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A Buck Named Clyde: A Testament to Food Plots, QDM and Mock Scrapes

by Cody Altizer 3. December 2011 09:39
Cody Altizer

There are a bevy of emotions we as hunters are fortunate to experience throughout the course of a deer season.  There is the rush of seeing your arrow bury itself behind your prey’s shoulder.  Then there are the uncontrollable shakes that violently rock your body before, during and after the shot at that big buck.  And don’t forget, the most humbling of all, the feeling of thankfulness and gratefulness experienced when you kneel over your trophy, be it a buck or doe, be it big or small.  Finally, there is the camaraderie experienced between you and your hunting buddies.  A couple weeks ago, I got to share an extremely memorable time in the woods with my brother, Damin, as he shot a true giant Virginia whitetail, a buck named Clyde.  

One of the first pictures we got of Clyde.  This image was taken in early January in our clover food plot.

The story for this buck actually begins in 2007, ironically, the birth year of Clyde.  It was that year that my brother, my dad and I really decided to commit to Quality Deer Management (QDM) and try to improve the health of our deer herd and our property’s habitat.  We began planting food plots, established mineral stations and decided to take at least 5 does off our 260 acre property every year.  The mineral stations attracted deer to our property during the summer, and shooting does increased rut activity immediately.  However, I was still unhappy with the amount of food we had on our property during the hunting season.  I simply wasn’t content with the small, secluded food plots we had planted in the past.  Every year, I urged my dad to consider planting two one acre fields in clover.  I was convinced that having a consistent, centralized food source would make a world of difference in holding deer on our property during the hunting season.  During the rut, I was exicted about the amount of rubs and scrapes that would appear in the runways and funnels leading from the fields to bedding areas.


Clyde all but disappeared during the spring and summer, except for visiting one of my mineral stations in mid-June, when this photo was taken.

Fast forward to February, 2010, we had finally gained the resources to plant the two large fields, and I can still remember cruising along in my neighbor’s borrowed 40 horsepower tractor and plowing up the field.  By the time I had finished, it was well after dark and the headlights of the tractor were synonymous with a bright future on our hunting property, a future I was extremely excited about.  

This trail camera photo was captured on a frosty night in late September.  The long sweeping right main beam told me who this buck was.  It was this photo that earned him the nickname "Clyde."

That spring and summer I sprayed and tilled, sprayed and tilled, to keep the weeds and have a clean seed bed for the 2010 hunting season.  In August I planted some Imperial Whitetail Clover and oats into the food plots.  We have found that planting clover in the fall and allowing it establish a strong root system in the winter will allow it to explode the following spring.  Obviously, both forages would be attractive to the deer during the season, but the oats were more of a cover crop to keep the deer from overbrowsing the clover.  

Fast forward to this past January, I was in Huntley, IL preparing for the 2011 ATA Show at the office and my brother sent me a couple of trail camera images of a buck feeding in our food plot the night after the season went out.  The buck was a 3 year old, had several busted tines, but was clearly a shooter and had the potential to balloon into a true giant the following season.  Our winters in Western Virginia don’t pose serious threats to a whitetail’s life, even worn down bucks, so my primary concern keeping him on our property that following year.  With two acres of lush clover just waiting to explode with a little sunlight and warm weather, I was confident we would regularly catch him on camera feeding in our food plots during the summer.

By mid-October Clyde was convinced their was an intruder buck in his territory thanks to my mock scrapes.

As is often the case with deer hunting and habitat management, things don’t go as expected.  The food plots exploded all right, providing a nutritious, tasty food source to our local whitetails all spring and summer.  Unfortunately, however, we only captured the buck on camera just once during the entire summer, and it wasn’t even in our food plots.  On June 19th he made a brief stop at one of my Monster Raxx mineral stations.  I knew it was the buck from the previous winter, by a cluster of abnormal points on his right main beam.  While he didn’t spend as much time in our food plots, I wasn’t overly concerned.  I knew where he was bedding and knew that having several does feeding in our food plots during the actual hunting season would greatly benefit us.  

As hunting season quickly approached and the temperatures began dropping quickly, I was anxious to see if the buck had began visiting our food plots.  The two clover food plots were planted right in the center of our property, so to visit them, either to feed or check for does, he would have to walk right by several of my stand sites.  Nevertheless, when I checked my cameras on October 1st I was thrilled to find the buck feeding in our food plot just two nights before.  I sent a picture to my brother via cell phone with the text reading, “huge buck in upper field, 140+."  A long sweeping right main beam and the abnormal points on the same side made Clyde an easy choice for a nickname (See Clint Eastwood’s famous flick, “Every Which Way but Loose”).    Let the chess match begin.

This trail camera photo revealed to us Clyde's bedding area.  This photo was taken two nights before Halloween about 30 minutes before sunrise.  

I knew it would be unwise to dive right in after this buck after a handful of nighttime trail camera photos.  I knew where he was bedding, I knew how he accessing our food plots, I just had to be patient and not over hunt him.  I immediately made a series of mock scrapes along his access trails to and from the food plot using Tink’s Power Scrape.  The idea was to paint a picture of another big, old buck  moving into his territory.  He didn’t like the thought of that.  He began working over those scrapes within days, and the giant rubs and scrapes that dotted the edge of the food plots could only have been made by him.  This was his food plot, the clover belonged to him, the does belonged to him; no other bucks were welcome.

After seeing the massive rubs and watching the scrapes being freshened up nightly, I took extreme measures as to not pressure the buck.  The only problem with the location of our two food plots is location.  Yes, they were centrally located, but they were also right beside our hunting camp, which sees a lot of human activity.  During October, I likely only hunted 3 mornings so I didn’t push him off the food plot on my way to the stand.  My dad and brother would have liked to kill me because I was constantly reminding them to be quiet around the camp and to walk on the far side of the camp to hide our existence from deer feeding in the food plot. I probably took it too far in some cases, but there was a giant buck living very close by, and I was determined that one of use was going to kill him.

Throughout October we captured Clyde on trail camera in the food plot, at mock scrapes, and on trails heading back to his bed in the late morning.  My brother had two weeks of vacation planned for early November and we were going to exhaust every opportunity we had to close the deal on the giant.  Unfortunately we got slammed by two weeks of bad weather.  Dumping rains, high winds and warm temperatures made hunting very difficult.  At the end of every unsuccessful day of hunting my brother would ask me, “Where in the world Clyde?”  My response was always the same, “Not far.”

Multiple rubs of this size began popping up in trails and runways from the food plot to bedding areas.  Clyde was becoming more and more vulnerable with each passing day.  We were onto him, we just had to play it smart.

Friday November 11th was again a terribly slow day of hunting.  A full moon and high winds and warm temperatures had shut down all deer movement, but there was hope in sight.  The first clear, cold night in several weeks was forecasted that night.  That night I remember my brother asking me yet again, “Where is Clyde?”  But this time I responded, “Not far.  He’s got to be covering some ground at night, if we can get a good, hard frost tonight, that should keep him on his feet longer into the morning on his way back to bed for the day.”  It wasn’t much to go on, but was it was a hopeful thought, and that was all we needed.

I had been bowhunting like a madman the first two weeks of November, so I elected to take my muzzleloader that morning for a change of pace.  We had got the hard frost we were hoping for and we had got into our stands over an hour before first light.  I had seen a couple does filtering back to bed right at first light, and was hopeful a buck would soon follow suit, but I never got the chance to find out.  At 7:14 I heard my brother’s muzzleloader ring out.  Since it was my brother’s last day of vacation, we both decided to try and shoot a couple does if the opportunity presented itself, so I just assumed he had shot a doe.  However, his “13 pointer down!!!!!” text eliminated that theory.  My mind began racing, “Did he really shoot a 13 pointer?  Maybe he did shoot a doe and is just joking around.  A 13 pointer?  Clyde was only a 10 in the trail camera photos.”   Anxious to see what he had shot I responded, “Can I come up?”  His response, “Clyde!!!!”  I gathered my gear, got down out of my stand and all but ran through the woods to see the fallen giant.

My brother and hunting partner, Damin, admiring the legendary buck known as Clyde.  Mission complete!

When I finally met up with my brother, he had his coat draped over Clyde’s rack.  As he unveiled him, I simply couldn’t believe the massive antlers coming off this buck’s head; a true giant.  I must have hugged and high fived Damin a good 20 times in a span of 5 minutes.  Damin relived the hunt for me, and I was happy as could be for him.  It turns out that cold, hard frost kept Clyde on his feet just long enough this morning, because my brother shot him working one of the mock scrape lines I had built back in early October.  My brother stopped him at 50 yards broadside, and made a perfect shot, and Clyde died within sight.  

Clyde is by far the biggest buck ever taken off our property.  The hard work we all put in over the past 4 years finally paid off with a dandy buck.

I offered to drag Clyde out of the woods for Damin, we met up with my dad and mom at camp and thus began the day of celebration.  We took well over 100 photos, put a tape to him, weighed him, caped him out and readied him for the taxidermist.  Clyde ended up scoring 148 6/8” as a mainframe 10 with 5 kickers.  He had three abnormal points sprouting at the base of his right G3 and had an inch and a half kicker at the base of each antler.  He was 220 pounds live weight and dressed 185, which makes for a giant bodied whitetail in Western Virginia.

The fallen giant and the lucky hunter who harvested him overlooking the mountains and food plot the massive buck once called home.

While Clyde scored well, and was the size of a small cow, his statistics do very little for this buck's legacy.  When I think of Clyde I will think of the countless hours spent running trail cameras, planting food plots, freshening mineral stations, and scouting since 2007, the year he was born and the year we started QDM.  I will think of the discussions I had with my dad and brother about when, and how we should go about trying to harvest this deer.  But ultimately, I will remember walking up to the fallen buck with my brother standing over him with a contagious smile and the brotherly emotions we shared in the woods November 12th.  That, I think, is what Clyde most represents and what an animal of his caliber should be remembered for.

Big Buck Down - The Taking of a Mock Scrape Buck

by Mike Willand 22. November 2011 15:00
Mike Willand

Bowhunting is detective work. If you’re like me you have many different stand sites set up across numerous different properties covering a handful of different regions of your home state - sometimes over several states. Taking clues that are left behind by deer, revisiting past sightings and experiences, all the while trying to piece together the big picture to make that next move on where the buck you’re looking for will be hiding. Sometimes you guess wrong and sometimes you guess right.

On Monday, November 14th, I guessed right.

For weeks leading up to that Monday I had been grimacing at all the bucks falling to friends of mine across the country. Not in jealousy mind you, but in regret that the days I was pleading to take off from work would be too late into November and past the peak of the rut throughout northern Illinois.

My decision to take the 14th-17th off was based on this year’s poor crop of what I call shooter whitetail. Older deer just never seemed to start expanding their home ranges till after Veterans Day. That’s what I was looking for on that Monday - a buck searching for love far from where he typically calls home.

For weeks, my good friend Justin Zarr and I had been capturing nothing but younger deer on our Stealthcams. Together, we have nearly twenty of them, scattered over four different farms, covering a hundred miles in between. Going into the 2011 season we only had one buck that either of us really wanted to take on camera. Justin would end up the lucky hunter on Halloween weekend, with me behind camera, and a buck called “Hitch”. Two weeks had gone by and we still had nothing else to chase. 

All three of my mock scrapes were flourishing with whitetail activity. The problem was all three of them had a regular onslaught of 100 - 120 inch bucks calling them their own. For Justin and me, once “Hitch” was taken, there seemed to be a major gap between age groups.

Although not the quality of buck I was hoping for, pictures like this are testimonials of a well planned mock scrape. Here, a young buck stands on his back legs to work the above licking branches.

My only chance was to await the days I believed older bucks would begin to stretch their home range, and this is why I chose the 14th -17th of November. Figuring if I failed to find a buck during this time frame, the following week yielded more days off for the Thanksgiving holiday and yet another chance to find a cruiser buck that Justin and I hoped existed. It was a shot in the dark.

Sunday night, November 13th, found me staring at the Scoutlook Weather website for what seemed like eternity, finally making the decision to sit my favorite mock scrape all day beginning the following morning. I shut off my computer and went to bed.

I awoke the next morning especially early. I wanted plenty of time to make and pack a solid lunch for the more than 10 hour sit that I was already dreading. Two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, no less than thirty carrot sticks, a large bag of animal crackers, an apple, and nearly 50 ounces of water were going to be my only sources of comfort for the remainder of the day.

The drive in was uneventful, a far cry from the morning before when no less than four different deer nearly ended up on the hood of my truck. A couple days past full moon, I was hoping the deer were returning to late morning movement again. The past several days had deer on their feet just after legal shooting light, something every deer hunter loathes to witness - myself especially.

Once dressed, I made the trek to my treestand. The moon was so bright I never turned on my headlamp that morning. I could easily make out the woods as it lay before me. When I hit the pond, which is what I used to creep into this set-up undetected, I noticed the water had risen several inches after the recent rainfall. Several steps later and I found myself in too deep – literally! After a false step, a small amount of water had gotten over the top of my 18 inch rubber boots, enough to soak my feet and cause me to curse in the dark! I stepped back a few feet and ended up getting out of the water forty yards short of where I normally step out from. I decided the pond was too dangerous to navigate in the dark, fearing a fall would send me and my video camera into the drink. A fall I surely could have lived with, but my camera may not have made it through. With my camera dangling around my neck I took another way in, trouncing through a section of tall grass that skirted the pond. With each step I took, the frosted stems sounded like firecrackers in the once soundless woods.

Once in stand I readied myself for the day. I hung my bow, my pack, and set up the camera for the self-filming session I was sure to receive as the day waned on. Not ten minutes into my sit and I heard the dreadful footsteps of deer in the dark. I turned and looked in the direction they were coming from, and made out what appeared to be two deer in the loud grasses I had just walked in from. No doubt as I peered at their faint images, they had heard me walking in. Immediately I thought my day was already beginning badly. These two deer were surely going to bust me!  And – I thought, if they heard me walk in, they were already in an area deer don’t typically show up in until about an hour after shooting light. The full moon had foiled me again – I thought!

After a few moments, the two deer ran away to the other side of the woods. I couldn’t tell if their tails were up, but I knew they had cut my trail in. I looked up into the starry sky wondering if my decision to not walk the pond all the way in would cost me the entire day’s sit.

The remainder of my sit in the dark anticipating the sunrise was silent. Only a far off cry of an owl could faintly be heard.

I turned my video camera’s power on just at shooting light, something I’ve done for much of the season so I wouldn’t have to fumble for it once the moment of truth arrived at first light. Standing up now, I faced the direction of my mock scrape. It laid just over twenty yards from me. It was not uncommon to hear the deer at the scrape before seeing them. The soft ground surrounding the scrape often made deer nearly impossible to detect if not for the fact that they would often stop to hit the licking branches which strung out from every which angle above it. The overcast sky kept the earth dim as I anticipated the hours ahead.

Just before sunrise I heard loud, drawn out doe bleats coming from the direction I had seen the two does run to about 45 minutes before. I reached for my grunt tube immediately as experience has taught me that when deer are vocal – you are vocal. I quickly threw out four or five short grunts and then stopped, wondering what I was thinking. I didn’t want to scare the potential bait away, and began to bleat loudly and drawn out, just as I had heard. I did this six or seven times, then silenced my grunt, shoving it back into my pocket from where it came.

I heard the running of a deer in the marsh behind me and turned my entire body to make out a buck advancing quickly on me. Without even throwing up my optics I saw that it was a good buck, at least 130-class! As soon as I recognized who the buck was I heard a very faint stick snap from the direction I was previously looking – over toward my scrape. I turned my head and came eye to eye with a shooter buck not more than twelve yards away and peering into the cattails waiting to see what all the commotion was about.

I believe the buck who was approaching from the marsh was this handsome 3 year old I called "Larry Bird". Here "Larry" works my mock scrapes licking branch.

With his eyes fixated on the bog, I turned back quickly and grabbed my bow, even glancing into the camera screen at the same time to see if the buck was in frame. All I saw was the weak outlines of the trees as the image was still too dark – camera light had not yet begun. I forgot about filming and drew!

With the buck slightly quartering in, I found my pin and settled it on his shoulder. Within moments I released! The buck took off through the timber but didn’t make it far, crashing a short distance away. The sounds of the surrounding woods quickly hushed once again. I could see two does in the distance, their tails showing white. The buck in the marsh slopped through the water traveling further and further out of earshot. I calmed myself, waiting for the earth to return to silence.

I could see a small section of my arrow, bloody and broken, laying where the buck once stood. Reaching for my phone I called my wife and daughter to tell them the news – Daddy is done!

A special thanks to Bowhunting.Com president Todd Graf for coming out to take these great pictures.

I would wait another twenty minutes before getting down from the tree to pick up the blood trail. Figuring the buck had made it into the cattails which surrounded my stand I didn’t want to take anything for granted. I was quiet, calm, and ready to put a second shot in him if need be. I took just three steps from where our encounter began, looked up and could see his body just off in the distance. I approached slowly, eyeing the buck up and down to make certain he was expired, and all the time grinning from ear to ear.

On the first day of my four day hunting vacation, within just a few minutes of light, my season was over. I knelt down beside the buck and looked to the sky once more.

My smile says it all! The buck from unknown origin showed up at my mock scrape the same day I did - ending my 2011 deer season.

Mid-October Bowhunting Update and Trail Camera Scrape Tips

by Todd Graf 14. October 2011 11:21
Todd Graf

Well everyone, it’s mid October which means a couple things for us bowhunters. First, we are likely still stuck in that dreaded mid-October lull.  Although some people don't believe in the October Lull, my deer sightings and Stealth Cam photos have sure been way down over the last 10 days.  However, on the good side it also means that the rut is just around the corner and the best hunting is still ahead of us.  With the recent cold front that moved through the Midwest and the full moon finally behind us, it won’t be long until we're seeing bucks chase does across the open fields and through the timbered ridges. I don't know about you but I can’t wait!

This view of my Lone Wolf treestand is a one that I will be seeing more and more of as the season progresses. For those of you with the new 2011 model stands, I hope you're finding the new in-cast bow holder helpful.  I've been using it quite a bit and it works great.  A definite improvement over the previous model stands.

Through the first half of October I have been hunting pretty hard but just haven’t had the caliber of buck I am looking to shoot come into range.  As you saw in Episode 11 of Bowhunt or Die I had a great buck come in front of me opening day in Illinois, but I elected to pass him up.  I know he's a nice deer, but I'm after a couple of giants that have been spotted in the area and my heart is set on one of them.   You can see the footage of me passing on that buck by clicking here.

Although I haven't seen a shooter buck from stand yet, I have seen deer just about every time in stand so I can't really complain too much.   I believe the key to getting in close to deer is the ability to adapt to the changing conditions of the fall.  As the weather and time of year change, so do the deer's patterns.  So when it was hot, I hunted near water and saw several small bucks coming in for a drink.  When the winds were blowing hard I got down in a hollow where I was out of the wind, and saw some good deer movement.  By analyzing what's happening around me and hunting different stands accordingly I'm able to get close to deer just about every time out.   Remember, if you're hunting the same couple of stands every day regardless of the time of year or weather, you're probably hurting your chances for success.

This young buck decided it was too hot to move, so he found a cool shady spot to spend his afternoon. He and I shared a warm 4 hours in the woods together one afternoon this past week.

Filming yourself is tough business!  Here my Sony AX2000 from Campbell Cameras is all set up and ready to record some footage for Bowhunt or Die! If you aren't already, I highly suggest filming your own hunts. It's fun, rewarding and you can relive your adventures for the rest of your life.

This time of year is also a great time to fire up your mock scrapes, or freshen up natural scrapes. I’ve had tremendous success using the Tink’s Power Scrape on my mock scrapes and in the natural scrapes on my hunting properties.  Remember, the key when applying scents to deer scrapes, whether they are natural or man-made, is to reduce the amount of human scent left behind while you're applying the lure.  Always wear rubber boots and if possible rubber gloves as well. The less human scent you leave behind the more successful your scrapes will become.

Also, I strongly recommend you shifting your trail camera strategies to scrapes this time of year as well.  Over the next couple of weeks the bucks will be scraping quite a bit, and there's no better way to get an inventory of the bucks in your area.  Additionally, this increases your chances of getting daytime photos of the bucks using the scrapes and will thus help you put the pieces of the puzzle together more quickly.  Once you start seeing your mature bucks checking and working scrapes during the day you know it's time to get out there and really start hunting.  For those of you with limited time off work, this can really come in handy.  So if your trail cameras aren't on scrapes already, get out and move them as soon as possible.  Just make sure your memory cards are big enough to hold all of the pictures you're going to get!

I also suggest using video mode on your trail cameras (if they are capable) because you are able to collect more data from each shot. You can get a better look at the buck’s rack, and have a better idea of how old he is. Plus, you can get the precise location where he came from and is going to after working over the scrape. Simply put, you can gather far more intelligence from video mode than you can a couple pictures. 

My Stealth Cam set up on a scrape and ready to reveal the patterns of a monster buck!

Well, that is all I have time for now. I wish each and every one of you safety and success while out hunting this weekend. And don’t forget, if you do get a deer we would love to see it and your trophy may be featured on an upcoming episode of Bowhunt or Die. Follow this link to send us your trophy! Happy hunting everyone!

Using Deer Lures: An Interview with Terry Rohm of Tink’s Hunting Products

by Justin Zarr 12. October 2011 15:40
Justin Zarr

I’ve explored many different roads when it comes to hunting techniques over the years, but one that has eluded me so far is the use of scents. Sure, in my younger days I would drag some doe estrus lure around behind me and maybe hang up a film canister full of stinky cotton balls, but there was never any real technique put into it. Like a lot of young hunters I was simply throwing stuff against the proverbial wall to see what would stick. With little to no success using these scents I gave up on them and moved on to other tactics.

Now as I enter in my 30’s and feel that I have a decent grasp on some semi-advanced techniques I’ve began to come full circle with scents. This renewed interested started several years ago with the rising popularity of mock scrapes. I’ve learned quite a bit from talking with people who have successfully used them to harvest deer, including my friend and hunting partner Mike Willand. You can read Mike’s blog entries about mock scrapes by clicking here.

Outside of mock scrapes my interest has been peaked regarding the use of both curiosity scents and as well as rut scents such as buck urine and doe estrus. My thought process here is that we spend much of our time trying to lure in a whitetail buck using the sight of a decoy or the sound of a grunt call, why not attack his sense of smell as well?

To help me answer a few of the questions on how to most effectively use scents to my advantage I turned to an industry expert, Terry Rohm of Tink’s Hunting Products. Terry has been with Tink’s for over 20 years and undoubtedly has a wealth of knowledge on how to, and just as importantly how not to, use scents to your advantage. Below is a short series of questions and answers that I hope will help lead me in the right direction this fall. Hopefully you can learn a thing or two as well.

Terry Rohm of Tink's Hunting Products is no stranger to using deer scents to help him tag trophy whitetails like this.

Q: What do you believe is the biggest mistake that hunters make when using scents while deer hunting?

A: I think there are two mistakes hunters make. 1st they depend too much on the lure to shoot a deer. Deer lure is another tool for a hunter to use just like your bow or treestand. Hunters need to keep in mind they still have to do their home work and also realize deer lures are not magic. 2nd mistake, and this is going to sound like a sales pitch, but some hunters do not use enough lure. A deer has to smell it to work. This is why we say to put out 3 scent bombs or so. If the wind is not going in the right direction the deer will never smell it.

Q: What time of year do you feel that using scents is most effective?

A: The rut, when those ole bucks are up on their feet chasing does. Lure can also help stop a buck to get a shot with a bow. This is a great time to use a drag line or boot pad with lure on it going to your stand. You have seen buck with their nose to the ground just trying to pick up any scent of a doe, bang he hits your drag trail and here he comes!

Q: Can you describe what you feel is the perfect situation in which to use deer scents as an attractant?

A: I think one of the best examples I give is where I’m hunting thick areas where viability is poor and I know bucks travel that area. I want my lure to drift into that thick cover to pull a buck out for a shot. I used our Tink’s #69 Buck Bomb on a hunt in Montana that worked great. We set up next to some thick willows we knew deer were going through. I would spray the Bomb every now and then and it was bringing deer out of the willows to locate the lure.

Q: How do synthetic scents differ from natural scents, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of both?

A: I don’t know if there is really any advantages or disadvantages to either type of lure. As a company we work hard at controlling the formulas of both our synthetics and natural urine formulas to make them both effective. Most synthetics have an indefinite shelf life, however with natural urines air will break it down over time, which is called bacterial decomposition.

I think the #1 question I often get is “Will my Tink’s 69 be good next year?” and the answer is Yes, as long as the cap it tight and no air gets to it. It will be good for years, just like a fine wine!

Q: What do you feel is the most effective way to disperse scents?

A: I really like two different methods. The first is our orange Scent Bombs. It is very easy to put 3 or more out and unlike the old film canisters they are not messy. Since we put a reflective strip on the outside they are very easy to find with a flashlight after you climb down from an evening hunt. Hunters can also use them as a yardage marker.

The next would be our Tink’s Buck Bomb. I love this thing when I’ve got deer headed down wind of me and I know they will be going through my scent stream. I just take it out and spurt it a few times like a spray paint can. You have to do this before they hit your scent stream. Most of the time the deer will lock up and stop smell a bit and then move on. The thing I’m really trying to avoid by doing this is to keep them from blowing and running. Of course if they smell it and come in for a shot, even better!

Q: What is the most effective way to create and hunt over a drag line?

A: A huge mistake when using a drag line or boot pads is that when they go right to the bottom of their stand and stop. As a bow hunter this doesn’t offer a good shot. The deer will follow it with his nose to the ground and coming right at you, no shot! You need to think about the approach to your stand. I like to drag it if front of my stand or where ever my best shot is and then go a little farther to get a good quartering away shot and stop. Then I want to hang it up.

When using a drag rag in conjunction with deer lure, make sure not to end the scent trail at the bottom of your treestand.  Instead, drag the lure through your best shooting lane and then hang it up in a tree.  This will offer you a much better shot opportunity if a buck comes in to investigate.

Q: Is there any time when a hunter should avoid using scents?

A: The only time I don’t is when I’m hunting in an oak tree with acorns falling and I know deer are feeding under it. In this case I want the area to be as natural as it can be.

Q: Will curiosity scents work on a mature buck during the early season?

A: Yes, a curiosity lure is a great choice early in the season. Bucks are concentrating on feeding and some may be rubbing a bit. Things are changing fast in their world so when a buck smells something they can’t identify they search for the source and see if it’s something they can eat or see what the new smell is. Tink’s Magnetics is a great scent for early season buck hunting as it’s both a curiosity scent but also appeals to a buck’s sex drive as well.

Q: How important is controlling the amount of human scent around your stand site while you are placing out and using deer scents?

A: Human scent left behind can and will ruin your hunt, period!!! Hunters need to wear rubber boots, rubber gloves and try not to rub up against any brush. I have heard several stories from hunters that say deer lure spooked the deer. After listing to their stories I’ve come to find out the deer went straight to the Scent Bomb and stuck his nose on it and then spooked. My first question is usually “Why did you not shoot the buck before he got there?” Most likely when he stuck his nose on it he smelled the scent from the hunter’s fingers, which caused him to spook. So always make sure you’re wearing rubber gloves when using any type of scent or deer lure.

When using deer lures it's imperative that you wear rubber gloves in order to minimize the amount of human scent you leave behind.  Remember, when a buck smells the lure he will be on full alert, analyzing every smell that hits his nostrils.  If he smells human scent mixed with your lure he may bolt before you can get a shot.

Q: What is the best tip you can give to a hunter who is looking to use scents in order to help him harvest a mature whitetail?

A: Wind is #1. You have got to have the right wind to hunt a stand if you want to be successful.  Even when using deer lures, if a buck smells you the game is over.

Aside from that, there are several things that will affect how well scents and lures work. Hunters must evaluate their hunting area before deciding if and when to use scents. Factors like hunting pressure, the age structure of your deer herd, the amount of big bucks in your area and the buck to doe ratio will all determine how effective the use of deer scents will be. If you have way too many does in your area then tools like lures, grunt calls and rattling horns may not work well because a buck does not have to compete for breeding rights.

My best tip to shoot a big buck using lures is that you’ve got to hunt big bucks where big bucks are! Do that, and everything else will fall in place.

With a wall full of bucks like this, there's no doubt that Terry knows what he's talking about.  You can be sure that I'll be putting some of his advice to work over the next several weeks.

Well, there you have it folks. Some of the best information you’re going to get about hunting whitetails using deer scents, straight from the horse’s mouth. Terry Rohm has killed a pile of great bucks in his life, many of which fell victim to his use of scents and attractants to lure them in range. I know I’ll be experimenting with the use of deer scents this fall and I’ll be sure to report back on both my successes as well as failures.

Good luck out there! And of course if you have any comments or questions please feel free to post them at the end of this Blog and I’ll do my best to get them answered for you.

Hunting Deer Scrapes Part 2 - Creating a Mock Scrape

by Mike Willand 27. September 2011 13:07
Mike Willand

As you may remember from reading my last entry “Hunting Deer Scrapes Part 1 – The planning of a Mock Scrape”, I am undoubtedly a scrape hunter. Although it seems to be a somewhat lost art in today’s modern bowhunting society I still believe it’s a tactic worth utilizing, and once used properly, can help put the odds in one’s favor. 

With the 2011 Illinois deer season just days away, I’m going to commence the second portion of this five-part blog dedicated to the scrape. If you’ve already read part one of this series then you should have already planned the location of your set-up.  Let’s begin.

Essential Scrape Building Tools:

Because scent control is my highest priority when creating a scrape I rely on the following list to help eliminate as much human scent as possible from an area already being used exclusively by the whitetail’s nose. Whenever possible, utilize the natural scent masking abilities of the rain and wet weather. While I don’t believe anyone can beat a whitetail’s nose all the time, you can fool it some of the time.

-Box of latex gloves.
-Rubber boots.
-A scent eliminating field spray.
-Scrape dripper.
-Small gardening hand rake.
-Scrape scent.

Creating Your Mock Scrape:

Most of my mock scrapes are what I would refer to as community scrapes. They concentrate heavily on the building of long-term relations between the local deer in general. I am not a deer expert, but what I am saying is they are my attempt to make as many deer attracted to the area of the scrape as possible, thus bringing in as much of the community as achievable. This way when a buck is moving through the area, whether he’s a local or not, he should hopefully take notice of the scrape due to the already high frequency of visits by other deer to that location. To do this, I rely heavily on the licking branches. They are the key to a successful community mock scrape.

Adult does are typically the first to begin working many of my scrapes over-hanging branches when I begin these community scrapes in late summer.

I spray the overhanging branches of all my scrapes about once every seven to twelve days, beginning six to eight weeks before the season opens. The idea here is to get the local adult does interested in the scrape. Although beginning a scrape this early is not always possible due to time constraints, it’s what I try to do from the very start.

I do not even begin to work the actual scrape itself until sometime in late September or very early October. It’s at this time I believe that many of the surrounding area bucks begin to branch out - settling into smaller autumn core areas which are often nearer doe groups as they await the first signs of does coming into estrus. This is also the timeframe when testosterone levels are soaring, causing once-friendly bachelor groups to break out into conflict, resulting in a greater frequency of rubs and scrapes that literally seem to appear overnight.

When I do begin to paw out the dirt for my scrape, I use an old gardening rake that fits right in the palm of my hand. I typically spray the rakes with the synthetic formula made by Tink’s Power Scrape and begin to rake two or three small diameter semi-circles within inches or feet of each other. It’s important that each one of these scrapes is directly below the licking branch or branches.

Using a small gardening rake I begin to start the actual scrape just after I believe the majority of bucks to be out of velvet.

Because two of my three scrapes cannot be accessed from a water source (something I discussed in my last blog “Hunting Deer Scrapes Part 1 – The planning of a Mock Scrape”) I am using for the first time ever the NEW Tink’s Scrape Bomb Scrape Dripper. This Scrape Dripper is designed to respond to temperature and barometric pressure so it only releases scent during daylight hours. It’s also supposed to work very efficiently, sometimes lasting two to three weeks between visits, which allows the hunter to set out multiple mock scrapes without excessive visiting maintenance. This is important when trying to manipulate deer movement. Nothing will lessen your mock scrape’s success more than too much human scent at the actual site of the scrape.

As part of a suggestion from another hunter I look to for advice on all things scrape related, this season I am implementing the use of a scrape dripper like the one showed above made by the good peaople at Tink's.

I am placing the Tink’s Scrape Drippers just high enough for a man to reach and hopefully too high for a deer. I’m doing this for two reasons. The first and foremost is scent. The dripping bottle will get the brunt of my scent each time I refresh the dripper even while wearing latex gloves; keeping it at eight or nine feet only lessens the chance the deer’s nose will ever get close enough to really examine it. The second reason is the higher container will hopefully let the scent from the dripper reach further distances if a nomadic buck looking for love wanders through some time during the season. While it’s a long shot I know, I believe in always stacking the odds in my favor as much as possible. If nothing else, a higher dripper placed above the licking branches will eventually also drip on those limbs, thus creating the further effect of a whitetail hitting both the branches and the scrape on a regular basis.

Justin showing us just how high I am placing the scrape dripper, and noticeably directly above the licking branches.

Choosing a Scent:

The scent you choose for your scrape should be decided by the season’s timing. It would make no sense to begin dashing in doe estrus urine in August just as it would make no sense using dominant buck urine in January. Utilize common sense. Most every manufacturer lists the best times to use their product throughout the year. I choose the Tink’s products on the actual scrape itself because they are simple, easy to purchase and use, and effective.

For the licking branches I have tried several different manufacturers over the years and not generally noticed all that much of a difference between specific brands. I will let you know as I do when a specific manufacturer produces a specific licking branch (forehead gland) scent that I believe is a must-have for any mock scrape hunter. I will be testing between two different brands again this season.

Setting up a Trailcamera:

I am always weary when setting a trailcamera on a scrape of any kind unless it’s on an open field I know won’t be visited except at night. The reason being, trailcameras just add too much scent and commotion to an area, bringing too much attention to the hunter. I typically place them on a trail leading into the scrape rather than over the scrape itself, but if you must, make sure the utmost scent control is followed, don’t check your camera as often, and spray down even when using gloves. There is no sense going to all this trouble if all you’re going to do is let the deer know you’re there.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of my Mock Scrape blog when I will be dissecting the trailcam pictures, or lack thereof, from each of my scrape set-ups. Hopefully explaining what I believe to be the reasons they did or did not have success. Who knows, with the season just days away, I may even have a buck down before then. Wish me luck!

Trail Cameras Don't Always Have Good News

by Justin Zarr 26. September 2011 16:18
Justin Zarr

With the price of today's trail cameras well within reach of most bowhunters, you're hard pressed to find a hunter who doesn't own at least one or two. Most of us put these handy little devices out during the mid-summer months in hopes of catching a monster buck lurking within our hunting areas. Just one photo is all it takes to get your blood pumping and cause many nights of lost sleep leading up to the hunting season. However, this isn't always how it plays out in the whitetail woods.

Heading into this summer I was admittedly anxious to find out what would show up on my trail cameras at one of my primary hunting areas here in the Chicagoland suburbs. Last year was one of the worst years for getting pictures of good bucks on this farm, despite the fact that I was able to connect on a very nice whitetail in mid-November. Having taken out the lone buck that was a consistant resident of this area I was unsure who would take his place come this fall.

After shooting this buck last fall I was somewhat concerned to see what bucks, if any, moved in to take his place.  During the course of the fall he was the only buck that showed up with any consistancy on my trail cameras.

With 6 trail cameras running since early July, my fears have somewhat come true. I have yet to get a single picture of a buck I would consider a shooter. In fact, it took several months before I got a picture of a buck at all! If anyone is proof that there isn't a Booner behind every tree here in Illinois, it's certainly me.

This up and coming 2 year old has been a regular on two of my cameras this summer.  He's nice, but not a shooter.

It seems like each year I have a plethora of these messed-up yearling bucks running around.  I have no idea what happens to them after the fall is over.  They seemingly disappear.

I'm pretty sure this buck is a 3 year old, but his jacked up left side doesn't exactly get my heart pounding.

I believe this the the oldest buck I've captured on my camera this summer at 4 or 5 years old, but he won't score much over 100 inches with that rack.  If I see him, there's a very real chance he'll get an arrow flung his way...

Another up and coming 2 year old who will probably disappear after this season.

Possibly the best buck I have on camera so far, I think this buck is 3 years old and will be lucky to hit 125 inches gross.  A nice buck, but not what I'm looking for this season.

Despite my lack of targets for this fall, I'm not worried yet. Every year there's always a few bucks who move through this area during the end of October and into November when the rut kicks in. I know my stands are hung in the best spots to catch one of these cruisers when they make the mistake of coming through, so there's no need to panic quite yet. The same goes for those of you out there who are in a similar situation. Just because the big bucks are eluding your trail cameras right now doesn't mean they won't make the mistake of moving into your area later in the year. The key is to hunt hard, hunt smart and be ready when he shows up! After all, you just never know what's going to happen in the whitetail woods.

I captured several photos of this buck, nicknamed "Big Mac", last season but nothing after November 18th.  I didn't find his sheds and don't have any photos of him so far this year.  Although I have no idea if he's alive or not, I'm still holding out hope that he's around and until I know otherwise he is my #1 target on this particular farm.

With that said, heading into opening weekend Mike and I will be hunting a new farm that we picked up roughly 2 1/2 hours from home. We know there's at least one shooter roaming those woods and we're pretty sure there's a few more where he came from. This weekend we plan on putting out a few mock scrapes using our Tink's Power Scrape and seeing what our new Stealth Cam Prowler trail cameras can pick up. I have a feeling we'll be pleasantly surprised the next time we check our trail cameras.  The Prowler shoots great HD videos so I'm excited to see what shows up.  As most of you know, scrapes are possibly the single best place to get a lot of photos/videos of the bucks in your particular area. 

The angle of this photo is deceiving, but with a few weeks left to grow I'm hoping this buck topped out well into the 140's, which makes him a shooter in my book.

Good luck to those of you who are heading out for October 1st this weekend. Remember to always wear your safety harness and shoot straight!


Hunting Deer Scrapes Part 1 - The Planning of a Mock-Scrape

by Mike Willand 13. April 2011 14:39
Mike Willand

I must confess that I am a scrape hunter. A strategy, it seems, that is no longer as popular amongst my hunting peers as it once was a decade ago. Perhaps it’s because we hardly ever see hunters hunting over them in our magazines or on our television sets anymore. Or perhaps it’s because so many of us have failed while hunting them in general, deciding instead that they’re better left for our trailcameras.

Whatever the reason, I am going to try and revive the lost art and point out how effective they can be when hunted and/or prepared with careful consideration. I’ve had my fair share of failures over the years.  With each one however, I’ve learned valuable lessons that have helped me get on top of some great deer too. Including 2009, when I was able to take two P&Y whitetail from the same tree, over-looking the same mock-scrape.

This is where I’ll begin, a five part series that I am hoping will lead to not only the demise of another solid buck by myself in the fall of 2011 over a scrape (whether natural or manufactured), but also in giving other hunters a quick glimpse into this world as I see it.

I realize you may be thinking that it’s a bit early to be thinking about scrapes. I don’t think it is truthfully. It’s never too early to develop the plan you’re going to implement this fall. Mock-scrapes, which is what this blog is about, first begin with a plan and that’s what I’m hoping to give you with this blog.

Part 1 – Planning a location for a mock-scrape.

The “idea” behind the making of a mock-scrape.

I believe this is the most over-looked aspect of mock-scrape design and often their greatest design flaw. It’s important to understand that these scrapes should never be expected to perform a miracle, attracting bucks during daylight hours from lengthy distances away. They simply will not do this. They’re not going to surrender the survival methods of an older buck. He will not just throw all caution to the wind and run to your scrape. The “idea” is to up your odds while in a treestand. The “idea” is to pull the buck in your direction more often than allowing them to walk another trail which may (and often does) take them out of bow range. Your “idea”, as I believe, is to simply give him a chance to hunt you. Whereby, he seeks your position out because it offers him communication with other deer through scent being left behind in the scrape, but is really not that far off course from where he would naturally be traveling to or bedding anyway.

This is the essential aspect of a mock-scrape, allowing a buck to hunt you as if he were really hunting other bucks for hierarchy and other does for greater lovin’ potential. Doing all of this without really taking the buck too far off his secluded path in which he feels great comfort traveling in. It’s almost as if you are making him believe that he, himself, has better odds of breeding by visiting your scrape. And all along you are just trying to up your odds by giving him the opportunity to visit yours.

These are my interpretations of what building a mock-scrape should be and this is the only way I know how to make them work. Understand the “idea” of a mock-scrape and I promise you better success.

What You’ll Need – Location, A Licking Branch, Entry/Exit.

What I’ve learned over the years of hunting and creating mock-scrapes is that you always need three things to come together. The first is location. It’s not enough to just create a mock-scrape where a deer will never know you exist (a strategy I’ll talk about further into this blog) the deer must want to exist where you’re making the scrape. For example, creating one in an area where the deer are unlikely to visit in daylight, like the edge of an Ag field easily viewable from a road, is not a good location. Either are most locations where it’s easier for you, the hunter.

A whitetail buck of the caliber most of us seek (greater than 3 or 4 years old) will not venture out into the open. Bucks of this age seek survival above all else and one of the ways they do this is by holding tight to thicker cover. You need to do the same. You must be where a buck feels comfortable in daylight hours to shoot a buck in daylight hours. A simple and basic piece of information I know, but one I observe is so easily forgotten by other hunters - ultimately leading to frustration as their scrapes are not visited during legal hours. Holding tight to cover has helped me raise my odds significantly.

The Licking Branch.

In its simplest explanation, the licking branch is a small tree limb or group of limbs that extend out, often exactly over the actual scrape itself. It is this limb’s importance I wish to talk about. This branch is, without question, just as important to your mock-scrape as location. It’s this branch that will be visited more than your scrape ever will, so it is absolutely vital you plan your scrape with one above it.

Broken limbs that hang out over a scrape are often referred to as a liking branch.

As I look back on countless numbers of trailcamera pictures I have of bucks visiting my mock-scrapes over the years, it is this branch that receives the most amount of attention. Bucks come and go, and only a few times will they stop to paw at the ground, nearly every time, however, they will stop to hit that licking branch.

Female deer almost never paw. They will however, hit that licking branch. Science knows very little about this branch and its importance to the whitetails themselves, but that is of little consequence to myself anyway. I know it’s important as I have hundreds of photos to prove it. I believe this is an essential part of the creation and success of your scrape. Make sure you have one and make sure you are treating it with the same regard and care that you are giving the scrape itself.

I believe licking branches to be just as important to mock-scrape creation as the actual scrape itself.

A plan for solid Entry/Exit into your scrape.

We can all agree that entry and exit to and from your treestand are the cornerstones to many of our own successes over the years. You can’t escape this phenomenon, the pros talk about it in their articles, on television, even while giving seminars. The one place I never hear it is in relation to the construction of a mock-scrape. Why this is, I shall never know.

If we stop and think about what exactly a scrape is, it can best be described as a place where whitetail gather and communicate with one another through the use of scent. So it should be no surprise to anyone when I say that the most important part of creating a mock-scrape (in my opinion) is having a sound entry/exit in which to hide as much of your human scent as possible so that a buck may never have the opportunity to dismiss the scrape as a place where a human visits. You know he’s already going to be using his nose and you need to beat it. A task that is often the demise of many of my own past mock-scrapes. That is until I began utilizing better entry/exit strategies into my set-ups and water (above any other) to my advantage.

Pond edges and other water sources are the perfect cover for a solid entry and exit plan into your mock-scrape.

Water is the life-blood of any mammal on earth and is especially vital to a buck during the breeding season.  I have never seen a good water source go unturned by a local whitetail community when it coincides with adequate cover surrounding it. This is my favorite place to lay down a mock-scrape: along the edge of a water source. The added bonus of which is an invisible entry and exit into my mock-scrape set-up by walking in the shallow edge of the water the last several yards (typically about 60 yards or more) on my way in. The odor from my wet and muddied boots seems to go unnoticed by the deer once I get out, touch up my scrape, and then disappear back the way I came.

Water edges are often deer magnets, attracting both sexes of deer during most periods of the year. Often times, multiple trails meet on their edge.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not believe entry and exit must always be through water when entering a mock-scrape set-up. I am just trying to convey the extremes I often go through to eliminate scent in an area I know for certain deer will be using their noses with great frequency. I once used a disked Ag field with as much success as a water source. I simply walked a good 30 yards from the tree-line in the torn field which I knew whitetail would never venture onto (no food), except to travel near the edge occasionally. It worked well - as the thick cow manure and mud that always accumulated on the soles of my boots covered my tracks into the mock-scrape set-up brilliantly. I simply just prefer water sources since they are common on just about every property I’ve ever hunted and offer the added incentive of always being visited.

The trick, in my opinion, is placing the scrape not too far away from where you will emerge from a scentless entry or exit. As in, placing a scrape another 60 yards into the woods will likely still put down a great deal of your scent as opposed to if it were only 10 yards in. I find it’s best to be within a few long strides of your entry/exit. This way you have enough time to refresh the scrape, leaving behind relatively little odor before you disappear again into that same entry/exit route.

The same goes for your treestand. By placing a mock-scrape near some sort of scent debilitating resource like a pond or creek, you also have a quick entry/exit into the stand itself- an added bonus.

Stay tuned to Bowhunting.Com as I continue Part 2 of this blog in late summer, in which I will be actually laying down three different mock-scrapes on two separate properties. Then in Part 3 I will discuss their successes and/or failures, including trail camera pictures of (hopefully) a few good bucks prior to the rut. In Part 4, I will discuss hunting non man-made scrapes (the real ones) and the qualities I look for in them. Part 5 will, if I did things right, be myself behind a scrape hunted buck. There is, of course, no guarantee.

I look forward to this five-part, semi-live blog series on hunting scrapes, and hope you’re interested in coming along for the ride.

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