Whitetail Deer: Don't Overlook Bucks in the Grass

That clump of weeds hides your next trophy

Weed Bed

Photo by Donald M. Jones

The tips of dark antlers were all I saw—and plenty of them. They barely protruded from a clump of broom sedge, but enough for me to know I wanted the buck beneath them. When the 9-pointer finally stood to stretch, the shot was easy. It wasn’t the first buck I’d taken from a clump of grass. And I doubt it will be the last.

Isolated grass clusters are overlooked spots that draw big bucks in both forested habitat and open terrain where the surrounding cover is low and sparse. They’re often tall enough to hide a bedded buck’s body, yet low enough that he can watch through the strands for danger. I’ve taken bucks from clumps barely big enough to hide a deer and from patches as large as half an acre. More important than size is location: The best are at the heads of hollows, along wooded benches, on points jutting into fields, or on the lip just below a knoll or ridge end.

So grab your binoculars and rifle and spend a day or two sneaking around your hunting area, searching for grass clumps and glassing carefully for the ear, eye, or antlers of a bedded buck. Once you find what you’re looking for, there are several ways to score.

First, you can carefully set up for a shot and either wait or make the buck stand. Patience is usually golden, but sometimes it’s not an option. The wind may be shifting or shooting light may be dwindling. In this case, use a doe bleat or a tending grunt to get a buck’s attention. If that doesn’t work, try a loud snort-wheeze. One of the three calls almost always makes a bedded buck stand up, exposing the vital chest area for a shot.

Or you can study the surrounding terrain and cover, pick a good ambush, bail out quietly, and return before dawn the next day to catch the buck coming back to lie down in the same spot.

Another good option is to get some backup. For small clumps of grass, approach with a crosswind and have a buddy circle wide on the downwind side. Then you move into the cover slowly. You may get a jump shot; otherwise the buck is apt to flee downwind to your friend.

For larger patches of grass or those in the wide open that are hard to approach, get two or three buddies. Put posters on escape routes or overlooking the thickest cover closest to the grass. Then have one or two hunters move in from upwind—and be ready to see a monster buck explode from the grass.