By Jack Payne
The hurried sound of leaves crunching under hooves meant one thing. A buck was chasing does that were not ready for his advances. Sure enough a group of deer came trotting by and a buck in pursuit.
Scrapes and rubs are all excellent items to consider but other things can spell success quicker. First and foremost is hunting the does. The does normally dictate what scrapes will be re-opened and used the most.
Find out where the does are bedding and feeding and the bucks will show up. The best locations are where the deer feel most secure during the daylight hours. The closer the security area is to a hot food source the better buck potential.
Cornfields are a magnet in our area. A thick swale, a pine plantation, river bottoms or a swamp are examples of good daytime cover. An overlooked area is a drainage ditch.
Having shot a buck on October I decided to try some fall turkey hunting. Jumped two bucks bedding in a corn field and one was an eight pointer. Bow in the truck and the buck looking at me a mere ten yards away. Can’t get a bedding area closer to a food source than a cornfield.
Carrying my camera while filming a few geese I jumped a nice fork horn bedded in a dried out drainage ditch. A cornfield on one side, a soybean field on the other with a briar patches on the end. Perfect area for a buck to rut and stay fairly hidden.
Keeping a stand just for the rut or having two stands to hunt from is a good idea. Don’t burn out a stand during the rut. Only hunt the stand when the wind is right and when accessing the stand without disturbing the deer.
Avoid walking over the runways when traveling. You heard this before but I will say it again, watch your scent. I wear Scent Lok from head to toe. Have a back up plan on how to get to your stand and the same when leaving. Don’t spook the deer and don’t leave any scent behind.
High ground in a swamp or a cattail marsh is an excellent all day location to hunt. The key is sliding in early and being undetected. Another good choice would be a small woodlot or briar patch that the other hunters walk right by thinking that it is to small to hold any deer.
Locating a hot scrape that reeks is always fun. I don’t see a lot of deer when scrape hunting but normally you will see a hot doe and the buck. Using buck lure has proven productive for many. I’ve had excellent luck at times and other outings only luke warm. Rarely have I had any negative responses when using scent. I use scent all season! Tinks and Buck Fever are my favorites.
Decoys can be fun to use but only during the archery season for safety purposes. Placing a decoy between a hot scrape and your stand or on the fringe of good bedding cover might work. Spray the decoy with some buck lure and try grunting. My experiences with decoys is less than thrilling unless watching a deer jump up in the air and then busting out. Only once did it actually draw in a buck for me but a friend has enjoyed great success.
Besides having faith in scent we use calling on each hunt. I call softly 3-5 one-second burps every 15-30 minutes. If I see a deer I call immediately. Once again, soft and short works the best. Get the buck to turn his head and let curiosity take over. Nearly every archery tag filled had calling involved.
Staying alert and checking out all sounds is important. After a few hours and especially after a month of sitting in a stand hunters get a bit lazy. Any sound could be a deer and often the soft and slow noise is a feeding deer heading your way.
The rut normally heats up around Halloween and continues through the opener of the gun season. Nothing beats the sound of leaves rustling and seeing a nervous doe file bye followed by the sound of a deer grunting. Hunt the rut properly not only will you see a buck, one might end up in the freezer.