Phillip Vanderpool: How To Hunt Big Bucks Close

Editor’s Note: Phillip Vanderpool of Harrison, Arkansas, one of Hunter’s Specialties’ hunting pros, also is a videographer and one of the nation’s top bowhunters. This year, Vanderpool bowhunted deer from Kansas, Iowa and Illinois to Old Mexico.
Question: Phillip, what did you learn this year about bowhunting deer?
Vanderpool: I’ve learned that deer have the ability to learn more than I thought. Deer don’t always have the same behavior or travel patterns every year. Remember, when food runs out or when hunting pressure causes the deer to move, to be successful, you have to move your hunting stand.

On my Illinois hunt, I hunted a piece of land I’d never hunted previously. When you hunt new land, you have to trust the owner to tell you the best spot to set-up your deer stand. When we arrived at this property, we went to the stand the outfitter already had set-up. After only a few hours, I noticed the deer’s movement patterns had changed. My cameraman and I decided we needed to move our stand, and luckily, the landowner had given us permission to move our stand wherever we needed within the block of land he’d given us to hunt.

I’ve learned that more mature bucks know more about the locations of tree stands than hunters do. So, when a stand has been in the same place for a long time, the deer learn to take a different travel route to feeding and bedding sites. Many times you can move your stand 30 to 40 yards from where the stand has been previously located and drastically improve your odds of taking a buck.

One of the most common problems hunters have when moving tree stands is leaving behind human odor. To solve this problem, use Hunter’s Specialties’ scent-elimination system. Besides spraying myself with the Hunter’s Specialties’ Scent-A-Way spray, I spray my boots every 20 to 30 yards to ensure I don’t leave any scent when I move my tree stand. When we film for Hunter’s Specialties’ videos, we travel with the hunter, the cameraman and his equipment. We’re trying to get up-close to the buck, and that’s why being as scent-free as possible is so important. Although my LaCrosse rubber boots are productive at eliminating odor, I still spray them with the Hunter’s Specialties’ Scent-A-Way spray to ensure I remove all human odors.

On the Illinois hunt this year, we hunted deer feeding in standing corn, which presented a problem for us. The deer could stay in the corn, feed and be invisible most of the day. We found a pinch point where the deer came out of the corn, walked across the field and went into a big hardwood bottom. We couldn’t hunt from that stand site for 4 days due to a 50-mph wind. If you shot an arrow in a 50-mph wind, your arrow wouldn’t go where you aimed. On the last day, the wind finally calmed, and we were able to get back to our tree stands.

I started grunting on a Hunter’s Specialties’ True Talker grunt tube. As the buck came to me, he grunted and started walking off to my right. I grunted back on the True Talker, and the buck came right to me. I took the buck at 25 yards. This 9-point buck grossed 157 Boone & Crockett points, which was a huge bow deer. On this hunt, I learned not to be afraid to move my stand, if the deer changed their movement patterns. When working in close with big deer, make sure to be as scent-free as possible. The Hunter’s Specialties’ scent-elimination system allows hunters to get in close to deer and take them with their bows.