© By Othmar Vohringer
Here are my favourite locations to intercept a traveling buck.
Woodland ridge tops within 200 to 300 yards of agricultural fields are buck magnets. Bucks like to be high up and watch the does moving around in the brush and fields below. Having a stand set up on a ridge top is better for you too because the wind and air currents are more stable and predictable then in the low spots.
Ridge tops are also staging and bedding areas for the does and therefore are the hub of buck movement. You know when you found the right ride top to set up. The place will full of deer tracks, rubs and scrapes.
Where to hang the stand?
Hang the treestand or build a ground blind at that end of the ridge where your access is easy and less disturbing to any deer in the area and where the prevailing wind is to your advantage. Pay close attention to your own access and departure route. Plan a route that keeps you away from any deer holding areas, such as beds and away from the fields and any connecting travel corridors. When you set the stand or blind up do so quickly and quietly and then get out. Do not return until the day you actually hunt. The best day to hunt any stand is the very first time. Make it count.
I love to hunt crossings, especially creek and overgrown fence line crossings. Creeks and fence lines are natural travel corridors for big bucks checking on does. Bucks may travel along these structures early in the morning, during midday hours or in the evening. Be patience and observe all day.
Where to set up?
If you’re a bowhunter look for a spot where the creek is narrow and shallow, by a fence-row look for a spot where the fence is lower. Although deer could cross these structures anywhere they want they always look for a crossing where it is easier. The wind can be a bit tricky in river or creek bottoms so pay special attention to that factor. A buck could come from either direction and you want to make sure that your sent drifts in a direction away for any buck approach route.
Rifle hunters have a bit easier in that regard. Usually I set up further way, preferably on a hillside where I have good view for 200 yards in each direction. Again I try to find these crossings where the fence is lower or the creek narrower and shallow. These crossing points will be easy to find as there will be lots of deer tracks nearby.
A narrow strip of brush or trees connecting two larger woodlots is a great buck travel corridor. These permits a buck to travel in cover from one woodlot to the next in search of does. You often will find rub lines inside the woodlots leading to that travel corridor. At the height of the rut bucks will be traveling back and forth all day long.
When I hunt such a travel corridor I usually set up a stand on either side of the corridor where it enters the woodlots. It is on this points were you will find several trails merging together. If you bowhunt set up where you get within easy shooting distance of where the trail merge.
I learned the importance of thick cover many years ago. I sat in a treestand overlooking a trail leading out of a cornfield and into the timber. About 20 yards inside the timber I set up. Several does were feeding in the field and I was watching them when my attention was diverted to a single doe standing near a thick mess of brush jutting out of the timber in the far corner of the field. What got my attention was her behaviour, after every bite to eat she turned hear head toward the thick brush. I got my binoculars up and looked in the direction the doe was looking. The half hidden in the brush I could make out another deer but I could not tell with certainty if it was a buck or another doe.
It got quickly dark and I run out of shooting light when I saw a huge buck materializing out of that thicket. I’ve no idea how long he had been standing in there watching the does from the safety of cover. The next day I investigated that cover. It was so thick that I would have had to cut a path into it and that is not what I wanted to do at this time of the season. It would have done more harm than good. There was no need to cut a path anyway because a bit further into the timber the thicket thinned out a bit and it was there where I found a big trail full of fresh tracks leading into the cover. I set up a stand and two days later went back. I sat all day in that stand and finally in the afternoon a big 10- point buck came walking down the trail toward the thicket.
I got up, drawing my bow and that was when my hunt went south. A doe that I haven’t seen behind me detected my movement, stomped her foot and blew. The buck turned post-haste, crashing though the timber the same way he came. I didn’t get that buck but I learned a lesson. Find thick cover near field edges and you will find big bucks.