In this article I will cover how to set up the perfect ambush on a whitetail deer. A spot that matches what we will cover today should be kept a secret at all costs, for they are few in number. Any good hunting spot in the back country might encompass a few of the wickets we will cover, but should you find a spot with all then you’ve found yourself a perfect spot.
A perfect spot in big woods deer country is going to be in a saddle or similar funnel. The vastness of back country woods is full of route options for the animals to travel. By setting up in a saddle or other funnel you are maximizing the chances of a mature buck walking past your stand. Deer are inherently lazy creatures. When faced with a decision of cresting a ridge top or walking through a saddle they will almost always choose the saddle. Its energy efficient and it prevents them from having to skyline themselves on the ridge. This makes it a great start for our perfect spot.
A saddle can be a good spot on its own, especially during the rut. During the rut, hunting strictly terrain features isn’t a bad idea. However, we are looking for the perfect spot. The perfect saddle will have a food source on one side of the ridge and bedding on the other. In the northern hemisphere this is more common than you might think. Based on the tilt of the Earth, terrain features facing south will receive more sun than terrain features facing north. This is why mast producing trees, like oaks, are more often found on south facing slopes and thick underbrush that requires less sun is often found on the north facing slopes. With all this in mind it is not uncommon for a saddle found on a west to east running ridge to have oaks on the south side and thick bedding on the north. During the mornings the deer will use these saddles as shortcuts to get back to their bedding, and during the evening they will use them to get to their feed.
We are starting to develop a rock-solid spot. We have our saddle, and we have food on one side and bedding on the other. Now let’s talk about what to look for on that saddle. There might be a few routes to get to the same place in your area leaving the deer with options, but if they could stop for a quick bite of food in your saddle that might help make up their mind. In the perfect scenario the saddle you hunt would have white oak or apples, or both. Apples are not normally found on top of ridges, but saddles can be an exception to this. Saddles hold more water than the ridge tops itself and sometimes they even have the right conditions for an apple tree. White oaks are more common to see in saddles. White oaks are much sweeter than most other oaks, especially when compared to red oak. With that in mind, deer will pick white oak over red oak any day of the week. Other than the obvious effects of attracting the deer, having a food source on your saddle also increases your chances at a daylight encounter with your chase. Deer tend to get up out of there bedding a half hour or so before sunset and then slowly make the trip to their food source of the night. I’ve found that they prefer to linger at a smaller, more concealed, safe food source until the cover of darkness provides them security to reach their primary food source.
Next up on the list is going to be very difficult to find, and if you find it you may have just found the perfect spot. We already have a great spot going for us, especially when it comes to increased daylight activity, but now we are going to throw in some rut activity. We are looking for the winning lottery ticket. A community scrapes. In my opinion community scrapes are like finding the holy grail. I get an adrenaline rush every time I go to check a camera on one. The only problem is, they are relatively rare. To identify a community scrape ultimately you will need to hang a camera to see how many bucks are using it. I’ve had as many as twelve bucks using the same community scrape (and this was back country not farm land). But before you commit the camera, the giveaway of a community scrape will be its size. You are looking a big scrape with multiple licking branches. As an example, the scrape I mentioned above was under a short stout apple tree. It was easily six feet by four feet with a dozen of the low-lying branches of the apple tree used as licking branches and had a half a dozen smaller scrapes on the same tree. This type of sign wont normally come from one or even two bucks. But, like I mentioned above, the only real way of telling is to hang a camera. Speaking of trail camera CLICK HERE to see an article on how to locate shooter bucks with trail cameras.
The next step is to hang your stand, keeping in mind what type of wind you plan on hunting in. Once our stand is in a tree, the ambush is set. If you managed to find a saddle, with food on one side and bed on the other, white oak or apple, and a community scrape, then you’ve just found the perfect spot for hunting whitetail buck. Walk to your stand with confidence and make sure no one is following you, because these spots are RARE. Don’t let this discourage you though. It only takes one or two of the things we have discussed to make a great spot. If you want to learn more about setting up ambushed in the big woods using topographical maps, CLICK HERE.
Remember, having the desire to become successful in hunting, takes a mindset change and that is the hardest part in this endeavor. We can help you with changing this mindset, and once you have changed you will appreciate the hunt more, and start understanding what being a sportsman/woman is all about. Remember our mission is to redefine tradition. Challenge traditional thinking and push others to do the same. We must dedicate ourselves to hone in on our primal instincts and combine them with new methodologies and technologies to truly master evolution.