By Bob Humphrey
Deer hunters spend so much effort finding the right location, but sometimes overlook how they’ll get there, which can be just as important. We’re taught at a very young age that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. But a direct approach is not always best when hunting wily whitetails. It may take a little more time and effort, but the route that causes the least disturbance is the path best traveled.
Know Before You Go - You should have some idea, from scouting, where the deer will be when you enter the woods. Try to avoid these areas as much as possible. Bumping deer can have a domino effect, where one fleeing or snorting deer alarms others, putting them on edge or sending them on their way as well.
Mind the Wind - Just as you did when setting your stand, pay attention to wind direction when approaching it. If at all possible, approach with the wind in your face. If you can’t, at least use a quartering wind, or one that will blow in a direction where it won’t disturb too many deer.
Take the Highway - No matter how conscientious you are about scent control, you’ll always leave some trace where you tread. That’s why it’s sometimes better to travel existing roads, two-tracks or ATVs trails to the greatest extent possible. Deer are more accustomed to both disturbance and human scent on and around them.
Take it Easy - Speaking of ATV trails, there are circumstances where riding may be a better option than walking. In farm or cattle country, deer are used to seeing motorized vehicles come and go, and are often less alarmed than they are by a walking human. Ride within a reasonable distance, then get off and walk the rest of the way.
Stalk Your Stand - This applies mostly to afternoon hunts, or morning hunts when you get a late start. You put your stand in a particular spot for a reason: deer like it there. That means there’s a reasonably good chance they’ll be there when you arrive. Approach with that in mind and you’ll scare off fewer deer, and could even get a shot.