Situational Tactics for Pressured Early Season Bucks with Josh Honeycutt

Show Notes

For many, deer season has been in for a couple of weeks and that means one thing: the deer know they're being hunted. It doesn't take long for those bucks that were consistent all summer in our food plots or feeders to pattern us and shift their behavior. Combine this with fresh acorns on the ground and you've got a recipe for a hunting strategy disaster. Unless you adapt, that is. 

In this episode of the Southern Way Hunting Podcast, Josh talks with outdoor writer Josh Honeycutt about adapting one's hunting strategy once the pressure is on and daylight sightings begin to dwindle. If there's one big takeaway from this episode, it's that all hunting strategy is situational. There is no silver bullet. But this episode will help you adapt to many of the situations you'll encounter this fall. Enjoy!

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Show Transcript

Josh Raley: [00:00:00] Thanks for tuning in to the Southern Way hunting Sportsman's Empire podcast network. I'm your host Josh Raley, and on this show you'll hear hunting tactics, stories, and strategies from hunters across the South. Our aim is to sharpen our skills as hunters and outdoorsmen, become more efficient and effective in pursuit of our craft, and even have a little fun while we're at it.

And of course, no matter the pursuit, we focus on doing things

Hey folks, welcome back to another episode of the Southern Way Hunting Podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in with us this week. We've got a good episode for you talking with outdoor writer, Josh Honeycutt. Now, if you like to read articles about deer hunting and that kind of stuff, you've probably seen some of Josh's work.

He writes for basically all the major outlets that are out there today. And, uh, very prolific writer and I just love this guy's approach, especially to hunting the early season. [00:01:00] I talked with him early in the season last year, uh, for the How to Hunt Deer podcast. If you want to go back and hear more from him, you can go check out the September 1st episode.

Of how to hunt deer from, from last year, from 2022, where we talked about why Josh thinks the early season is probably the best time to target a specific mature buck. Now, in this episode, we talk about a little bit of that, why it's the best time to target a specific mature buck, but we also talk about his recent success on an absolute hammer of a deer and how he would approach things.

Had he not been able to capitalize on that opportunity, how he would have. Found that deer again, had he disappeared, how he would have adjusted his hunting strategy if he wasn't able to seal the deal the night that he did. And then that deer all of a sudden started behaving a little bit differently. So great episode for you.

If you want to find an early season buck. If you want to capitalize on this, you know, late September, early October before the pre rut really ramps up a timeframe, this is going to be a good one [00:02:00] for you. I hope you enjoy the show. All right. Join me for this week's episode. I have Mr. Josh Honeycutt on the show.

I almost said back on the show. I'm actually going to run this one on a different show, but Josh, man, welcome to the show. Yeah.

Josh Honeycutt: Thanks

Josh Raley: for having me on. Absolutely, man. I was going back through, um, some old episodes that I ran last year on the how to hunt deer podcast. Came across the episode that we did and it was fantastic.

Like it was just some of the best, like down to earth, no nonsense, early season, whitetail talk, um, that, that I think I've had the opportunity to have with somebody and, you know, one of the things you kept coming back to was the answer, it's situational. And you get that question or that answer a lot doing hunting podcasts because everything is so situational, but then you ran me through the situations.

And I thought, man, that's. See, that's what we need more of in, in this, uh, in these kinds of conversations, though. It's situational. Here's, you know, five different situations and how you might address each one or how you might approach each one. So I was like, I gotta get, I gotta get Josh back on the show or [00:03:00] at least have another conversation with him.

And then you killed a hammer. And I was like, now I definitely have to get Josh back on the show or on the show because he killed an absolute stud there in, uh, in Kentucky, right? Yes, sir. All right. So, I was like, yeah, I need to talk with Josh again. So, uh, for those who maybe don't know who you are, haven't heard of you, aren't familiar with your work, why don't you give us a quick breakdown of, of what you do?

Josh Honeycutt: Yes, I've been an outdoor rider since about 2010, 2011 somewhere in there. And, um, so I just, you know, uh, gradually started doing that part time eventually transitioned into being a full time outdoor communicator. Cause I do a lot of video photography now. Um, but yeah, uh, so I just, uh, just an outdoor rider, uh, you know, put words together, try to anyway, and hunt deer,

Josh Raley: man.

You mentioned, you know, you got into more of the video photography, that kind of stuff. Are you self taught when it comes to video and photography?

Josh Honeycutt: Uh, yes and no. I mean, I have a degree in communications, and so there's an element of that within that degree. Um, you [00:04:00] know, there's not a heavy emphasis, though, so you don't really, you get a lot of baseline information, basic stuff, introductory, um, skill sets.

But, once, you know, once I had that in that college to have that kind of foundation, then I kind of started self

Josh Raley: teaching from there. Right. So you kind of had enough to be dangerous. And then, uh, at least some to get out into the field with man, if my degrees are nothing having to do with communications or photography or video or anything like that.

So I'll get out in the field and I'll be taking some pictures. I'm like, man, these are gonna be awesome. And I get back and I'm like, this is trash. This is, this is not good at all. This framing,

Josh Honeycutt: I'm still there sometimes too.

Josh Raley: So, well, man, I've always been very impressed with your work. Uh, you're a very prolific writer.

What all, yeah. What all outlets, uh, can folks find you writing for these days?

Josh Honeycutt: Um, you know, I've, I've been very blessed and with a lot of really good opportunities to, to write for different brands and throughout the years, you know, I've, I've, I've worked and did, did, whether it was writing [00:05:00] photography video or all three, um, for about a hundred different outlets, magazines, and websites.

Um, but today, right now I'm, I'm probably working for about 20 to 25 different ones, you know, um, I would say within this, this calendar year. Um, But I do a lot of work for Realtree. Um, you know, the ones that I do the most work for is Realtree. com, HuntStand. com. Um, and of course I'm working with other social channels too.

But, um, you know, those are the two biggest ones that I do a lot of work for. I do a lot of work for deer and deer hunting, North American Whitetail. Um, uh, field and stream out to life, you know, quite a few others. But yeah, so if you, if you want to find some of the, some of my work, you can go to some of these, uh, you know, prominent websites and, you know, find my author profile and they should list a lot of my recent, recent stuff there.

Josh Raley: Right, right. Um, when we talked last time, I had just walked away from my nine to five a couple months earlier and kind of made the jump into outdoor space and outdoor media. Um, and one of the things you [00:06:00] talked about was, yeah, now, you know, people think you're, you work for yourself and it's great. But in reality you traded working for one boss for trading for 25 bosses at a time and man, that is a hundred That is a hundred percent true.

You got deadlines all over the place and oftentimes man, it can it can feel super scattered man I I have a lot of respect for the guys who've been doing this for a long time because Uh, it's not just the hours. It's just the oftentimes the number of things on the plate, which is, which is good because that's money coming in.

But at the same time, it's like, boy, there are a lot of different things that I got to figure out how to juggle. And I got to learn how to get, if I'm, if I'm going on a hunt, I need to learn how to get the appropriate content for each outlet or each thing that I'm trying to do, and that's, that's a lot to juggle.

So, uh, but Josh, tell me a little bit about this, uh, about this deer that you got, when did you shoot

Josh Honeycutt: him? Yeah, so ended up shooting. I'm gonna pull my calendar up just so I remember my dates correctly. Um, [00:07:00] but yeah, so I ended up shooting a deer on Tuesday, September the 12th. It was the day that I finally actually caught up to the deer.

Um, it was a really cool situation. This is a buck that I followed for, I mean, he was only four and a half years old. Um, typically, you know, I'll shoot a deer that's four and a half and older. This is a deer that I really like to have, uh, maybe let go one more year, but I'm, I don't hunt huge properties. You know, I don't manage a ton of acres.

Um, you know, this particular track was on a 200 acre farm, but he was living right on the. edge of that 200 acre farm. And so he was actually spending time to my knowledge. Well, I don't know for sure because I'm not on those properties, but you know, I can only guess and assume, but I'm assuming that he spent time probably on 1234 different properties at least.

Um, you know, landowner wise. And so He was living right up in the corner of our where he was betting on us most of the time, and he was actually betted on us. I think it was just based on the direction that he came from on us the day that I ended up tagging him. [00:08:00] I'm sure he probably betted on the neighbor some too, because there, you know, these deer usually have several different betting areas, depending on the situation.

Um, and I don't, I think most of those beds are probably on us, but there's probably weren't, you know, sometimes that he was spending daylight hours on the neighbors. But anyway, um, um, Yeah. So it's, it's one of those situations where this deer, you know, we're talking about situational tactics. Uh, definitely those things, that same factor came into play on this deer as well, but ended up, uh, hunting the deer three times from the time that our season opened on September the 2nd.

And so I finally ended up getting him on September

Josh Raley: the 12th. Right. So. Uh, last time we talked, we talked a lot about finding bucks that, uh, first of all, we, there was this whole approach and I should have found the, the episode number before we talked about this. But if you just go look last September on the how to hunt deer podcast, you'll find the other conversation that we had, but we talked about a lot about, you know, casting a wide net, uh, finding the, where the bucks are, especially late summer, finding those concentrations.

Um, then [00:09:00] beginning to narrow that down onto, uh, which deer specifically you're, you're targeting, but then which deer are huntable and where those deer are huntable. What are some of the, the chinks in this guy's armor that made you think, all right, this guy is huntable, uh, here and here on these kinds of situations, like what are, what was he given you?

Josh Honeycutt: Yeah, so that says you're talking about which deer huntable actually had another deer that was maybe slightly bigger on camera, which is rare for me. Usually I'm hunting 130 to 150 inch deer. That's usually what I'm targeting each year, but for the past few years, I've been really fortunate to at least get on camera some bucks that were, you know, 1 60 plus.

And so there's actually another deer that was at least the same size, if not a little bit bigger than him, um, on a different property. But the deer wasn't huntable. I was only getting deer on camera, you know, well after dark and well before daylight. And so I knew he was probably spending most of his time on a neighboring track, you know, of land.

And so this deer [00:10:00] wasn't super daylighty either. Um, just because, but, but, but I don't think it wasn't because he wasn't moving in daylight so much as he was completely unpredictable and just not hitting cameras. Um, this buck, he was, he was really. loyal and has been for the past three years. As I started to say, I've had this deer on camera two years ago as a 2.

5 year old deer. Then last year is a 3. 5 year old deer. And then this year has a 4. 5 year old deer. And each year he's willing to move in daylight. He moves in daylight a good amount. I actually saw the deer and we purposely passed him last year. Um, I probably saw him. From the stand at least five or six times, maybe eight or 10 times while I was hunting.

And then after that, I was just doing wildlife photography after I filled my deer tag and in November and, and probably saw the deer several more times after that. But this deer, he, like I said, he was willing to move in daylight. Um, it dropped his daylight movement dropped this year [00:11:00] from last year, which is typical from three to four, but.

He was still doing it and, but when he would, it was really sporadic and, and seemingly unpredictable. Eventually I started to notice a little bit of a pattern. It wasn't strong correlation, but a little bit of a pattern.

Josh Raley: Okay. Um, you know, one of the things you just mentioned there was this deer was really visible as a two and as a three year old, um, it seems like.

Uh, you know, a lot of things are so personality based with these different white tails, especially when we're honing in on a specific buck, uh, unfortunately on highly pressured land, whether that's public, public, private, small property, wherever you're at, uh, those bucks that tend to be more daylight active or just the ones that get shot young, like, like it's almost, it almost seems to me like that, that piece of being daylight active is almost a personality trait with, with some of these deer.

And if you can let them get a little bit older, you can set yourself up. Well, sorry, go ahead. No,

Josh Honeycutt: I didn't mean to interrupt you. I apologize, but yeah, to that point, you know, personality wise, [00:12:00] I loved it. to talk about. It's one of my favorite things to talk about when it comes to mature white tails. But so I'm a big follower of a lot of these white tail research facilities, college facilities.

So, like Mississippi State University, Penn State University. Um, there's there's several. But, um, Mississippi State. They actually have done a research on personality, quote unquote, personalities, and they do have, uh, it's not like personalities in the human sense for anybody out there that's listening. It's not familiar with that term, but it is very much the best term to use, um, in regard to what it is.

And it's these deer, they exhibit it. Uh, tendencies and traits and preferences and behaviors that culminate into like a perceived personality almost. And, and, and like I said, it's not just, you know, a personality in the human sense, but it is definitely a personality in the sense that that's a unique deer that behaves differently than other deer.

And so, you know, whenever you can over time, [00:13:00] figure out what personality that deer has, it definitely can help you in the hunt. Um, and Mississippi state university has done some research on that and they've, they've made different classifications. Uh, I think their terminology is, uh, a deer that tends to move quite frequently or has a large home range or moves around a lot, or is really daylight active is a, is a transient.

Personality, that's the classification and they have the same, uh, you know, uh, names for, for other categories for like deer that are less apt to move or, or, uh, uh, don't move as much. So they're very loyal to a small area. Um, and I can't remember every single term that they use, but you can find all that information on their website and YouTube page, but it's, it's really cool stuff.


Josh Raley: man. That. That MSU deer lab, they are pumping out some really, really great content. I've actually been emailing back and forth with Bronson Strickland and Steve Damaris, hopefully got an episode coming up with them in October. But I think, I think that would be an absolute riot to pick their brains a little [00:14:00] bit because those guys, man, not only are they doing the research, but they're up to date on pretty much everything everyone else is doing as well.

So. Did this deer catch your eye as a two year old? Did he, did he stand out then, or was he just one of the bucks that was just run of the mill, but he's always there.

Josh Honeycutt: Yeah. So he's, he was just on camera. Uh, you know, I had to show camera photos of him. I might've seen him from the stand. Don't remember, but no, he didn't catch my eye.

Um, he, on that particular property, we try us and the neighbors don't. Try not to shoot anything unless it's at least four and a half or older. So I tend to not even really even look at a two and a half year old deer. Now that I'll go hunt other places. So I'll hunt Ohio, I'll hunt Indiana. Uh, last year in Ohio on my, the 80 acre property that I hunt up there.

Um, it's, you know, I'll shoot a two and a half year old deer up there, but, but yeah, so, you know, here at home. I tend not to look at the 2. 5 year olds quite so much. Um, you know, so, so I didn't really see him at that. [00:15:00] We're paying much attention to him then. But last year he really ended up kind of sprouting into something that looked like could have some really serious potential.

And so we took notice of him last year for sure.

Josh Raley: Right. You mentioned that, um, you guys have had or at least you these last couple of years You know, it seems like the bucks are bigger than average or maybe running a little higher than that 130 to 150 kind of Typical frame that you're used to do you think there's any contributing factor to that?

Have you done anything different as far as management food weathers anything? No, okay.

Josh Honeycutt: Just no, I think it just happens stance I mean, I like I said we've had access to that particular property since 2015 if I'm remembering correctly and historically, like I said, the place just always produced 130 to 150 this year, maybe low fifties.

Um, but he, uh, you know, this just wasn't one of those things where, you know, I did anything to make it here. I think it was just we'd had the property long enough that, you know, we had a couple of years, you know, [00:16:00] uh, two or three years there were, you know, we just had some pretty good fortune or good luck, I guess.

And maybe, maybe, maybe there's some awareness in the area and some of the other people are starting to pass more deer. And so it's letting deer get to some older age classes. Um, but we haven't really operated any differently where we are, you know, on the, on the particular

Josh Raley: tracks that we have, right.

There's this, you know, there's two ways to approach it when you've got landowners who maybe are or aren't on board. The first, I mean, obviously try to go talk to them and see if they'll, if they'll start passing the same kind of deer that you're going to be passing and can cooperate together if they're in the same place of their hunting careers, you are where, you know, we want to manage for older age class deer.

Um, the other strategy though, if they're not quite on board is, is just to show them, like let them start to see, you know, what's, what's happening, what's possible. And, and it does seem like you can get, uh, Uh, having more cooperation and then it seems like once the neighborhood begins cooperating and more deer are able to get to those older age classes, like that's when you really start to see the top end potential.

It seems like, you know, for [00:17:00] your, for your specific area. Uh, so the first sit that you went in on for this deer, you finally killed him on September 12th. Were you after him on the opener there?

Josh Honeycutt: Yes, I helped my little cousin. He got his first archery deer that more archery buck that morning, uh, archery deer in general, uh, his first buck he'd gotten with a bow.

So I helped him that morning, the night afternoon. Um, I ended up hunting this deer and I didn't see him. He'd been bachelored with a couple of other bucks all summer or well, since I put my cameras out, um, I assume all summer. And, um, And so it was, uh, those two bucks I actually saw on opening afternoon, but this deer I didn't, and he ended up coming in and hitting the trail camera a day or two later, and he was clean, uh, so I think what actually happened was on or around September 2nd, he was actually shedding his velvet, and, and so that's what kept him from you know, for me from seeing him, I think he was just hanging back in the [00:18:00] bedding area, knocking all that velvet off.

Um, and from that time on, he actually didn't didn't stay with that bachelor group anymore. A lot of times bucks after they lose their vote will still stay with their bachelor groups for another week or 10 days or so. Um, sometimes longer. Well, this year, as soon as he came out of elder, he was done with him.

He was, he was on his own now. He still spent time or still spent time around them. You know, you'd event sometimes see them end up in the same location, but he wasn't actually with them.

Josh Raley: Really, man. That's. That's really interesting. There, there are a few things, uh, as exhilarating in the early season as seeing those bucks that the big one's been with come out and you think, you think you're going to get that shot.

And then there are very few things that are more of a heartbreaker than to realize that he's actually not with them today. You know, it's like the one time he's not traveling with them, uh, happens to be the time. So, all right, so you got after him on the opener, you didn't kill him until the 12th, but you only hunted him three times.

Um, I'm curious to hear, you know, what, what kept you out? Was it conditions? Was it. You know, an evolving strategy for [00:19:00] him. What, what kept you away from him to where you only hunted him two more times?

Josh Honeycutt: Well, I was kind of looking for, for, you know, optimal. Conditions. Um, you know, like I said, I didn't, I wasn't having a lot of daylight pictures of the deer.

Um, and so I was just trying to make sure that, you know, I was looking for a good situation, uh, you know, for, for the, had a little higher odds. Um, I studied. So what I tend to do with mature deer that I'm targeting, um, is I will, I will take note of their daylight appearances on trail cameras are close to daylight and I'll look at the historical weather information for that particular timestamp and see what the wind direction was.

Some deer are pretty random and there's no correlation between wind directions and when they appear somewhere. But a lot of deer there are. And so this particular buck seemed to prefer a couple of different wind directions. Um, whenever he would pass through some of the spots that I kind of set up for him.

Um, [00:20:00] especially the one area that I really thought that I would have a chance at him. There's one spot that I thought was like, if I get him, it's gonna be in that spot. Um, you know, there might be some opportunities elsewhere, you know, but that was the spot that I think had the highest odds. And so I was studying that, you know, throughout, you know, August and leading up to the opener and I had okay conditions for opening afternoon.

They seem to align, but it was still really hot, really warm weather. Um, and so after that, I actually ended up spooking a couple of deer after I got out of the stand on that opening afternoon. And I was like, well, he didn't come in. I've spooked a couple of deer. Um, we don't really, I don't really see a lot of great conditions here over the next few days.

And so I decided to just kind of wait and wait for a good opportunity. Unfortunately for me, I did, uh, we did have good opportunity to hunt the deer on that next Wednesday, the sixth. Um, we had a drop in temperatures, a good wind direction that he's, he seemed to prefer. Um, but, uh, I had, we had church that evening and so I [00:21:00] didn't end up not going.

And of course he ended up daylight in that spot that afternoon. Um, that's how it always goes. Oh yeah. And, uh, and so I didn't actually hunt the deer again until the eighth. So that would have been the first Friday of season. So like day seven of the season and, um, actually climbed in and saw some, again, saw some of the deer that he bachelored with, saw a bunch of other deer and, um.

But in the setup, you know, here in Kentucky where I'm at, it is legal to bait. And so I did have some corn out, um, for, you know, if that offends anybody, uh, I don't apologize, but, but, but, uh, uh, no. So there, there, it is, it says there's a certain part of Kentucky where you cannot put bait out, but I'm not within that zone.

Um, uh, and so, uh, I can do it here and, and all the neighbors do it. And so like, like there are feeders on. Pretty much or corn piles, uh, or most on practically [00:22:00] every property around me. And so, uh, we at least most of the time, the reason that we, we do it. Is, is we will just do it to try to hold deer, you know, um, we don't always come over it and in fact, we hung over it less often than we do probably.

Um, but anyway, for this particular situation, just to explain the way it was, he was betting. Up on the hilltop and the beans were down below and the area I was kind of set up in was like a pinch in the timber and so don't, don't just think pinch points are for the rut. Anybody who out there, they are great for the rut, but they're pinch points are good all season long if they are, um, are located in addition where, uh, you know, it's, it's taking advantage of a bed to feed pattern.

So, um, yeah. So that's kind of where I was at was in a pinch point. So the bedding area is up on top and then there's, you know, it's a big kind of round circular timber and then it comes down and pinches down into a peninsula and they kind of come down through that pinch and then start [00:23:00] filtering out into the beans, which is on both sides of that peninsula.

But anyway. So there was some corn there. Um, and then we had beans around us and then there was a persimmon tree and they were hammering that persimmon tree. They were walking straight through that corn pile to get to that persimmon tree and not even really stopping at the corn. Some of them would stop at the corn, eat the corn, but a lot of them were just going straight to that persimmons.

Um, and so, that buck I actually didn't see. see him during legal shooting hours, but soon as legal shooting hours ended, I stood up and was packing my gear up and I turned around. I was in a big cedar tree and it was really bushy. You know, I just had really good cover and that's why I like cedars, you know, the visual cover and scent cover.

And I turned around and looked back out into the beans and there was 20 yards. So I actually saw him on the eighth. Um, he was out in the bean field. Um, you know, I couldn't do anything about it cause it was already, um, uh, legal shooting had ended and, um, you know, even if it hadn't had ended yet, I didn't have a [00:24:00] shot opportunity.

So, um, you know, honestly just kind of watched him.

Josh Raley: What are you doing that time of year? You know, early season. Um, you know, it seems like it's popular these days to not cutting food sources, but man, early season afternoons, if you've got a spot and the buck's hitting the food source, like, why do I want to go step on him in his bed?

Um, what are you doing to get out of there when you're hunting a food source like this in the early season, though, because you might not see any deer and you might get out fine, um, but you might blow 30 of them out of the field. So, what are you doing to kind of get out? So,

Josh Honeycutt: the best option, which, but I didn't have that option because of this particular, the way this property lays out, and, and the deer, this is, this used to be a CRP farm, and so the deer would, some deer would, the, Some of the does and smaller bucks would bet on the CRP and then some of the older does and older bucks and more dominant deer would bet on the timber.

Cause it's not a big timber area. It's just the 200 acres used to be a CRP property, the CRP contract ended. And so now it's, uh, uh, it's in ag. This is the first year that [00:25:00] it's been in ag. Um, um, of course the timber is still there, but on the particular track there, there's only about, I'm guesstimating to probably 40 acres of timber or so.

Um, and, and then the rest of it's open ag. Um, and so the deer are just stacked in and layers on a timber because, um, all that bedding habitat just kind of vanished over a year, which is not a good thing. That's completely different discussion. But, um, anyway, so I can't really push too deep into the timber without bumping the deer and it's okay to bump deer sometimes, but depending on the situation, situational tactics, but.

The problem is in this particular situation was if you bump a deer on that first layer, they're going to bump the next layer and the next layer. And of course the big, the mature deer, the older deer bedding up on top, uh, at the higher elevation. And eventually, even if you don't spook them directly, you can spook them indirectly.

And so I had to, in this particular scenario, had to hunt the edge of the food, where the, where the timber and the food met the best way to hunt deer. Uh, from a low impact standpoint is to not hunt the food [00:26:00] and to not hunt the beds, but to hunt the transition routes between the two. Um, but some properties and situations don't let you do that.

And so I had to hunt that food edge. And so whenever I looked out and I saw that nearby I knew I was in a situation because the soybeans this property, well, the soybeans ran all the way to the north and south property lines. And so the only way to get back to, well, and my access was from the southwest and I was on the east side of the farm.

So I had a long, long entry route walk, um, and exit route walk. And our only access is from the southwest corner through, uh, you know, uh, basically there's, uh, Probably 30 yards of road frontage and so, and then it's a really difficult situation, but that's what I had to work with and what we've done and we've learned to work with it throughout the years.

Um, we've made it work, but I would much rather have at least two directions of access on a property, preferably east and west access. If you're trying to [00:27:00] find the perfect farm to buy or lease or whatever. If, if you can, if you can get east and west access, it really depends on how the property lays out.

So that's kind of arbitrary. But, um, if, if I find what I consider the perfect property and it lays out perfectly, I prefer east and west access west access. Unfortunately, I didn't have that. So the deer, this buck was out in the beans and he was going out in the beans. He was going to be there all night.

Um, and then there I look north and south and there was deer, you know, from property line to property line, just all out the beans. Cause it was, um, the deer just moved early that day. And so they're already out. And so I was like, what am I going to do? And I was like, my only option is to, is, is I'm going to spook him.

Of course, eventually it got dark and I couldn't see where he was at, but I knew he was still down the beans. You know, he could have been the same spot. Could have went north, could have went south, whatever. Could have went, could have went towards the middle of the property where the, where there's a water source.

Um. Regardless, I was going to spook him or spook other deer, and they were in turn going to spook him. And we know that you don't have to spook a buck directly [00:28:00] to change his patterns or change his habits or impact him in some way. You can spook other deer, and then when they start behaving differently, he's going to start behaving differently.

Um, and so I knew I was kind of in a spot. And I did something and I'm not advising this because it's not safe, but I ended up spending the night in that tree stand to keep from spooking the deer on the ice. That's

Josh Raley: what I did. Okay, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on, hold on. You just decided, you know what, I'm just gonna spend the night here.

I gotta know what went into that, man, because that... That had to be tough. You're in Kentucky in September. It's hot. It's buggy. Like what did you, how'd you make it, man? Like what you just decided you're like, you know what, it's bedtime. Like, I'm just going to go ahead and close my eyes and try to make it through.

Josh Honeycutt: Well, see, that's the thing. Like, I don't advise sleeping in a street stand. That's not the safest thing in the world. And so I tried, you know, uh, I, I dozed off a few times, but, and so I'm not giving advice to anybody. In fact, I'm advising you to not do [00:29:00] this, but I was just crazy enough and stupid enough to do it, I guess.

And so, you know, what I basically ended up doing was, you know, of course I had my safety harness in or still tied in and whatnot, but that doesn't keep you from falling. out of the, to the ground or out of the tree stand that just keeps you from falling to the ground. Um, you still fall out of the stand with a safety harness and safety line on.

It just keeps you from hitting, hitting, hitting the bottom. Um, what I ended up doing, just in case I did doze off. So I basically pretty much pulled an all nighter. Um, but, uh, just in case I did go sleep, which I did unintentionally doze off a couple of times was I had another strap with me and so I took it around the trunk of the tree and I leaned back against the tree and then took it across my chest and cinched it up that way.

I literally could, you know, couldn't really move. Um, and so, but yeah, the bugs weren't terrible, but It is September. So there were some bugs. Um, you know, there was a couple of [00:30:00] times where I felt something crawling on me or on me and I was like flicking it off and who knows what it was. Could have been a, you know, one of them big, huge spiders that, you know, you walk through the woods in September and get the webs all over your face.

I don't know. Anyway, so I was flicking bugs, but, um, yeah, it wasn't terrible. I mean, I mean, it was, it was pretty rough, but, you know, because it wasn't a super comfortable stand. It wasn't like it was one of those loungy climbing stands where, you know, it's actually, pretty comfortable or one of those big, fancy, you know, ladder stands.

It's got, you know, plenty of cushion and see this was, uh, a lightweight hang on tree stand kind of tucked up into a cedar tree. I actually had a limb that I'd cut off and I'd hang hung the stand just a little too low. And so. the lamb that I'd cut off was actually protruding up just a little bit into the bottom of the seat.

And so that was right in the nether reason, you know, regions and wasn't wasn't the most comfortable thing in the world. But so I've got to fix that before I hunt it again. But uh, [00:31:00] but yeah, so it wasn't the, it wasn't the best. It's the best night of my life, but I

Josh Raley: got through it. Well, it obviously paid off, man.

Cause a few days later you end up scoring on this deer. So I'm curious to hear how that went down.

Josh Honeycutt: Yes. I mean, I hunted since I was already there, I hunted the next morning. I mean, there had been a few occasions, not a lot, but a few occasions where the deer was passing through there. Um, you know, and getting back to bed late.

Um, um, but, uh, he, he didn't that morning. He either got back to bed earlier or took a different route, but, um. I ended up walking around around mid morning. So I, as I was like, man, this is twice I went after this deer and he still got my number and didn't really have great conditions for, uh, you know, uh, the next couple of days.

And so I didn't actually hunt the deer again until September 12th. Um, had a decent, uh, conditions that day had a little bit of a temperature drop, um, had cloud cover. It was missed in rain and those three things can be really good early season. Uh, one of those [00:32:00] things can be really good early season. But when you got, you know, some decent cloud cover, not heavy rain, but light to moderate rain to cool things down and you've got a temperature drop, you know, that's already coming without that, that rain involved.

Um, you know, those, those can really spark deer movement. In fact, before I shot this year, the biggest year of my life was a big velvet eight pointer that I shot back in 2018. And it was a very similar condition that day. It wasn't so much of a temperature drop on its own, but there was a rain event and cloudy and temperatures, you know, Really cooled down.

Um, and that, that can be really impactful in early September. Just like that first cold, really serious cold front in, uh, early October, and then again in late October can really impact deer movement too. Um, and so that was the situation on September the 12th. And so I eased back into the same spot, same stand location, and the deer moved really early.

Uh, he, in fact, in fact, he ended up coming in about an hour with, uh, with an hour of legal light. remaining. [00:33:00] Um, and so about 30 minutes before sunset and, you know, a bunch of other deer had moved before him. The deer moved really early and this ended up actually being the earliest, um, that I can recall, maybe the earliest or

that he had had, um, even considering some of the preseason, uh, trail camera appearances that I've had. So that just goes to show how powerful, um, those those temperature drops can be, even if it's only 5678 degrees. Um, you know, during the early part

Josh Raley: of the season, right? Right. Yeah. Early season to especially in the south, you're just not, you're not gonna get those 10 15 degree drops very often.

Uh, in September, even into early October. Like it's just, you're, you're looking for something more than that five to seven degree range. And it's like, okay, now it's, now it's time to get up there and get after him. But, uh, man, beautiful buck. I'm curious if there's one thing that let's say you're taken away from that deer that like you're saying, Hey, he's the [00:34:00] one that taught me this.

Is there any one, I guess, lesson or takeaway from this buck? Um,

Josh Honeycutt: I'd have to think about it a little bit. There's definitely something that he reiterated for me, uh, and the other factor that ended up, you know, helping me, I think, get finally getting him on that 12th was hunting him with a just off wind.

And that's the term that's, that's used for that, you know, for basically when that deer has the base, ultimately that has the wind largely in his favor to be where he is at that point in time and daylight. And so, um. The win for me, uh, wasn't great, but wasn't terrible. The win for him wasn't great, wasn't terrible.

He was kind of coming in with not so much. Um, Uh, straight into his nose. It was more and it wasn't a straight crosswind either, but it was kind of quartering into him. Uh, if that if that makes sense. And so he can kind of use his nose as he was coming down out of [00:35:00] that bedding area. And they always do that when they're going back to bed of a morning.

They almost Always from my experience. And it's not something that I learned on my own, uh, some really intelligent deer hunters like Dan and fault and others who had conveyed that to me. And then I opened my eyes to it and started confirming what they had told me. Um, and so, yeah, so, so they always do that when they circle back to bed of a morning, but they sometimes.

We'll do that in an afternoon. And so whenever I was talking about noticing some patterns emerge, he was betting in one of two places most of the time, to my knowledge. I didn't go up in the betting area, so I don't know exactly where he was at, but based on what I could tell, he was betting in a couple of different spots.

And There would be some days where I'd go multiple, multiple days without getting a trail camera picture of this deer, you know, leading up to deer season and even after the season opened, because I didn't actually get him until I guess that, you know, from 12th would have been what, day 10 of the season, 11 of the season, I guess, somewhere in there.

Um, opened on the 2nd and I ended up getting him on the 12th, whatever that comes [00:36:00] to. But, um, I noticed throughout mid to late August and then, you know, until I shot him in September that this deer Would go several days without making an appearance. It wasn't just that he would come in an hour or two hours after dark.

It was like, I wouldn't even see him at all on a trail camera a lot of days. And so what I ended up believing or, or coming, uh, coming to conclusion wise was that this deer was exiting his bedding area. And because he could go in multiple different directions to get to soybeans. So like he was batting up on this hilltop.

Well, there's beans on the neighbors to the east, there's beans on the neighbors up to the northwest, there's beans on us to the west and southwest. Um, he could go in multiple directions. And of course there were, um, there was, I don't know for sure, but I think alfalfa. Based on what I could see from the road, that's way off to the east that, you know, I can drive them down.

I think he even has some access to some alfalfa on to the east that I could see from driving up and down [00:37:00] the road. So, uh, he could go in any direction he really wanted to, to get something good to eat. And what I ended up believing was that he was going to choose which direction he choose was based on which way the direction was, what the wind was blowing in the

Josh Raley: afternoons.

Right, man. That's a good takeaway for folks. Like if you've got a buck that you've got. Kind of a beat on, but he's not necessarily, you know, in the same food source every evening, start paying attention to that wind direction, start, start figuring out, okay, if he's got several different food options around him, you know, you're trying to put a play together, um, you know, that can really inform where you're going to be setting up, setting up somewhere where you got that just off wind from the food source into the bedding.


Josh Honeycutt: Yeah. And that's why designing properties, if you own your own land, or if you just have the permission to, to make changes to the property, designing hunting properties is the best way to, to consistently shoot mature deer, because if you can lay that property out. to attract big deer and also make deer more predictable.

And that's really what it's about. A deer is going [00:38:00] to eat. He's going to sleep. He's going to be of an afternoon. He's going to, he's going to bed where it's the safest for him to bed and most optimal and it gives him everything he needs from a safety standpoint, from being comfortable if it's hot or cold standpoint, um, you know, everything else that's involved there, but he, but he's, he's going to go toward food.

Wherever he wants to eat at, that's where he's going. And so if you can create your, or design your property or, and, uh, or manipulate the property in a way that makes deer more predictable, um, you want to give them multiple food options, obviously, but the best thing to do is just to, to, to offer them different types of foods that stagger at different.

Or, or hit their prime, prime and peak as different times of the year. That way they, okay. So it's almost like a, like a situational deal with like white Oaks. So like, you know, that's like the first acorns that deer target. So for example, you're going to be more successful as a deer hunter. If all of your white Oaks are [00:39:00] in one spot versus having white Oaks in five different directions around the bedding area.

Um, and of course you can't really impact so much where your Oaks are at, but then I'm just using that as an example. Um, when you can kind of, I don't want to say congregate deer, but, but figure out what food sources there, you know, know where they're betting at and then almost streamline and condense.

The food sources and that doesn't mean take food sources away. It just means giving them different food sources. Okay. So you got these foods sources that peak the first couple of weeks of September, these peak, you know, toward the end of September, these peak into October. And then you got food sources that peak in November, December, January.

And so you kind of know a little bit better where the deer are going to be at. So you're not offering them less food sources. You're still offering them the same or even more food, but your. Offering [00:40:00] them different things at different time of year and your deer actually end up being healthier that way, for one, because they have food sources throughout the year instead of just an abundance of this type of food for part of the year.

And it also makes them easier to hunt. So that's the, and I couldn't do that on this property. So I can't manipulate the landscape on this property. And so I was kind of at a disadvantage because of that, because this deer did have soybeans in so many different directions. And he, you know, and so I had to really dig in for the people that, that were like me and I don't have my own land.

Don't own my own land to manipulate and, and, and to really, um, manage when you just really have to study the situation, um, and figure out. Your best option for that particular, um, uh, situation that you find yourself in. So I use that again. I use that word a lot, but it's really the word that matters most.

I think when it comes to hunting mature deer,

Josh Raley: right? Right, man, that's really good. Um, I want to shift gears here and I, and I think it would be good to do this through a hypothetical. Um, so [00:41:00] this, this podcast, we are specifically focused on Southern Whitetails, uh, on this, this show. So, um, A lot of what I saw and heard from people heading into the season.

Folks are sending me their trail camera pictures. They're showing me their trail camera pictures. They're like, man, look, what's hitting my feeder. Look, what's hitting my food plot. Look, what's coming through this little area. Look, what's leaving the cutover. You know, look at these deer that I've got and their daylight pictures and they're all fired up and they're all excited.

Um, but eventually something changes. Right? Like, and those deer don't all get tagged. These hunters don't all tag out. I want to present to you the situation where Josh Honeycutt goes out on the 12th and that deer gets a big old nose full of you. That just off wind strategy that is so, so good sometimes is dangerous.

Right? So he gets a big old nose full of you and all of a sudden he's pressured. He knows the [00:42:00] gig is up. He kind of had a thought the first day. He was like, wait a second. Was there somebody here? And then a few days later, he's like, is that a dude sleeping in a tree? Uh, and then now though, now he knows for sure him and every other deer.

They all know the jig is up. Right. And you're, you're seeing either, um, he's going dark. You're only getting pictures of him at night, everywhere that he was daylighting. You're only getting them at nighttime. Second, maybe he disappears period. Maybe there's two or three of your locations. Maybe you got to feed her out and maybe you got a food plot and all of a sudden he's not hitting those at all.

He's not walking to that persimmon tree. at all anymore. He's, he's changed something up. That's the situation where a lot of folks find themselves. Unfortunately, um, it doesn't necessarily register to them that those bucks are just pressured now because they never encountered him. They got, they got winded or, you know, while the buck was still 250 yards away, they got winded three hours after they left because they weren't careful with their access.

They got winded Because [00:43:00] they went and checked that trail camera and left scent all over that, outside of that trail camera and that bug came through and realized this isn't right. I'm calling it, when it comes to this kind of pressured position, what's the first thing that Josh is gonna do when he realizes that the jig is up?

Maybe, first of all, when are some of those telltale signs? And that sounds elementary, but what happens to that buck As soon as he realizes he's pressured and, and I wanna present it in that way. Um, because like I said, I think a lot of times folks maybe don't recognize it as pressure because, well, I never bumped him.

He never saw me. I, I never got a picture of him on trail cam after I'd been in there. What's your first sign where you say, okay, this guy's been pressured and I need to change things up.

Josh Honeycutt: Yeah. I mean, first it depends on, we talked about personalities. It depends on the deer's personality. How, uh, accepting they are of human intrusion.

Some bucks are farm and even some properties, you know, the deer herd in general are [00:44:00] more, uh, accepting of human intrusion. And then there, so for example, there's some properties I've hunted that. That you can get away with a lot more as far as, you know, blunders for, with spooking deer, whether it's directly or indirectly with, uh, you know, uh, ground sand or whatever it might be.

Um, and then some deer are really, uh, and deer herds are not forgiving. And so it really, but, but, but to a specific particular, specific deer, particular deer, it really depends on. What personality they have, um, and, and how, and over time you can kind of try to determine what type of deer you're hunting there.

Um, but say that it is a deer that doesn't respond well. As far as the signs go, um, you know, in my opinion, just from the deer herd in general, if you start to see that even the does and the young bucks aren't necessarily willing to enter food sources in daylight, then you can kind of know, okay, you're having, you're, you're hunting it [00:45:00] wrong.

Um, you know, just from the deer herd standpoint. So if you start seeing a lot fewer does and, and immature bucks not willing. to hit food in daylight. You know, you're not doing it the right way. You need to, you know, call an audible and try something different, you know, moving forward. You know, you need to take different entry routes, different exit routes, uh, different stand locations, whatever you got to do, uh, try to gain access from a different direction if that's possible, whatever the case is.

Um, but from a buck specific standpoint, it can be a little more difficult because, you know, if the deer suddenly vanishes, then, you know, you don't know what happened. You might've spooked him. He might have transitioned to his fall range. He maybe he's in a new bedding area based on the conditions. Maybe he's moved to new food sources based on changing situations.

Um, and so sometimes it can be difficult to know if that shift is is a cause. From, you know, hunting pressure or, or not, [00:46:00] um, especially if you didn't speak to the deer directly, like, you know, you're in the field and he blows and smells you and gone. So that can be hard and, uh, to determine, uh, for one, um, you know, if that deer stops completely, like appearing on trail cameras, um, and he's not just, or if he makes a shift and he was doing a lot of daylight stuff and then he's like only at like 3 a.

m. Then you can kind of start to determine that, hey, maybe he's on to me, you know, or if he just completely disappears. But again, if he completely disappears, it might be another situation because up to 50 percent of bucks, um, have different summer and fall ranges. Um, Right. And so he might, it might be in that period where he's just shifting to his fall range.

Um, if you don't know for sure that you spooked, um, or, and like I said, food sources change frequently. So like white tail patterns, um, and that's the thing, like if you determine a deer's pattern, don't right now, don't wait four weeks to hunt that deer because deer [00:47:00] patterns, you know, you have short, mid and long term patterns when it comes to white tails.

Um. Most, most patterns, you know, unless you're talking about a green soybean field, it's green all summer long, you know, but once you get into deer season, things change rapidly and so. It's really important to stay on top of those patterns. And if, you know, even if you spooked deer, so you can temporarily change the deer and spook him in one spot.

Maybe he moves to a different part, starts using a different part of the farm in daylight. Um, you can actually, uh, basically. You know, get an assist and a score by bumping that deer to a new area. Maybe he stops using this particular part of the farm in daylight, but he moves to a different part of the farm and starts using that in daylight because he's still going to daylight walk.

Even if you spook a deer, it's not going to make him nocturnal, right? That's a big misconception. So just because you spook a deer doesn't mean that he's going to turn nocturnal all of a sudden doesn't work that way [00:48:00] that deer is still going to move in daylight now. He might start, there's actually research on this.

So like during gun seasons, you know, and a lot of these heavily pressured gun season States. So bucks actually still move the same amount of yardage and time and daylight as they were before. They were pressured. The difference was instead of making long linear movements, they made a lot of meandering movements.

And so they would still move the same amount of time and distance in daylight. It was just in a more confined area or it was in a new area. And so if you spooked that deer and you know, you've spooked that deer, you've got to regain and he's not using the area that you've been hunting him, um, in the past or were hunting him.

You gotta think, okay, he's still gonna move in daylight, he might not cover as much of a straight line distance, but he's still gonna be meandering a bunch, he's still gonna be spending the same amount of time on his feet in the afternoons before dark. And so you gotta go back to the drawing board, think about, okay, I've pressured him [00:49:00] here, I've spooked him here, and then...

Really think about where that you're in and he may still be using the same bedding area. Um, and, and if you're worried about, you know, a neighboring hunter or another hunter killing that deer before you, you might just have to push on in and go a little closer to that bedding area than you were before you, you bumped him.

Now that requires the right access and the right situation. But if you can do that, that might be their play. It might means that you need to get even more aggressive. Uh, in that particular session. I'm not saying that's the answer every time, because if it's a big managed property and you've got a lot of acreage and you're not worried about other hunters.

The, honestly, in my opinion, the best thing is to give that deer some time, give him two weeks, give him a week, give him two weeks, maybe give him three weeks, if it's early September, uh, you know, I wouldn't give a deer three weeks or two weeks or even one week if, if we're all the way up into late October, but if it's still early season and you can afford to give that deer some time to calm down and you have a lot of acreage, [00:50:00] you're better off to be.

Take the passive route unless you're worried about that deer transition into a new area in his fall range. And so in that situation again, so if you're like, it's October and that deer tends to leave October the 10th or the 15th, um, you're up against the clock. And so the answer there is to get even more aggressive than you were before you bumped him, but it's gotta be smart aggressive.

So I know I'm bouncing all over the place here, but it's one of those again, situations where you got to determine where you're at and determine if you need to back off and be more passive. Uh, or if you need to ratchet it up and be more aggressive, right?

Josh Raley: Man, that's all really, really good. Um, some of those things we, we, we touched on last time we talked, I went ahead and pulled it up.

It was September 1st, 2022 episode of how to hunt deer. We talked about that, uh, shifting food in the early season, those micro patterns that are three or four days long, and they're going to change very, very quickly. We also talked about that fall shift. I think a lot of guys think about the fall shift of like velvet sheds, they shift it's done.

But one thing you mentioned [00:51:00] in that episode, and I've talked with several people about it since. Those shifts are, it's a process. It's a, it, it happens progressively throughout the fall. Even they don't just up and decide one day, you know what I'm leaving my summer range, I'm moving to my fall rut range, and that's where I'm going to spend the whole year.

It could look like a slow progression across your property to another corner or a slow move over onto the neighbors. What's the next place though, that you're going to be looking. So you, you bumped this deer. I know one of the things you talked about in the last, uh, last podcast where we talked, you mentioned that like.

Sometimes, man, you'll just in the early season, if you have to, you'll just dive off in a bedding area and get the information that you need to, that you need to get, what's your next step going to be to refine that deer? Like where are, what are some of the places around where you had him? You know, I mean, and again, this is going to be specific to the property, but what are the types of areas where you're going to go look and say, and okay.

He's not using this food source anymore. Let me go see if he's using this bedding still. Are you going to dive into that bedding first, or are you going to [00:52:00] start kind of an outside in approach, trying to sort of tighten that net around him?

Josh Honeycutt: If I have time, the outside in, um, you know, if, if, if I have a, you know, a lot of season left or if I'm not worried about that deer transitioning, whether it, whether it's transitioning off of the, you know, a food based pattern.

Um, You know, so for example, like if, if the soybeans are still green and they're gonna be green for another two or three weeks and I know he's gonna keep going to those soybeans, then, you know, I have some time to do the outside in. If those brain beans are already turning yellow and there's not much green left and the acorns are dropping and the acorns are on the neighbors and he's gonna start going on to the neighbors and I'll have like a week left to get him, then I just have a little, I'm more aggressive.

So again, you got to figure out. The situation, what the situation is, as far as how much you aggressiveness you want to dial up, but, um, you know, I'll just use an example. So, so I've, I've, you know, I've shot this Kentucky deer. I'm up in Ohio. I'm focusing on Ohio now. Their [00:53:00] season opens up this weekend on the 30th, I believe.

And I'm not going to be hunting open and weekends. I can't be there, but, um, that's kind of going to be the next place that I hunt. And so we've got several nice bucks on camera up there. And it's 80 acres, but we've primarily just on the southern half of the farm. Um, we don't spend a lot of time on the Northern 40 acres.

Um, it's just thick and nasty. Like you, you literally can't walk through it and it's just rough country bedding. And it's just, it's just nasty, like briars, brambles, just beautiful deer habitat, but so thick and nasty that it's even hard for the deer to tunnel through it. They do tunnel through it, but it's like, you can't walk through it.

So we've got. We're seeing some nice three and a half and four and a half year old bucks on the southern end of that farm, but it's a lot easier to navigate. It's more open timber. It's not as nasty bedding cover as it is up on that northern half. And so we've kind of left it a sanctuary for the past several years, but we've got two bucks that are still alive.

[00:54:00] We had a couple of pictures. Well, they've been on camera every year. And then I've got one velvet picture that was blurry that I think is one of those deer from back in the summer. And then I've got another couple other velvet pictures of the other deer, um, that I think is this the second, but, and one of them is nine and a half and the other one is 10 and a half.

Oh my gosh. And yes, so we started leasing this property. In the 2019 season, um, and they were both there in 2019 and they were already like four and a half, five and a half year old deer. Wow. And so, so, so they're anywhere from eight and a half at, which I don't think they're eight and a half. I think they're the two bucks.

One is nine and a half. He's a tall, tight rack deer. That's heavy mass. And then the 10 and a half year old deer was, um, he's a wide deer kind of short time, but really heavy mass. And. I think they're both still alive. Um, I've had encounters throughout the years with both of those deer. Um, two and two, two encounters with the tight rack deer and one encounter with the wild deer.[00:55:00]

But anyway, I believe they're spending a lot of time on the northern part of the farm. Um, but and and I was really hoping that they would come back and start doing what they've always done and use that southern half. But they're like, I've had warranty pictures of each of them and that's it. And they're always coming and going from that northern direction.

And so I did something really aggressive, and it may completely not pan out at all. But I actually cut in a trail, um, on that north, through that northern mess. I basically bulldozed it with my four wheeler and used a chainsaw to cut, you know, cut out fallen logs and stuff like that, um, you know, and, and cut out those briars and stuff like that.

But I, I cut back in to the, you know, through the, you know, cause they bed at the very back of it. And they just, you know, some, some does will kind of bet on the, the, the beginning of it. So like you've got basically food on the east and then you move westward into that bedding area and they just don't ever make it.

Those bucks don't make it to the food in [00:56:00] daylight because it's the bedding is too far back. And so I actually cut in a trail about 100 yards and brushed in a ground blind and yes, feeding corn because you can do that in Ohio, but, uh, you know, um, That was really aggressive. I did that yesterday actually.

And that was really aggressive, really aggressive, probably the most aggressive I've ever been in a situation like that. I don't like cutting trails in, you know, five days before deer season, but. If I knew if I didn't do that, I probably wasn't going to get a crack at these deer. So again, that was situational where it might, might run my season.

But if those deer are willing to come back, you know, in a few weeks, or even if they're only on, you know, not willing to come back until late season, it might end up paying off. And so, um, you know, uh, I know I kind of sidetracked myself there and kind of derailed the conversation just a bit, but I was, I was using that as an example.

As far as sometimes you want to be. Really passive and not [00:57:00] aggressive at all, but I've hunted these deer and I filmed, I ended up filling my tags on other books, but, um, you know, these are kind of been my top two targets every single year and every single year they've whipped my butt. And so I was like, I got to try something different.

And so that was really, really aggressive and it may not pay off at all. Maybe the dumbest thing I've did done so far up there, but it could also end up being one actually gets one of those bucks killed.

Josh Raley: And I think, you know, for the guys that. That are, you know, in a place like that where things are just super, super thick, super, super nasty, um, a lot of times, one of the best things you can do is, is cut a trail like that and it'll get, it'll get taken over a lot of times.

I mean, I see that working with landowners on their properties. You see a, you cut in a trail like that through the thickest, nastiest stuff. And it kind of becomes a deer highway through there. Now it can be hard to hunt because when you walk down into it, you're, you know, you got to cut a

Josh Honeycutt: secondary trail for you.


Josh Raley: right, right. Yeah. You're, you're, you're in the thick of it, in the mess of it all. But you went in and are going to do a ground approach. I'm curious to hear a little bit [00:58:00] about, you know, how your setup is going to shift and change a little bit hunting from the ground as opposed to, you know, hunting from a tree.

Josh Honeycutt: Yeah. So I've, I've done some deer hunting from the ground quite a bit, actually. Um, bow hunting from the ground and gun hunting from the ground. Um, one thing I like to do, uh, if I'm hunting from a ground blind, especially, and it's counted down in a bowl where I was at, because that's where those deer are bedding at, you know, because the scent just does, does this.

And so, so like I said, it was really thick and nasty and all their trails are so windy. It takes forever for those deer to transition. And so I'm not actually where these deer bed. there's a big bluff. Um, so there's a big bluff on the west edge of the property and then it drops down off into this big, huge bowl and it's kind of the side and it slopes some, but there's a creek that runs down through there.

So it's kind of like a creek bottom. You got big bluffs around and it's just a big massive jungle. It's a jungle and there's deer trails through it, but they're so windy and turn. I was [00:59:00] like, these deer never make it to the food sources out on the east side of the property. It's all it is is a bunch of clover.

You know, it's it's an old hayfield, but there's a ton of friends. So I don't plant the clover or anything like that. The farmer actually mows it for hay, but it's just it's just a ton of clover. So that's where that's their destination food source basically. For not all season long, but for a lot of the season.

And so, um, The problem was these deer bed all the way, you know, several hundred yards to the to the west of that food source and they never make it to that food source in daylight. So the reason I cut that trail all the way through that is like you said, I wanted to create like a highway for those deer.

to get to more quickly get to that. So even if I don't end up hunting all the way back there where I cut the trail into, that can kind of be a hub, like a junction, so to speak, where they come down out of the bedding area, up on the bluff, on the ridge, come down into that bowl, they hit that junction, you know, they socialize a little bit, might end up being [01:00:00] one of those transition routes that I talked about earlier.

And then they hit that, that trail that I cut and just take it straight on out in the food so I can be more reserved and hunt closer to that food and get those deer there quicker. So I've actually, I've got about two to three different setups that I created along that road that I cut in. And depending on how far and how often they're willing to move in daylight.

will depend where along that route. I end up posting up basically. Um, and so you know, it may be all the way back at the, you know, that that hub that, you know, because I kind of opened it, it basically ended, started at the field where the food source is at. And that trail ended at a kind of an area where it naturally opened up and there was a lot of trails coming into And so what I was ended up doing was basically trying to create an interstate for deer, so to speak.

The bedding area is kind of funneled down into that little hub. Is a thermal hub and a hub of traffic and then shoot them as fast as I could all the way out into that bed instead of them [01:01:00] having to meander through that jungle. And it's like I said, there's some mostly just does bedding down in all that nasty mess.

There's some buck beds and some rubs and stuff like that. I think they're mostly younger bucks. The bigger deer bedding up on the ridge and, um. And I wanted to get them down off the bedding area as fast as I could and get them on moving that way. I could, and also make them more predictable because like you said, if you create those big massive trails like that, the deer are going to adopt them.

And so if I could predict that those deer were going to come down out of that bedding area and hit that trail and go out that way, I had a higher odds. Of seeing those deer along that line of movement and Jeff Sturgis talks about lines of movement all the time. That's where I learned that term was from him and, um, if you can make a line of movement or determine a lot of movement or create a lot of movement, that's more predictable.

Then you're going to have a much higher odds of filling that tag on that particular deer. So, um, and the great [01:02:00] thing is, is you can establish different points of interception along that line of movement. Like I did, you know, we've got. Really two, maybe three different spots along that, um, transition route that we can potentially, you know, harvest a deer,

Josh Raley: right?

When it comes to refining bucks, are you depending a lot on trail camera data at that point? Once they've been pressured, or are you thinking to yourself, look, I don't, I don't have time for trail camera data at this point. I need to be taking targeted strikes. I need to be figuring it out. Boots on the ground.

Josh Honeycutt: Yeah, um, that's the thing. That's so that's why, you know, it's kind of why I went in the direction with what I did with this particular Ohio property, um, just a couple of yesterday. So like, um, I haven't been getting these deer on camera since it's velvet, you know, and they've been out of it for almost, you know, not quite a month, but almost a month now, and I haven't seen them since then.

So, um, and I, uh, so. you know, I could move cameras around, but I really believed that that deer was just to the north. And so [01:03:00] I ended up cutting that trail in and posting some cameras and, you know, to try to determine if that deer had moved north or not, or Maybe there were some other deer and I found rubs whenever I was cutting that trail and I don't think they were from the deer that we were seeing on the southern end of the property, just the way the property lays.

It's just kind of it's really divided. Um, most, most of the time, the deer that we see on the north end aren't the deer we see on the south end, even though it is only 80 acres. So, um, Yeah. I mean, you can move cameras around. You can, you know, kind of start doing, uh, you know, if I don't have my target deer pin down, it's already into season, which is not seasoned yet up there in Ohio.

So I've been doing the trail camera approach, but, um, if you just do really mobile hanging hunts and, and hunt here today, hunt there tomorrow, not hunting your, your, your permanent stand locations that you might've had longterm already, or if they've hunted already, uh, say you're in Kentucky, you know, where season's been in for several weeks now.

Um, you know, if you're not seeing any action on your trail cameras or your permanent stands, just just go mobile and [01:04:00] start hunting new spots that you've not focused on already. And, um, you know, that's another term that Dan in fault uses and he hunts him. He hunts them down. Basically, uh, and, and really he starts hunting different spots and until he gets, you know, uh, to where the deer eventually is.

And of course you're kind of handcuffed if you hunt a small property, because, you know, he might be spending time on the neighbor, but he might also be spending time on you. So, um, you know, slowly hunting the property and piecing it together. The best way to do it, if you have no idea where that deer at is to just to be mobile and start hunting.

A two pronged approach,

Josh Raley: right? And I, I think a lot of times guys can do, uh, maybe more harm than good when they're trying to refine those deer leaning too much on the trail camera thing, simply because you kind of don't have the time for that. Right. And you, and that's one more intrusion. That's one more negative interaction.

Potentially. That's one more spot that you've, you know, you've burned up one approach that I've had [01:05:00] success with found success with last year. Was leaving my trail cameras in the spots that they were still getting those nighttime pictures. I'm like, okay, they're here at night. So I'm going to just be mobile around that and start to say, okay, I know they're not here till nighttime, but I know they're going to end up here.

So I'm going to kind of play off of that. And I don't, again, I don't have time. I had, I had 14 days, right? I don't have time for moving a bunch of trail cameras around. I don't want to put my scent and my intrusion anywhere that it doesn't need to be at this point. I'm just going to go in and be super, super mobile and try to, you know, make some targeted strikes on some pretty well informed, you know, locations, but still just trying to see what I can see when I get in there.

So, uh, Josh, man, this has been a great conversation. What do you have lined up next? So it sounds like Ohio's next on your list.

Josh Honeycutt: Yeah, so, um, I'll be hunting Ohio when they open up up there, I'll also be doing some hunting up in Indiana. And so I hunt in Kentucky here, I hunt private, I hunt private up in Ohio and [01:06:00] some public up there.

Um, Indiana hunt private and some public depending on the situation and what year it is, I've done both. Um, and then I might end up on some public land in Tennessee as well. Again, this year I started doing that a little bit last year and so I'm starting to learn some of the, some of the properties that I'm.

Kind of focused on down there. And so probably, probably try to do that again this year too. So that's kind of the, kind of the hub and I have another baby on the way coming in March, uh, that'll be our second child. And so I'm not going to get to do as much hunting next fall. Uh, so I'm trying to, to, you know, squeeze in as much as I can this year.

Cause I know 2024 is not going to be as eventful on the deer hunt front. I mean, I'll still be out there for sure. Uh, but I won't be doing quite as much traveling away from home.

Josh Raley: Yeah, man, stack it in. Now, uh, sounds like turkey season is going to be a little bit, a little bit tough for you.

Josh Honeycutt: Oh yeah. Yeah.

Yeah. So we're, so we're having a boy and he's going to be here just in time to run turkey season.

Josh Raley: Hey, that's awesome.

Josh Honeycutt: Yeah, he's worth it. He'll be, he'll be worth it though.

Josh Raley: That's right. That's right. And soon, Hey, you know, he [01:07:00] gets a little older. You'll be able to say, Hey man, it's, uh, it's your birthday.

Let's, uh, let's jump down to Florida. Chase some of these, uh, chase some of these Florida birds in March. So, uh, that'd be cool, man. Tell folks where they can find you if they want to learn more.

Josh Honeycutt: Yeah, I mean, I'm on Instagram, Facebook, whatever, uh, I don't, I don't have a big brand of my own because I spend too much time or all of my time, not too much, all of my time, um, uh, you know, working for others as a contractor.

So, uh, you can find me doing the work that I do for a lot of the places that I, that I, um, You know, I've mentioned earlier, uh, just, I wish I had more time to, to produce content for a brand of my own. And that's actually in the works, but, uh, it's not already up and going yet. So for now, you can just find me for wherever you can

Josh Raley: find me.

All right. Awesome, man. We'll be keeping up with your season. Good luck this fall.

Josh Honeycutt: Yeah, thank

Josh Raley: you. That's all for today's episode. Thank you so much for tuning in. If you dig this show, please go subscribe to this podcast wherever it is that you get your podcasts. And if you can leave us a review, I would really appreciate that.

Until next week, let's keep doing [01:08:00] things the Southern way.