Andrae D’Acquisto is no stranger to big bucks. He has killed more than 20 record book deer with a bow; including several Boone and Crockett, and two state record caliber bucks. In many instances, Andrae explained, he would purposely enter areas that he believed particular bucks were utilizing as bedding areas and purposely “bump” them from their beds. He believes that these particular bucks are bedded in those areas not by accident, but because these spots give them an advantage for survival. In other words, a buck chooses the areas he beds based on his ability to get out alive when he feels threatened. When you bump a buck from his bed, the buck’s plan worked. While the buck may be somewhat spooked for a short period of time, the buck also gains confidence in the effectiveness of his plan; which is to spot, smell, or hear a threat and get out alive.
This theory goes against what many of us have been taught over the years regarding leaving a buck’s bedroom alone, as you are technically invading his core area. Even though you bump the buck, chances are, this buck will return to the same bedding area again at some point. The idea that a buck will never return to an area where he had an encounter with a human may be true in certain instances, but for the most part, the buck was in that spot for a reason to begin with, and will return for the same reasons. Consider that a buck’s bedding area is one of the most controlled areas in his range. He’s most likely bedding there because it stacks the odds in his favor. In some cases, a setup in some bedding areas is impossible because of swirling winds, steep ravines, etc… But, with the knowledge of where a particular buck is bedding, you can use this information to stack the odds in youre favor as well.
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On a recent outing, it was my goal to do a quick scout job of an area I had shed hunted earlier this spring. The information I gained on my shed hunting trips led me to this spot because I remembered the incredible buck sign I had encountered during my shed hunt / scouting trip. I remembered walking down a small point that was a ridge basically between some CRP fields and some timbered areas. I had my Lone Wolf Assault with 4 sticks on my back, and a pole-pruner so that I could set-up a stand and trim-out some shooting lanes based on the sign that I hoped to encounter during my trip.
Almost immediately after entering the timber in this area, I jumped a buck from it’s bed only about 30 yards inside the timber. I got one quick glimpse of the buck as he lunged from his bed, and I would guess that he was a ten-point main-frame, and might score in the upper 140’s to 150”. I’m not exactly sure how big the buck was, only that I immediately saw a large velvet rack explode through the brush. Upon jumping the buck, many hunters may feel sick that they just bumped a potential shooter. Not me. I was excited to know that I had probably just located one of the bucks I may be pursuing this fall. I left my gear on the ground exactly where I stood, and began scouting the area to see what sign I may find. Not only did I know exactly where the buck was bedded, but I also just learned the buck's escape route out of the area.
The below picture is the thicket that the buck was bedded in. I’m often amazed that an animal the size of a mature buck can maneuver through cover this thick. Amazingly, when the buck fled the area, he was gone in literally 3 seconds. I saw his velvet rack blow through the brush and he was gone, almost without making a sound.
This is a picture taken in the opposite direction from where I approached. As you can see by the field edge where I entered, this is one thick chunk of timber!
Early in the season, a good observation point can be a great setup just because you are essentially covering the maximum amount of ground as possible from a single stand. I often set observation stands in certain vantage points far away from known core areas just to observe them from a distance. I then use my sightings to determine my next move. This can save you from wasting time in a bad setup that may cause you to blow your only chance at a mature buck.
This tactic also allows me to start off hunting without having to penetrate too far into unknown areas. Once I hunt the spot, I will gain much needed information regarding the exact travel routes of the deer in the area. If need-be, I can always relocate deeper into the area if I am getting skirted by a majority of the deer.
Based on the number of fresh tracks and runs in this area, it is used often by a variety of deer from small to large. With the point extending into one of the CRP fields, and with a majority of the trails cutting through the timber just West of the point, this will be an excellent setup for a West to South-West wind. Check out the map below that I have created which shows the area as well as I can remember.
By entering my stand location from the East, I’ll walk across the CRP field plenty early for a morning hunt. With the wind in my face to the stand I will hopefully avoid giving myself away before the deer start returning to the bedding area from their primary food source, which happens to be located approximately 1 mile south from this spot. I happen to know where the primary food source is located because I recently filmed a bachelor group of bucks along with a large grounp of does in a field that was viewable from a nearby road. Finding this bedding area was another piece of the puzzle that I needed to determine where a set-up would make sense.
While this tactic is not guaranteed, nothing in the deer woods ever is. You can only do your very best to stack the deck in your favor, which generally still gives a mature buck the advantage. With that being said, this is probably one of the best examples of using every piece of information you can get, and putting yourself into an area that you know a giant could show up. With the amount of deer sign and buck sign in the area, I’ll put my money on a known bedding area of a buck above just about anything else!