Some hunters say that hunting urban whitetails is no different than hunting deer in the big woods away from city. I Disagree.
Urban deer are different,to some degree. One evening, I perched myself about 20 feet up in an Ash tree and watched as a group of 20 or so does nibbled along from yard to yard. They were browsing their way through three backyard and were only about 80 yards away.Whenever, a car would pull into one of the driveways and the car door slammed shut or the garage door opened, the group would all run back the same way they came from.
A few minutes later, the same group of deer would return walking down the same trail. When the homeowners would bring the garbage out, bang some cans, or make some other sudden noise the deer would do the same thing. I watched this routine several more times during my evening hunt.
This taught me that one young deer could spook the whole herd, even if they do not know why. When the lead doe caught me drawing my bow she sent the herd back the way from which they approached. I waited knowing they would eventually come back. I knew that the lead doe would be looking for me, trying to validate what she had seen so she could point me out to the rest of the ladies. “I’ll show her,” I said to myself, I decided to pull a little trick I like to call the “tilt-a-whirl”.
The “tilt-a-whirl” is where I rotate my stand to the other side of the tree, putting the tree between me and where the deer will return. Minutes passed, and here they came. The first to appear was the same lead doe watching for the blob she thought she had seen earlier. As I peeked around the tree I could see her scanning her surroundings’ as if she was thinking, “Well, there was something there!” She begins to quarter away 30 yards as the herd fed. My draw went undetected this time and my arrow found its mark.The herd retreated once more. Unlike Urban deer, Big woods deer seldom return on the same trail, and if a mature doe catches you moving, you can bet she will snort you all the way back to your truck!
In my experience, urban deer have accepted being “spooked”, and they do not seem to snort as often. Urban whitetail deer also accept a certain level of human scent and noise. It is always good practice to be as scent-free as possible, but with urban deer, you have some wiggle room. They are used to smelling homeowners and hearing dogs bark or kids playing in the yard.
It is possible to take down a nice, mature buck in a populated urban area. Take, for instance, this evening hunt on one of the urban properties I own. I was helping a friend fill his buck tag and we probably spent 45 minutes walking in circles, climbers on our backs, banging and clanking, trying to find a perfect spot to set-up where we could hunt together.
It was peak rut, the plan was for me to do the calling, and Jim would do the shooting. Once we settled in and things got quiet I started using the rattling horns and grunt call in sequence. The wind was variable and to be honest I was skeptical.
We were less than 100 yards away from the houses and I didn’t want to call too loud, afraid someone would come looking to see what all the commotion was behind their home. After my third sequence, a nice 8 point came in from the south. He passed my stand at a mere 5 yards, giving Jim a beautiful broadside shot.
Understanding what you can get away with is the key to killing an urban legend.