How to Approach a Full-Day Hunt

Harrison Hoegh

During the second week of November bucks chase does all day long. On my last two full day sits I have had a shot at a buck at 1pm and 3pm. Here is how we approach full-day sits to tag a buck.

Where we go

On Saturday I sat in a stand near where a trail camera had captured a buck bedded in October. There was also a mock scrape and creek thirty yards from the stand. Three bucks worked the scrape that morning. At 3pm a buck bedded down along the creek eighty yards from my stand. I grunted at him twice and he stood up and began walking toward the same scrape the other bucks had worked. He made it within 30 yards of the scrape when my arrow found it’s mark. If I wasn’t in the stand for the full day sit I would have spooked that buck on my way in for the afternoon hunt.

The stands we sit in for full day hunts are so deep into buck’s bedding areas that we only hunt them once or twice a year. Twice a year we will take the risk of busting deer on our way in for the chance to shoot them at three in the afternoon.

We look for a day when the pressure will be high and the temperature is low, and I also prefer to sit somewhere I can see a long distance for calling purposes as well as to help with the boredom in the slow hours of the day

The Three Hunt Approach

Stuart approaches a full-day sit as three hunts in one, and I think of it in a similar way. My schedule consists of a hunt from sun-up to ten thirty, a hunt from eleven to one, and a hunt from three to nightfall.

The Morning Hunt (Sun-up to 10:30)

When I get to the stand I don’t start calling as soon as the sun comes up, I try to get a feel for how hot the trails are that morning. If there is a hot doe or a small spike bucks running through I know the trails are likely hot and I should be ready for early action. But on many full-day hunts things don’t start picking up until after the first hour. I believe this is because when the sun comes up the bucks start to use their eyes to find does and start cutting straight across fields to get what they want. Other bucks begin following these trails and this snowballs until bucks are cutting back and forth on criss-crossing trails laid across the fields. I try to correspond my first rattling sequence to the time when bucks start to hit these fresh trails.

Starting at eight, I will rattle every thirty minutes until 10:30. I will rattle for 45 seconds and then stand holding my bow in for the next fifteen minutes. I will then grunt a couple times and wait another fifteen minutes. Breaking up the day into fifteen minute sections makes it go by much faster. At nine thirty I increase the volume of my calls and rattle more aggressively. At ten thirty I eat half of the food I brought with me to the stand, and I may even climb down and spray doe urine where I want a buck to stop on the trail I think a buck is most likely to use. It may seem like a bad idea to take a break so early, but on most of my hunts I see more deer from eleven to eleven thirty than from ten thirty to eleven.

The Mid-day Hunt (Eleven to one)

Eleven to one is the time that really makes a full day sit worth it. I see a bump in buck activity between eleven and twelve. I believe this is due to bucks leaving does they spent the past night bedded with. I will switch to a softer tending grunt at this point in the day. I do this because more bucks have paired up with does at this point and are unlikely to come into a fight. If the buck is bedded nearby with a doe he might push her out of the area if he hears rattling, but if he hears a few grunts he may check it out when he is done with the current doe. From one to three I will read, stretch out, and eat the rest of my food. I keep my bow nearby, but I play the odds at this point and let my guard down. I didn’t take my cell phone into the stand with me on my past full day sit and I think that is a big reason why fewer deer snuck up on me. Reading a book, or even closing your eyes and listening for deer pulls you in less than being on your phone. In my experience cell phones are the greatest attention sucker of them all, and if you can, leave them at home.

The Afternoon Hunt (three to five)

The morning hunt of a full-day sit tends to be better for me in the stand. This is probably due to how much I call in the morning. But I am more alert in the morning so if a buck is in the area I would rather have it come by in the morning than when I have been in the stand for eight hours. I will still grunt at the bucks that I see, but my afternoon usually depends on if a group of does draws a buck near my stand. Rattling is better in the morning, and if the buck in your area is looking for a fight, chances are he would have heard you in the two hour gap that morning. The past hunt I sat near a trail camera that had picked up a lot of afternoon doe action. If you do this it might motivate you to stay in the tree rather than walk out at one.

Good Luck,

Harrison Hoegh

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