By Jordon Hoover, Quest for the King
It seems like everywhere I turn there is another podcast / article / conversation about aggressively hunting a buck’s bedroom. There is no denying the fact that if you’ve done your homework beforehand that staking out a buck’s bedding area can be a great tactic prior to the rut. The fact is however that hunting a buck’s bedding area is among the most risky tactics you can use and most often does not yield positive results. Lets examine the details.
– Mature bucks are old for a reason. They’re smarter than your average deer. Mature bucks often choose to bed in the most inhospitable country your mind can allow you to imagine. Most of the time they position their bedding areas such that they CANNOT be approached from any direction without due warning that a predator is approaching. Understand that you are NOT an exception to that rule. The human hunter is by far more awkward and obnoxious in the woods than any natural predator no matter your skill. Even playing the wind closing to within 200 yards or less of a buck’s bedding area is a dangerous game. If you absolutely have your mind set on doing so, it would be wise to wait for a rain to even attempt it. Keep in mind that while deer can and do react to human presence differently there are two additional factors at play here…1.) We’re talking about a mature buck who has little to no tolerance for intrusion…2.) This isn’t a harmless bump in a feeding area, this is his SANCTUARY. The reward is great, but so is the risk.
– Hunting a buck’s bedroom will likely only pay off pre-rut. During the rut bucks roam widely seeking hot does. They do not adhere to their typical patterns, hence there is no accurate way to predict when he’ll return to that bedding area. Many times a buck will bed with a hot doe. This could be a one day thing, or several days. A buck’s bedding area is simply not a zone that is high percentage during the rut. In addition by the time the rut rolls around most of us have to contend with the presence of other hunters in the woods. This of course also alters deer patterns and in particular mature bucks. It is not uncommon for mature bucks to become nocturnal at this point. In such a case keying on doe family zones is more likely to pay dividends. He’ll be where the girls are. Post rut the mature buck is depleted and his focus is on trying to get some calories back before the heart of winter sets in. Depending on where you are in the country this means snowfall may alter the entire pattern. If you hunt the far North like I do, by the end of November or early December feet of snow have fallen and thus a buck will no longer occupy the same zones. Understanding the seasonal food source changes and migration routes out of the deep snow and into wintering areas will be your ticket to success in late season.
In closing, while you can have tremendous success hunting the bedroom, it should not be your go to tactic. As I have shown you there are more effective methods depending on time of year. Don’t get caught up in the trending rhetoric of the day. Allow common sense to guide you. Big deer have been taken a variety of ways. That does not mean that particular method will work for you or work in your specific situation. Whatever tactics you use always ask yourself three key questions…1.) Is it the highest percentage tactic given the time of year, phase of the rut, and sign seen?…2.) Is the tactic within my ability to successfully execute?…3.) Do the risks of the tactic outweigh the potential gains? If you answer those three questions beforehand you will easily be able to identify what you need to do to put yourself in a position to be successful.