Last year was my first time deer hunting in Illinois and it was a trip that I will never forget. It was a little deer hunting 101 so to speak.
Deer Hunting 101
I look back on it and at first glance it all seemed so easy, but the more I think about it it was a tough week of deer hunting. The last day of the hunt the four of us had not harvested a mature buck and we were all mentally and physically exhausted. Deer hunting and scouting hard all week in unseasonably warm temperatures had worn us down. But to all of our credit we hunted hard all week.
I remember thinking about each spot I had scouted and trying to figure out the best place to score on a trophy buck. And something my buddy kept telling me kept popping into my head, he said “hunt where the does are”. I knew this, but kept hunting the fresh rubs and scrapes which are great places to hunt, but there was a place on a trail that I used to walk back into the hardwoods to a spot where there were some big fresh rubs and scrapes were where I was , but at this one place each time I was walking through there I saw 1 or more does.
So on the last hunt of our trip I’m walking back down the same trail at about 5:30 am with my red lens on my flashlight and once again right in the same spot where I had seen does every time, I walked up on two mature does, they didn’t appear to be spooked at all they just slowly walked off. So I start down the trail to the spot deeper in the woods where the fresh rubs and scrapes I had been were and the light bulb in my head went off, my buddy kept telling me “hunt where the does are”. So I made a u-turn and went right back where I had seen the does every time I had walked through there, and immediately shined my light looking for a tree to get up in my portable and the very first tree I shined my light on right on the trail was perfect. So I put my portable on the tree and up I went.
Now it was hard to decide not to hunt the fresh scrapes and rubs but I decided to do like my buddy had said and “hunt where the does are”. I got settled in and watched the sun slowly rise.
A cold front had moved in the night before and it was about 32 degrees and the big bucks had to be near going into full rut. I was pumped, and about 6:50 I decided to do a little rattling and grunted and bleated a few times, then I waited a few minutes and repeated the calling. Then I sat back and anxiously waited. Then I saw horns coming towards me about 75 yards away and I did a grunt and it was like he was on a string. The trophy buck came in to about 30 yards and I was able to put a great double lung shot on the brute and watched him walk about 15 yards and lay down and expire.
I had just harvested my first big buck with a bow. And I did just like my buddy Mac had said “hunt where the does are“. It was hard to not hunt where all the big fresh buck sign was but by hunting where the does were I was able to get a big trophy whitetail bow hunting in Illinois.
So when the season rolls around and you can’t decide where to hunt, especially during the rut just “hunt where the does are”. You will increase your odds of harvesting that once in a lifetime trophy buck.