Maine Deer Hunting: Tips for Bagging a Brute. Planning a deer hunt in Maine this fall? Hoping to earn yourself a spot in the Maine Big Buck Club?
Who isn’t, right?
Bagging a big Maine whitetail takes patience, endurance, and a bit of luck. It also takes a fair bit of cunning and skill on your part. And that’s what I hope to help you with in today’s post.
A while back I interviewed one of the most successful whitetail deer hunters I know. Here are a few of his insights (mixed with a little of my own) to hopefully help you tag that brute of a Maine buck.
Study Aerial Photos
Get online and pull up a current aerial photograph of the area you plan to hunt (Google maps generally have pretty recent satellite imagery available). This is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of the landscape. In places like Maine (especially north Maine), you’ll also want to look at topographic maps.
What specifically are you looking for? First, obvious travel routes and pinch points. Places where the vegetation or topography will likely concentrate deer to a narrow path. Second, feeding and bedding areas. Find those and the likely travel corridors between them and you’re likely to find yourself inside of kill range of a monster Maine whitetail.
Know the In’s and Out’s
Maps can also help you find the quickest, easiest, and least scent-polluting routes to your stand location. As I’ve said before in Bow Hunting in Maine: Tips for Harvesting Big Bucks, there is no such thing as “scent free” no matter what product marketers would like you to believe. Identify routes that are suitable for various wind directions and pack in and out accordingly.
Be Aggressive with Stand Placement
One of the more interesting takeaways from my interview with that trophy deer hunter was how he wasn’t afraid to move stands whenever he thought he needed to, even if it was in the middle of the season. If you’ve got a big buck pegged, you know his travel routes, and you need to change your stand location…do it.
The risk you take making noise and spreading scent moving that stand is less problematic than simply not ever getting within range of that buck. Ideally, early scouting will help you to get your stands placed where they need to be prior to season. But that isn’t always the case. And for those of us taking trips without a guide to pre-hang stands, the odds of guessing right from the get-go are stacked against us. No matter how much we’ve studies maps.
So don’t be afraid to relocate a stand if you have to. Be aggressive and get them where they need to be.
Make Your Own Scrapes
DIY scrapes are somewhat of a secret weapon for serious deer hunters. I’ve used them with varying degrees of success and I know a number of very successful hunters that use them religiously. Granted, they take a little time to reach their full potential and they’re more useful during pre-rut through the actual rut. But when they work, damn it’s nice.
Basically, by making a mock scrape you can alter a buck’s travel patterns. You can get him to amend his route a little bit to add your scrape to the mix. And one of the times he stops by to freshen it up might just be within shooting hours.
Create your own scrape just about anywhere by zip-tying a branch at about antler-height to any nearby tree near a likely travel corridor (I generally look for field edges). Then scrape the ground under it down to bare dirt. Add scent if you want, but I don’t think it’s required for it to be successful. Then sit back and wait for that buck to find it. Trail cams come in handy for watching the scrape at night and when you’re not there. If he hits it once, he’ll probably be back…and you’ll be waiting.
Grunt, Wheeze, and Rattle
I’ve mentioned before, in Maine Deer Hunting: 10 Things to Always Pack, the importance of bringing binoculars and rattling antlers to the deer woods. Why? Because you never want to miss a calling opportunity.
The binoculars are used to locate and watch deer that are too far to see well without optics. Why does that matter? Because you need to be able to read body language and judge the response you get from your calling. And sound travels much farther than you can see. Especially in the North Maine woods.
I believe that though rattling is the most important (and effective) “call” for whitetails (even post-rut), you can be even more effective if you can add grunts and wheezes to your calling repertoire. It’s more realistic (deer make all sorts of noise when they battle) and gives you some more options when you find it tough to get a response from rattling alone.
Before I sign off, one last pro tip: Learn to emulate grunts and wheezes with your own vocalizations and not just with a factory-made call. It takes some time but it can be done and I can attest (as can others I know) that it is quite effective.
Maine Deer Hunting Lodge
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Then, come back and rest easy in our new lodge. We offer independent and guided hunts for all seasons, whitetail deer is one of our favorites. We are also commercially zoned for Pheasant hunting – that means, no license needed, 7 days a week hunts. If the lodge is too big for your group, we have two other rental properties on our land.
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