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Hitting the Water to Hunt Pressured Whitetails

Hitting the Water to Hunt Pressured Whitetails

When it comes to hunting pressured whitetails, finding overlooked locations where people don’t go is imperative. One thing we’re always looking for is water. Streams, lakes, rivers, ponds, or marshes can all be good features, especially water that’s too deep to cross with typical rubber knee boots.

Big bucks also tend to bed near these types of areas because they never see predators come through the water and they need water to survive. Thick cover edges near a creek or river can be dynamite habitat for mature bucks. They can bed and travel along the river in the thick cover, and feel comfortable doing so, because people never access through the river.

Hitting the Water to Hunt Pressured Whitetails

We often see mature bucks bed in locations where they can monitor traditional human access points. They often do this across a body of water where they can bed along the edge, hidden in the cover, and watch the access route with wind coming in from behind them.

Some of our best hunts revolve around using a boat or canoe/kayak. It can be dead silent and often, we can hop onto land and immediately be in a good spot to harvest a buck, while leaving minimal ground scent along our access route. This allows us to catch bucks completely off guard. They are monitoring the traditional access points while we are paddling quietly up the river next to them. This also allows us to hunt spots more often without getting detected.

On larger bodies of water, it’s beneficial to have a boat of some kind. This allows you to access more remote locations around the lake while also making scouting more efficient.

For example, last fall we were on a rut hunt in Missouri on public land and only had six days to fill a tag. The first day of the trip we spent speed scouting numerous locations by boat, looking specifically for hard-to-access areas from the land side. This eliminated other people, and by bouncing around to multiple locations, it gave us plenty of options to target for the next 5 days of hunting. Ted was able to take this great buck toward the end of our hunt. This was one of the same locations we speed scouted on the first day. (Check out that episode here.)

Hitting the Water to Hunt Pressured Whitetails

Water access can be intimidating, but it’s extremely helpful when targeting mature bucks on pressured land.

To get a jump start on next year’s whitetail scouting, check out THP’s blog on Summer Whitetail Scouting Tips.

Looking for some tips on how to get the most out of your trail cameras? Check out Sam Ubl’s series on taking your trail camera game to the next level.

Check out our podcast with The Hunting Public to learn more about hunting from a boat.​


The Hunting Public’s core mission is to create a community of hunters that can interact and learn together as a group. Their video journals and podcasts create a platform that allows them to teach, learn, and interact with other hunters. They cover everything from advanced whitetail tactics to unique hunting situations. Through hunts on public land and small, privately-owned properties, they create relatable content that appeals to all hunters. View their work at

November 17, 2019
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