with Pat Reeve
Editor’s Note: Pat Reeve lives in Plainview, Minnesota, and has been a member of the Mossy Oak Pro Staff for 9 years. He and his wife Nicole produce “Driven with Pat and Nicole” (www.drivenhunter.com) on the Outdoor Channel.
Yesterday I explained that providing plenty of food and cover on your hunting lands year-round are the best ways I know to grow and hold older-age-class bucks on the property you hunt. The second-most important factor for keeping older-age-class bucks on your land, so you can harvest mature bucks every year, is to hunt the property the right way. I only hunt my 400 acres in Minnesota at the right time of year, when the wind and the weather conditions are correct. I don’t put a lot of hunting pressure on the property, which faces north and south. I access the property from the south, because most of the winds we get will come from the north. I like to hunt with the north wind to keep my human odor away from the deer’s nose. Too, most of the time a high barometric pressure occurs during a north wind. In an east wind, usually an area will have low barometric pressure and less deer movement.
I enjoy using my Polaris Ranger electric ATV to carry me to the spot I want to start hunting. By my using an electric ATV, the deer never hear me coming. I cut trails through my property, and then I can ride close to my stand site with the least amount of noise possible. I don’t walk much on my land. I try to get my electric ATV as close as I can to my stand site and then hide my ATV. Often I’ll have someone drop me off on the field I'm going to hunt, and then come back and pick me up after the hunt is over. This way I let the vehicle spook the deer off the field, instead of the deer seeing me and getting spooked off the field. If I'm hunting by myself, I try to wait until all the deer have left the field before I come out of my stand. I don’t want the deer to see when I’m in their environment. I hunt a lot out of ground blinds, because I believe a ground blind helps contain your scent. I use an Ozonics ozone machine, wear Mossy Oak ScentBlocker clothing, and practice scent control.
Instead of going after the deer, I hunt with the philosophy of letting the deer come to me. I don’t go into thick cover or deep woods to take a buck. Over the years, I’ve discovered that if you go into thick cover and deep woods, often you'll bump deer out of their beds. You may spook the deer you're trying to take. The more hunting pressure you put on your deer, the quicker those deer will become nocturnal. I let the deer come out to the food sources and feed. After a couple of years of practicing this low-impact type of hunting, I’ve found that the deer on my land move more and become more visible during daylight hours. You're much more likely to see deer moving during daylight hours, if they don’t know you're hunting them.