Shoot Often: One of the most important tips to harvesting big bucks is ensuring your gear is in perfect shooting condition.
How many people have you heard say they missed the buck of a lifetime or something went wrong that could have been prevented? Don’t let this happen to you…don't be “that person.”Try to do everything possible to stack the odds in your favor. I’m a firm believer in shooting my gun every time I get to my hunting location or after bumpy rides on an ATV. If anything happens that could have caused things to be off, shoot again. It’s not only good for your confidence, but addressing problems before hitting the field is key!
Trail Cameras-None of us can be in all the locations we want to be at once, but trail cameras can be there! During the season, the number one reason I love trail cams is to watch when a shooter buck goes from being nocturnal to having daytime activity. That’s usually the best window at harvesting him. So, if you get a daytime picture of your buck…head out to your stand as soon as possible! I also like to put out mock scrapes and place cameras over them. That way, I can get an inventory of what bucks are in the area I am hunting very quickly!
Food & Water Source- I’ve had a ton of success hunting over food and water sources in all stages of the hunting season. If you don’t have a food or water source on the property you hunt, look at putting them in. You can do an easy water hole that attracts animals beyond what you could imagine even if you already have water on the property. Put it someplace that’s secluded so animals feel safe getting a drink. As far as a food source, if baiting is legal look at putting a feeder out year-round with minerals, corn or protein. If feeders are not legal, think about putting in a food plot or simply learning where deer are going to eat so you can hunt them on their way to and from a food source.
Steady Rest-Regardless of whether I’m hunting in a tree or on the ground, having a steady rest is key. Some stands come with a shooting rail which can be helpful, but often times this isn’t the exact height you need when the moment of truth happens. I like to have a set of tripod Bog Pods shooting sticks with me at all times. This ensures I’m as steady as possible taking as much human error out of the shot that I can.
Comfort is Key- When hunting treestands, comfort is key. Take a nice seat cushion in with you. This doesn’t mean you're a whimp, it just means you’ll sit still longer increasing your chances of success. Also take plenty of food, snacks and drinks with you. When temps drop, your body needs fuel to stay warm. Eating also helps pass the time and nobody wants to be sitting on stand starving and only thinking about food.
Control Breathing-We all get excited when a big buck steps into range, but it’s extremely important to get breathing under control before taking a shot. This also can be applied to spot and stalk hunting. Take a moment to catch your breath, calm down, don’t rush it and make the perfect shot. Usually there’s only once chance at this so make it count.
Hunt Thick Brush Smarter-It’s a known fact that big bucks like the thickest nastiest cover on your property. Unfortunately, this can be difficult to hunt and many people simply do deer drives to push the bucks out. This is one option, but this usually ends in running shots. So, a much better solution would be to use rattling instead. I like to get the wind in my face, setup with some sort of deadfall or tree behind me to break up my silhouette and then rattle about 50-100 yards from the thick brush. It’s truly amazing how many times you can pull a giant buck out simply by peaking his curiosity. This allows for a nice standing shot as the buck looks around trying to figure out where the fight is taking place. Now you have the advantage, you are setup and ready.
Hunt Hard-Nothing is more important that putting in time on stand or in the field. There is literally nothing you can do that will increase your odds more. If you have the time get out there, enjoy nature and hope that there’s a little luck on your side.
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With a degree in broadcast journalism, Melissa set sights on a career in the outdoors. Traveling over 300 days a year to shoot for Winchester Deadly Passion, Bachman considers this her “dream job.” With a love for children, industry trade shows and the great outdoors, she films around the world for her adrenaline-pumped series.