For many, the opening of deer season is like a national holiday. In some areas, schools even shut down. In others, families continue traditions and rites are passed. Guns go off, arrows go flying and deer fall. During the offseason, hunters are gearing up, studying articles and watching hunting shows/videos. Measured in billions in America, the whitetail deer is the king.
Ranging from Peru all the way to Canada, odocoileus virginianus to all American. Some men have tried to classify the whitetail deer into subspecies, DNA evidence says that they’re genetically identical. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the deer have not adapted to various environments.
Any hunter that goes on the road knows that a Canadian whitetail is bigger and darker there. The further the deer is from the equator, the larger it gets in size. Coues whitetails in Mexico and the southwest U.S. tend to be ash gray in color and weight anywhere from 50 to 125 pounds. Most hunters are happy with a whitetail that weighs around 135 to 200 pounds, one man reportedly killed a 403-pound whitetail in Minnesota back in 1926.
As seasons change and the availability of crops come and go, a deer’s preferred food tends to change. Hunters know this. However, what most people don’t know, or even understand, is how adaptable a whitetail’s diet is. Many deer have been seen eating cactus, bark, chicks and eggs, ants, and various other things. However, one thing that many hunters say that a whitetail deer loves to eat is a ripe acorn fresh from a white oak tree.
The whitetail deer gets its name from the flaglike tail it raises when it becomes scared. This lets other deer know that danger is looming nearby, and it also lets the hunter know that he or she is not being nearly sneaky enough.
Bucks tend to grow their antlers annually, and this begins in the late spring. The living tissue, which is covered by velvety blood vessels, is said to be among the fastest growing in the world. The velvet is shed by September, which simply leads hardened antlers that can be used for defense, fighting, and territorial marketing. The configuration and size of the antlers vary depending on a number of factors, including age, nutrition, genetics and injury.
Question Regarding Spikes
There is a debate regarding deer when they are managed on properties for antler growth. There are some hunters who believe that yearling spike bucks have substandard genetics and cannot become decent bucks. They believe that they are simply a waste of resources and need to be culled. Research shows, however, that a yearling spike buck is indeed capable of becoming a solid 8- to 10-point as long as it is provided adequate nutrition and age.
Hunting Tips and Tactics for Success
Whitetails continue to expand their range, which means hunters need to remain on top of their game with new tactics. Of course, some basic methods still need to remain in play. Here is what you need to know to be successful with your hunt”:
Most of the 13 million + hunters of whitetail deer will utilize portable and/or permanent tree stands to hunt for deer as the feed, travel and interact. Hunters will make use of decoys, lures, scents and calls in order to bait whitetails within range of their stands.
Stalking and Still-Hunting
Skilled hunters have the capability of locating, stalking and killing whitetails even in the most wooded terrain. Some can even do it through the snow. Others can still-hunt, which simply means easing yourself through the woods and scanning in front of you for any deer movement and shapes. In order for this type of hunting to be successful, you need a favorable wind and damp, quiet ground.
Spot and Stalk
This is a technique often used by Western hunters due to the large areas of open country, as the areas are simply scanned and carefully studied for animals. Once a desired animal is spotted, the hunter stalked using cover to creep within bow or gun range. When the terrain will allow, this can be a very enjoyable and active method of hunting.
Southerners tend to use dogs, especially in the swamp areas. Dogs are let loose in thick cover at one end and hunters will be lying toward the other ending waiting to ambush. The goal here is for the dogs to “push” the deer toward the hunters. Shotguns with a buckshot are commonly used since these shots are most often taken when the deer is still running.
Corn feeders are typically used in Texas in order to bait deer into kill zones so that hunters can shoot and kill from an elevated “shoot house”. This is a common tactic throughout the South, except corn is often replaced for cultivated bean fields.
In the past, hunters simply waited in patience with a homemade weapon and skill. Today, things are different. As a general rule, hunters only have a few days off work to go hunting and they most certainly don’t live out in the woods. Therefore, technology is relied on a lot for success. Once you have either a bow or a rifle, there are some other pieces of gear that can help making your hunting trip more of a success and far more enjoyable.
In locating and identifying whitetail deer, you need quality optics. A high-end binocular could cost you thousands, you can get an adequate one – even one with an integrated laser rangefinder – that will do just fine for a fraction of that cost.
Today’s hunting clothes help make you more comfortable and quieter while out in the woods. Gore-Tex, or any type of clothing that has similar lining, helps to stop rain and wind, while also ensuring that your sweat doesn’t drown your body. Clothing that contains down, wool or even synthetic-fiber insulation can ensure that your body, feet and head stay warm, which ensures that you are in the tree stand hunting more instead of warming up in the truck.
While many people try to make their own tree stand so that they can save money, these can be extremely dangerous. This is especially true if they are not built correctly or properly maintained. It is often better to simply opt for a commercial tree stand that will ensure your safety. Plus, they’re much more comfortable.
Whitetails are considered among the most adaptable mammals on the planet, which is probably why they have taken so well to lush suburban areas like Malibu – even Atlanta and Washington, D.C. These areas have mild climates, flowery forage, lack of natural predators and legal protection. Unfortunately, there is a lot of traffic.
There are some areas that have instituted archery seasons because of severe over-population. For example, in North Virginia, you are allowed to bowhunt in your backyard. In some areas, there are antlerless season that go through the end of April.
The surplus of whitetail deer in the U.S. has allowed hunters to be picky. Due to the this, there are many hunters that only look for the biggest and the greatest bucks. These enthusiasts could look over hundreds of deer before they actually try to take one out that finally meets their high standards. These types of hunters will aggressively pursue the biggest whitetail specimens simply for the challenge. Honestly, it is one of the greatest feats to get within a few dozen yards of a free-ranging, mature whitetail.
Here is how these hunters are able to get one of the trophy bucks:
The Ultimate Hunt
There are always going to be people that talk about the places to hunt monster bucks. In Texas, hunters will sit there and watch 50 deer come and go until that one big one finally comes up. In Canada, bucks can actually weight 350 pounds with similar headgear, which makes your chances pretty good. But the chances of them coming up to a deer feeder in Texas is slim to none.
Mature bucks are not going to be out in the open. Instead, they are in the woods, creek bottoms, etc. If you want your chance at taking a big one, you need to stick your tree stand in a funnel – during the rut – and be prepared.
Gear Up: Weaponry for Every Season
While you should always have respect for a man that has one weapon, a weapon won’t cut it if you want to have success whitetail hunting. You need to be prepared for all seasons. Here are some cost-effective and efficient weapons for every deer season:
Rifle – Remington Model 700
There is a good reason that over five million of these have been sold. These rifles have been used in the war and out in the woods. The one great thing that can be said about the 700 is that it is one of the most accurate bolt-action rifles known to man.
Shotgun – Savage 220F
Some states, especially in the Midwest, do not allow rifles to be used for whitetail hunting. However, Savage Arms decided to build a shotgun that was very similar to the design of its rifles. It has a bolt-action receiver and has a 20-gauge rifle barrel. If you join it with an AccuTrigger, it is a gun with a 1.5-inch accuracy without the 12-gauge recoil. What more could you ask for?
Muzzleloader – CVA Apex
Featuring lightweight stainless steel to ensure no corrosion, this muzzleloader has an accurate Bergara barrel and glorious trigger. The quiet, rubberized stock is perfect in the woods.
Compound Bow – PSE X Force
PSE continues to be one of the top brands with their compound bows. With short limbs, this bow is one of the quietest of its kind and incredibly accurate.
Crossbow – Stryker Strykezone 380
With a light trigger and quality construction, this crossbow is deadly accurate. Compared to many crossbows, this one is incredibly compact, making it ideal when hunting whitetails in the woods.
If you are ready to get your hands on some new gear, or simply have questions, contact us at Full Draw Archery.
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