Rambuck took this video during a recent two and a half day hunting trip with clients. He estimates that the hunters he videod had shots at over 25 deer, including the nice buck at the end of the video (more on that deer later).
The video illustrates several points.
First and foremost, hunting a dominant tree dramatically ups your odds of getting within shooting range of a deer. The dominant trees on this trip were all white oaks that were actively dropping acorns. In three mornings and two afternoons, the hunters had shots at deer every time they were in the stand.
The second point that it makes is how close you can get to deer if you know where they are feeding. As a matter of fact, you can easily get too close. Notice how often the deer in the video are directly below the hunter. Despite Rambuck's advice to move about 20 yards away from the dominant tree, the hunters elected to climb trees that were only 5 - 10 yards away. Getting too close creates several problems:
- A straight-down shot is more difficult to execute due to the awkward angle
- A straight-down angle makes it much more difficult to get a double lung pass through or a heart shot
- Deer coming to the dominant tree are much more likely to spot you as they approach
- Deer are more likely to smell where you have walked around and laid your gear on the ground as you prepared to climb
- Deer that you don't intend to shoot but that are feeding directly beneath you are likely to detect hunter movement and spook (Murphy's law says that this will happen as the shooter buck you've been waiting for approaches. The buck in the final few seconds of video approached while several does were directly under the hunter and videographer, handcuffing them long enough for the buck to get out of range)
- Remember that deer will often favor one side of a dominant tree. If you notice that the freshest sign is concentrated on one particular side of the tree, choose a stand location that is favorable for a shot to that specific area.
- Try to find a tree that is about 20 yards from the heaviest feeding area, not the trunk of the tree. Some large trees have limbs that spread out 10 - 15 yards from the trunk. If you are located 20 yards away from the dominant tree's trunk, you could end up with a 5 yard shot or a 35 yard shot if the deer are feeding on the near or far side of the tree respectively.
- Choose a tree that is downwind of the feeding area and the likely approach route
- Choose a tree that is on the opposite side of the feeding area from the likely approach route so that the deer don't have to pass directly under you on the way to feed.
- Choose a tree that is uphill of the feeding area to give yourself a little extra elevation
- Remember the western movies where the gunfighter tries to position himself so that the sun is to his back? Gunfighter's delight works as well on deer as it does on bad hombres. If you can find a tree to the east for morning hunts or to the west for afternoon hunts it can work to your advantage. Deer don't like to look into the sun