There's nothing like staring down your arrow at a giant whitetail buck, and very few things can adequately prepare you for it. This is when your instincts must kick in, and your actions need to be second nature when all of your preparation will be put to the test ten fold.
My consistent success has come from paying strict attention to detail and not taking any shortcuts when it comes opening day preparation. I've always believed the more I do to stack the deck in my favor, the better my chances are for harvesting a giant buck.
Following are the 10 steps I make sure to take in my whitetail regimen.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The old saying, "Don't practice until you get it right, practice until you can't get it wrong" couldn't be more true when it comes to bowhunting. Your bow needs to become an extension of your body and shooting a second nature.
I shoot a couple dozen arrows three to five times per week year round and by June all I shoot are broadheads. Practicing from further distances than what you're used to will help you increase your effective kill range and make those close shots more instinctive.
Methodical Scent Control
If you're not obsessed about scent control, you should be! I do everything I can to eliminate my scent: unscented soap, shampoo, deodorant and even toothpaste.
Clothes go straight from the dryer to a scent free container and nothing goes on, including my boots, until I am in the field. Once I'm there, I spray down with a good scent eliminator like Slay and use a scent free mouth spray, then use the spray to saturate my hat and neck gaiter, keeping my mouth covered at all times.
For added protection, I use an Ozonics mounted above me in the tree to kill any odor I have missed and I use Evercalm in the stick formula around my tree to create a pocket of deer smells around my stand — this is a deadly combination!
Find Him First
You can't kill him if he's not there, period!
Your best bet for finding a giant are near sanctuaries where there is no or very limited hunting. These areas will be close to city limits, parks, industrial zones, wildlife refuges and even large tracts of land that allow no hunting.
I like to shed hunt (with permission) and glass the soybeans in the summer, especially evenings after a light rain to locate really big deer. Hunting a specific animal will make you hunt harder and smarter also, just knowing he's there!
Scout More Than You Hunt
Killing mature deer is all about predicting what he will do before he does it again, and the only way to do this is through scouting. I want to know where he eats, drinks, sleeps, breeds and how he gets back and forth from all the above.
The world of the whitetail is changing constantly during season, so my scouting doesn't stop here either, I'm always looking for the freshest sign. The last thing I want to do is waste valuable time during season hunting the wrong area.
Scouting/hunting from observation stands placed 1-200 yards from the action is a highly effective tactic, too.