Dec 7, 2011, 1:01 AM EDT
By Bill Miller
How many times have you heard the phrase “perception is reality”? Basically it means that what you believe to be true is your truth though things may actually not be as they appear. You know what? Same goes for a whitetail buck. If you create a situation that fools all or most of his senses then he’ll believe it’s real and you’ll have an edge in hanging him from the meat pole in camp.
Because a deer is an animal you might think that it’s easier to create deception he’ll perceive as reality than it would be to “fool” a human. After all, a deer doesn’t “reason out” a situation like a human is capable of doing. Animal’s act on instinct and experience, and in the case of a rutting buck even those are often outweighed by the pure mating urge.
However, deer are prey animals. There are predators trying to catch, kill and eat them from the second they are dropped into the fern-covered forest floor from the womb. When that’s your life you get wary fast or you don’t live long. On top of that, deers’ primary senses are far, far more tuned than humans’. Their sense of smell is thousands of times more powerful than ours. They see in different ways than we do to catch movement much more readily. They hear better and have ears tuned to the sounds of the woods so they know what sounds fit and what do not.
So the more senses you can fool, the better chance you have of putting a calm, unaware buck within range of your bullet, slug or arrow. Here are some ways to do that:
Smell – without question a deer’s primary defense is its sense of smell. The primary way to defeat it is by using the wind to your advantage. Hunting into the wind totally defeats sense of smell, HOWEVER you can’t count on the wind. That’s what there is so much research and technology devoted to hiding your scent – for those occasions when you can not hunt into the wind.
Another way to fool that buck is to put smells into the scene that he expects will be there like food sources, other animals, other deer, and especially does that he’ll find attractive. But you need to be careful to keep up with the season. Don’t use an estrous doe scent when does won’t been in season in your area for weeks yet.
Sight – you need to hide from the deer by masking your movement. That’s what camouflage is for, but being inside a blind or situated above a deer’s line of sight hides it completely.
Consider also what a deer expects to see when it approaches. That’s where decoys come in. I’ve found that just like in waterfowl or turkey hunting, the more realistic the decoy(s) the better. It’s a pain in the behind sometimes, but what about multiple decoys? The scene has to seem more real to a rutting buck if he steps into a clearing to see another buck tending a doe if he’s smelled what he’s smelled and heard what he’s heard on the approach.
Sound – Obviously you need to eliminate non-woods sounds. No metallic squeaks or bangs. No cell phone ring tones.
The full range of deer vocalizations can be useful in different situations and during different parts of the season. Bring what you need to make the most authentic deer sounds possible and practice just like when you learn to blow a duck or goose or turkey call. The car is a great place to do it.
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