Tips & Tactics

Never Say Never

Never Say Never

By Ken Piper

“Never” and “always” don’t apply to whitetail behavior.

When I started hunting whitetails on public land in Pennsylvania, one of the first things I learned was to watch for the last deer in any group. If there was going to be a buck, it was almost always last in line.

As I’ve traveled and hunted in other states, that is one trait that seems consistent from region to region. There are many examples of whitetail behavior that are nearly universal, but try not to let what you “know” about deer keep you from learning and trying new things. In short, don’t trust what you hear or read about what whitetails always or never do.

For example, I bet you’ve been told whitetails don’t move on windy days. Funny thing is, my two best hunts occurred in blustery wind – one very cold and one warmer than normal.

The cold day was a miserable sit in Kansas when I saw seven different racked bucks before eventually shooting one. It was so cold and windy that I almost gave up several times, but I stuck it out since it was obvious bucks were moving (and, truthfully, because there wasn’t enough of a cell signal to reach my ride). The other great day was comfortably in the 60s but with a stiff wind. I shot an Illinois giant at 4:30 in the afternoon. Every tidbit of conventional wisdom said it was a waste of time to go out, but not listening gave me the buck of a lifetime.

The other side of that coin is the countless number of times I’ve been skunked when I was sure deer were going to be moving like crazy – times like right before or after a storm or during a cold snap.

Whitetail unpredictability isn’t limited to weather. As much as we look forward to the rut, we’ve all spent zero-deer days in great stands while we know breeding activity is happening. And you’ve probably seen a racked buck leading a group of deer on occasion, too. It happens, and you have to be ready for anything.

Weather and countless other factors affect deer movement and behavior, but we simply can’t predict that behavior with any certainty.

By all means pay attention to wind direction and try to remain undetected. But don’t let what you think deer might or might not be doing stop you from going afield on a given day.

– This week’s tip comes from Buckmasters editor Ken Piper

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Copyright 2021 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2020 by Buckmasters, Ltd