O’Neill Williams Reviews Whitetail Deer Hunting Strategies
SNELLVILLE, GA — Nov. 9, 2007 — Preparation, reading the patterns and taking notice of scent control can mean the difference between a successful hunt and a long, frustrating and uncomfortable day in the woods. While some concepts and tips may seem common knowledge to many of the experienced hunters out there, they are key to hunting success and useful reminders for any hunter, regardless of skill or experience.
Here are some of the fundamental tips and practices for any novice or expert deer hunter:
Identify and study food sources
Where there is food, there should be deer. Deer and bucks spend a significant part of their days gathering at and traveling to and from food sources. The picturesque lush and open meadow sheltered by thick forest is certainly an attractive magnet for the deer but don’t overlook other resources such as acorn droppings, clusters of new growth shrubs and trees, naturally occurring fruit orchards and persimmon trees. Scout out a few different sources for hunts, identifying areas of low land and high ridges to offer choose your best stand location based on weather, and wind and sun position according to various times of day.
Locate the trails that the deer are using to travel to and from the feeding areas. As the rut approaches early in the season, look for tree rubs and scrapes – dead giveaways for buck patterns and therefore the best game trails to watch.
Carefully study deer patterns and behaviors. Don’t scout or travel in the same area for more than two days in a row. Same holds true for hunting. Don’t hunt from the same stand for more than two days or the deer will start to pattern you, your scent and your sounds and avoid you.
Establish proper stand location and position
As a general practice, hunt high in the morning and low in the afternoon. In the morning, as temperatures warm, air rises and sweeps upland. Position your stand so the air flow is in your face. Keep the sun at your back. This helps reduce the risk of deer picking up your scent and it helps illuminate your target area, while keeping you in the shadows.
In the afternoon and early evening the air cools and sinks back into the lowlands. Stay low, again keeping airflow in your face. In the stand, keep the rising and setting sun at your back. High wind is your signal to pay special attention. Always hunt with the wind in your face. It’s easier to manage the wind when it’s noticeable than when it’s quiet.
Control your scent
Scent control may be the most important factor in the woods and one of the most difficult to manage. You can’t totally eliminate your scent so you do the best you can to control it. Consider it risk management.
There are two factors to effective scent control: keeping upwind from the deer and using the correct clothing. Thankfully, technical advancements in apparel have significantly improved our ability to control human scent while hunting. Scent control baselayers or layers worn next to the skin are critical as they help control the growth of odor causing bacteria at the source.
“I wear VisaEndurance® baselayers (www.visaendurance.com) because they work great and are very comfortable, said O’Neill Williams, national TV and radio show host and avid hunter. “They’re made of a performance-based, anti-microbial fabric that wicks away sweat, dries fast and fights stains. Plus, the scent control capabilities keep working for the life of the garment. “
Another thing to consider is your outerwear, which is most obvious. Be sure to choose outerwear with scent control to provide added protection.
“I’ve tried most of the activated carbon clothing with some satisfaction — a satisfaction I find now is somewhat misplaced — but I’m very excited about new adsorption technologies, especially VisaEndurance® Shield, which will be available next year,” said Williams.
Perform proper care of your scent control apparel for best results. Make sure hunting clothes are washed in unscented detergent such as Scent-A-Way or Scent Killer. Shower using an anti-bacterial, unscented soap. As added precaution, put your hunting clothes in a plastic bag with pine boughs or leaves from the woods and carry them to your stand on the day of the hunt. Once you get there, change into your hunting clothes and then seal your “smelly” clothes back into the bag. If you’re using carbon-based scent control outerwear, it has been absorbing all morning and may not continue to work.
Practice, practice, practice…before hunting season opens
If at all possible, don’t make your first hunt a practice run. Preparation and practice should happen weeks before your season opener, but don’t overdo it in the field. I believe the herd buck will sense your presence or that of others in the woods and start to avoid you. Get to the range and practice your shots. Site in rifles prior to first hunts and at least once during the season. Practice shooting at targets from stands and from the ground. Also, practice shooting off handed. You usually only get one shot and you never know when that trophy buck will step out and require an off-handed shot.
For more tips, watch O’Neill Williams as he hosts “O’Neill Outside,” airing weekly in North America on Sun Sports, Fox South Net-South and Versus (formerly Outdoor Life Network). For a complete program schedule and other useful tips on hunting and fishing, visit www.oneilloutside.com.
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