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Two Most Important Tools for Harvesting Mature Bucks On Small Properties


Editor’s Note: Dwayne Norton lives in Troy, Missouri, about an hour northeast of the arch in St. Louis. He’s been hunting deer for 35 years, and he's been a Mossy Oak pro for eight years. His favorite camo pattern is Mossy Oak Break-Up Infinity, although he uses several different Break-Up patterns. In 2015, Norton fulfilled a lifelong ambition of going elk hunting.

One time, I set-up about 200 yards from the fence that separates my dad’s property from the nearby Wildlife Management Area. To the east of me, I saw a doe come out of the woods with a buck following her. I began grunting aggressively and stopped the buck. The deer were moving south, coming from the east. When the buck heard me grunting, he circled around and came in from the west, downwind of me. At that time, the leaves were off the trees, and I could see this buck. I was able to grunt that buck to within about 12 yards of me before he alerted and caught a little of my human odor. Once the buck stopped and looked around, I released my arrow. That buck only went about 12 yards before he crashed. This hunt was so special to me, because I was able to call that buck way from that doe and get him to circle downwind to try and find the buck that had made the grunt call. Then I took him. This buck wasn’t a particularly huge buck but did score about 125. Another reason this hunt was so special was due to all my scent elimination products seeming to have worked. I am a scent-free fanatic. Remember, I said earlier that I always hunted defensively. I'm more concerned about not spooking deer, than I am about taking a deer. I want to have as little impact on the property I hunt as I possibly can. So, I spray down with scent-free products, and I wear carbon clothing. 

The property I hunt is only about 1 hour and 5 minutes from my house. I take a shower with scent-free soap, wash my clothes in Scent-A-Way clothes wash and store all my hunting clothes in scent-free containers. Then when I arrive at my hunting property, I take my clothes off, spray down with Scent-A-Way and take my hunting clothes out of my scent-free bag to wear. When I return from hunting, I take my hunting clothes off outside, spray them all down with Scent-A-Way and then put the clothes in my scent-free bag. Some may say I go overboard in staying scent-free. However, as a defensive hunter, I've learned that the more human odor you can eliminate when you’re hunting and once you leave your stand site, the less likely you are to spook the deer you're trying to take. 

Norton_day5Last year, I also started using Ozonics, and I've been very pleased so far. I didn’t stop using my Scent-A-Way products. Another thing I do to keep these small properties from being contaminated with human odor is that I don’t check game cameras as often as most people. I don’t use my game cameras to try and pattern deer. Regardless of how many odor-eliminating products you use, the more times you go to your game camera, the more likely you are to put human odor on the property you’re hunting. We use our game cameras more to inventory our deer herd than to pattern our bucks. I never will have believed the number of deer that cross our three small properties in Missouri, until I’ve been using game cameras. I keep my game cameras out all year. Sometimes, I won’t check them any more than once every 2-3 months. But as the time is closer to the rut and during the rut, I may check them every week or every 2 weeks. I want the game cameras to tell me two things: 

  1. How many deer are moving across our property - including how many bucks and how many does? 
  2. What size of bucks are coming across our property?

Once I know what size the biggest buck is that’s crossing my property, I can hold off shooting, until I see that buck or another buck about the same size. 

I had about 50 pictures of the buck I took that scored 142. From the trail-camera pictures I’d learned what day, what time of day and what direction a big buck came from, used to cross our property and then left. Probably, the most-useful information I get from my trail cameras is the pictures I get after the season. They tell me which bucks have survived the hunting season, and the bucks I should have to hunt next year. Another advantage of having trail camera pictures of the deer on the property is that when I go to my stand, I'm expecting to see those big bucks. So, I can hunt more attentively, and I’m expecting at any moment to have the opportunity for a shot.

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

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