Hunting Pressured Whitetails

Hunting Pressured Whitetails

Hunting Pressured Whitetails

With more and more private land being developed each year, there’s less and less whitetail habitat available for hunters. As a result, this can lead to a higher concentration of hunters in one area – especially on pieces of public land.

That high concentration of hunters can lead to pressure, and that’s just one more hurdle you have to get over if you’re hunting pressured whitetails.

So, what are pressured whitetails?

They’re deer that are in an area that is being actively used by a large number of hunters in a relatively small piece of land. Because of this, the deer learn that something is out of the ordinary and they become wary of the changes to their environment.

Ideally, it’s best to hunt an area where there is little to no pressure, but that’s not always an option. Thousands of hunters go after pressure whitetails every year and have success, so it can definitely be done if you know how to do it.

Strategies for Hunting Pressured Whitetails

Ask ten people for their best strategy when it comes to hunting pressured whitetails and you’ll get eleven different answers. That doesn’t make any one answer right or wrong. Here are some of the best strategies we’ve heard over the years from whitetail hunters of all walks of life and levels of experience.

Think Like a Deer

Deer are not stupid. If they were, then this article wouldn’t be necessary.

You’ve got to start thinking like a deer.

This means you should be considering what areas of the property are getting the most human traffic, where are areas with less disturbance that would be good for hiding, what places have the best food sources, and where are the does for breeding purposes. If you can find a spot that is off the beaten path, near food, and has a solid supply of does around, then the big bucks are likely to be nearby, too.

Hunt Unpopular Spots at Unpopular Times

People are inherently lazy. This means that plenty of hunters will set up in locations that are closer to the roads, nearby trailheads, etc. Essentially, any place where it’s easiest to get to with minimal effort.

If you’re willing to put in the extra miles on foot and get to spots where there aren’t as many hunters, then you’ll be in an area where deer feel less pressure.Morning hours from sun up until 10am or so and afternoon hours from 2pm until sun down are the most popular times for deer hunters.

As a result, there’s the most human movement and population in the woods during those blocks of time. That’s why it’s recommended that you stay put and hunt the whole day – including the 10am to 2pm time slot when there are less people around and deer don’t feel as pressured.

Hunt in Multiple Spots

If you’re able to hunt multiple locations, do it. Don’t sit in the same stand in the same field for the entire season if you don’t have to.

Switching things up keeps the deer from getting too wary of one specific area. If they hear or smell people in a spot frequently, they’re less likely to stick around. Conversely, if you’re the one who doesn’t stick around all the time, they’ll feel less pressure and let their guard down a bit.

Limit Your Calls

During hunting season, pressured deer hear calling every day, most likely all day. They hear it so much that they will eventually tune it out and become immune to it. If you hunt in an area with other hunters and you hear a lot of rattling and grunting, don’t do either one. You’ll only be adding to the auditory pressure that the deer are already experiencing.

Learn to Pattern the Deer

Pre-season scouting is important, but scouting during the season is equally vital. Time spent in the woods will help you figure out what the herd is doing. You can supplement this with some trail cameras, but nothing can beat good, old-fashioned woodsmanship and seeing things with your own eyes.

Don’t Give Your Secrets Away!

Hunters share a special bond with one another and are often a tight-knit community, but there are also times when it’s best to play things a bit closer to the chest.

Be Mindful of Carrying Your Deer Out

Just because you’ve filled your tag with that gigantic buck of a lifetime doesn’t mean that you can throw all of your hunting strategies out the window when you climb down from your stand or emerge from your blind.

Other deer in the area can still hear, smell, and see you, so do your best to avoid unneccesary exposure in the area when you’re field dressing your harvest and coming out of the woods.

Avoid Repeating Behaviors That the Deer Can Learn

As we mentioned earlier, deer aren’t stupid. Their brains may be 1/6 the size of ours, but they are still able to learn and remember. That means you should vary your route to and from your hunting spot, as well as switching it up between hunting spots. If you avoid doing the same thing every time you head out for a hunt, then you’ll make it less likely that the deer will learn about what you’re up to and alter their lives accordingly.

Don’t Brag About Your Success

This may seem counterintuitive since most hunters like to celebrate their harvest – and we’re not saying that you can’t be proud of your accomplishment – but you should be careful to whom you brag. Close friends, family, and trusted hunting buddies are one thing, but making it known exactly when and where you got that big bruiser on social media or in a web forum to a bunch of strangers is just broadcasting location info to an untold number of other hunters that you found a good spot. If you show your hand, don’t be surprised if there are a bunch of new players at the table the next time you show up there.

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