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Old School Deer Hunting

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"Everybody today relies on game cameras and feeders in Texas, and many times, I'm no different," said Sherman, Texas’ Jim Lillis, "But sometimes, it pays to turn back towards the older, more traditional methods of chasing and scouting deer.

It’s Old School Deer Hunting - no cameras, feeders, or food plots; figure out where deer are bedding, where and what they are feeding on.

Lillis recently shared his deer hunting knowledge with Lynn Burkhead of the Herald Democrat.

"There aren't any cameras, feeders or food plots out there," said Lillis. "Instead, you've got to figure out where the deer are bedding, where and what they are feeding on, and how they are moving between those two different locations.

"Then you have to play the wind right, hang a stand in a good location, and make a good shot if a mature buck walks by you."

Never ignore a good rainfall

When it does rain in the fall months, what that rain can reveal is pure whitetail gold. "When we get a good rain, I want to get out there the next day and search for fresh tracks. If I can find a well-used game trail with fresh tracks, that always gets me excited, especially true if it's in an area where deer movement gets pinched down, or it's near a food source."

Staging areas

"Does and younger bucks will often come into a feeding area in the last hour or two of daylight, early on in October, the best bucks will often hold back a hundred or two hundred yards away until darkness finally falls."

Also keep in mind local oak trees that are dropping their acorns. Find the right oak tree, the one that is luring in the most deer on your property. Lillis said that is usually something that is revealed by actually witnessing deer chowing down on the sweet nuts or finding cut acorn hulls under the oak tree.

You'll want to figure out what direction they come in from, the travel routes they use to get there, and then set up a stand or sit on the trails that lead into the oak tree that they are feeding under.

You've always got to sit with the right wind direction in mind

"For instance, if the bucks are traveling east to west as they come into a feeding area from their bedding area, if you've got a north wind, you'll want your stand off the south side of that trail about 15 or 20 yards. If the wind is out of the south, then it's vice versa.”

I remember deer hunting with a buddy in Oklahoma. He was chain-cigarette smoker. We had set up on what looked like deer trail. After a short time he lit up. “Don’t you think the cigarette smell will alert any deer coming our way?” His reply was, “Nope, they are used to the smell.” We separated and he checked out different locations while I went off to scout and sit in different locations. You can surmise correctly he did not see any deer the entire week. I saw my share of doe movement, but no bucks.

"The key is that you've always got to keep the wind to your advantage because you'll just about never beat a whitetail's nose when he's downwind of you,” said Lillis.
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Pinch points and Funnels

"I like to find pinch points and funnels and hang my stands in such spots," he said. "That could be a fence row, where the timber juts out a bit from the main woods, along waterways, along trails leading into feeding areas, spots where the timber gets narrow, etc."

Willingness to scout

"Sometimes it pays to sit out in the open camouflaged up and observe the edge of the woods with your binoculars," said Lillis, citing a tactic that he often used on a longtime lease in the Rolling Plains of West Texas. "You can glass towards the woods' edge, watching for deer movement, looking for fresh sign like rubs, etc.
“Once you figure out where and how the deer are moving, move in quickly that same day with a new stand setup, a surgical hunting strike that will often result in a big buck getting tagged before he can grow wise.”

Lillis closed his thoughts: "Deer get educated every time you go into the woods, so you've got to be careful, pay attention to your scent, and always watch the wind," said Lillis. "Because the majority of mature bucks are wary survivalists. They are smart, elusive, and they didn't get old by being dumb.

“Everybody today relies on game cameras and feeders in Texas, and many times, I'm no different," said Lillis. "But sometimes, it pays to turn back towards the older, more traditional methods of chasing and scouting deer, the kind of things you have to do to be successful.”

Photo: TPWD

 




Tom Behrens has over 50 years experience in fishing and hunting across the United States. Much of this time was spent in Oklahoma and Texas where he became very familiar with the outdoor opportunities in these states. You may contact him by email at: tbehrcomm@gmail.com


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Toledo Bend Lake Weather Forecast

Thanksgiving Day

Partly Sunny

Hi: 73

Thursday Night

Chance Rain Showers

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Friday

Thunderstorms Likely

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Toledo Bend Lake Water Level (last 30 days)


Water Level on 11/26: 167.86 (-4.14)



Toledo Bend Lake Fishing Report from TPWD (Nov. 25)

GOOD. Mostly clear; 64-67 degrees; 4.26’ low. Black bass are good shallow and deep, depending on structure. Shallow in 2-8 feet, use green Senokos early in the day. When fishing 25-40 feet, use jigging spoons, drop shot, Carolina Rigs, and Texas Rigs. White bass are fair, catching them as deep as 50 feet. Crappie are great but staying deep around 25-28 feet mainly on minnows and occasionally jigs. Bream are good with small jigs and crickets. Channel and blue catfish are fair on stinkbait.