We've all seen them. The boys of summer, bachelor groups of whitetail bucks basking in the summer heat and gorging on the lush greens of July and August.
Although the season may be months away, summer may be the best time to observe and study the giant you choose to chase this fall; especially because they're more carefree at this time of the year.
Big deer don't get that way being stupid or careless. Studying these giants in the heat and humidity of the dog days can give you the clues you need to have a leg up on your quarry and your competition this fall.
Scouting is a staple for any successful big buck hunter, and summertime is no exception. Those that get it done on big bucks year in and year out keep a close eye on the soybean and alfalfa fields in his hunting area this summer.
Even in the offseason, a mature buck still does not like to be seen. Just pull off the side of the road and stick a spotting scope out of the window to see how long he will stick around before hightailing it for cover.
Most big bucks will be located in isolated fields not visible from the roads, where they feel safe and undisturbed. Some hardcore whitetail hunters take their summer scouting a step further after locating these "safe" fields and set up observation stands to watch the buck they are after.
A mature whitetail will enter and exit these fields in the same manner and normally the same locations during summer as he would during hunting season. This is a key to understanding where you need to be come October or November to get within bow range of your target animal.
Nothing can replace witnessing firsthand, a true giant on the hoof and gathering valuable data on your bucks travel habits. If your lucky, you may even pick up on a clue to his daily routine or a mistake he makes playing the wind that you can capitalize on.
Many whitetail hunters will keep a log or journal on big buck sightings and wind directions. This information can be a tremendous resource once the season rolls around.
A cagey old buck can be difficult to see even during the summer; so don't expect him to show up every night. It never ceases to amaze how sneaky these big deer can be, and how difficult it can be to catch a glimpse of them even when you know they are there.
So is there a way to predict what nights a big buck will show himself? Are some nights better than others? Is there a way to keep from spending countless evenings sweating and swatting at mosquitos, waiting for Mr. Big to show?
There are nights where it seems that deer come out of the woodwork. If you ever get the chance to watch a soybean field in the evening after a good rain when the sun pokes through just before dark — there will be deer everywhere!
I think this can be attributed to the moisture on the otherwise dry vegetation. It's a lot like eating a salad with no dressing, until a good rain! These rainy evenings are some of the best for catching a big buck on the move before dark.
Another good bet for catching a mature whitetail on his feet during daylight this summer, keep an eye on the moon. Many successful big buck hunters swear by the moon and its effects on deer movement.
Every month there are only a handful of days when the moon peaks at primetime, and these are by far your best chances to get a glimpse of the big boys out feeding.
If you only have a handful of days this summer to scout and you want to make sure you stack the deck in your favor for deer movement, make sure to line up your scouting trips with the best moon times for your best opportunity.