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Columns - Monthly : Fletch's Corner - Dave Coldwell
Last Updated: Feb 5, 2010 - 5:39:39 PM
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Fletch's Corner - Aug
By Dave Coldwell
Aug 15, 2006 - 2:22:00 PM

This month's column is dedicated to helping you get the shot at the biggest buck of your lifetime.  You need to print out this month's column and keep it as a reference.  What I'm talking about is your method of hunting and if you embrace these ideas, I guarantee that you will be more successful in your future bowhunting.

Where to look and What to look for:

In the fall of 2005, I harvested two dandy whitetail bucks, one in Ohio scoring a little over 138 (SCI score) and one in Kentucky scoring over 151 (SCI score) and I promise you that neither of these bucks had a CLUE that I had invaded their neighborhoods until it was too late.  The reason for this is how I hunt almost all of the time.  I usually spend quite a bit of time in the spring, both turkey hunting and shed hunting, but mostly looking for natural funnels and "choke" spots.  By finding natural funnels or "choke" spots, I mean that I'm looking for natural places that funnel the deer as they travel from bedding to feeding places or vice versa.  

Many years ago, my hunting mentor, Joe Chanley took me to a spot in the Patoka river bottoms of southern Indiana where the bottoms joined up with the property of a Fish and Game area. (yes, you boys in Indiana, that's as specific as I'm going to get!)  This particular spot was always a "guaranteed" place to kill a whitetail buck on opening day of the shotgun season if you hadn't filled your archery tag.  I knew how good this place was but never realized why until a few years ago. 

Back when we were hunting this "spot", I thought that it was odd we just sat at the base of a big oak tree and Joe told me he didn't want to put up a tree stand.  It turns out that this big oak tree was between a very big river bottoms slough and the Patoka river.  On one side of this natural choke spot was the Fish and Game property, (and lots of gun hunters) and on the other side were miles and miles of river bottoms that provided sanctuary to these wily whitetails. 

On opening day, as the guns started popping in the Fish and Game area, the bucks headed for the sanctuary of the river bottoms and had to either swim the river, fight the mud in the slough, orů..come by and see us waiting in this little natural funnel.  Voila!  Joe and I both filled our buck tags on opening day repeatedly at this spot. 

When the reason why this spot was so good sunk in to my brain, it changed the way that I hunt forever.  Now, when I am scouting for places to hunt each fall, I ALWAYS look for the natural funnels and choke spots. 

Pick your tree that you're going to hunt in this coming fall when you're out in the spring turkey hunting or antler shed hunting.  Then, stay out of the woods until you go hunting on opening day.  If you have made a few notes in the spring, you'll be ready to pick a stand location on opening day based on the prevailing wind direction and which stand location is best suited for this morning or evening's hunt.  Notice that I suggested stay out of the woods until opening day?  What about a stand to hunt in?  That's the other crucial part of this equation.

Dave 'Fletch' Coldwell with one of his Big Bucks.

Never hunt out of a permanent stand unless you have to:

When I walked into the woods this last fall in Ohio and in Kentucky on the days that I killed both of these bucks mentioned earlier, my treestand was on my back.  I am currently hunting out of a Cougar Claw climbing stand (Donnie Paul makes these in Alabama and he can be reached at (251) 943-1901) that is pretty lightweight, NEVER slips or scoots on the tree and is very comfortable to hunt out of. (the Cougar Claw climber is the VERY BEST climbing stand I've ever been in!) 

In both cases of these bucks, I located a tree between the midday bedding area and the evening feeding areas and picked a tree to climb.  In both cases, as the bucks traveled their normal routes to evening feeding areas, by time they discovered something was wrong, it was too late. 

Incidentally, the buck shot in Ohio, (with the help of John Bays, Hillcrest Archery) was a whopping 7 (yes, seven) yards from the base of the tree I was in and the Kentucky buck walked 2 (yes two feet) from the tree that I was in and he was shot at about 15 feet from the base of the tree that I was sitting.  In both cases, I was about 23-25 feet off of the ground. 

The most important part of these situations is to realize that there were not any permanent stands at either location to educate these bucks where to stay away from.  This is crucial and will make all of the difference in the world.  Another bonus feature is that you can tell your buddies generally where you're hunting (for safety sake in case they have to come look for you) but if you don't have a permanent stand hanging, you never have to worry about someone else hunting out of your stand when you're not there. 

I know there are exceptions to these methods such as hunting in parts of Texas where the trees may not be big enough for a climber, (although I've been told that EVERYTHING'S bigger in Texas) or small thickets where the trees just are too small to handle a climbing stand and a hunter, however most times I've found that you can move a small distance away and still provide adequate coverage for the funnel or choke spot.

Think about changing over to this method of hunting.  I will guarantee if you will embrace these methods, you will be much more successful and this fall you might take your biggest whitetail ever!  I hope you do! Until next month, keep your eyes on the horizon and remember, there's no substitute for good practice.

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