Deer season is well underway across the Carolinas. By November, well over half the two state’s annual whitetail harvest is already satisfied with a mixture of does and bucks from yearlings to true wall hangers.

Many hunters had a chance to tag a trophy early in the season when bucks least expected it or during a heavy rutting session in late October. As November arrives, the mature survivors are well educated and will rarely be fooled by hunters using traditional methods. They must think out of the box and utilize their surroundings to get a big buck in lethal range. 

Even though deer are some of the largest of our wild animals by body mass, they are far from the top of the food chain. Survival depends on their ability to sense danger and evade capture. Deer and other animals first use their senses to detect danger, and then, their physical abilities to get out of harm’s way. Most prey species rely on their eyesight and hearing to detect danger and then their speed on land or in the air to avoid becoming a victim of predation. Predators also rely on their senses and physical abilities to capture prey. 

Deer use their large eyes and oversized ears to detect approaching danger, but a deer’s chief protection is a sense of smell that can be a real problem for hunters trying to get an old, mature buck in range. Deer can detect odors from great distances, but smart hunters can take advantage of their surroundings and still dupe a deer into coming into harm’s way. 

Jay Garner of Murrells Inlet, S.C., is a hunter who ripped up the normal playbook and written a few of his own pages. He may not kill a record-book buck every year, but when he