How to Hunt Buck Bedding Early Season: 4 Reasons This Stand Attracts Mature Bucks
When it comes to quality stand locations, stacking the odds in your favor can turn a good stand site into a great one. This becomes especially important when you are looking for early season success and you are keying in on the finer details of a mature buck routine.
With this particular stand location I have 4 main reasons why it is one of my favorite set ups for an early season hunt. Focusing on the whitetail bucks bedding area and their travel to the evening food source, a well placed mock scrape, sneaky hunter access, and a thermal advantage I hunt this same stand with high confidence again and again.
Direct Travel From Buck's Bedding Area to Food Source
In the early season, whitetails, especially mature bucks have their main focus on the security of a sound bedding area, their preferred food source, and the safe travel to get them from one to the other.
The old cattle pasture at the top of the hill has became an overgrown thicket and turned into a mature buck sanctuary. Surrounded by old fence and an entanglement of vegetation, anything sneaking up on the buck would be next to impossible.
A big part of my hunting strategy is using trail cameras to collect inventory on what type of deer are in the area and how they use the landscape throughout hunting season. A great trail camera location I can consistently rely on is a field edge with a predominant entry/exit trail. This helps me identify specific bedding areas and even start to pick up on the habits of a specific buck.
Through a few seasons of trail camera data and a lot of boots on the ground scouting, I was able to key in on this mature deer sanctuary and discover main routes of travel leading to different primary food sources starting with a white oak flat and being followed by food plots and large agricultural fields filled with beans and standing corn.
Now that the primary area of deer movement has been confirmed, the addition of a well located mock scrape made this location even better. This scrape was placed on the main route of travel leaving bedding, just shy of the first deer trail crossing in the opposite direction.
The first reason I put the scrape in this location is because it now lays in direct route from the bedding area to the food, and with how thick the surrounding vegetation is, the target buck will be even more influenced to direct his travel accordingly and use the scrape as a primary location to stop and spend some time leaving scent less than 25 yards from my tree stand.
With the scrape also being located near alternate deer travel, it provides additional opportunity for other bucks to drop in occasionally and get an idea of what type of activity is in the area.
Perpendicular Hunter Access
We have the travel, and we have even more reason for a good buck to step into bow range, now onto hunter access. Access is something most hunters overlook, although it can often be the difference in success, especially if you hunt early season.
Whenever possible, whether on private ground or public land, I try to nail down my access so it is perpendicular to the main route of deer travel. By doing so, I enter through deer deserts I leave no intrusive ground scent and use the wind direction to my advantage so I can enter into my stand sites without spooking deer.
Last but certainly not least we have thermals. Understanding thermals is one of the most important things to consider when hunting mature whitetail bucks and deciding whether or not to hunt a stand, and at what time of day you should be hunting it.
In the early season (early October), you get warmer weather conditions and longer days which means you will have different thermal activity when the season opens compared to late season. In this particular set up, my 'killing tree' is located just off the crest of the hill, with my access coming up from the bottom.
Although I may get good scrape activity while the buck is on his way back to bed, a morning hunt in early bow season would be a low odds sit because my thermals would be pushed directly upwards towards the scrape and into the big bucks sanctuary.
For this reason, I focus my efforts at this location to afternoon sits when the thermals begin pulling down and I can slip in when my scent is being pulled down away from thermal activity.
Early season deer hunting can be your best shot to pattern bucks throughout season, but if you aren't conscious of the ins/outs of an area it can also be extremely uneventful. If you are looking to put your woodsmanship to the test and get some high quality sits in before the hunting pressure picks up, it can be a great opportunity to get out into the woods.
Stack those odds in your favor, lock in on your target bucks, and make the most of your time in the woods!