During the past three decades, the tactics used to hunt whitetail deer have evolved greatly, but hunting mature bucks is still a tough challenge. Mistakes are still being made, and for some hunters, these mistakes become habit — and they wonder why some hunters seem to kill big bucks and they don’t. 

Let’s look at five mistakes hunters make that hinder their odds at killing big deer. 

Understanding, hunting the wind

Understanding the wind is the most important element of deer hunting. Successful hunters know and understand the wind. 

A deer uses its sense of smell as it No. 1 defense mechanism. If it gets a whiff of anything out of the ordinary, it goes on full alert. Barry Wensel, considered by many as one the greatest bowhunters of all time, said, “A mature buck will sniff the air, (and) when he smells something he is suspicious of, more times than not, he simply turns around and retreats.” 

A buck not seen, is buck not killed. If we never see the buck, we will never kill him. 

Not hunting the wind is only part of this mistake hunters make. Every time a hunter ignores the wind, he or she educates the deer in the immediate area. Successful hunters have stands prepared for any wind direction, and they sit only in stands where the wind is in their face. They let the wind decide where they will hunt. 

Scent control

It may seem repetitive to add scent control after discussing the importance of hunting the wind. But just as hunting the wind is critical, so too is controlling your scent as much as possible. Too many hunters make the mistake of simply ignoring scent control. 

Charlie Morris of Gloverville, S.C., hunts exclusively on public land in and