A Pope and Young Plan of Attack

March 12th, 2010 / Posted by edersbow.com
A Pope and Young Plan of Attack

Each of you reading this article has varied skills and interests regarding whitetail hunting. Some of you will be trying for your first bow kill this coming fall, while others will be passing bucks many archers would love to slip their deer tag on. Most of you, though, in all likelihood have taken several deer, and are in pursuit of increasing your hunting knowledge so your success rates are even better in the future. If you’re like me, as you read articles you probably wonder why some bow hunters are tremendously successful, while others are not. Very often, it all comes down to details and formulating a game plan for the year. A bow hunting trip Carol and I made to Iowa three years ago reaffirmed this truth to me.

A M.A.D. Planner

Tools of the deer-hunting trade; a topographical map, compass, grunt tube, arrows with razor-sharp heads...and a bow, too!

Tools of the deer-hunting trade; a topographical map, compass, grunt tube, arrows with razor-sharp heads...and a bow, too!

It was 4:30 in the morning as I eased out the door of our plainly furnished, but adequate motel in a small town in the south-central part of the state. The flag flying above an adjacent and historical hotel was whipping toward the southeast, indicating the wind was from the northwest. I would double check this on the weather radio, and even with a nearby airport later on. Turning to go back in the room, I was surprised to see the door next to me quietly open and another bow hunter step outside to look at the flag. He looked familiar.

“Mark,” I said, “Mark Drury. What are you doing here?”

“Tad and I are up here bow hunting for a week. What about you?” he replied. “Carol and I are doing the same thing,” I remarked. “We’ll talk to you sometime this week.”

As most of you know, Mark Drury founded M.A.D. calls and has produced outstanding hunting videos for several years. His deer videos have captured on film his crew taking many outstanding bucks, all in the wild. Everything I had seen regarding Mark up to this point had been positive, but I’m always wondering exactly what kind of a hunter a guy really is. Does he take big deer because his hunting locations are so great he has to shoo bucks out of the way as he goes to stand, or does he succeed through sound hunting methods and persistence.

An excellent hunter. I found that out real quick when we visited with he and Tad that night. Mark had been hunting this area for a few years, and had his stands set well ahead of time. Each stand site was numbered, the location was duly noted, and what wind direction would be required to hunt each stand was also recorded. Every detail of their hunts was planned out well in advance–and more importantly, adhered to. It didn’t surprise me to see them fill their tags with nice bucks fairly quickly.

Carol and I, meanwhile, had our opportunities. She missed a great non- typical which would have scored in the 180s. I passed good bucks, but never had a crack at anything top end. We did this despite the fact we had never been to the region before. We had to obtain permission to hunt, then quick decisions as to stand placement had to be made. Still, we did have a plan we followed, and so should you every year.

Locate an inside corner in your land's terrain and you can bet the family farm that deer will use that point for heavy travel.

Locate an inside corner in your land's terrain and you can bet the family farm that deer will use that point for heavy travel.

This is why the focus of this piece is on making a game plan. Thus far this series has talked about recognizing and hunting strategic terrain features, where to position your stand, even how to get in and out to a degree. While this is all good information, it doesn’t go into great detail about the game plans, patience, and persistence of the hunter most of the time. There is much to be learned in this respect, so a list of recommendations follows that has enabled many archers to become successful deer hunters, often connecting on trophy whitetails.

Seven-Phase Attack Plan
1. First of all, you must recognize your strengths, especially in the time of year to hunt. If you have been bow hunting very long, this should be fairly easy. My strength lies in rut hunting more so than in early season or late season deer hunting. Because of this, I plan my time off to fall near or in the rut. If you’re better at late season hunting, be sure to plan your vacations then. And always remember almost all of us, regardless of our vocation, have limited time we can take off. It may be a few days, a week, or two weeks, but rarely longer than this.

Because of the limited amount of days most of us have off, it is critical to take them at the right time. I know tremendous numbers of hunters here in Indiana who take a couple of their vacation days on October 1st when our bow season comes in. “I just couldn’t wait. I had to get out there!” is their common statement. Most don’t even see deer because of the heavy foliage. They would have been far better off to wait until the rut to hunt, when deer are moving better and visibility is great. Of course this takes patience, a trait you can definitely develop.

2. Determine where you are going to hunt. If you want a high scoring whitetail, this may mean going out of state. That’s why we and Mark Drury and Tad were in Iowa–big deer. If you hunt locally, it’s still important to list–on paper or in your computer– every place you might possibly hunt.

3. Obtain plat, topographical and aerial maps of every place you have listed where you might hunt. This is what Carol and I did before we went to Iowa. This enabled us to find landowners so we could obtain permission to hunt, and to then key in on hot terrain features quickly with the topo maps.

When the wind is right, set up at the base of a hilltop funnel. Bucks will chase does and travel in these areas regularly.

When the wind is right, set up at the base of a hilltop funnel. Bucks will chase does and travel in these areas regularly.

4. Number or name every stand site you may use. This may seem unnecessary if you have a great memory. Well, most of us don’t. This is why numbering or naming your stand sites is important.

5. List the wind direction(s) you need to effectively hunt each stand site. You can do this by standing at the stand site with a compass in your hand, or you can even do it by placing a compass on your aerial or topographical map and determining the wind directions most desirable. And since all of you are reading this on a computer, I’ll share a neat little trick I discovered.

If you buy a topographical map on a CD, such as from Maptech, there is a route marker setting on the map. By clicking on the topographical map at the place where you want to place your stand, you then can move the route setting arrow around and you can determine the best wind directions using this method. It sounds harder to do than it really is.

6. Determine the best entry and exist routes to your stand. This is tremendously important. You want to disturb the whitetails in the region as little as possible. For example, Carol and I almost always go to our stands just before daylight, at daylight, or even a little later. This surprises many hunters. “You have to be there early,” they say. Not really. Our best entry to many of our stands is through fields where deer feed. It’s foolish to walk through deer to get to stand. It’s much better to wait until the whitetails clear the fields, then ease into the stand site.

There are exceptions to this, of course, such as getting to a deep saddle in the hills before the deer arrive there. Even then, however, arriving late doesn’t hurt you on a morning hunt. Over 70% of the trophy deer we kill are taken between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. This brings me to the next point.

7. Determine how long you are going to stay on stand. If you only have two hours to hunt in the morning or evening, there’s no major decision here. If, on the other hand, you have all day to hunt, then you need to determine how long to stay. This decision most often will be determined by the time of year. During the late pre-rut, rut and post-rut, boomer bucks can be moving at any hour. We do make some draining all day hunts, although most often we hunt from daylight until 1:00 p.m. then from 3:00 p.m. until dark. This gives us a little break. The best three hours of the day for us, as previously mentioned, is 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.

Again, this is where making a game plan and sticking to it will really increase your success rates. By saying you are going to hunt until 1:00 p.m. no matter what, you have made a commitment to stay there. Even if you don’t have confidence deer will move at noon, by trying this time a few days, you will see it happen, maybe even take out a bruiser. This builds both confidence and patience, important ingredients in the successful trophy hunting recipe.

Putting It All Together
Once all this information is recorded, make sure you hunt the stand locations offering the highest odds of success. Don’t hunt with the wrong wind, thinking you will “get lucky”. You will ruin all your days of preparation if you do. Yes, this may mean you will spend time setting in secondary stands feeling sorry for yourself some days. Despite this, doing so is a breakthrough. You are on the road to being an outstanding deer hunter, and you will be rewarded.

To show how a plan can work, I’ll share a typical hunt I made. The day was November 7, 1998. The late pre-rut. Getting out of bed at 5:15 a.m. I checked the wind direction with my weather radio–southeast. Going to my list of stands I could hunt with a southeast wind, I found three. I knew a good buck was using the Bench Funnel Stand area, so decided to hunt there. I planned to stay until 1:00 p.m.

After driving for forty five minutes, I arrived at my hunting spot. Once again I checked my weather radio. The weather direction was holding. If the wind direction predictions had changed, I would have gone elsewhere. I waited until it was breaking light before I walked about three fourths of a mile through the middle of a picked soybean field. Finally reaching the stand location (the tree stand was already in place), I crossed a small pasture and eased into my stand. I had to cross a major deer trail to do this, something I detest. There was no other way

By 9:30 a.m. the sunny day had warmed the temperature into the low 50s. I had not seen a deer. Then the woods came alive. A yearling buck was chasing a doe; a 2 1/2 year old buck was chasing a doe; then silence. Time passed. Was it over?

Not even close. At 11:45 a.m. I took out a 150 gross 12-point who was out taking a midday stroll. Incidentally, the wind was perfect, still being from the southeast, the only wind direction I could hunt this stand with that day. It’s a good thing, the buck stood only 10 yards away when I released the arrow.

Yes, if you’re the man (or gal) with the plan, you are going to find yourself tagging deer much more frequently. Learn all you can about tactical hunting in this magazine (use the archives), then map out your game plan as described. Then remain true to your plan. Be patient; be smart; be persistent; be confident; be successful!!!

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