Bowhunting World -October 2003
MAKE BUCKS HUNT YOU – By Mark Hicks

When it comes to hunting whitetails from above, it can be said with some degree of
certainty that the most intense physical and mental labor it takes place long before you
pick up a bow. While scouting, you can burn some serious boot leather while actively hunting for
travel routes, feeding spots, and bedding areas. Then there is the laborous search for
rubs, scrapes, tunnels, and trees you hope will put you within bow range of a sizable buck.
Once you actually climb into a stand and nock an arrow, you embark on the comparatively
passive, sit-and-wait phase. You must stay alert,of course, focus your
concentration, and overcome a covey of butterflies should a shot present itself. But the
next move is largely up to the buck. Or is it?
More and more consistently successful trophy whitetail bowhunters take an
aggressively active approach once aloft. They aren’t content to wait and intercept
bucks going about their normal, daily movements. To improve the odds, these hunters
know you can make bucks hunt you.

Senses and Scents
Bowhunters make bucks hunt back by
appealing to their senses of sight, hearing, or smell, or by arousing two or all
three of these senses. The primary tools
include scents, calls (including rattling),
and decoys. Granted. there is nothing
new or earth—shattering to these methods, but some hunters just seem to use of
these tools to greater advantage, while others spook more deer than they attract.
Lessons from skilled and successful
hunters can vastly improve your ability to use the tools at your disposal. Eddie
Salter, a member. of the Hunter’s Specialties Pro Staff, practically lives afield and
hunts whitetails across North America. In
the past four years alone, he has tagged
nine Pope and Young bucks. The largest,
from Iowa; scored 165;

In many instances, scents have been a
deciding factoring Salter’s successful hunts.
There’s no question, scents work to
your advantage, but using them improperly can send a buck into the next county.
“After several bad experiences, I realized I was contaminating the area with
human odors when I put out scents,” says
Salter. “My scent was putting off the
deer, not the deer scent itself.”

Though Salter always wears rubber
boots. and religiously buses scent eliminating soaps, detergents,and sprays; he
determined he was carelessly touching limbs and branches with {bare hands
when applying scents. He was raise
kneeling near to his mock scrapes, leaving human scent on the ground. a I
“Now I’m careful not to down or
touch anything when I use scents,” he says.
“I wear rubber, gloves to keep in my hands
from contaminating anything, and also to
prevent the scent from getting on me.”

Salter said he employs scent mainly
during and after the rut, specifically ;
Primetime Premium Doe Estrus doe-in-
heat urine and Primetime Dominant Buck
Urine. He doesn’t use sex—related scents
before the rut, because he claims they can
scare away does and smaller bucks. But,
as much confidence as Salter has in the
use of scents really are not his first priority
when he scouts, even during the rut.
“First I find a major food source and .
select, stand sites that intercept deer
moving to and from the feeding area?
Salter said. “Then, I look for fresh bucks
sign away from food sources. If I find a
place that’s really tom up and has several
scrapes, I’ll make two or three mock
scrapes there and lace them with doe
estrus and dominant buck scent.”

Beyond that tactic, Salter avoids other
mock scrapes and hunts near food sources.

Should he hunt two or three days without seeing a
worthy buck, he checks his mock scrapes. If they haven’t been
disturbed, Salter continues hunting food sources.

“But, if every bush and tree around one of my mock scrapes has been shredded
by antlers, I know I’m in business,” says Salter. “That tells me I’ve made a dominant buck mad, and he’ll be back
looking for the intruder. Now he’s hunting me.”

In this scenario, Salter responds by setting out three fresh mock scrapes within bow range of a tree stand.. He
figures three scrapes, spread about, are more likely to be winded by the buck
and bring him close. This ploy has yielded him trophy whitetails.

Sound Advice
To take advantage of a buck’s sense of hearing, Salter always has a grunt call
handy on stand. He grunts to any bucks he sees crossing out of bow range, and
also reports excellent success blind- grunting. When calling blind, Salter makes
a few serie sof short deep grunts
every 15 to 20 minutes.

“I make doe grunts more often than ,buck grunts,”,says Salter. “Doe grunts
get a buck is attention without rousing his hackles. He comes in more
relaxed. Doe grunts also don’t spook does and young bucks like a deep buck
grunt can.”

If he sees a buck in the distance that isn’t headed his way, Salter said he makes one or two doe grunts.
If the buck stops and begins coming along, he usually lets the game play out. It is only when a buck starts
moving away that Salter feels compelled to grunt again.

“Call too much when a buck is coming your way, and he’ll
know something isn’t right.” he said, “Keep quiet and be patient.”

Salter has turned around a number of reluctant bucks by following
doe grunts with buck grunts. he uses an adjustable call that allows him to change the grunts pitch
by applying linger pressure to the reed.

Rattling Dividends
West Virginian John Jezioro relies on a grunt tube and rattling antlers. He`s
learned through experience that rattling can pay off big time, but he’s also
discovered that it doesn’t work everywhere. Throughout his teenage years,
Jezioro banged antlers together while hunting West Virginia’s Appalachian
hardwoods. Despite his diligence, he failed to.rattle—in a single buck.

“West Virginia has far more does than bucks,” says Jezioro. “With so many
does around, a good buck is less likely to respond to rattling because he doesn’t
have to fight for companionship?
When he attended Ohio University, in rural and whitetail-rich southeastern
Ohio, Jezioro brought his bow and rattling antlers with him. Big bucks were a
little more common there, and the buck-to-doe ratio is balanced to the point
where bucks must regularly compete. By the time he graduated with a major
in chiropractic science, Jezioro had also eamed a minor degree in antler rattling.
Though he’s back living in West Virginia. Jezioro continues to hunt his old
Ohio haunts, a convenient two-hour drive from his home.

Jezioro took one of his highest scoring Buckeye bucks at the end of October
while rattling blind. That morning his rattling antlers lured two big bucks into a
large thicket on the end of a point and prompted them to fight. After a short but
intense battle, Jezioro arrowed the loser. Fortunately, the defeated buck carried the
bigger rack. The 10-point netted 152.

“A lot of hunters get caught off guard because they rattle continuously,”
Jezioro said.”Deer don’t fight that way. They lock horns, pause for a breather,
and then go at it again. Rattling without pauses doesn’t sound natural; It also
keeps you from detecting an approaching buck until it’s too late.”

Before Jezioro rattles, he grunts a three or four times. If there is no
response after about 12 minutes, he tickles the antlers together softly for 15 to
20 seconds, and then pauses about 10 seconds while intently watching for
deer, He repeats this procedure several times over a two minute period. Then
he waits 15 minutes or so and rattles it vigorously for about 20 seconds to imitate
two bucks in fierce combat. He waits at least a full 20 minutes before
presuming the sequence.

Seeing is Believing
Tom.Harkness, a real estate manager from Illinois, adds the allure of sight to his hunting
by using deer decoys, He believes scents and will pull whitetails closer.
but the sight of other deer can convince a normally cautious buck to completely
drop his guard. As a result, Harkness has taken seven Pope and Young bucks in
Illinois over the past 10 years.

“My first hunts with decoys didn’t work out,” says Harkness. “More than
once I’ve had bucks stare at my decoys 15 to 30 minutes. I tried grunting, but it
didn’t help. The bucks would stomp their hooves trying to make the decoys
move, and eventually leave.”

Success came quickly when Harkness added Tail-Waggers to
his decoys. This device makes a decoy’s tail swish every eight
seconds. This little added movement was enough to change a
wary buck into a sap that offered Harkness a close shot.

On that hunt, Harkness’ basic setup consisted of three decoys,
all within bow range. He placed a bedded doe so it was looking at a
small buck decoy standing beside it in the background,
he placed a tail-wagger rear decoy, which is the rear half of a deer, on
the edge of thick cover. The young buck decoy and the butt section both
featured tail waggers.

Harkness embellished the setup by placing two tarsal
glands from a previously- harvested buck on sticks; on
either side of his tree. The glands had been frozen to keep
them fresh.

After only two hours in, this stand, he saw a huge
buck in the distance, feeding on acorns. Harkness
grunted and the buck began feeding in his direction,
gradually working downwind.

When the buck came close
enough to view the decoys, its hair bristled. The heavy-antlered bruiser
crab-walked diagonally toward the decoys as the mechanical tails
swished in calming reassurance.
From there the buck circled around.

Harkness” tree, stopped six yards to one side, and snorted and wheezed. The little buck
decoy responded by flicking it’s tail, as if to say, “everything is just dandy!”

“At that point he could sense the buck was about to charge in and flatten my
decoy,” says Harness. “I should have waited for a better shot angle, But my
heart was pounding so hard I just couldn’t wait. The bucks attention was so
glued to the decoys I couldn’t have
spooked him if I tried.”

Harkness managed to keep his wits about him and made a perfect, clean
shot. The buck’s typical 10-point rack buck grossed 177 points and netted 161
3/8, making Harkness another convert
to the ever-growing “Make Bucks Hunt You” club. >>>—>

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