Are Whitetails Easy?

Posted on November 4, 2011

By Joe BellWhitetail Hunting

Living out West, I’ve heard many bowhunters make irrational statements about hunting whitetails. Their general thinking is that these deer are easy to kill, compared to mulies and blacktails in the Western woods. In some ways, I’ve agreed with this, generally speaking. But experience has taught me that Western and Eastern hunting are completely different, and each offers a unique set of challenges.

For example, Western hunting is highly physical and non-strategic for the most part. It’s all about stalking, still-hunting and making things happen to get a shot. You must improvise on the go.

From time to time, sitting on ambush and waiting on a buck to come out is clearly the sensible thing to do, but it’s rarely ever executed in the same fashion as with Eastern deer. It’s usually more of a “shot in the dark,” rather than what weeks of post-season and pre-season scouting have told you to do.

A great scenario is an alfalfa field that mule deer are using to feed on. Each day, you see the deer in the field, but each day, they arrive differently. They rarely–if ever–use the same trail to reach the field. Instead, they enter from a different side or corner, leaving you guessing. So you must pick a trail to sit on and hope for the best. About 90 percent of the time, you end up being wrong, which leaves you frustrated and recognizing the true challenge of hunting these deer.

However, whitetails are no cinch, either, despite the best plan. These deer–especially the old, wise bucks–are masters of disguise that rarely walk in the open and routinely become nocturnal at the first sign of increased hunting pressure.

During the early season, they are predictable in how they travel to feeding sources, but their cunning and elusiveness will often detect the slightest bit of sloppiness in scent-control and noise. When the rut is on, many of the larger bucks finally surface and show themselves, but where they travel is completely unpredictable.

Couple this with cold, sedentary hunting conditions and long waits on stand, along with guessing which sign, “funnel” or trail to hunt, and anyone who hunts these deer knows too well the challenges involved.

Personally, I find sitting for hours on end in a cold treestand a true test of my patience and will power, especially when you can’t move much and wind currents are often somewhat swirling and unpredictable and could foil your attempts on that big buck you’ve been scouting and hunting for an entire year! Talk about stress and challenge.

The bottom line here is that no matter where you hunt, or what type of deer, there’s sure to be plenty of challenge involved. That’s the great thing about bowhunting deer–compared to any other game animal, deer test your skill more so as a predator than anything else, and as a result, they bring you reward nothing else can match. That’s why all types, and the experiences they bring, remain number one in my trophy book.

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