Monday, July 06, 2009

Foolin’ The Does Makes Buck-Hunting Easier

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It has often been thought that does get the brains and bucks get the antlers. One might think this is a very accurate assessment because outwitting most bucks is much less difficult than fooling a wise old doe that has survived several hunting seasons.

Bucks, by the time they have some antlers on their head and a couple of years behind them, realize they are something rather special. Does, fawns and younger bucks defer to larger bucks, and this serves as something of an ego massage young Billy Buck.

We’ve all seen does and fawns check things out from a distance, check again once they get a bit closer, and do a last-minute recon before committing to what could be a dangerous move. The buck stands back, often somewhat aloof from this danger business that does seem more accustomed to, and when they decide to make their move, out they come with little apparent regard for any possible danger.

Watch a young buck near a food source. If a doe or smaller deer, including another buck, approaches, the buck often will run them off. They usually don’t go very far, and keep coming back and getting chased off again, until the buck either moves or allows the does and fawn to come in and feed. They will tolerate other deer, but only up to a point.

This is a confidence builder for the buck. Nothing in his life has prepared him for anything other than being what he is and acting the way he does. It’s little wonder that some hunters soon learn that shooting a buck can be much easier than shooting an old doe.

A doe is an critter in need of a stout tranquilizer to level them out a bit. They are high-strung, and constantly checking for danger. I’ve watched does cross an open field of rolling hills and narrow valleys or through open woods, and they may stop several times while crossing. They take their time unless danger threatens, and then they can move quickly.

A buck may move slowly, but if he wants to cross a field, he’ll cross it. Some may walk across. Others trot across, and some will cross on a dead run. Sometimes they run or walk headlong into danger.

Outwitting an old doe is a chore. They’ve stayed alive this long because female deer are born with a make-up that is instinctive but it almost seems as if they can sense danger. I believe they do sense and react to it. A buck senses only himself, acts as if he owns the world and everything in it, and it’s why some big deer get shot every year.

Don’t misunderstand me. A buck isn’t stupid, and one that has lived through three or four hunting seasons, has done so has developed some acquired instincts, most likely inherited from his mother.

Hunters who don’t know any better say bucks act stupid during the rut. I’ve seen many instances where that would appear to be true, but have seen more cases where bucks act cautiously optimistic around estrus does. They may make an occasional mistake, but if the hunter can figure out how to keep from being heard, seen or winded by a doe or fawn, the chances are much better of getting a shot at a nice buck.

I spend much of my time watching does, and seeing how they react to different stimuli. I also spend great amounts of time watching bucks as they respond to the same stimuli, and in many cases the does are moving away from danger while the buck appears to still be processing information at a much slower pace.

Learn how does react to various things. I’ve seen some run headlong for heavy cover when a bird flies over. I’ve seen them sniff a stand where a careless hunter left his scent behind. Does that spend an inordinate amount of time checking tree stands can help a hunter ambush a good buck.

Figure out which tree that upset a doe, and set up somewhere within 50 yards of the doe’s line of travel, and if she examines the tree that must have spooked her at one time, every trailing buck will examine the same tree. That gives a hunter a wonderful edge and an opportunity to draw and shoot the trailing buck.

To fool a buck often means fooling the doe first. If the doe detects no danger, the buck will prance along like he owns the land. That can work to your benefit, but it only works if the doe remains totally clueless about a nearby hunter.

It’s a simple concept that requires nothing more than fooling the does and fawns. Fool antlerless deer all the time, and fooling a buck becomes a much easier plan.

Posted by Dave Richey on 07/06 at 06:17 PM
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