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Patterning Deer



By: TRMichels
Posted: 27-Sep-07

Dont know if I posted this or not, and can't seem to find it.

It is my favorite way to hunt a specific Tropy Buck. It migh help some of you.

It is from the The Complete Whitetail Addict's Manual, which is copyrighted.

Patterning Bucks After finishing the sport show circuit and doing a seminar based on my research of deer activity and weather conditions I was amazed to find out how may hunters wanted to take a 140 or better class buck yet were not hunting rub lines, scrapes, funnels or staging areas. My amazement was not that those attending wanted to shoot a good buck, but at when and where they hunted.

I start off my seminars by asking how many of those present hunt the high use areas mentioned above, and how many archery hunters want to hunt during the breeding period of the rut. With attendance numbers of 200-500 in each seminar almost all of the hunters indicated they hunted during the breeding period. Less than 2 percent hunted rub lines, another 2 percent scrapes, 3 percent funnels and 3 percent staging areas. Many of the same hunters indicated they hunted each of these areas. About 90 percent of the hunters indicated they hunted food sources, and deer highways or crossings during the breeding period.

I understand that because they see numerous bucks at all hours of the day hunters like to hunt these areas during the breeding period. But, if whitetail hunters want to have the best chance at individual trophy bucks they should hunt the rubbing and scraping period along rub lines, scrapes, funnels and staging areas.

The time of the year when bucks are most predictable in their daily movement is during the rubbing and scraping phases, or pre-rut, before the breeding phase. The place where bucks spend the majority of their time during daylight hours is the bedding area. During the pre-rut the bucks begin to travel to several doe use areas and food sources in preparation for the breeding period. Because most of the does don't come into estrous for a month or two after the bucks begin to rub the bucks are not chasing does and are quite predictable in where and when they travel.

Because a buck's travel route generally follows the path of least resistance, but is governed by the need for security, it usually travels in heavy cover or low lying areas where it is concealed during daylight, and travels in open areas at night. By trial and error the buck finds the best travel route from its bedding area, leaving it in the evening when low light conditions tell it it is safe to travel. The buck generally travels the same trail to doe use and feeding areas at about the same time daily, providing the weather is right. Once the does come into estrous the bucks begin chasing them, staying with them up to three days, not following their rub routes, but following the does instead.

Because the buck leaves the bedding area during low light conditions, close to sundown, the farther it gets from its bedding area the more likely it is that the buck is traveling after dark. The buck, feed, rub, scrape and search for does throughout the night. They usually get back to their bedding areas before sunrise, often before legal hunting hours. However, some bucks may arrive home during legal shooting hours if they have been chasing does or feeding late. Because the buck is either in his bed or near it at dawn and dusk the place where it is most likely to be seen, on a regular basis (unless you plan to actually hunt the buck in its bedding area), is along the rub route near the bedding area, usually in the evening. To hunt the buck at this time and place you have to pattern it.

During my seminars I ask how many hunters have patterned a deer. To my surprise no more than 5 hunters in each of ten seminars raised their hands. This astounded me. I assumed that because both I the hunters I associate with look for rub lines and scrapes to a pattern buck and find its bedding area that most other hunters do too. This is obviously not the case. I don't know how most deer hunters locate the best places to hunt for bucks but if they are not patterning a buck they are missing the best technique for hunting trophy bucks.

There seems to be some mystique about how to pattern deer, especially bucks. The easiest way to pattern a buck is to locate its rub line and walk it backward to the bedding area. This is easily accomplished by locating buck rubs along the infrequently used buck trails. I say infrequently used because many hunters expect bucks to travel the same trail the does use, the deer highway where many hunters like to set their stands. In fact, bucks generally travel their own routes, separate from other deer. They usually travel these individual trails one time a day, travel them in only one direction, and may not use them daily. Therefore, rub route trails are infrequently used and may not even be recognized as a deer trail by many hunters. If you are on a trail that is worn down to the dirt it is probably a doe use trail and not a buck rub route.

Avoid Bucks Patterning You Patterning is a favored technique of many successful deer hunters in their efforts to locate bucks. What many hunters don't realize is that the deer, especially older bucks, will in turn pattern them. We know that bucks avoid hunters and their hunting areas, especially if they have previously detected the hunter or been shot at, but most hunters don't realize how good bucks are at patterning them. So what do you do to keep the deer from patterning you? Obviously the first thing is to avoid using deer trails (unless you have previously Familiarized the deer). Avoid crossing deer trails on the way to your stand, and keep your scent from blowing across trails and high use areas as you approach your stand. Stalk your stand as if you were stalking a deer. Remember your stand is, or should be, in a high use area. Deer frequent the area. There may be deer there every time you go in. Be especially careful crossing trails that show little use.

Avoiding Detection Take precautions to eliminate scent while you are hunting. Wear rubber boots and gloves, don't work up a sweat on the way to your stand, use odor eliminating products, shower with antibacterial soaps and use a cover scent; fox, raccoon, or cow urine. Dr. Juice cover scent works well in many areas that have cattle; deer are accustomed to human and cow scent together. The best way to reduce human perspiration odor is to use a Contain anti-bacterial suit. Be acutely aware of the wind direction at all times and remain down or crosswind to the approach of the animals.

Don’t Over-hunt It's also a good idea not to over-hunt your area. While many hunters feel they should hunt an area three days, because deer may not appear regularly, studies by James Kroll in Texas show that if you hunt the same area three days in a row the number of deer seen will steadily decrease. The deer will learn you are there. Change your stand sight every two to three days to keep the deer from patterning you. You can always go back later. While you are out there trying to pattern the deer, they are patterning you. Take steps to Avoid Detection and don't over-hunt the area. Stalk your stand and be aware of every trail in the area, and which deer use them. If you think you have been detected don't be afraid to move your stand to a better area; it's better to move and have a chance than to stay and have no chance at all.


By: dj
Posted: 27-Sep-07

Thanks!! Lots of helpful info.. One thing that hunting has taught me is, you can always learn something new.


By: Shuteye
Posted: 28-Sep-07

Heck if you want to pattern deer you don't really have to go to all that trouble, just use trail cameras and that way you can stay out of the areas for many days.


By: heartshotathome
Posted: 28-Sep-07

TR Thanks for this. It is almost unbelievable that people dont do this????????


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