My experience tells me the old bucks aren't necessarily all that smart. If anything they may have heightened senses and are much spookier than those that don't make it to old age.I don't have any recent experience in heavy hunting pressure. Any time that I have set up a blind we kill a deer or two out of it every year and that's it. Some blinds don't get one deer killed out of them some years. Also, we kill mostly young deer. I'm a meat hunter. I don't care about antlers at all. The only set of antlers that matter to me are the ones that are big enough to legally fill my buck tag. Every year I get 12 tags, and every year I try to kill 12 deer. I fill up my freezers with vacuum sealed one pound blocks of ground meat, make a jillion gallons of bone broth, tan some hides, and I am done until next season LOL. So, my hunting is a lot easier than yours. I will let the young guys chase the big racks. I have killed big wide 10-12 pointers. I have killed huge mass bucks with matching drop tines. I've killed a pie bald 10 pointer. I have taken a lot of "trophies" and it just doesn't matter to me anymore. So, I stick to the young, stupid, tasty deer LOL.
When we are making blinds for black bear we make them out of cedar trees and build them like lincoln log cabins. We take the cedar trees from the areas that we hunt. I believe that bears require a little more savvy to kill than deer, but maybe those old mature bucks are Einsteins too?
Speaking of the youngsters... .
Tonight I watched a very nice very big 8pt, probably a 5.5-6.5yo deer with six does. I've been watching this particularly buck for 3 or 4 years, always in the same area, always with the same does.
Apparently one of the girls isn't quite in but is smelling nice and she led him on quite a chase ending up about 40 yards from where I was hiding in the broom weed.
Finally I just stood up and went "Bahhhh!".
he nearly did a back flip. The doe was between us and at first she ran towards him but he got after her again and chased her almost back in my lap.
His rack hasn't gotten any better in a couple of years, very tall, very long tines but pretty narrow and something of what we call a "Basket Rack".
If he was any better, he probably would no longer be alive because he's not very bright and a hot smelling doe totally wipes out his other senses.