When I was first starting out as an outdoor writer and aspiring bowhunter of big whitetails, some of the deer hunting experts I interviewed often gave me a piece of hard-earned advice. They told me to try hunting all day long, particularly during the whitetail rut.
Truth be told, I probably held back a grin at such advice. Why? Because in the Texas deer-hunting camps where I spent my time each fall, that simply wasn’t the way it was done. Instead, it was the standard routine of getting up early, sitting in a stand until late morning, meeting back at camp for lunch — and perhaps a short nap — followed by a return visit to the deer stand for the final two or three hours of the day.
But on a bowhunting trip to Pike County, Illinois, I finally decided to give that deer-hunting advice a try. With the idea reinforced in camp by my friend Ronnie “Cornbread” Cannon, a Pike County guide and Mississippi bow shop owner I had met a few months earlier at a Pope and Young Club scoring school, I figured what did I have to lose?
So early that next morning, I packed a lunch full of protein-rich snacks like Old Trapper Beef Jerky, topped things off with a couple of bottles of water, and headed for my treestand.
The early morning sit was not much of a problem since that’s all I’d ever known during my limited whitetail-hunting career. But when the early-November clock hit 10 a.m., a serious case of fidgeting ensued as I kept my backside planted and moved into uncharted territory.
Finally, after a relatively quiet morning with only a few deer sightings, I could stand it no more and climbed down from my stand about 12:30 p.m. to sit at the base of the tree, stretch my legs out and eat my lunch.
Tempted to take a quick nap, I resisted the urge and a few minutes later climbed back up the screw-in tree steps where I settled back into my perch and resumed my Midwestern bowhunting vigil.
It’s a good thing that I didn’t take an afternoon snooze, because scarcely 30 minutes after I returned to my perch, one of the best bucks I’ve ever seen in my hunting career worked his way down the trail, paused momentarily at 20 yards, turned his head slightly and allowed me to come to full draw.
That big 150-class 10-point now hangs on my wall, reminding me continually about how magical the rut can be in November — even in the middle of the day.
In the years that have followed since, I’ve become an even bigger believer in the idea of hunting all hours of the day — both from my own time in the woods as well as the experiences of other hunters.
One of those hunters is Trent Jones, a waterfowl-hunting guide and serious bowhunter who took a big Oklahoma non-typical whitetail last fall. In a big buck story chronicled by North American Whitetail last November, Jones found himself wondering whether to take a nap after guiding a party of four waterfowlers to early morning limits of Sooner State mallards and other assorted ducks.
“I got done with our clients, got the ducks cleaned, and had everything put up shortly after midday and I thought, ‘Hey, I’m going deer hunting,’” said Jones. “About 1:45 p.m., I’m up in my stand.”
It’s a good thing that he ignored the temptation to grab a few Z’s because not long after climbing into his treestand, a huge 21-point buck eased into some nearby cover, steadily watching a feeding doe as the whitetail breeding season continued cranking up. A half-hour later, the buck finally let his guard down and stepped out into a shooting lane — a spot where Jones made good on his shot opportunity — tagging a Boone and Crockett Club qualifier that eventually scored just shy of 200 inches.
Choosing the Right Time
If you’d like to load up the freezer with venison and increase your taxidermy bill this fall, why not consider an all-day? While the technique doesn’t work all the time as the autumn season unfolds, there are some situations when it can be a great hunting tactic to consider.
One of those times is early in the season when a summertime of hot weather is finally broken by the first significant cool front of Autumn. When the wind shifts to the north, a cool rain falls, and the temperatures drop, bucks that have been avoiding midday hours like the plague for several weeks may suddenly be up and on their feet thanks to the first seasonal break in the weather.
Another time when an all-day sit might be in order is during severe heat and drought conditions. While that isn’t always a common occurrence in some parts of the country, it certainly is in many other regions. When the heat is on and water is scarce, a big buck may hole up and bed during the midday hours to stay cool. But if you can slip into a waterhole undetected, that same buck might get up for a drink to slake his thirst.
A similar situation can occur in the later stages of the season — especially during the post-rut of late November, December and early January — when bucks in more northern states will get on their feet in the middle of the day to feed and ward off the chill. Like a sluggish rainbow feeding during the warmest hours of the day on a wintertime trout stream, deer may avoid the coldest hours of the. Instead, they’ll more likely opt to get up on their feet and head for a soybean field, a leftover corn patch, or even an energy-rich wintertime food plot during the “warmest” hours of the coldest days.
Midday movement can also happen in areas of intense hunting pressure, which can condition local whitetails to stay off their feet when the so-called “orange army” of hunters descends upon the woods early and late. But when the scent of hunters heading for lunch fades away — along with the sounds of slamming doors and truck motors — a cagey old buck may move about when the woods are most empty of hunters.
But by far, the bulk of midday deer sightings by hunters will take place during the whitetail rut — which typically occurs in early to mid-November in many spots. Because of the testosterone flowing through a buck’s body, he’ll throw caution to the wind, ignore his usual schedule and haunts, and seek out does to breed as the brief window of the rut appears. When that happens, a hunter can score on a big bruiser at just about any hour of the day, but particularly in the 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. timeslot typically devoid of deer movement.
Prepare In Advance
Whenever you find yourself heading afield for an all-day sit, there are several things you can do to increase your odds of success along with the standard hunting notions of being as scent-free as possible and playing the wind.
One thing to consider is having a comfortable place to sit and wait, opting not for a tiny bargain-basement deer stand, but instead for a larger one filled with creature comforts like a cushioned seat, a spacious platform and more. Big, comfortable ladder stands are a good bet here, along with pop-up ground blinds and more permanent elevated fiberglass blinds that have become popular in recent years.
Another key for success is to put yourself in the right location for the situation at hand. If you’re hunting deer affected by heat and drought conditions, be near a good water source. If you’re out in the chill of late season, a stand overlooking a food source is key. And if you’re out during the rut, find something that bottlenecks deer movement. This could be a draw that narrows down, a fence row, or some hedges that connect two big blocks of timber.
Finally, keep your pack filled with things that can get you through the long hours of all-day sits. In addition to a charged-up smartphone, a paperback book or some sort of silent game, you’ll need plenty of water and snacks.
And there are few better snack options to bring along than a bag of Old Trapper Beef Jerky, a healthy snack that can pack a protein-filled punch as hunters sit for hours on end. That includes the company’s famous Old Fashioned traditional style beef jerky — a product born 50 years ago in Oregon in the back of a small roadside grocery store that today delivers 60 calories and nine grams of protein per serving.
Now the country’s second biggest producer of jerky products thanks to a half-century history and an 80,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, there’s also plenty of other Old Trapper options to choose from.
Those include beef steak products, snack stick products and different flavors of tried-and-true beef jerky like Hot & Spicy, Teriyaki and Peppered. With 70 calories and 11 grams of protein in each serving, Old Trapper jerky is the perfect way to fight off hunger as he or she sits for hours on end and tries to fill an empty tag.
Armed with a little knowledge — and a lot of luck — hunting all-day isn’t quite as crazy as it might sound. In fact, it’s a great hunting trick to have tucked away in your back pocket because when it comes to the big buck of your dreams, you just never know what might happen when you’re in the deer stand.
Even in the middle of the day.