If you are embarking on your first whitetail hunt to a state such as Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota or Eastern Colorado, you’ll quickly realize things are a bit different from the confines of a 40-acre midwest property. The terrain can be flat, the country is vast and trees can be found few and far between. With this is mind, it’s time to get the imaginative juices flowing in order to maximize your success on a mature buck. Here are four creative strategies that you can put to use on your first western whitetail deer hunt.
Spot and Stalk
Although many people hunt from the ground in eastern states, it is important to get comfortable with Pursuing a Target Buck on Foot Via Spot and Stalk. Yes, deer travel wooded river bottoms, which is as an ideal setup for an ambush location, but they also take cover in tiny pockets of brush or tall grass out in the open. This especially holds true during the rut when a mature buck is attempting to lock down a doe in an attempt to seclude her from other intruders. Long story short, don’t be afraid to use the legs your momma gave ya!
In addition to being an effective deer hunting strategy, spot and stalk on foot it is the most exhilarating way to hunt whitetails. There is nothing like crawling up to a mature whitetail and getting into his bedroom without him knowing you’re there. Give it a try – I promise you’ll be hooked for life.
Utilize A Decoy
If you’re planning on hunting with archery equipment, another effective way to trick a whitetail to walk within range is to use a portable decoy. I’ve used a Heads Up Decoy for the past couple years and it has completely changed the way I hunt in western states. Contrary to the concept of staying under the radar with traditional small parcel deer hunting, when utilizing a decoy, the whole point is to be seen. Using a lightweight, two-dimensional decoy allows you to stay mobile and increase your odds of getting to within bow range when the cards are stacked against you.
If spot stalk isn’t your cup of tea, a decoy is still an effective tool for a blind calling setup or hunting out of a ground blind. When I’m having trouble locating a potential target, I like to setup within 100 yards of a small pocket of cover and initiate calling to pull a bedded buck into the open.
Find A Vantage Point
When you’re dealing with thousands of acres of open terrain, it can seem like a desert ghost town at times. With miles and miles of land at your fingertips, the most effective way to find deer is to glass from a vantage point, keeping in mind all available objects and advantages. I’ve crawled up onto old farm equipment, rusty windmills, and natural gas wells in order to pick deer out of open CRP grass or standing crop fields during dawn or dusk. To further my visibility and increase my odds of putting eyes on a big deer, I use 12 x 50 power binoculars which are better suited for longer range glassing as opposed to more of a standard 8 x 42 whitetail setup.
Knock On Doors
When you’ve scouted and vested time into a property or a particular tract of public land, it is easy to get stuck playing between the lines. In other words, we like to stay in the comfort of what we know and what is accessible because it’s easy, but I’m here to tell you that gaining permission to private land is very obtainable in the west, especially if you’re bowhunting.
The thing you have to understand about door knocking is that it’s strictly a numbers game; the more landowners you approach, the better chance you have at hearing the word “Yes.” I also like to frequent the local breakfast diners and have gained private access because I was able to meet many local farmers and ranchers in a short amount of time. If you see a big buck run into a draw or bed down in small pocket but it’s posted private land, do yourself a favor… go ask to hunt!
Have Fun and Get Aggressive
The most important thing to keep in mind while hunting open country whitetails (especially on public land) is to Carpe Diem or in other words, seize the moment. With so many variables of hunting pressure, sporadic rut activity, and the lack of pattern with open country whitetails, you have to shoot for the goal when opportunity presents itself. Leave the low-pressure, play-it-safe mentality at home and don’t be afraid to roll the dice because you have everything to gain and absolutely nothing to lose. So get out there, be bold, and have fun. Best of luck in 2018!