Big Buck Tip: Hunt the Perimeter
By: Lynn Burkhead
If tagging a big buck is on your to-do list, then follow Tom McMillan's advice to respect the sanctuary of a deer's core area, staying on the perimeter of his autumn bedroom
One of the biggest temptations a whitetail hunter has each season is wanting to go deep onto a hunting property, searching out the best sign that big bucks have left behind.
But according to #DeerWeek co-host and Sportsman Channel television personality Tom McMillan, such an idea comes with a huge potential liability.
Because in the search for smoking hot rubs, scrapes and feeding zones, it can all become suddenly counterproductive if a giant buck comes home, lifts his nose to the wind, and determines there's been an intruder.
Like the proverbial three bears figuring out someone has been eating their porridge, once Mr. Big knows his core sanctuary – his bedroom, if you will – has been violated by an intruder, odds go way down that a hunter will be successful in tagging that mossy-horn bruiser.
How does a hunter combat this? McMillan turns to some time-tested advice.
"A lot of people have heard me say, 'Hunt the perimeter,'" he said. "(That's because) there's a fine line between being able to infiltrate (successfully onto your property) and getting too far into a whitetail's bedroom.
"You've got to know when you can do that and (holding off) when you can't," he continued.
Instead of taking a core area risk, McMillan says it usually pays to be less intrusive.
"The safe bet is to hunt the perimeter, to be patient with the deer," he said. "You want to let the deer get out of the bedding area and come to you on the way to feed. (You want to be) in a transition situation between the bedding area and the food."
What's the payoff for this less-is-more approach?
"By hunting the perimeter, that way, you're not tracking in and smelling up the property," said McMillan. "You're not going into the (deer's) bedroom and disturbing things too much.
"Hunting the perimeter to me is saying that you don't go any further into your property than you need too to be successful," continued the Sportsman Channel television show host.
"That way, the interior of your property is left alone and is a sanctuary (for your deer)."
Use this tactic on your hunting property this fall and see if you don't eventually have a chance to tag a bruiser buck, the kind that can make you TV show famous like McMillan.