“Hunt like a wolf. Period.”
When I asked Lone Wolf Custom legend Andrae D’Acquisto his top-shelf tips for whitetail scouting, he boiled it all down to behaving like his company’s namesake predator. While many whitetail hunters will put in some legwork throughout the summer and maybe hang a couple trail cams to scope out target bucks, scouting is a way of life for D’Acquisto.
His tactics are unconventional and significantly more aggressive than the average hunter’s, but no one can discredit the remarkable success he’s seen over the past few decades. With dozens of world-class bucks—each bigger than the last—hanging on his wall, D’Acquisto is admittedly confident.
Although he makes no claim to being the best archer, primal instinct takes over when he hits the woods. He goes for broke with relentless season-long scouting and a mobile hunting strategy that yields undeniable results.
Boots on the Ground One of the tactics D’Acquisto credits for his incredible track record is an insatiable desire to learn more about a hunting property and the quarry it holds.
He advises deer hunters to “run the living hell out of a property.”
When scouting new dirt, he begins with a perimeter check then meticulously dissects the interior, looking for food sources, bedding areas, and other sign. All this data goes into the memory bank but isn’t quite the end-all be-all when it comes to stand site selection.
While apps and topographical maps can be helpful for some hunters, they tell D’Acquisto nothing he needs to know and can actually work to his disadvantage. Rather than analyzing virtually or from above, he believes that hunters should “learn a property the way the deer know it.”
He says trail cameras can be helpful here for taking inventory of bucks in the area, but hunters shouldn’t rely on this technology to do the scouting work for them either. The best bet for killing big bucks is to know their home range inside and out.
This whole recon process ideally starts in the spring. However, even if he only gains access to a property with days to spare before the season starts, he’d rather risk doing the preliminary groundwork last-minute than going in blind on the opener.
But what he calls “hard scouting” actually occurs in-season.
Some Like it Hot D’Acquisto doesn’t just hang a stand for the year then sit there hoping something happens. He makes the magic happen by moving on ever-evolving intel to fine-tune his portable setup.
“It’s hunting, not sitting around waiting to kill them,” he said. “It’s a daily grind.”
You can’t get too caught up on old scrapes and rubs. What was fresh sign pre-season could be months-old history come October. If you jump in a stand without knowing it’s hot, you’re wasting precious time.
“Read sign from all times of year but get it out of your mind that it’ll put a head on your wall come fall. I need sign from the previous day or day-of before I set up a stand.”
After each morning sit, D’Acquisto climbs down in search of a new and better spot. He looks for red-hot sign and pounces on it right away—sometimes just a hundred yards or so from his last setup.
“You’ll be surprised at what you’ll find when you start poking around,” he said. “The grass sometimes is way greener on the other side of the hill.”
Be Aggressive For hunters like D’Acquisto who zero in on one specific buck on opening day and stay on him till that tag is filled, there’s no such thing as enough information. You need to dial in on exactly where that buck is bedding at the time you’re hunting—not necessarily where he was last October. And you can’t stress about getting busted.
“They’re constantly moving. Everything’s changing. If you want to get it in the game, you’ve got to be aggressive,” he said. “Don’t worry about messing everything up.”
Occasionally this involves a bump and dump technique, kicking a bruiser out of his bed then strategically setting up for the ambush when he returns.
He believes that not being aggressive is usually just backpedaling due to fear of failure. And while he concedes he has taken it too far once or twice, backing off simply isn’t an option.