October 01, 2014
In a few places, whitetail deer hunting seasons are already open. But in a number of other places, they are still a few days away from the start of 2014-15 campaigns.
If your local deer hunting spot falls into the latter group, remember these four tips from Pat and Nicole Reeve, well-known white-tailed deer hunting experts and the hosts of the Driven television show on Outdoor Channel.
The first tip is to finish inventorying what deer you have coming onto your hunting land.
"Right now, we're running a lot of trail cameras on each piece of property that we hunt," said Nicole. "If a deer walks on the red carpet that we've laid out on our properties, it's going to get its picture taken."
Such photographs help a hunter "inventory" the mature bucks on a piece of hunting property along with giving a good idea of how many does might exist. The latter is an important consideration for effectively managing a section of hunting land each year.
Nicole said that she and Pat just gained access to a 300-acre piece of property and have been steadily putting this advice into practice. Running a number of trail cameras, they are still figuring out what deer are on the property, where the deer are traveling, where they are feeding and where they are watering.
"That's what will help us put together a list of deer that make the hit-list for this upcoming season," she said.
A second timely tip – especially if there's a new piece of property that you've just acquired – is to "Power Scout" a piece of land.
While you always want to be careful in alerting deer as to your presence, Pat and Nicole routinely and carefully put this tip into motion as they hunt properties they aren't always completely familiar with.
"We do this quite often since there are so many different places that we travel to and hunt each season," said Nicole. "We like to go to new places each year and get new story lines."
Unfortunately, the couple doesn't always get to pre-scout a piece of property weeks or months before showing up to film a few days of hunting action. And that leads to Pat and Nicole's "Power Scouting" chores.
"What we mean by that is to first start looking at aerial photos, Google Earth, topo maps and anything else (that can help us get the lay of the land)," said Nicole. "Once we get there, however, we like to go out on the property for a walk (so that we can see what's on the ground), especially on a windy day or a rainy day."
She does admit that such walks to see the property aren't always possible, which makes digging a bit deeper in the "Power Scouting" chores even more important.
"We'll then talk to different people in the area, people that are familiar with the property or have been on it," said Nicole. "We want to know where they have seen the most deer activity and try to piece together (an idea of) where the bedding areas, the feeding areas and the travel corridors are on the property."
Doing so will help the couple get a real feel for what's happening on a piece of property while still working to keep the overall hunter's impact on the land and its deer herd to a minimum.
"Figuring all of that out, that's the number one thing on a piece of property," said Nicole. "We do all of that and we're fairly successful on our hunts."
With several dozen record book deer to their credit – Nicole's best buck is a 195-inch Illinois bruiser and Pat's best buck is a 200-inch (gross score) Illinois typical – there's little doubt that the couple's "Power Scouting" method works.
Which leads to a third tip, making sure that any and all deer hunting stands are safe and good to go in a few days.
"You always need to make sure that everything is ok by checking your deer stands (before the season)," said Nicole. "You want to make sure that the straps are safe and that they aren't chewed or frayed."
What about hanging a new stand? If a hunter does so over the next few days, Nicole indicates that she and Pat are big believers in brushing up a stand or a blind, doing so by cutting some branches that are zip-tied in place. That will allow the cover to stick up around and through a stand in order to provide some break-up cover for the hunter occupying the stand.
Finally, the hosts of Driven with Pat and Nicole are sticklers for maintaining their equipment and continuing to practice with it during the season.
"It's not just enough to have your equipment ready, you should still be shooting at least five days a week, if not every day," said Nicole.
That point is driven home even more so after a miss that Pat suffered last year on a bighorn sheep hunt that the couple was filming in Alberta, Canada.
Despite hours of religious practice leading up to the hunt and ensuring that the gun was still on at the beginning of the hunt, somewhere in the mountainous terrain the scope was knocked off a bit and Pat missed an animal that he had been dreaming of tagging for many years.
Meaning that in-season equipment inspection and practice is a continuing must for any hunter, whether they are filming a television show or not.
Put these four tips from Pat and Nicole Reeve into practice as whitetail seasons open in the Midwest and Deep South over the next few days and weeks and there's just one more thing that a hunter might want to keep in mind.
And that's the phone number of the local taxidermist.
Editor’s Note: Visit the “Driven with Pat & Nicole” show page for air times, photos, bonus video and additional information about the show.