A hand-held Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver can help you bag a buck every season with your CVA Muzzleloader. These navigation devices, introduced to the market about two decades ago, can put you in position to take the bucks other hunters never see, especially on public lands with intense hunter pressure. If you want to bag a buck each season, you must understand what bucks know about most hunters, they …
* hunt less than 1/2-mile away from a road;
* enter the woods at daylight;
* exit the woods before dark;
* take stands where they can see 100 yards or more;
* remain on their stands for less than 2 hours;
* come out of the woods between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm to eat lunch; and
* spend more time walking and less time waiting for a deer to appear. The larger, older-age class bucks already have learned these characteristics of the hunters who come after them each season.
Muzzleloading hunters must know a tremendous amount of information to hunt deer effectively. He must understand …
* which scrapes the bucks use year after year;
* which nut trees deer feed on each season; and
* where to find wild apple trees and persimmon patches that produce bucks in the early season and escape trails bucks utilize during times of heavy hunting pressure. By storing these locations in his GPS as well as places where he has seen and killed bucks during previous years, he can return to those same spots each year and often bag a buck.
Dr. Keith Causey, a retired deer researcher from Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, explains, “Creatures of habit, deer often utilize the same scrapes, feed in the same places and walk the same trails year after year. Even when hunters harvest dominant bucks, the next buck in the pecking order often will follow the same pattern of movement as his predecessors. If you keep up-to-date information on deer sightings over several years, you can go to those same sites and take bucks from those areas.”
Another way to take the bigger, hunter-smart bucks with your GPS is to find thick-cover stands more than 1/2-mile away from the road that hunters use to come into the woods. To locate these stand sites, scout the area before the season, select the tree you want to put your tree stand in, use your GPS receiver to mark that stand as a waypoint in the memory of your GPS receiver, and save the route you travel from the road to that stand. Then, you can follow that route back into the woods with your GPS receiver before daylight on the day you hunt. When deer season opens, plan to use your GPS receiver for navigating to that waypoint 1-1/2- to 2-hours before daylight. You can arrive at your tree stand before daylight, give the woods time to settle before the other hunters begin hunting and allow the hunters to drive the smart bucks to you in your thick-cover sanctuary. Since the GPS receiver enables you to come out of the woods and walk directly to your vehicle without getting lost, you can remain on your stand and hunt those last few minutes of daylight, when the deer often become most active, and the other hunters have left the woods. Most hunters don’t hunt dense areas where the bigger, older-age-class bucks stay to avoid hunters, because the hunters fear they may get lost. But with a hand-held GPS receiver, you can go anywhere in the woods, even in the thickest, most-dense cover, without fear of becoming disoriented. Then you can stay on your stand longer and hunt more effectively, even if you hunt more than 2-miles away from your vehicle in uncharted territory. If you scout effectively, you’ll have morning, midday and afternoon stand sites and can hunt no matter the wind’s direction by consulting your GPS that has those stand sites denoted as way points.
By John E. Phillips, outdoor writer and blackpowder hunter