You’ve seen hunters harvest monster whitetail deer on outdoors programs, and you’ve seen trophy pictures in magazines, but how do those hunters get deer to come in close enough for the kill?
This list of five tips can help you get up close and personal with a Canadian whitetail deer.
Most wild animals use their sense of smell to locate food, trail other animals, and sniff out danger. Canadian whitetail deer are no different. Their sense of smell is essential to their survival and if they smell human scent and associate it with danger, they’ll come nowhere near where you’re hunting. Eliminate the human smell and you’ll have deer feeling comfortable enough to walk clear up to your ground blind.
A complete scent-elimination regimen is most effective. Wash your body and hair with scent-eliminating soaps, clean your hunting clothes in scent-killing laundry detergent, and hose yourself down with scent-eliminating spray before you hit the woods. The more of your human scent you can eliminate, the better.
Scouting for Whitetail Deer
Once you’ve got scent control mastered, it’s time to do a little pre-hunt scouting. Keep your human scent under control while you’re in the woods to keep from disturbing resident deer. After all, when you come back to hunt, you want to see plenty of Canadian whitetail deer.
Here’s what to look for while you’re scouting for deer
1. Tracks – Muddy spots and dry, dusty locations reveal the sharpest hoofprints. Quietly slip through your potential hunting territory and keep your eyes on the ground. The whitetail track features an oblong shape that comes to sharp points at the tips of the split hoof.
Often, you will also see dewclaw prints at the rear of the track. A single set of prints reveals a lone deer has passed through the area. Multiple sets of prints may indicate a heavily-travelled area with lots of hunting potential.
If you’re having trouble locating tracks in the wild, look for deer sign along gravel roads and logging trails. You can often spot whitetail prints by simply rolling down your window, easing your truck along at a slow pace, and keeping an eye on ditches and road shoulders. Any area with multiple deer tracks could indicate a deer crossing and potential hunting hot spot.
2. Rubs – Prior to hunting season, Canadian whitetail bucks rub their antlers against small trees to remove the layer of velvet that’s been nurturing antler growth all summer. The action of rubbing antlers against trees scrapes away patches of bark, leaving a lower portion of the tree trunk bare. Locating rubs in the woods assures you of the presence of a whitetail buck.
3. Scrapes – Like rubs, scrapes alert you to the presence of a buck in the area. Scrapes are patches of ground that a buck deer has freshly pawed with his hooves. This patch of freshly-worked earth is found beneath the low-hanging branch of a tree.
The deer will rub his face, nose, and eye area on the branch. Sometimes he’ll even mouth it. After stirring up the dirt below with his hooves, he leaves his own unique scent in the area by urinating into the fresh dirt.
Once you’ve found an area that deer frequent, you’ll need to set up a deer stand or ground blind. Pay attention to the lay of the land and try to select an area that puts you a few yards off the main trail. If possible, keep the wind in your face so deer walking into the area in front of your stand won’t be able to catch your scent.
Like most animals in the wild, a Canadian whitetail deer enjoys opportunities for free meals. If baiting is allowed by law in your hunting location, place deer corn, rice bran, mineral blocks or other appetizers several yards from your stand.
Choosing the perfect spot for placing bait is simple; determine where you’d like the deer to stand when you pull the trigger and put your bait there. It’s as easy as that. Be sure you begin baiting the area several weeks in advance of the hunt to give the area deer time to locate the new food source. And be sure to replenish it when supplies get low.
The most important tip for taking a Saskatchewan whitetail deer is to have an adequate weapon that’s properly sighted in. Whether your weapon of choice is a rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader, or bow, fire plenty of practice rounds at home to be sure each shot is on target.
If you travel any distance for your hunt, say across international borders, you need to be sure to fire a few rounds while at the hunting camp to ensure your sights didn’t get bumped off-target during your trip. All of the previous tips are pointless if your firearm or bow isn’t properly sighted in.
Hunting is called hunting for a reason. It’s a challenge. There’s never a guarantee you’ll come home with a trophy buck but putting these simple tips into action will increase your odds of making harvest and enjoying the hunt.
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