BIG BUCKS AREDIFFERENT. Yearlings may stroll into feeding areas in the afternoon, but monsters wait fordarkness. When 6-pointers scent-check field edges, bruisers hang back in thedark timber.
So big-buck standlocations need to be different, too. But that’s only part of it. To ambush amegabuck, you need to hunt each spot when it’s hottest, and only when the windallows. To that end, here are 10 killer big-buck stands and how to get the mostout of each.
Keep in mind,your ridges may be 500 feet lower than our hypothetical 600-footers, and yourrefuge may be a 6-year-old clear-cut rather than our swamp. No matter. Applythe general principles here to the specifics of your ground, and you’ll have abetter shot at your dream buck this fall.
THE KEY TO WINDDIRECTION
N S W E PERFECT
N S W E ACCEPTABLE
N S W E DON’T HUNT IT
1 RIDGE END
WIND: W [PERFECT] N [ACCEPTABLE] S [ACCEPTABLE] E [DON’T HUNT IT]
WHEN TO HUNT:Early season, pre-rut; evening.
WHY IT WORKS: Bigbucks love to bed on the ends of ridges like this one, where they can escapedanger by bailing straight downhill toward the swamp, or down either sidehill.Small bucks will travel the ridge’s spine to feed, but a bruiser will parallelit off to one side.
TIP: Look for atrail, rub, or scrape to tell you on which side of the ridge to hang yourstand.
2 TURKEY FOOT
WIND: S [PERFECT]A.M. N [PERFECT] P.M. E [DON’T HUNT IT] W [DON’T HUNT IT]
WHEN TO HUNT:Early season, pre-rut, rut; any time of day.
WHY IT WORKS: Theultimate terrain funnel, a turkey foot occurs where three (or more) ridgesmeet, eliminating the need to pinpoint which one your monster runs on a givenday.
TIP: It’s a greatspot on a calm day, as the natural thermals set up perfectly for both A.M. andP.M. hunts.
3 HIDDEN FOOD PLOT
WIND: N[PERFECT] E [PERFECT] S [DON’T HUNT IT] W [DON’T HUNT IT]
WHEN TO HUNT:Early season, pre-rut; evening.
WHY IT WORKS:Mature bucks won’t make it to the big cornfield until dark, but they’ll hitthis small, hidden food plot with plenty of shooting light left. Plantsomething other than conventional farm crops.
TIP: Steer deertoward your stand by piling brush or felling trees.
4 DARK TIMBER
WIND: E[PERFECT] S [ACCEPTABLE] N [DON’T HUNT IT] W [DON’T HUNT IT]
WHEN TO HUNT:Early season, pre-rut, rut, late season; evening.
WHY IT WORKS: Bigbucks are as attracted to this oak flat as any other deer. But they access itusing any structure they can find–a blowdown, a swale, or in this case a lineof spruce trees.
TIP: Before therut, big bucks may move less during daylight, so wait for a cold front ordrizzly rain to hunt this spot.
5 CREEKBOTTOM FUNNEL
WIND: S[PERFECT] N [ACCEPTABLE] E [DON’T HUNT IT] W [DON’T HUNT IT]
WHEN TO HUNT:Pre-rut, rut; any time of day.
WHY IT WORKS:Brushy creekbottoms are big-buck magnets because they offer the security ofthick vegetation along a natural travel route. Plus, they’re a convenientsource of drinking water for hard-running bucks during the rut.
TIP: Look for arub line to indicate where a buck parallels or crosses the creek, and hang yourstand accordingly.
6 BENCH BED
WIND: N[PERFECT] S [PERFECT] E [DON’T HUNT IT] W [DON’T HUNT IT]
WHEN TO HUNT:Pre-rut, rut; all day.
WHY IT WORKS:This bench is both a travel route and a perfect big-buck bed, especially if youleave it alone in the early season. Then, when bucks start chasing does, sneakup here and hunt all day.
TIP: Hang onestand on the bench’s uphill side for rising thermals, another on the downhillside for falling thermals.
7 CRP SENTINEL TREE
WIND: W [PERFECT]A.M. E [PERFECT] P.M. N [ACCEPTABLE] S [ACCEPTABLE]
WHEN TO HUNT:Pre-rut, rut; morning and evening.
WHY IT WORKS: CRPland, or any tall grassy field, is likely doe-bedding cover. In this case, it’salso a perfect transition from the timber to the cornfield. Big bucks willalmost invariably gravitate toward a sentinel tree, fenceline, or isolatedpatch of cover.
TIP: This is theperfect spot for a buck decoy. Bring rattling antlers and a grunt tube toattract a cruising buck’s attention.
8 SWAMP SANCTUARY
WIND: W[PERFECT] N [ACCEPTABLE] S [DON’T HUNT IT] E [DON’T HUNT IT]
WHEN TO HUNT:Rut; all day.
WHY IT WORKS:Leave this tangled swamp as a sanctuary through the early season and pre-rut,and it will become an almost guaranteed big-buck refuge when gun season starts.Wait for a favorable wind, then sit all day.
TIP: Expect yourbuck to bed on a high spot within the swamp.
9 CATTAIL SLOUGH
WIND: W[PERFECT] N [ACCEPTABLE] S [ACCEPTABLE] E [DON’T HUNT IT]
WHEN TO HUNT:Late season; morning.
WHY IT WORKS:When big bucks get pressured, you can expect to find them where most hunterswouldn’t look, like this cattail slough behind a farm.
TIP: You may haveto sit on a stool within the marsh or wear a gillie suit.
10 CORNFIELD EDGE
WIND: N[PERFECT] E [ACCEPTABLE] S [DON’T HUNT IT] W [DON’T HUNT IT]
WHEN TO HUNT:Late season; midday and evening.
WHY IT WORKS: Bigbucks are usually different, but the one exception is in winter, after therigors of the rut, when they’ll waltz right into this cornfield during daylightto feed. Hit this spot after an extended cold snap or snowfall.
TIP: Sacrifice aday of hunting to learn exactly where the deer enter this field.