but, it works.
Speaking the language, talking to deer and calling is hands down the deadliest tactic there is in my opinion willl mean the difference between killing a buck that is just out of range, or going home empty handed again telling yourself, well, at least I enjoyed the hunt.
( Which I do. But, being successful and out smarting ole mossy horns is way cooler. )

The calls I use are Woodhaven Custom Wood Caller, Rod Benson's Wood Deer Call, The Can and my own voice.

No 2 calls are made equal and I'll take it out of the package and play it before I buy it. Each call also has it's advantages and dis-advantages which is why I use different calls for different situations.

First- Woodhaven : Pure Deer. Not many calls sound this good.

Rod Bensons Wooden Deer Call : One of the best calls ever made. Awesome doe grunt and one of the best fawn in distress calls I've ever heard.
This call has been around forever and has led to the demise more Bucks than any other call I've ever used.

The Can made by Primos : I don't use this call the way it's supposed to be used, but will turn it upside down and blow thru the little hole on the bottom creating one of the most pitiful hurt/wounded/lost fawn calls on the market

My own voice : Blocking the air in my nose and bawling with my voice works very well too. It takes pracitce, but I can get the emotion that I want better than a regular call can produce at short ranges.

Deer calling done right is in my opinion the deadliest trick a hunter can master. Out of the 40 + bucks I've killed, over 90% fell to the call. Including 4 doubles.
I've always said, run 10 deer by me, I will call in 7, probably 8, 2 for whatever reason won't pay any attenton to me, including the biggest buck I've ever seen in my life.
The day I saw him, there were 3 bucks together.
2 of'em are in my gallery photos, the big boy wouldn't even look in my direction.
Those 2 deer came in from 285 yards. The 16pt. died at 12 feet. The 8pt came in at a dead run and I killed him at 15 yards.

As I write this there is another brusier ( the one I'm talking about in the post below ) I sent to the promised land last year due to calling. After an hour of challanging, grunting, blatting and everything else I could think of, I went to the fawn bawl and called in the girls.

We men know that our weakest link is the female. We don't like to admit it, but it's true nevertheless. Once we gett'em on our mind, nothing, and I mean nothing is going to pull us away. You know what I mean.

Anyway, there were 14 does and 5 Bucks, including the one I ended up killing.
( One of the other bucks was at least a 125 class 10 pt.)
They were well over 300 + yards away when I started bawling. The does came in with 4 Bucks in tow, the buck I was after hit the brush and came out under me.
Long story short, I arrowed him at 28 yards and watched him fall. I continued to " talk" to the deer and could have killed that 10 if I had wanted to as they all milled around and chased till dark.

Last years Post *********************

Deer " talk " all year long. The trick is to know what they are saying and why they are saying it. And remember, deer don't yell. Call just loud enough for them to hear you.

You really need to have your mind set. This might sound silly, but you need to be a deer.

Example: Fawn in distress. This will bring every doe within earshot running if done right. It'll also bring in that hot doe with a buck trailing right behind her.

I picture a fawn hung up in a fence with a broken leg in my mind. Then I start calling. I'm hurt. I'm scared. I want Momma. NOW. Emotion here is the key. You need to feel what your doing. Put every bit of emotion you can muster into the call by way of tone, volume and duration.

That night I was calling to the buck I'm hunting now, I tried the doe grunt first.
My first and foremost most successful call.
Sleezy, loose, come to me big boy. Nuthin.
Must be he's battin for the other side.

Then, I tried the fawn bawl. A buck could care less about a hurt fawn, but will sometimes come to look out of curiosity.
I bawled for 20 minutes. There's still alot of leaves on the trees. I was on the edge of a field, at almost dark, and could hear the deer running around under me in the picked corn and blatting looking for the fawn. I couldn't see'em cause of the leaves and it was getting dark, as well as my attention was focused on that buck. I only had minutes left of shooting light and he had to come in now if he was going to get arrowed. No go.

Then I did something I rarely do cause it spooks more than it attracts. I challanged him with a mature buck grunt.
That didn't work either. He kept looking over in my direction, but wouldn't commit.
Deer are funny that way.
Either they want company or they don't.
It was almost full dark by then and the game was over for the night.


Here's a post I saved from another thread answering some questions from another member. This is pretty much how I do it. Hope this helps and Good Luck :

Originally Posted by [email protected]
Thunderhead, I have a couple questions.
I have had very limited success even getting a response to a buck grunt call.

Me: First of all, I 99.999999999% of the time I never use a Buck grunt or call in anyway. I always keep my call on the doe grunt or the DG setting.

Originally Posted by [email protected]
I couple years ago and I decided to call "blind" I was caught totally "flatfooted" in my treestand and he looked right up at me and spooked.

Me: Which is why I never call without seeing the buck I want to call in. I don't like giving away my position. I know that there are bucks in the area, sit tight, have patience, patience being the most important thing here. If your set up in a good spot, you'll see a buck. Once your busted, it's over for that particular deer for the entire season. I also believe that after he busts you and he changes his pattern, the other bucks will pick up on this and stay out of range from that spot for the rest of the season.

It's very rare that I have them charge in ( I can't remember one ever doing this to me ) or even circle to wind what they think they are hearing. After hearing the grunt, they usually snap up their head, look in my direction and start wandering/feeding toward me.

Originally Posted by [email protected]
so as of last year, I don't even take a buck grunt tube with me anymore. I think they do more harm than good in an area like mine. High pressure, mostly 1.5 year old bucks and a few 2.5. Instead, I got the Flextone grunt call and set it on "doe".

Me : Now your talkin. The doe grunt. This is the key. The whole ball of wax. The big bananna. The area doesn't matter, 8 out of 10 bucks WILL respond to a good doe grunt anytime during the 1st month of bow season, tho it will get harder to call later in season as the rut/hunter pressure kicks in.

Originally Posted by [email protected]
say I see a lone buck that's just passing by, but not on a trail within bow range? Like 80 yards out sneeking by. What do you do with that doe grunt? Just hit it once? If you get a confirming reaction from the buck, like he stops and looks your way, but keeps walking, what do you do? Call once more? Quit because he already heard you once? Or would I be better served to set on "fawn"? The fawn setting makes sense if the buck is with a doe, but what if he's alone?

Me :When I see a buck, I'll hit my doe grunt once. Very quick, sharp and just loud enough for him to hear it. A one second burp.
He'll snap his head up and immediatly look in your direction. ( In all my years of using this, only one buck didn't look, that was at 285 yards, I killed the 2 with him, maybe he was old and couldn't hear ?? ) read what he's doing, most of the time, they'll drop their head and start in your direction. If he continues on his original course, I'll hit him again, maybe just a tad louder with a bit more urgency.
Now, remember here, deer don't yell so put feeling into your calling, but don't call too loud. I'm that doe and I want you to come to me. His head will snap back up and he'll look your way again. Don't call again till it's obvious that he's not going to come in. Keep up the calling till he's out of sight. Even then, stay on your toes, I've had'em doubleback on their trail 1/2 hour later and look back in my direction and come in on their own.

As far as the fawn setting goes, a buck could care less if your hurt or want mamma. Not his problem. I ONLY use a fawn bawl for calling in a hot doe with a buck on her rear-end, or to kill a doe that I want to call in range.

Originally Posted by [email protected]
What do you do about Oct1-Oct 31 vs rut? Would you approach the doe call differently then?

Me : I use the same doe grunt from Oct 1st thru the very end of muzzeloader season. A doe is a doe and if she's grunting at a buck, she wants his attention. He WILL give it to her, at least till firearm season starts. Also, as bow season progresses, the bucks will be harder to call.
A buck on the trail of a hot doe the tailend of the 1st. week of Nov. for example. Here's where the famn bawl will work, call the doe and he'll follow.

The whole month of Oct. is GOLDEN for calling in a buck using just the doe grunt.
As the rut comes on the bucks are smelling hot does all over the place and it's almost impossible to call one off a hot trail, whether the doe he's smelling is in sight or not.

Now , once gun season starts it's a whole lot harder to call in a buck. He's already spooked and has been running for his life for the better part of 2 weeks. It's a toss up whether he'll come in now. This is the time to pull out all the stops. I ALWAYS carry 2 different calls. No 2 calls are made equal or make the same sound and I'll take every call out of the package and listen to it before I buy.

You don't want a reedy, hollow sounding call or one that takes alot of air to work. You want your call to be able to call subtly with a clear, distinct sound and be able to gain some volume without distorting. I personally haven't found many on the market that fits this bill. The doe grunt has to sound distinctly different and higher pitched than the buck grunt. Night and day. In my opinion, this make all the difference in the world. It's a " girly" sound. You'll know when you play the call.

The thing here again, ( Gun season especially )
I DO NOT CALL BLIND. Here's why.
Gun season, the deer are spooked to the max, you call blind and one hears you, 9 tmes out of10 chances are he'll hightail it the other way. He's breeding does that he can see now and isn't taking any chances, at least that's the rule 98% of the time. If he can't identify what he's hearing, he's gone.
There are young and dumb bucks that might respond, but over all I don't want to take a chance and spook any big bucks in my area. If I can see a buck I'd call to, he's probably in gun range anyway.

Again, DURING gun season, If he's a buck that I want to kill and he's out of range, and won't respond to a doe grunt, what the hell, you have nothing to lose, hit him with whatever you have. Then, and only then will I consider using a mature buck grunt.

......During bow season I won't use the Buck grunt. Chances are VERY good that even if he didn't respond and come right in, he'll be close and eventually come 'round to see who was talking to him.

During gun season / late bow season/rut, I want does around me. I want them to come to my fawn bawling because they're in heat and will leave a scent trail when they come to me. They will eventually leave when they find no fawn, but the scent is still there. I only call to does that I can see.
The longer I can keep'em in my area the better.
If they start to wander away, I'll bawl softly to get them to either come back, or hang somewhere close. This works really good on the edges of the thick stuff where a buck is likely to be and where a hurt fawn will also be likely to laying up.

Experience is the best teacher in this aspect of hunting and nothing works 100% of the time, but, some things work much better and at different times than others and will tip the odds greatly in your favor.

Premium Member
4,958 Posts
Funnels and natural routing.

Little strips of woods breaking fields of corn to beans, separating water from fields, Wooded peninsulas that jut into crop land.

Deer are "fringe" lovers....the edges of terrain changes.

These can be great early on but later in the season if there's been any pressure they dig in deeper.

Deer cross rivers, ponds and small lakes a lot more than some would thing as well. Even hard hunted state land can be productive if you bring waders or a canoe and get into their hidey holes.

I remember one year seeing 8 hunters in a 200 yard stretch on state land on my way back...I crossed the river (waders) and only went another 500 yards to the island I'd found earlier. I never got a shot but I saw 6 bucks and numerous does that morning.

8,514 Posts
One other very important thing is to check for, and to UV Kill your hunting cloths. The glow given off by UV brighteners in your clothing will get you busted everytime........... and you never knowing the buck of a lifetime was on his way in.
Yearlings and young bucks might come in, and they wind up dead. The older deer have been there and done that.
They won't make the same mistake twice.

This is an article I wrote awhile back, it might help tip the odds in your favor, I know it's helped me.


I hunt old school.
To me, reading the woods like I would a steelhead stream, cutting a track, figuring out the animal and appying what I learn to ultimatly outsmart him is what the game is all about, and hunting a mature whitetail is a game of chess.
No matter how a guy hunts, or what his querry is, the single most important thing is consistanly, consistantly being the key word here, becomming as invisible in the woods as is humanly possible. You'll never bee 100%, but you can come close.

Fooling a deer eyes, as well as his nose is not an easy thing to do. After 32 years of chasing whitetails, trust me, I've tried just about everything on the market. I take my hunting seriously, and will go that extra mile to give me that added edge when the moment of truth comes. I've made a million mistakes and learned a million lessons. What seperates the casual hunter from somebody like me is that they take absolutely nothing for granted. Playing the wind is always good advise, BUT, I've seen a hard North wind change on a dime. It happens constantly. The eyes of a whitetail are sharp and their hearing is unmatched.
They know their ground as well as you or I know our own living rooms.

The 1 square mile section of private farm ground I hunt here in central Michigan I share with at least 8 other guys, yet I've managed to kill many record book bucks on this heavily hunted ground, consistantly. ( There's that word again. )

How you ask ?

I become as invisible to their senses as I possibly can.

Now, I'm not what you'd call an " expert " , I doubt that anyone really is. But, after 32+ years chasing whitetails I've learned enough to be dangerous.
I guide for Deer and Turkey, give seminars thruout the country on hunting and calling as well as working numerous hunting shows.
Basically, I'm just an average joe with a " job " I love and a passion for hunting. Like the majority if us, I work paycheck to paycheck and know the value of a dollar, a dollar that I can't afford to throw away on gimmicks.
My bow is 14 years old and I still shoot fingers. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Ok, now, nothing is going to replace good woodsmanship skills and knowing the animal intimatly that your hunting, that's a given. These skills come with experience. Being out there and learning from your mistakes is the best teacher when it comes to this.
But, there are a few things you can do to tip the odds GREATLY in your favor. I started out using "scent free " body soaps, sprays etc.........problem was , I could smell them. If I can smell'em, than it stands to reason that so could the deer.

They did.

I stumbled on UV Killer years ago, read the scientific data provided and tried the stuff out. I immediatly noticed the difference in my outdoor experiences. Birds were literally landing on my bow, squirrels were playing and chasing within feet of me, but most importantly, the deer were oblivious to my presence. MAJOR discovery here.

I learned that ATSKO also made Sno-Seal, which has been around forever, so, in my mind, the credibility was there and I decided to see what else they had to offer. What I found was a turn key package to becomming invisible, and it forever changed the way I hunted.

What follows is my " recipe " for becomming invisible to game animals.

1) I'll wash my under cloths, socks, TOWELS, everything that isn't seen first in sports wash to clean the cloths, kill the odors and rinse out the machine of any left over UV residue or scent from previous washings.

2) Wash my regular hunting cloths.

3) Check my hunting cloths with a UV light to make sure that they are not UV Hot, if they glow under the light, I'll apply UV KIller to take care of that problem. A buck can spot a UV hot hunter a 1/2 mile away. He'll be heading right to you, spot the glow from your cloths and be gone without you ever knowing he was there. Game over.
With UV hot clothing you will see little deer all day long, they don't know any better and wind up dead.
The big ones didn't get that way by being stupid and they learn fast.

4) My cloths are stored in a plastic tub with a top. I'll put about 2 tablespoons of N-O-Dor ll Odor Control Powder in the tub and shake it while it's empty to disperse evenly. This will suck up any odors that I may have picked up during the day. I only need to do this maybe twice a season. I hunt almost everyday, so the week-end hunter may only need to do this once.
A little goes along way with this stuff.

5) I'll take a shower before I go out with Sport-Wash Hair and Body Soap. This compliments the N-O-ODOR OXIDIZER spray and is as as close to being " zipped up in a baggie " as I like to compare it to, as you can get. Washing in this covers your entire body, killing odor causing bactieria at it's source. Drying off with the towel you washed with your underwear will ensure no perfumey odor from a regular wash being picked up.
I'm a big guy. 6' 3" weighing in at 280. I sweat, alot. Especially heading out to my stands, or setting a new one. As I sweat, the odor is neutralized, making the odds of my getting busted well below what it would normally be.
It works all day too.
I know alot of guys don't want to hassle with all of this, but, just trust me here, when your at full draw and the buck of a lifetime is standing 20' away with no idea he's about to go to the promised land, you'll be soooooo glad you did.

6) Ok, so we have the eyes and nose covered as far as hunting cloths/body are concerned.
Now, just before I head out to the woods, I'll spray the sweat areas, head, arm pits, crotch, etc.....with N-O-DOR Oxidizer.
N-O-DOR is one of the most important things in my invisibility recipe. I carry one in my boot, one in my bowcase and two in my truck. I NEVER hunt without it.
This stuff doesn't cover odors, it destroys the bactieria that causes ordors and keeps destroying them all day, instantly.
Don't take my word for it, spray some on the inside of your favorite hat, the one you wear everyday. After 5 seconds or so, that arid , sweaty smell will disappear. That's the big test I used and was sold on the spot.
I will also spray my boots and ladder rungs or tree steps as well. I hunt from a 12" ladderstand and have had deer within inches of my ladder without winding me. One in particular was so close I could actually hear him breathing as he chomped on a ear of corn directly underneath me, I had to look between my legs to see him. That's close.

7) Never take anything for granted. Always check new cloths for UV as well as any hunting pop-up blinds and decoys you use.
I've had to UV Kill 4 out of the 5 hunting tents I use as well as my Turkey dekes. Use your UV light to check your bow and treestands too. Sometimes the paint will be UV hot.

Nothing will ever make you totally invisible to game, and my 1st order of business is to never introduce anything into the woods that wasn't already there to begin with.

Find your animal, learn his habits and go in invisible.

3,205 Posts
I bowhunt about 45 nights a year in the NWL. The best thing I ever did was stop hunting over a bait pile and get down from the trees. I now have thirty different spots I hunt on stateland and keep adding more. I now see more deer and bigger bucks then ever before. Took me a while to learn how to scout and set up my spots but it's been a blast. The goal this year is to stalk and kill a bigboy. I tried sitting over bait a few nights last season and, even though I saw some deer, it was soooo boooooring! I think a lot of bait and sit hunters will really start to enjoy hunting a lot more this year.

2,905 Posts
I hunt Funnels ,and treelines that deer use as Highways. I will also hunt Acorns and Water. Once you figure out how to read sign and start thinking like a deer, it makes hunting that much more enjoyable. I stopped hunting over bait a few years ago, and as a result I see bigger bucks.
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