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40 Years of Hunting Whitetail Deer

Deer Pattern Me and My Movements as Quickly as I Pattern Them


Editor’s Note: Marvin Temple of Nixa, Missouri, has been hunting deer for more than 40 years. He’s been a Mossy Oak Pro ever since the program began. “When the Mossy Oak Treestand pattern first came out in the 1980s, I thought it was an incredible pattern, and I've been wearing it ever since,” Temple says.  

Nowadays, most of my hunting is from tree stands in white oak trees. I've found that the Mossy Oak Treestand pattern really blends in then. When I'm hunting turkeys in the spring, I also wear Treestand, because I'm usually leaning up against a tree where there may be fallen limbs. I'm often asked, “Why do you hunt in white oak trees all the time?” Well, here in Missouri, where I spend much of my time hunting, the white oak acorns are the preferred food of the whitetails. So, I like to hang my stand as close to the deer’s preferred food as I can, especially when I'm bowhunting. Often I’ll hang my tree stand in the white oaks where the deer are feeding, depending on what the individual white oak tree looks like. Many times the white oaks have big limbs coming out of their trunks close to the ground. So, if I can’t get in the tree the deer are feeding under, I’ll put my stand in a tree as close to where the deer are feeding as I can. 

This year our region has had a very, very mild fall, and the acorns just started falling about the first week in November. I try to hunt the white oaks on the tops of the ridges, which generally fall somewhat later. But after our area has had a couple of frosts, I've discovered those white oak acorns get a little bitter, and the deer often will move to another food source. Later in the season, I’ll change to cut cornfields and cut soybean fields. I try to set up on the edges of those agricultural fields. I very seldom hunt out of a ground blind. I like to either hunt from a tree stand or spot and stalk. One of the reasons I like to hunt out of a climbing tree stand is that I can move that stand at anytime. Over the years, I've learned that deer pattern me and my movements as quickly if not more quickly than I pattern them. 

Temple_day1When I was young and just getting into bowhunting, I’d hunt from the same tree year after year after year. During those years, I took small bucks and does. But as time went on, and I learned more, I discovered that the deer were patterning me, especially the older-age-class deer, better than I was patterning them. So, when climbing tree stands first came out, I purchased one. I learned that moving 15 to 100 yards from where I had set up the last time I hunted made a tremendous difference in the number of older-age-class bucks I saw when I went hunting. By moving, I learned that I was patterning the deer’s movements, instead of them patterning my movements. 

Another thing I've learned when I set up a tree stand is that I very rarely walk to my tree stand the same way twice. I've learned that the first time I hunt from a stand site is when I have the best opportunity to take a mature buck. So, I move my stand around some but stayin the same general area where I've seen a mature buck. I very rarely hunt from the same stand twice in one season.

To learn more about hunting, check out John E. Phillips’ new eBook and print book, “Bowhunting Deer: Mossy Oak Pros Know Bucks and Bows.” You also can download a free Kindle app that enables you to read the book on your iPad, computer or Smartphone. 

For information on making jerky from your deer to provide a protein-rich snack, you can download a free book from

Tomorrow: Temple Prefers to Hunt Closer to the Buck’s Food Source

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