Glassing one evening during the early season, you spot a giant buck jumping your fence to feed in your neighbor’s soybean field. A little more scouting reveals that the deer is bedding in a thicket on a far corner of your property, only 50 yards from the fenceline. Every evening at dusk, he heads straight to your neighbor’s field–where you don’t have permission to hunt. You wouldn’t think of crossing the line, of course, but this is the biggest buck you’ve ever seen. So, you should…
[A] Sit on the fence. Hang a tree stand just on your side of the property line to intercept the buck on his way to feed in the evening.
[B] Get up early. Head out well before dawn and hang a stand in the thicket to catch the trophy sneaking back to bed in the morning.
[C] Create a diversion. Set up a decoy in an open area downwind of the bedding thicket to lure the buck off his normal morning route.
[D] Stage a battle. Use rattling horns to lure the buck away from his normal evening route and within range of your tree stand.
What the Pro Would Do
“I’d lure the buck out by rattling [D],” says Kandi Kisky, cohost with her husband, Don, of the popular TV show and video series, Whitetail Freaks. “Early-season bucks are just starting to gear up for the rut, and they do a lot of sparring. Light rattling mimics what’s happening naturally this time of year, and it’s one of the few things that will draw a buck off his feeding routine.”
Try to ambush that deer 50 yards or fewer from his bed [A and B] and you risk disrupting his early-season feeding pattern, one of the most reliable routines he’ll exhibit all year, according to Kisky. Fact is, she wouldn’t hunt the fenceline [A] even if it weren’t dangerously close to the bedding area. “The most unneighborly thing a hunter can do is fence-sit,” she says. “It’s disrespectful. I wouldn’t do it to anybody, and I don’t want anybody to do it to me.”
Although a morning decoy setup [C] can work, Kisky feels early-season bucks are more active and vulnerable later in the day. One of her favorite evening hunts on an early-season Iowa food plot demonstrates the best approach. “Bucks enter that field next to the same cedar tree every single year,” she says. Rather than risk disrupting that rock-solid route, Kisky keeps her distance and rattles bucks into bow range. Do the same here, she advises, by setting up 200 yards downwind of the bedding area and tickling the horns. “Make it more of a sparring match than an epic battle.”
If the ruse fails, just back out quietly. “Keeping your distance also lets you exit undetected,” says Kisky, “leaving the feeding pattern–and your chance at the buck of a lifetime–intact for another day.”