Published by archerchick on 08 Jan 2011 at 03:59 pm
Scoring in Bedding Areas by Steve Bartylla
Is Hunting Bedding Areas Too Risky? Not When You’re Armed With The Right Tactics
I was in a jam. Intending to spend much of the season on the property,
I’d invested several weeks into stand preparations. However, due
to an unanticipated twist of events, I’d have only one day to hunt
the tract. Needing to pull a rabbit out of my hat, l knew right where I’d go: to
the heart of a doe bedding area. Several hours after first light, the
rabbit emerged. With the unmistakable sounds of a chase approaching my stand,
l grabbed my bow and got into position. Tearing through the location where
does had been bedded a half hour before, The adult doe was on a mission
to lose her pursuers. With a mature 10 point mere feet behind her, both deer
blew through, and there was no chance of stopping them.
Forty-some yards behind, the nice 8-point followed. As he stopped in my shooting
lane to sniff the bed of a departed doe, l swiftly positioned the 30-yard pin and sent
the arrow into flight. A kick and explosion of energy later, all
that was left was following the good blood trail to where he lay. Hunting
bedding areas had allowed me to score yet another good buck.
When Bedding Areas Are The Only Way To Go
Hunting buck bedding areas is a risky endeavor. There are no other areas in a buck’s
home range that it knows better or is less tolerant of disturbances. Sure, bucks
will typically tolerate being bumped from a bedding area once or twice, but anything
more than that will likely cause them to relocate their core area. However, there are
times and setting where the risk of hunting buck bedding areas is worth it. A prime
example of this occurs when chasing heavily pressured deer. In this setting, the bucks that survive
their first few years do so by becoming predominately nocturnal.
Even in this setting, bucks are rarely purely nocturnal. Instead, outside of the rut
most of their daylight movement occurs in or very near to their bedding areas.
These safety zones tend to exist in isolated pockets of comparatively less pressure.
More often than not, they require extra effort to get to. Some common examples
are remote areas, sections blockaded by swamps or water features, and pockets
fenced off by challenging terrain. Another example is areas that are
simply overlooked. A buck I harvested on some heavily hunted public ground
was a great example of this. Because the patch of nearly impenetrable woods
was merely a half-acre in size, as well as being bordered by a dirt road and surrounded
by a large grass field, the scores of other hunters focused on the area’s
bigger timber. A quick scout of the area revealed that the tangle was where a
good buck called home.
Having selected a tree along the edge during the scout, I slipped in for the
hunt hours before first light. Well before shooting light, I spotted the 10-point
chasing a doe in the tall grass. When light finally came they headed for the tangle to
hole up for the day. Luckily for me, I was waiting for them. To illustrate how easily
accessible this overlooked location was the arrowed buck was nearly hit by a truck
as it made it’s last run to die on the other side of the road.
Even on land that receives moderate pressure, hunting buck bedding areas has it’s time. Frankly, anytime bucks minimize their daylight movement hunting near their bedding areas is the most consistently productive stand hunting approach. Two common examples of this occur during the decreased movement period of the October lull and the early portion of the post-rut. Stiff winds, unseasonably warm temperatures and storms also tend to reduce daylight movement. Under those scenarios, slipping in close to the bedding area can be the best option.
Keys To Hunting A Buck’s Bedroom
Regardless of what inspires the hunter to make the move, being consistently
successful at hunting buck bedding areas requires staying undetected. Luckily
following several guidelines helps. The first involves selecting a stand
location as close to the bedding area as possible, without alerting the buck to
the hunter’s presence. This distance is going to vary due to many factors. The
buck`s field of view, the level of noise made approaching the stand, wind directions
and the risk of spooking other deer must all be factored into the equation.
Woodsmanship and common sense must be used to determine the approach
distance. When in doubt, it’s always safer to err on the side of caution.
Next, the stand must be prepared .in a way that doesn’t blow the deal. When
that involves scouting and prepping-stands during season, everything should be done
the first time in. Scouting with a stand can be a pain, but repeated trips in only increases disturbances.
Minimizing disturbances also mean refrain from trimming shooting lanes, going;
during midday, performing the task silently, cutting odors and not lingering
longer than necessary.
When possible, prepping stands during the off season is a better choice. This timing allows the buck the opportunity to accept the hunter’s intrusion into his core area. However, because pressure bucks are true survivors, disturbances should still be kept to a minimum. Finally, because hunting bedding areas is a high-risk venture, these stands can easily be over»hunted. Even with great access and departure routes. as well as religiously playing the wind, buck bedding areas shouldn’t be hunted more than once every five days. Further more, targeting them during light rains has the advantage of inspiring otherwise nocturnal bucks to move earlier, as well as reducing noise and washing away odors.
Don’t Forget Doe Bedding Areas
Hunting bedding areas shouldn’t be focused solely on buck bedrooms. Doe bedding areas are also great locations. During the peak scraping, chase and breeding phases, bucks routinely cruise
doe bedding areas. With one pass of the downwind side, a buck can check the readiness of the does inside. During the chase phase, bucks commonly crash the bedding areas them-
At this point, the nearness of breeding and high testosterone levels inspire many mature bucks to dog almost any doe they encounter. As was the case in the beginning of this article, stands placed within doe bedding areas are good choices during the chase phase. The trick to pulling it off is setting the stand downwind, yet within shooting range of the bedded does. Because does are typically less nocturnal than mature bucks, getting into stand 30 minutes before first light is most often enough to beat them in. After that, it`s a matter of remaining still and waiting for the chase to begin.
For the other prime phases, a less risky placement is best. Stands placed approximately 20 yards from the down-wind edge provide the best coverage. With this placement, bucks skirting as much as 40 yards downwind are within easy range.This is also a good location to pull out the estrus scents. Because bucks are already searching for hot does, the percentage of positive responses is comparatively high. Therefore, scent drags and strategically placed scent wicks are both good choices. Furthermore, placing estrus wicks 20 yards to either side of the stand can draw downwind bucks before they hit the hunter’s odors.
Hunting a bedding area can be a high-risk endeavor. However, it’s the one location that can produce when no other will. By taking steps to minimize disturbances, many of the bucks I’ve harvested prove that these techniques can be well worth the calculated risk. For a comprehensive guide to cutting edge stand hunting methods, check out Steve Bartylla’s new book.
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