I’m John Dudley and I’m a whitetail fanatic. People told me admitting that is the first step to helping increase my addiction, so I’m all in! If you share my obsession with putting big whitetails on the ground, then read on.
I want to give you three things that will guarantee the moonlight monsters of the whitetail woods make an appearance in front of your stand this year. The most important factor in big buck success is minimizing your imprint. I’ve learned a lot of things over the years that increase your odds but nothing stands out more than minimizing imprint. I’m fanatical about it. By definition, “imprint,” is a mark made by pressure. It seems simple but minimizing or ultimately eliminating pressure is what you must do to have success.
A great way to minimize your imprint is to start riding a bike to and from your stand. I’ve been an advocate of bikes for hunting for a few decades now but for many years bikes had no recognition in the hunting community. However, E-bikes have changed the game for stealth and access. They are much quieter than we can walk and don’t lay scent down on every step like we do. Last year, I was able to take a great buck on the first day of the season in the midwest timber only hours after riding my bike right up to the tree.
The second step is playing it smart on monitoring your trail cams. For me, my Stealth Cam is a priceless tool. I make it a point to add a few game cameras to my arsenal every year. The key for me is limiting your impact by getting your cameras out with fresh batteries and cards prior to the season and limiting how and when you check them. I like to check my cameras when I can role in on a routine farm maintenance check like when mowing plots or passing by on a tractor. When it comes to hunting season I always carry two extra SD cards in my backpack along with an SD card reader and pull cards as I am going to or from stands. As a rule, I rarely invade an area just to check a camera. I've found that mature bucks may only need to be bumped one time to be on to you. Don’t let a trip to the woods for no reason other than a camera check blow your season.
Last but certainly not least is a commitment to more time in the tree. Mentally I prepare for thirteen hours a day every day I go out. I’ve lost count of how many bucks I’ve shot in the middle of the day. I feel like too many people fail to stay in one spot long enough to have complete success. Pack for the day and STAY! I won’t lie, the side of a tree is oftentimes a lonely place. You have to be a fanatic to do it as much as I do. I look at like this – if I’m the only one still out there then I’ve already beaten the odds. The rewards are well worth it!