Mike: My son and I hunt private land in WI. Several of our best stands are a long walk to get to. We have to walk in over trails that show good deer traffic. (We wear rubber boots and use a scent eliminator.) We really don’t have a good alternative way to walk in. We’ve noticed that in the 4 years we’ve owned this property, deer never come to our stands from along those trails we walk.
My question: Would it be better to ride our ATVs (more noise but no human scent trail) to the stands and then hide them out of sight? Or would it be better to continue to walk in and be quiet?–Tom
Tom, sounds like those deer have you patterned so you need to change it up.
First thing, scout for a couple new stand locations in areas that you can access easier and from downwind. You mentioned well-used deer trails—set a stand or 2 near those trails (but where you don’t have to cross them) and try to catch a buck coming or going.
When you hunt those stands deep in the property, yes, give the 4-wheelers a try. Ride in extra early in the morning or afternoon, park well downwind of your stands, creep the last 100 yards in and let the woods settle back down.
I’ve shot lots of bucks in spots where a friend drove me to my stand on an ATV or in a truck, dropped me off and drove away out. One time, I hunted a stand on a field edge where my buddy could pull so close to the tree that I stepped right out the truck and onto the ladder that went up to the stand! We joked about not leaving a scent trail.
What would you bloggers do in this case?
Note: I’d like to make “Deer How-To” a regular (perhaps weekly) column here on BIG DEER so we can share and learn how others tackle different hunting dilemmas. Send me a question or topic you’d like to see us cover.
In farm country makes a lot of sense being familiar practice for farmers tending to chores. Bill Heavey of Field & Stream “A Sportsman’s Life” fame, once hunted a stand deep on our farm and was driven in within 20 yds of a large 10pt bedded. He wrote about that hunt where the buck just laid there all morning even after Richard came back to pick him up, only for Bill to motion him off. The buck finally stood where Bill whiffed. What I’d say is, if you drive your 4-wheeler in presently on any frequency the deer that you hunt are accustomed to it and is what you should do to hunt them. If not, I’d mix it up with alternate stands when the conditions are right for your favored stands.
It is incredible how much care you take in issues such as protective clothing.
i would like to try the same hunting trail
For years I’ve driven to my stands in my pickup. Hidden it 80 yards downwind. I don’t believe it has ever hurt my hunting. I agree, hunters tend to over-think situations.
I am a believer that deer will pattern hunters just as much as we try to pattern them. Deer are also very adaptable and will get used to vehicles, ATV’s, and other human influences as long as they don’t perceive the disturbance as an immediate threat or source or danger. The problem is that more often than not, deer, especially Big Deer WILL associate ATV’s and loud gas powered vehicles as a threat and will blow out of the area long before you arrive because of the noise disturbance. If I were you, I would look at what your neighbors are doing. If they are driving gas powered vehicles into their property, I would look at alternatives such as an electric powered vehicle to make your access much more stealthy. I agree with Cary about the QuietKat, they are very low impact and extremely quiet. I have watched neighbors fire up quads and drive into their property, blowing deer out of their area and onto my property on more than one occasion. The key here is low impact. Will you be able to access on a quad and manage to kill deer? You bet. But more often than not, because of the noise, you are doing more harm than good. A much safer alternative would be the use of an electric powered vehicle where the noise is literally cut down to nothing but the tires rolling over the terrain.
Great post, Mike. I am in favor of making this “Deer-How-To” a weekly thing!
you might try something like elimitrax, they are a giant pain to use but they work. Rubber boots leave a rubber scent that deer can pick off
I’ve parked my ATV right next to the tree my stand was in climbed off onto the ladder and shot a respectable 8 pt. 10 minutes later with my bow. I do not think it matters, hunters over think too often.
I might be a little prejudice because I am the Quietkat dealer in San Diego but take a good look at this product. Totally silent, no fumes, no oil/gas smells, lite weight, easy to hide, very dependable, goes a long way on a single charge, has good speed if needed, can haul extra equipment, no trailer or ramps needed to haul, can fit in back of SUV, excellent for checking trail camera’s and scouting, lots of other uses around the farm, ranch or neighborhood. I own a four wheeler ATV, UTV (side by side) and Quietkat. Each has its pro’s and con’s for different situations and weather conditions. I use all three modes of transportation depending on what I am trying to get accomplished that day. The Quietkat is just another tool in your arsenal to be used to your advantage and success.