I couldn’t believe it. There they were, just 35 yards away, but I hadn’t even seen them until now. More astonishingly, they hadn’t seen me!
I’d walked through the woods right toward them and had set my climber 25 feet up the side of a tall oak, then set up my equipment, all within plain view of two does that lay 35 yards away, chewing their cud. Were they blind?
What strange behavior, when normally they would have been off like a bullet at the sight of a human so near.
It was then that it hit me — and then hit me again. The wet conditions and slight wind of that Ohio afternoon had made my entrance completely silent, bypassing the ears of those does. Thanks to my lack of noise, I’d somehow, unbelievably, bypassed their keen eyes. This was huge.
THE HOLY GRAIL
There are countless differing views as to which sense is most important to a whitetail. Debate aside, we know that if we can fool their eyes, ears, and noses, we turn the table on these ghosts of the woods and become ghosts ourselves. Of course, even novice hunters know getting past all three of a whitetail’s key defenses is at best tough, and often pretty much impossible.
Although finding a chink in a that armor has been the quest of generations of wise hunters, we’re still are at a distinct disadvantage every time we set foot in the woods. But science is now showing us that it’s how a whitetail’s senses are linked — two senses in particular — and how that could be the animal’s long-sought Achilles heel.
First, we need to realize that a whitetail is at its best, and has an almost unfair advantage, when it can fully use all three main defenses. When they can see everything around them, have the wind in their favor and have crisp, clean air that allows them to hear every little noise in their environment, little can fool them.
These senses work in tandem, in unison, sending all data to be analyzed by the brain like the control panel of a jumbo jet. When all of the data are coming in, the many senses, or sensors, are corroborating what’s going on outside, giving a very clear picture of present conditions and dangers.
However, when at least one of those senses is knocked out, there’s much less information to verify what’s happening. It’s like flying blind, at night, in a big Midwest thunderstorm. When deer can’t cross-reference another sense, information becomes less clear. And that’s when they have trouble understanding what’s going on around them. This is when mistakes happen and a deer becomes vulnerable.
Science is now revealing that one sense can “tell” another sense to check for danger. So if one sense isn’t alerted, the animal might not know to use another to even check for danger. Hence, we have the whitetail’s potential Achilles heel. Those two key senses that work together, as I found out that day in Ohio, are sight and hearing.