Ohio’s archery season opened on September 26 (2009), but it didn’t mean much to many area bow hunters.  Lots went out on opening day, of course, because it’s traditional, and some made a few trips later.  But it’s during the rut that bow and crossbow hunters become serious, because deer move then, and the big bucks get silly.  It’s the years best chance to put antlers on the wall and meat in the freezer.

Ohio’s deer rut normally starts around the last week in October, hits full swing the first three weeks of November, then begins to taper off.  So, there’s still time to build tree stands, or ground blinds, scout out a favorite farm, and get ready for the big event.  But there are some points that archers not yet truly knowledgeable about their sport should keep in mind.  Because these tactics will up your chances of bagging a fine whitetail.

One, if planning to hold off on tree stands until you actually find a nice scrape or two, is to decide now where to place it.  Some believe that stands should be along approaches to a major scrape, while others feel they should be within shooting range.

It’s an arguable point, but I personally think that big bucks approach a scrape cautiously, then lose some of that caution when they’re close and begin to hurry in hopes that a doe has been there.  So, I like mine close.

Two, when construction time comes, place that stand as high as humanly possible.  A veteran hunting friend who’s taken many a whopper buck told me, “I never build one less than 20 feet high, and I try hard to get it up there 25 feet, even more.

Some hunters make do with a 10 foot ladder stand, but unless it’s well situated in heavy cover, they’re only placing themselves high enough to make it easy for deer to see them.  A buck moving in doesn’t even have to tilt its head to spot these low sitters.  And race away when the archer moves or draws his string.

Three, even at 25 feet, when a deer approaches, sit MOTIONLESS.  It’s an amateurs trick to see a deer coming, and burst into a flurry of activity.  They’ll turn to get a better shot, lift their bow, even stand up, and at that distance those movements draw attention.  The deer leaves.  Only when a whitetail is close, almost in shooting range where it must tilt its head far back to spot you, dare you make moves and draw the string.

Four, it never hurts to bait a scrape, but do so with fresh doe urine, prefer doe in estrus or heat.  And that means fresh!  Using last years badly deteriorated bottled urine just isn’t the answer.

Five, when approaching your tree stand near a scrape, always wear rubber boots.  There’s still a little argument about this, but most experts now say that rubber footwear leaves no scent, while leather gear does.  And walking around a scrape or along a trail leaving man scent behind is obviously a poor move.  Do your best not to brush against trees and bushes either, and if you must in a thick area, at least approach with the wind in your face or quartering.

Six, most archers hunt from dawn to 10 a.m. and/or from two hours before dark until shooting time ends. But another veteran who routinely sits all day in his tree stand said “You’d be surprised at how many bucks will check a scrape between 11 and 1 p.m.”  That’s worth remembering.

Finally, do some shooting from that stand.  Place small targets in the likely directions of deer approach, and at various distances.  Practice until you can hit or closely miss the targets, and when that buck comes in, youre highly likely to get him.  They’re simple rules, and easy to follow, but these tips can definitely make your day.

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