All throughout the summer and into the early season you’ve consistently been spotting groups of bucks glassing fields consistently with and checking your game cameras.
The last few days, however, have been a disappointment. A lone deer has appeared here or there, but those bunches of bucks seem to have vanished like smoke. What happened here?
The Bachelor Party is Over
All summer long, velvet headed bucks hang together, wrestling feeding and drinking in groups commonly referred to as bachelor groups. As warm summer nights turn to crisp fall morning, changes in testosterone levels begin to sour the mood among the bachelor party. Velvet is shed and antlers harden, necks start to swell, and bucks get increasingly intolerant of one another until they begin sparring to determine supremacy among the once fraternal group. Ultimately, each member of the bachelor group goes his own way.
In addition to physiological changes in the deer, food sources are in flux as well. Deer, which once frequented certain fields through the warm months, will begin finding new options in the woods as fall food sources begin to mature. Acorns, persimmons, apples, and muscadines (in the South) are falling—and whitetails know it.
Make an Adjustment
As the season changes, so too you must change your methods. Get out and speed-scout diverse areas just ahead of the season. At no time are game cameras more important for tracking down bucks of interest.
It’s highly likely that the mature bucks you’re most interested in are still in the area. You just have to find where they’ve relocated to. Start by finding current food sources. if availiable to hunt, warm season food plots and bean fields will be the go to areas for afternoon hunting locations. After the initial weeks of early season turn your focus to food such as soft mast and white oak acorns, which tend to drop early in fall and are deer favorites.
As the summer heat fades move your trail cameras from field edges, and places where you had been seeing regular activity, to a location where you can intersect travel to and from their bedding location to potential new food sources. Creek crossings or natural funnels - now is the time to think outside the box. If legal, utilize feeder locations and Camera Candy to position bucks in front of your game camera.
Setup Downwind of a Scrape
Recent University of Georgia research of whitetail scrape habits suggests that hunting over a scrape may in fact be hex when it comes to tagging the buck of a lifetime. In their research it was found that, “almost none of the mature bucks (3.5 years old or older) harvested on the property during the two years of the study were ever captured on video [visiting a monitored scrape site].” What makes these findings even more important is that several of the mature bucks were harvested within a few hundred yards of one of scrapes monitored during the UGA study.