There's been some questions regarding hunting specific, mature bucks on here lately. As such, I thought I would share the approach I use and how it enabled me to harvest my biggest buck to date.

Before I hunt a specific buck, I try to pinpoint his bedding area as best I can. Although there are some exceptions, the majority of the beds I find are consistently located in areas that have common terrain features. As soon as the season is over, I cover a lot of ground looking for as many beds as I can. Once I find a bed, I mark it on a topo map I carry with me and note whether it is a buck or doe bed. When I find a bed, I focus on why a deer would bed there and how they likely approach that bed. This is very important when it comes to deciding entry/exit routes to your stands.

Next, I figure out where all the potential food sources are in relation to those beds. Then, I find the trails to and from those food sources and look for potential pinch points along the way. Once I have all this information, I can begin to get the "big picture" of how the deer use the property.

During hunting season, I have all my trail cameras in food sources near the trails entering the food source that I located in the off season. Once I begin getting pictures of a specific buck, I can then start to narrow down his likely bedding locations and come up with a game plan.

If you are getting pictures of a target buck using a food source at night, do NOT hunt that food source in hopes of him coming in before dark. The odds of this fluke happening are greatly outweighed by the resulting negative impacts. More than likely you will only spook does and young bucks and alert the entire deer herd that they are being hunted.

Also, don't hunt the area until the conditions are perfect and you have a pretty good idea of how to hunt the buck. This may mean not hunting the area until you can gain more insight. Until then, keep the pressure low and make the deer feel as comfortable as possible.

Your entry and exit routes are crucial. You want to enter your stand from the opposite direction you believe the buck will be coming from. If the buck can see, hear, or smell you while entering your stand, then your hunt is over before the sun even comes up.

The map below shows how I killed my 5 1/2 year old earlier this year. The rut was a ways off when I killed him.

The black Xs are where my trails cameras were. I had several pictures of this buck on each camera so I knew he was using those food sources. The orange Xs are beds I found in the off season and had marked on a topo map. The orange lines are trails the deer are forced to use due to the terrain. The areas in black are so steep that deer avoid them and instead prefer to walk on the old logging road that runs between them.

Based on where these beds are located and how late this buck was entering the food plots, I figured my chances were greater hunting him before he reached his bed. Once he beds in one of these locations, he can see everything below him, smell anything above and below him, and hear anything approaching him. It should also be noted that each of these beds allows the deer to see the main road we use to converse our property. Keep this in mind: the deer are watching you!

The red X is the tree I was hunting out of when I shot him. I chose this tree for several reasons. First, I could access it from the opposite location I expected the buck to be coming from. I could sneak into this spot without going anywhere near the food sources and without cutting any of the potential trails the approaching buck might use. Also, I was concerned about the falling thermals because the buck might come in and bed below me before sunrise. In order to overcome the thermals, I waited until I had a steady wind out of the south that would blow my scent over the small ridge I was set up on. If I was unsuccessful, this spot also allowed me to exit the area with minimal disturbance.

What ultimately made me feel confident about hunting this spot is a trail cam picture of this buck the morning before. For whatever reason, I had a picture of this buck in the food plot below at 8:00 am. This not only confirmed he was using the food plot, but also told me he would likely be late arriving to his bedding area.

The next morning, I snuck into the spot with my tree saddle and was set up 30 minutes before daylight. I didn't know exactly which bed he was using, but the terrain would funnel him within range regardless of the bed he used.

Thirty minutes after first light, a six pointer came up from the direction I had approached my stand and fed by my tree at ten yards. If the southern wind had not blown my scent over the ridge, he likely would have picked me off due to the falling thermals. Although I try to be as scent free as possible, I always spray down my rubber boots and gloves to reduce the scent I leave when entering and exiting my stand.

An hour after first light, I heard a deer approaching from the big draw below me. After running off the six pointer, he freshened up a scrape on the logging road running between the two steep embankments and I shot him as he was approaching his bed. The trail he used is the solid orange line and the brown spot is where I shot him.

Piece of cake!

"For I know the plans I have for you..." Jer. 29:11