The "Hunt Harder" Myth
Why busting it is key to your whitetail success
When I was young, I was taught that the key to success is to work hard. So, it stands to reason
that if you aren’t having success, or want more, that you need to work harder. This simple philosophy works on many things and definitely translates into success. For example, if you want more wood in the woodpile, you need to work harder chopping. Or, if you want to be a better basketball player, you need to shoot and practice more - work harder. However, in some things in life this principle just doesn’t apply, and in fact, the exact opposite is needed for more success. Whitetail hunting is one of those things.
Hard Work Defined: To start this conversation we need to define “hard work” or the idea of “hunting harder” when it comes to whitetail deer. I’ll be referring to it as putting more time in the woods, namely by sitting in a treestand or blind. This is what many people think, and therefore do. If you’re not having success, it means you need to get in the stand more. You often hear people with this mentality saying “you can’t kill them on the couch,” or something similar. The problem is, this actually hurts your chances of success most the time.
Why it doesn’t work: If this is your operating method you’re not alone. Many hunters practice this, and have success from time to time. However, when you’re a predator invading a whitetail’s domain, the more time spent there means more pressure added. This just isn’t chopping wood or shooting hoops. More time equals more human scent, human sound, human sightings by the deer you’re after, and this means less encounters. Research done by DNR Biologist Clint McCoy on collared bucks at Auburn University showed that if a stand location is hunted just one time, bucks do not return to normal travel patterns there for five days. My experience shows this is true, and oftentimes much worse in heavily pressured states and on public land. Hard work sitting a stand simply does not make more success.
The Hunt-Less Paradox: With whitetail hunting, therefore, this leaves us with the “less is more” paradox. And it’s simply true. We all know that the first time in a hunting location is usually the best, and data doesn’t lie. The collared buck study by Clint McCoy showed this, as well as my experience (and I’m sure yours if you think about it). In my last five seasons, 9 out of 11 or 81% of my kills (8 of them bucks) have been first sits (to read blog "the art of the first sit" click HERE). In
reality, LESS truly means MORE when it comes to time on stand whitetail hunting. Instead of wearing out a stand in an attempt to bag a good buck, you should be analyzing all your stand options and trying to figure the exact best times to hunt them. You do need to do work, just work of another sort..
What the Pro’s do: Don’t get me wrong, you indeed cannot kill them on the couch. You do need to work hard for success. It just looks different than most people think. The secret is that it's the time and hard work put into preparation, not time on stand, that produces. Gear prep, entry and exit prep, land prep, and scouting by all means and all times of year is the key. If you look at big buck slayers who get it done on mature bucks year after year, their hours hunting pales in comparison to their hours of prep work. Their actual hunt time is minimal. Gathering data (glassing, boots on the ground, trail camera intel) is essential and is the secret ingredient needed for making fact-based hunting decisions with high yield results.
So take that myth of “hunting harder” and bust it like that window you threw a baseball through as a kid. When it comes to whitetail hunting, less is indeed more.
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