It seems the whole world these days is ruled by communication via initials. Electronic forms of communication via a multitude of handheld devices has created a language predicated on a series of short buzz words or sound-bite phrases reduced further to a few letters.

These letters in triples carry the meaning of the message or an exclamatory remark, such as LOL or OMG or as my daughter sums up most responses with "whatever." Perhaps all this started with the initiation of the World Wide Web phenomenon, or the www.coms, as we have come to know it.

 

The WWW transition to whitetails

In talking with trophy deer hunter Gary Blakeney, director of operations for the Southern Electric Corporation in Flowood, I came up with the connection of the w-w-w concept to deer hunting by listening to Blakeney's own hunting strategies.

He is a seasoned trophy hunter with big-game hunting experience all across the country; he has the trophies to prove it.

Blakeney also has a hunting and business relationship with the Magna Vista Plantation near Fitler up in Issaquena County. He is lucky to be able to ply his vast white-tailed deer hunting skills and experience on this 7,500 acres in addition to guiding other hunters on their trophy pursuits.

Gary's own discussions about doping the weather, wind and decisions about where to place hunting stands triggered the idea about exploring these deer hunting elements in more detail.

After all, these WWWs can greatly impact deer hunting tactics, hunting plans and ultimately hunting success.

 

Weather effects

Indeed, whether or not climatic conditions impact hunting depends greatly on the type of hunter you are. Some hunters never even pay attention to weather fronts and probably never even realize how changes in local environmental conditions make or break a day or week of hunting.

Savvy trophy buck hunters, however, have an entirely different mindset when it comes to monitoring and assessing weather's effects on their hunting efforts.

"I tend to keep a pretty close eye on incoming weather," Blakeney said. "I find that big bucks prefer to move better just ahead of approaching storms and/or just after the storm moves out.

"My buck harvest history finds these conditions optimal for trophy hunting, especially if there is a nice cold front moving in right behind a departing storm that significantly changes the temperatures."

There are limitations to his fondness for incoming weather, however.

"Weather can certainly change hunting plans. I really don't personally care to hunt in the rain," Blakeney said. "I will stay out in misty weather or a light rain if I am pretty sure it will pass over soon.

"The only place you will find me in anything more than a light rain while deer hunting is in the lodge."

Over the years I have polled many deer hunters on the types of weather that seem to produce good hunting in terms of seeing lots of deer moving.

A heavy rain seems to be the No. 1 game killer. Getting soaking wet sitting in an unprotected tree stand is miserable for the hunter, but I cannot imagine that a white-tailed deer is all that crazy about being soaked to the bone, either. Big bucks prefer to hold up tight in heavy precipitation.

As Blakeney explained, your time is probably more satisfying in a dry, warm camp than braving severe elements.

"I have tracked my most-successful times and conditions to score on big bucks," he said. "I've taken 85 percent of my big bucks on the afternoon hunts. Most of them I have killed within 30 to 45 minutes of dark, almost always in fair weather. There have been a few exceptions, but this has largely been my pattern.

"The best weather scenario for me has been clear days, generally north to northwest winds under 12 mph, temps between 35 and 55 degrees, and nights with a quarter moon or less. I don't generally hunt poor weather conditions other than I will try extreme cold without rain."

But cold and wet is pretty much off the table.

"Rain and cold don't mix well for me," Blakeney said. "Light rain showers or misting conditions can be worthwhile to hunt in, but I don't mess with the hard, long rains.

"But hunting right behind foul, rainy weather as it starts to clear up can be very productive. Cold is good as long as you can stand it and are dressed right. Hunting is supposed to be fun, and fun is not sitting out in miserably cold or wet weather."

 

Windy ways

According to Blakeney, wind can be the hunter's friend and enemy.

"A good, steady breeze that isn't swirling or constantly changing directions is what I look for," he said. "In my opinion high winds over around 20 mph certainly diminishes your chances for hunting success."

Blakeney then discussed why a wind should concern a hunter in the first place, and it all boils down to human scent dispersion - which may be a prevailing reason why many bucks are spooked away from a hunter's stand. Successful trophy hunters are good scent managers.

"I'm not overly afraid of a changing wind because I practice scent-free hunting," Blakeney said. "You cannot let a big deer smell you after you have worked to find where they are and patterned their behavior.

"I won't intentionally hunt a stand unless the wind is favorable. Even then, I shower using scent-free soap before the hunt, use scent-free deodorant and always wear scent-eliminator clothing. I keep all my outer clothing in air-tight bags and generally don't put it on until I get near my stand location. I spray down with some sort of scent-eliminating spray, as well."

If you do not control your scent in the woods, then even a minor breeze is going to circulate your scent all around your hunting zone. Image how far and wide a steady wind is going to spread your scent. In Mississippi, it is often windy during our deer hunting seasons, so hunters need to use scent-control measures to ensure that one less factor that could ruin their chances for a trophy buck is in play.

 

Where to hunt?

Of all the conundrums of deer hunting, where to place a hunting stand seems to create a real puzzle for most hunters. I have placed dozens of tree stands over the 40 years of my deer hunting, and a fair number of them were totally unproductive.

Even after much investment in scouting and positioning, oftentimes stands have to be rotated or moved to maximize their effectiveness. Placing stands in an ideal spot becomes a work in progress, with changing habitat conditions and related adjustments in deer behavior.

Blakeney's stand-placement strategies are straightforward and based on a lot of hunting common sense.

"I look for food sources first that seem to have heavy use," he explained. "That could be honey locust trees, persimmon, acorns and then food plots as the season progresses.

"Then I use game trail cameras to see if any mature bucks are using these sources. If so, I'll either set up very close to the source or try to find funnel areas that lead from a bedding area to the food resources. At that point stand placement is a matter of cover and wind."

Of course, this means best hunting locations change during the season.

"I will move a stand as a food source dries up or deer change modes to select another food," Blakeney said. "I don't have permanent stands except a few on good food plots that I call semi-permanent, but honestly I don't do a lot of plot hunting."

Finally I asked Blakeney if he used any special technology to help him.

"I don't have a weather radio, but I do have a weather app on my iPad that I refer to regularly," he said. "I mainly track temperature, precipitation and wind direction."

The three W's of hunting - weather, wind and where to put stands - are the essential elements to really successful trophy deer hunting.

Add personal scent control, and if you play these cards right the pay off will come - sooner or later.