Identify the Best Times to Scout for Whitetails
One of the tricks to Dr. Bob Sheppard’s tactic of taking more deer is to know when to scout and when to hunt. By not hunting on days when the odds of bagging a buck are very low, Sheppard maximizes the effective days he has to hunt. He says, “If the wind is variable, then a sportsman is foolish to take a stand, with one possible exception. When the wind’s constantly changing, the hunter’s scent will be blown in all directions and spook most deer that may have come in for a shot. So, on days when the wind is variable, I scout instead of hunt. On the days when there will be a constant wind blowing from one direction, I select the tree stand site that gives me the opportunity to hunt with a favorable wind. However, if you’re in a highly elevated stand over the edge of a clear cut where the buck feels secure in the deep cover, regardless of what he smells, then hunting from that tree stand with binoculars like you do out West may pay off for you.”
According to Sheppard, each 1,000 acres of land may have only one or two outstanding places for tree stands and possibly eight to 10 other potentially good stand sites. Sheppard has a formula he’s developed that tells him which tree stand he should hunt each morning. “I mark on a map the locations of my tree stands and give each stand a number,” Sheppard mentions. “Beside each number, I write down the wind conditions I must have to hunt with a favorable wind for that tree stand. Each morning I hunt, I listen to the weather report to learn what the prevailing wind will be for that day. Then I check my tree stand chart to see which of my stands I can hunt from with that day’s current wind condition. The next factor I use in choosing a stand site is to pick one I haven’t hunted from for a long time. The less time a sportsman spends in a tree stand, the less likely a buck will know a hunter is in that spot. If you go to a stand too often, then deer shy away from where they smell a lot of human odor.”
Sheppard also is a master at predicting the effects of hunting pressure. He studies the movement patterns of hunters and their hunting techniques as much as he observes deer movement patterns. He’s learned that hunting pressure is the No. 1 element that causes deer to move.