I love talking pressured bucks. I like this topic because realizing how hunting pressure influences buck movement is intriguing and has been one of my bigger turning points as a whitetail hunter. In the past I had a negative attitude when it came to high hunting pressure, but now I embrace it and use it to my advantage.
Some states are hunted more heavily than others. Many states require hunters to gain permission from landowners to hunt their land. That is to say that private property is considered posted property unless the property specifically states that public access is allowed. However, in my home state of Maine the opposite is true. In Maine, you are allowed to access and hunt anybody’s property without asking permission as long as it is not posted. There are some caveats to this but in general this statement is true.
This causes much of the populated portion of central and southern Maine, where I live, to be hit hard by hunting pressure. Especially during the rifle season. Also, there are no antler restrictions in Maine which means hunters can shoot any size buck, reducing the overall age class of bucks. In the populated areas of Maine, you have to do your homework to find a 3 ½ year old buck in the southern part of the state.
If you experience high hunting pressure big bucks won’t be just anywhere, understanding areas that bucks prefer will greatly increase your odds of success. Bucks that have grown to maturity in these pressured areas are smarter animals. Pressured bucks have found sanctuaries where they feel safe which has allowed them to reach a higher age class.
Pressured Bucks Seek Refuge
I have found that bucks seek out and bed in the highest quality bedding in the area, so bedding areas are where I start my scouting. Some of these areas include; overlooked, secluded, difficult to access, dense vegetation, or excellent protection from danger. Pressured bucks especially like to bed and spend the majority of their time in these areas because they feel safe. Fortunately, the type of vegetation pressured bucks prefer to bed in can usually be seen from aerial imagery. To determine how secluded a bedding area is you will have to use your imagination. I often ask myself the question; would other hunters likely be accessing the area?
I can usually tell if a property will provide quality bedding opportunities from looking at aerial imagery. To learn how I do this check out my blog post: 15 Best Tips for Scouting Deer using Google Earth. This post goes into detail on different Google Earth tools that are useful in order to increase your deer scouting efficiency.
Figuring out certain areas and habitat that pressured bucks gravitate to has advanced my whitetail hunting career more than anything. Even though few bucks manage to live to a mature age because of high hunting pressure, there are areas I have found that hold bucks over others. Not only are these areas more likely to hold bucks but they also hold bucks consistently.
Edges of Protected Areas
One of my favorite places to find pressured bucks is on the edge of properties where hunting is not allowed. I clump all areas where hunting is not allowed and call them protected areas. For example, I consider wildlife reserves, conservation areas and posted property under the umbrella term of protected areas. Scouting in these areas during the off-season and along the border of posted land has been beneficial to me in finding bigger bucks. Why would you scout places you cannot hunt? Because nobody else can hunt them either, and as a result, bucks feel safe and have a chance to grow to maturity.
If I find good buck signaround the border of private property and can see high-quality bedding on the property via Google Earth I get excited. This is a great place to find pressured bucks. I will attempt to get permission just to walk the property, even if the owners will not allow hunting access. This will allow me to confirm that the bedding area is being used and I can place my treestand in a strategic location just on the outside boundary of this protected area. If I can’t get permission to walk the property but the buck sign is superb, and the bedding area is obvious from aerial imagery, I will assume bucks are bedding in the high-quality bedding area. I feel comfortable assuming this because I have found bucks naturally gravitate to high-quality bedding areas.
When setting up a stand location it is key to be as close to the property line as possible. Pressured deer often don’t stray far from their beds until dark. Being as close to the bedding area as possible increases the likelihood of catching a big buck on his feet before quitting time. It only takes a few steps too far over the property line and that buck will have an arrow zipping through him. Many hunters don’t think about protected areas when looking for areas that produce big bucks, but I have found they have potential.
Highways are another spot I key in on. They often create good deer bedding habitat because the edges of the highway get a lot of sunlight which creates dense vegetation. Additionally, they often create wetlands from the water that is shed off of the highway and into the ditches. If this water remains long enough to inundate soil for long periods of time, wetland vegetation starts to grow. This wetland cover often includes cattails, speckled alder, and tall grasses, which provide great screening cover. I have found whitetails love this vegetation for bedding compared to other areas, making it a high-quality bedding area. Pressured bucks have learned to use the shape of the highway to their advantage as well. They are aware highways greatly limit where danger can approach them, and will often choose a concave portion for bedding.
I believe they do this because this shape protects them from approaching threats in the greatest range of directions. Pressured bucks can utilize multiple wind directions, take advantage of thick and noisy vegetation by hearing approaching predators, and see what is coming from all threatening directions. Doing this allows them to slip out the backdoor undetected. Bedding areas like this pretty much offer complete safety. Becoming aware of how bucks use highways to their advantage will help you place stands in more strategic locations. Although it may not be the most peaceful hunt, highways can produce great results.
I have found swamps to be especially productive when it comes to finding pressured bucks and are currently my favorite spot for many reasons.
The first reason is that swamps, especially large ones offer isolation from other hunters. Hunters avoid these areas because to most it is a lot of work to struggle through the nasty cover. Additionally, many hunters like to hunt from treestands. Swamps often stunt tree growth and do not produce trees big enough to support conventional treestands.
Most hunters usually end up hunting the edges of swamps where the trees are. I have found that getting deep into swamps where other hunters do not want to go can provide excellent hunting. Being able to get away from other hunters has allowed me to find areas of low hunting pressure within a region of high pressure. These types of places are where mature pressured bucks seek refuge because they know from experience that there are fewer hunters; thus, it’s safer.
Swamps also have potential to hold multiple big bucks. Like I mentioned before I have found that pressured bucks seek out and bed in the highest quality bedding areas, they aren’t mindlessly bedding down anywhere. Thick swamps, more often than not, offer the highest degree of safety when compared others on a property. This means multiple bucks will gravitate toward the same swamp because they know it is the safest place in their core area. The size of the swamp influences its ability to hold multiple bucks. Big swamps are more likely to hold multiple bucks than small ones. Hunting areas that pressured bucks tend to gravitate to, and that potentially hold multiple bucks has increased my success.
Pressured bucks do not spend all their time in swamps; they need to feed at some point. However, this is usually after dark when they feel safe. Deer trails are often easily noticeable in swamps, sometimes you can even see them from aerial imagery. I make sure to follow these trails from the mainland into the swamps during scouting missions to find buck beds.Doing this has helped me greatly to understand where I should place my stand in relation to these beds. Usually, this means placing my stand as close to these beds as possible without spooking them. I hunt from a tree saddle treestand which allows me to get into trees much smaller than conventional treestands. Getting closer to these bedding areas has helped me get eyes on bucks during daylight hours.
Rivers often create swamps at their edges from soils being exposed to hydrologic conditions for long periods of time. Thick and nasty wetland vegetation is created as a result, which is where pressured bucks like to spend their time. I have noticed that bucks will use rivers almost identical to how they use highways for protection. I often find pressured buck beds in swamps where the river has created a concave shape. The beds are usually located on a hummock at the edge of the river looking back toward the mainland. I find these beds here because, like highways, they know they are safe in the direction of the river. By bedding the concave portions it limits the direction danger can come from, reducing the likelihood of being snuck up onto.
For me, understanding where and why mature bucks bed where they do has made me a significantly better hunter. I struggled with seeing mature bucks for years and could never figure out why. I thought that hunting harder and longer using the same tactics would provide better results. Now that I am hunting smarter I have seen much better results. If you are someone who is struggling with finding pressured bucks you can take action. Seek out and scout places that other hunters would not think to go, or may not want to go, be creative. If you find big buck sign the next step is to find the highest quality bedding area on the property. Then search the bedding area for more sign, if you see additional big buck sign near the bedding area set up your stand!
Good Luck – JT
Where can I find pressured bucks? ›
A sea of standing crops, such as corn or milo, is a haven for pressured deer. Small timber and brush pockets within standing crops are especially so. Here, it's virtually impossible to see a deer, let alone approach close enough to get a shot off. And so, that's why wary bucks inhabit such places.Where can I hunt pressured deer? ›
Pressure tends to push deer back into the deepest pockets of woods or areas that aren't seeing much hunting activity. If you can find these spots, they can actually benefit from pressure as deer tend to congregate in these secluded areas.What is the best deer hunting barometric pressure? ›
A high, stable barometer is also good hunting. After compiling our results, whitetails seem to move best when the pressure is between 29.90 and 30.30 inches with the best movement occurring at the higher end of that range, around 30.10 to 30.30 inches.How does hunting pressure affect deer? ›
We found an immediate effect of hunting pressure, where the amount of time spent in a particular stand over the course of a week impacted deer behavior. The odds of a buck entering the “harvest zone” during daylight hours were reduced by half after 12 hours of hunting pressure.How do you find a big bucks bed? ›
Finding Buck Beds
The most obvious sign to look for is the presence of oval depressions in the grass, brush, or dirt indicating where a deer laid down. Take note of how many beds you see clustered together in one area. If you see four or more beds in a circle, it's likely a doe bedding area.
- Kansas: Deer-to-license ratio of 5:1.
- South Carolina: Deer-to-license ratio of 5:1.
- Florida: Deer-to-license ratio of 6.3:1.
- Idaho: Deer-to-license ratio of 8.7:1.
- Mississippi: Deer-to-license ratio of 11.3:1.
- Virginia: Deer-to-license ratio of 13.1:1.
Look for thickets, steep hillsides, deep draws, little swamps—out-of-the way spots where old boys might hide. The key to hunting one of these places is hidden, quiet access with a favorable wind, so you won't blow out the bucks.Where is the best place to hunt bucks? ›
Texas. Everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes whitetail hunting. Hunters in the Lone Star State kill more bucks than in any other by a huge margin--449,933 in 2020 alone--and 71 percent of those were at least 3 1/2 years old, which means the mature bucks are most definitely there.Where is barometric pressure Highest? ›
The highest barometric pressure ever recorded was 1083.8mb (32 in) at Agata, Siberia, Russia (alt. 262m or 862ft) on 31 December 1968. This pressure corresponds to being at an altitude of nearly 600 m (2,000 ft) below sea level!Is it better to hunt when the pressure is rising or falling? ›
“Hunting just before a low barometric pressure system rolls in is an excellent time to be afield.” Conversely, supporters propose that hunting just after a storm passes—a high barometric pressure system— is also a great time to be in the whitetail woods.
What hunting app has barometric pressure? ›
As mentioned above, Wunderground is a fantastic resource for studying how the pressure is changing across your various hunting spots. Another way to monitor the pressure and gain an understanding of what type of pressure gets deer moving in your area is to use the The Quiver Hunting App.What is considered hunting pressure? ›
For those that aren't familiar, hunting pressure happens when you're hunting a property so often and so aggressively that the deer become aware of your presence.How long until hunting pressure goes away? ›
Our preliminary findings suggest that a hunter's chances of harvesting a deer start to decline after the first day of the weekend and don't improve until hunting pressure has subsided for at least two days.What moon phase is best for deer hunting? ›
“The hunters I talk to generally like a rising moon or setting moon that coincides with dawn and dusk,” Kenyon said. “If the moon rises during the final hour of daylight or sets late in the morning, they expect increased deer activity.What time of day are most big bucks killed? ›
Early Morning and Late Afternoon
No matter what the conditions, deer move best early of a morning and late of an afternoon. That's when they're wired to move most. It's when their eyesight is most effective. And there are few things that impact this movement, other than hunting pressure.
A core area is a central location where a buck is going to spend the majority of his time during daylight hours. This is a place where he feels secure and safe enough to bed down during the day while allowing him to detect predators before they know he's there.What state has the heaviest bucks? ›
Even though Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, and Kentucky get tons of press for their huge whitetails, the record books don't lie. Wisconsin leads the pack for Boone & Crockett entries. Pritzl recognized the areas that routinely produce the biggest Badger State bucks.What time do bucks go to bed? ›
Deer tend to sleep during the day, roughly between the hours of 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm. A night scope for AR15 will definitely come in handy during these hours. Deer are highly active during the hours just before dark.Where do bucks bed down during the day? ›
Where do deer sleep? The quick answer is, “anywhere they want.” Deer sleep anywhere they bed and may do so singly or in groups. However, during daylight it's far more common for deer to sleep in heavy cover where they feel secure.What side of mountain Do bucks bed on? ›
Most bucks prefer to bed on the higher parts of the mountain. They love hillsides that offer thick cover, and they usually prefer the side of the hill rather than the top. This is where they can take advantage of rising and dropping thermals that will carry scent from other deer and predators.
What is the hardest state to hunt deer? ›
The 10 Worst Deer Hunting States in America
- New York. Joan D Squared via Getty Images.
- New Jersey. ...
- Vermont. ...
- Maine. ...
- Pennsylvania. ...
- New Hampshire. ...
- Massachusetts. ...
- Rhode Island. ...
- South Dakota. Now, the number one state for hunting is South Dakota.
- Montana. Although Montana is often overlooked, it is the runner up for the top hunting-friendly states countdown. ...
- Wyoming. ...
- North Dakota. ...
- Idaho. ...
- Alaska. ...
- Maine. ...
- Wisconsin. ...
One of the regions with the highest success rates in the country is the Midwest. Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin record some of the highest antlered buck harvest rates in the country, with Pennsylvania topping the charts in 2021 with estimates of 145,320 harvested bucks.Why do I never see big bucks? ›
The more time you or other hunters spend on the property, the less likely you are to see deer, especially older deer. Studies have shown that as hunting pressure increases, mature bucks move less during daylight. They also spend more time in thick cover, where you're less likely to see them even if they do move.Why did all my big bucks disappear? ›
One of the more common reasons bucks disappear is because hunters spend too much time in their core area. Bucks are very loyal to their primary beds, even after being bumped from them. But they'll only tolerate so much, especially if you keep alerting them to human presence.
Regardless of moon phase, bucks move most at dawn and dusk.
One project, contrary to popular belief, even found that deer were more active and moved earlier during the day following a full moon.
There will be a mid-day activity period just like always, but deer, especially bucks, can move at all times.Where do bucks like to hide? ›
They find both around the edges of marshes. They love to bed down in areas where marshes meet hardwoods and other forms of standing timber. These areas often receive less hunting pressure and aren't frequented as much by the rest of the deer herd.What US city has the highest barometric pressure? ›
In the contiguous United States, the highest-pressure reading yet measured is 1064 mb (31.42”) at Miles City, Montana on December 24, 1983.What states have the most stable barometric pressure? ›
In the US, the places with the smallest range of barometric pressure changes are Honolulu, Hawaii and San Diego, California.
What time of day is barometric pressure Highest? ›
Each day, around 4 a.m./p.m. the pressure is at its lowest and near its peak around 10 a.m./p.m. The magnitude of the daily cycle is greatest near the equator decreasing toward the poles.What temperature do deer move the most? ›
- Large temperature swings will often boost deer activity, especially if the temperature begins rapidly dropping. ( ...
- Freezing rain and sleet in the woods. (
No, barometric pressure does not seem to consistently impact deer movement (nor any other weather factor for that matter).Do big bucks move in the fog? ›
Through the years I've observed that whitetails typically move more when the barometer is moving either up or down, than when it is steady. During this time, you'll usually find periods of high humidity with fog, haze, rain or wet snow making up the weather system.How do you find the barometric? ›
M = kg/mol. Note that the model calculation assumes a uniform temperature, and is therefore not a realistic model of the atmosphere. The temperature tends to decrease with height, so the model calculation will overestimate the pressure at a given height.Can my phone measure barometric pressure? ›
Developers and weather forecasters have been talking about using smartphone sensors for years, but neither Apple's iOS nor Google's Android operating systems make available the pressure readings taken by their smartphones.Can I use my phone as a barometer? ›
For users with Android phones, a similar app exists in the Google Play store: Barometer & Altimeter by Alessandro Rosso. It, too, provides a fully functional barometer and altimeter and also offers in-app upgrades. I know the Barometer app shows a drop in barometric pressure when the dark clouds roll in.Where can I buy pre rut bucks? ›
An high ridge that's 100 yards or so from a field of corn, soybeans or alfalfa is one of my favorite spots for the pre-rut. Like most early-season setups, it is killer for afternoon hunts. But if access is good and the wind allows it, you might be able to sneak in and hunt the stand one morning, too.How do you attract monster bucks? ›
Use a grunt call to lure in bucks within earshot. Every half hour or so, let out two or three medium grunts with your buck call. This call will get their attention and bring them in. For the deer, you can see in the far distance, try a hale grunt to get their attention and lure them in with a handful of tending grunts.How do you attract big bucks to pre-rut? ›
Target food sources at dawn and dusk, similar to pre-rut. Walk through the woods and get deer up and moving from bedding areas. Set up your stand near good food sources or bedding areas. Use a supplemental feed/deer attractant like Apple or Cherry Bomb to draw deer to your site.
What time of day do bucks move in pre-rut? ›
Like taxes and death, you can count on two things when talking about mature bucks: they move most at dawn and dusk, and during the rut. Deer are crepuscular.Do you hunt field edges or woods during rut? ›
One of the best places to tag your buck is along the forested edge of an agricultural field, but also look for places where dense bedding cover butts up against feeding areas. Both bucks and does will travel along these natural corridors, so position yourself here and plan to sit all day.
It also clearly suggests that hunters should get into the woods early—i.e., before dawn—and stay at least until 11:00 a.m. for their best chance of killing a mature buck during the rut.How do you attract big bucks in late season? ›
Don't be afraid to hunt over a food plot in the late season. Mature bucks will be searching for green food sources. Don't be afraid to think out of the box when trying to lure a big bucks within bow range. It may take a decoy, deer scent and a rattling bag to pull a whitetail within bow range.How far do mature bucks travel during the rut? ›
Mature Buck Travels 200 Miles, 8 1/2 Miles Per Day During Rut.What calls attract bucks? ›
Using a grunt call is a great way attract the attention of mature bucks. You should look to only grunt periodically, every 15 minutes to 20 minutes. 'Blind calling' can work but it is best to make the calls subtle and sparingly because you don't know how close a deer might be to you.
Deer will primarily eat browse (woody portion of leaves and stems), forbs (broad-leaved plants), mast (acorns, apples, etc), and grass. Although these are the main foods deer like to eat, the quantity of these different foods differ throughout the year and the region you are hunting.Will a buck come back after being spooked? ›
Spooked deer will return to their bedding area, but when they return depends on how much the intrusion frightened them. If they can't pinpoint the threat, they'll likely return sooner than if they saw or smelled you. You can evaluate your impact on a deer by studying its body language.