Posted on August 30, 2011


“As to myself I wish that
not only no act but no thought of mine should be unknown” – Thomas Jefferson

What is the single most tangible, elementary objective human and animals alike
strive towards? The answer lies within the routine activities that govern our
existence. In reality it’s quite simple yet, generally given no further thought
than where your next meal comes from. In a word, comfort.

We go about engineering our lives towards this end employing gadgetry, extravagance
and other assorted items all in the name of creature comforts. The hunter of
whitetails is no stranger when it comes to the accumulation of comfort deriving
products each claiming to aid and assist him or her in their quest.

Renowned ‘Buck Sense’ columnist, John Wooters once wrote an article where he expressed
relational comparisons between hunters and the whitetail. The piece basically
described the degree in which both hunter and hunted sought a level of


Not often over the years have I ever had cause to disagree with what John wrote. I
sense the reason for this to be as a result of first hand observations on his
part that have mirrored my own. I can only hope the regular readership of this
column can one day say as I about John’s; it’s a validation of what has been
both observed and done.

As you peruse this column comfortably sitting, feet propped, iced drink at arm’s
length and the air conditioner’s cooling effects washing over you, my attempt
is to share some rudimentary thoughts that can and will aid as fall draws near.

A whitetail’s existence depends primarily on his ability to evade predators. His
choice of bedding location must provide security as well as comfort. Remember,
he has no deadbolts or locks protecting him from outside intrusions.

Think with me for a moment, when do you feel the most comfortable while engaged in
outdoor activities? When it’s sunny and warm? Of course; even the hardiest of
souls can’t say they enjoy being cold, overheated, soaked (unless you’re swimming
by choice) or caught in a blinding blizzard. Guess what, the whitetail is
equally displeased with the ill effects of inclement, drastic and unrelenting
weather. He will seek out shelter that reduces the severity placed upon him. For
example (hint, hint) when snow, rain or abnormally high winds are prevalent a
buck will usually be found harbored amongst close-knit softwood that provides a
beneficial canopy and windbreak.


Sustenance is one commodity that no living, breathing mammal can be without. And just like
us, whitetails have food preferences. A deer’s choice of diet or food
availability on any given day may be quite a distance from his living quarters.

After prolonged foul weather, deer will readily begin to feed voraciously. (hint)
It’s hard to imagine a deer is any more comfortable with an empty belly than we
would be. I know this, my two dogs know when it is 4:30 in the afternoon and
they don’t own a wrist watch. Their belly is telling them it needs fuel, and
they in turn let me know it’s time for the gravy train to arrive.

Customarily our groceries are stockpiled within refrigerators and pantries, still, in order
for those victuals to magically appear, someone had to go and procure them. (If
it were not for the fact that I get to pack-mule the groceries in from the car,
I’d still be under the illusion that they indeed do magically appear.)

For deer as well as all of nature’s children, travel becomes essential in order to
get from the bed to the feedbag. Their dining schedule would be best described
as, eating on the run. And despite their trails appearing like a corn maize,
deer travel routes essentially are much like our network of roads, created with
a purpose.

The whitetail’s choice of trails to utilize is based upon these ingredients in
order of importance, wind direction, security, comfort and ease of travel.
Remember, a whitetail is not going to work any harder than necessary or expend
energy needlessly, essentially their behavior borders on laziness, especially
the bucks.

Being a creature of habit, sound familiar; a buck’s choice of trails becomes
predictable as well as the general time he gets up, goes to bed and where he
chooses to dine. Unless pressured, he will always take the path of least

 Experience has taught me comfort to a
whitetail buck becomes secondary only when his breeding urge takes over. He is
found to wander continuously, placing himself in perilous circumstances and
compromising positions that ordinarily are inconsistent with normal behavior.
He becomes continuously mobile under all conditions and will aggressively fight
off any challengers doubting his dominance. In essence, his rut behavior is a
direct correlation to a single male bouncing from nightclub to nightclub on any
given weekend.

The next time you begin to feel stumped and are curiously wondering where the deer
might be, stop immediately and think. Ask yourself, “Where would I feel most
comfortable given the circumstances of the day?” Whitetails won’t be any easier
to hunt in light of this but the information should provide a clue as to their

I’m no different than the next guy when in the security of my home. My lazy boy is
very cushy. The remote and portable phone is close at hand. Meals can be
counted on with clockwork regularity. But when I head for the deer woods,
comfort takes a back seat.

It’s not comfortable tracking 15-20 miles a day. My eye’s become bleary from the
daily 3:30 a.m. rising. Contentment does not come as the result of time spent
away from my family for a month. A transformed tin can, hotel room or cabin is
no replacement for home. It is not particularly gratifying to drive 1,600 miles
to a hunting destination in two or less day, and the toil required to haul 200
plus pounds of dead deer flesh out of the woods in excess of a mile or more is
taxing. Rain, sleet, and falling snow accumulating atop me along with the
occasional wade through thigh high streams in November bring no solace either.
But you know what – I   wouldn’t have it any other way.

All images on this site are copyright protected and the property of R.G. Bernier

© 2011 R.G. Bernier Nature Photography – All rights reserved.