I prefer, when I can, to hunt deer that I know, either from seeing him on my own or by finding him in a jumble of trail camera photos I’ve downloaded.
I don’t care how long I have to chase that one deer or whether I actually ever get a shot at him. The challenge is to kill the best mature deer I have a chance at wherever I’m hunting. That’s enough for a bow hunter, I think.
I had invested more than 40 hours of blind sitting in the 10-pointer I killed at our lease this fall before I finally got a shot at him. It gave me something to do and it was exciting knowing that we had some deer this year that would be old enough and good enough to keep us going.
You never know what you’re going to see on those cameras — raccoons, skunks, deer, squirrels, feral hogs and anything else that lives outside in the brush.
Set them up aimed at feeders or well-used trails in the brush. They can give you an idea not only of what’s coming through, but when. That’s important if you have an old bruiser that’s gone nocturnal.
Cade Green, manager at Rancho Encantado near Catarina, uses cameras to track deer he wants hunters to take while hunting there each fall. He can download photos to his computer and send a print of that photo with the hunter when he travels to the blind.
Since everyone is bow hunting here, the task of identifying the buck is simplified and the need for a guide in the stand is eliminated. Green also names the bucks once they begin showing definable antler characteristics, usually at three or four years of age.
And just because the buck has a name doesn’t mean he’s tame or going to show up every time you climb into a blind. I’ve hunted bucks for as long as 10 days morning and afternoon and never seen the buck I was hunting. The deer do what they want, no matter what the hunter wants.
Once the stand location is chosen, you can place the ladder or ground blind slightly east or west of prevailing winds and be ready to go.