October 10, 2013
By Mike Suchan, OutdoorChannel.com
Walking past a window, Lee Lakosky had an “a-ha moment,” and it’s changed the way he views deer hunting pressure.
Hunters are notorious for wanting to spend time in the woods, scouting, breaking down the area and patterning the deer they will be hunting. Experts say to keep in mind while you are doing these, the deer are patterning you.
That knowledge is something Lakosky of “Crush with Lee and Tiffany” said can help deer hunters. On a podcast with The Hunt Fish Journal of Ohio, Lakosky said that fact helps dispel the riding notion to never go onto your deer property before hunting season.
“I think you don’t want no pressure, you want consistent pressure,” he said. “We’re always thinking how we have to be so low pressure, low pressure. It’s what they get used to all year long.”
His realization came from continued observation of deer, even through a window. When someone walked past the window at Tiffany’s mother’s house, deer would run from a feeder about 50 yards away. But with repeated comings and goings, the deer are now used to the human activity and don’t move as much, even when Lee’s truck roars past.
“I bet you could feed them out of your hand if you tried,” Lee said, “every day just getting closer, and closer. They’re bedding all over their yard. And it’s been a short period of time from walking past the window and them running off.”
Lee and Tiffany do a lot of prep work on their 600 acres of farmland in southeastern Iowa, and Lee also sees that their presence has become commonplace for the deer.
Lee said the deer were awful skiddish when they first moved there. They live in the state’s largest county yet it doesn’t have one stoplight. The pressure on deer there is low, unlike Pike County, a famous hunting county 100 miles south in Illinois, where a number of Boone and Crockett bucks are taken.
“There’s 92 outfitters in Pike County; there’s probably not 92 bow hunters in my county,” Lee said. “We have a lot of deer dying of old age. Pressure just makes them more nocturnal, and gets them pretty spooky.”
The deer still run off when Lee and Tiffany run a four-wheeler through their acreage. He scatters any grouping when he’s out planting, fertilizing, mowing or checking game cams, the difference is now they return quickly.
“I’ve noticed five minutes after I’m gone, those deer are back out,” he said. “Those deer get used to it. When we get to hunting season, do we hunt it the same way? When we get to hunting season, it doesn’t change at all.”
Lee points to Wisconsin and how heavy pressure there on opening day of gun season changes deer activity. He says the opener is like a national holiday as everyone hits the deer woods.
“Over there, the pumpkin patch comes out -- every orange suit -- and those deer know something is different,” he said. “Day two of the season is totally different than day one.”
So as he tries to get into the heads of deer, even speaking what he thinks they’re thinking, he’s a believer his presence has relaxed the deer to humans being on the land.
“I think if I didn’t go into those fields all summer long, and I went into hunt, ‘Whoops, somebody’s in here. Something is different,’ “ he said. “Our deer don’t know anything is different that we’re doing, whether it’s July 1 or Nov. 1, because it never changes for them.”
Even when they hunt during muzzleloader season, Lee said they never linger on the property. It’s one shot, one deer, get it and get out.
He also makes a point to allow the deer a sanctuary. The Lakoskys will only enter the timber stands during turkey season or when they’re hunting sheds.
“I don’t go into the timber,” he said. “If I go in the field, I want them to run off and feel safe in the timber. They’ve got to have sanctuaries on your place.”
Lee said he first started to notice this trend when they began filming “Crush with Lee & Tiffany.” He said the deer wouldn’t come out of the timber to the fields until last light. With their continued presence, the deer got less and less camera shy.
“Oh, that’s just Lee and Tiffany, they’re here all the time,” he said. “So, I think you’d be way better off going into your place once a week, once a week, once a week.
“Those deer get used to it. They smell you. ‘Oh, that’s just Lee.’ I think you don’t want no pressure, you want consistent pressure. You don’t need to be invisible. If you’ve been there enough, they’re OK with you being there.”
And that’s when their rigorous scent control measures come into play. The Crush crew goes to great lengths to make sure they don’t tip off the whitetails during the season. Now, Lee’s pretty sure the deer and their great sense of scents can still make him out, but he feels them getting a snootful of him all year long helps trick them when they’re hunting.
They’ll stop, they’ll smell you, the whole routine, then they’ll flip their tail then go through,” Lee said. “They’ve smelled you every single week, but it’s much fainter now. ‘Oh, he must have been here 10 minutes ago,’ or ‘he must be up at the barn 200 yards away,’ instead of sitting up in the tree 10 yards away. That’s why we get away with so much.
“Without any scent control, they’d be gone. They think it’s old or you’re a lot farther away, or they’d blow and go.”
So Lee says to visit your hunting property, check the cams, tend to food plots, etc, make those deer learn the pattern that it’s normal for you to be there. Then once you’ve gotten into their heads, you have a better chance to get their head.
"Crush with Lee & Tiffany" show page
Go to 2013 Deer Camp