Times are getting a little tough in the woods, fields, and creek bottoms of northcentral Ohio.  Not for deer hunters who are doing very well this season, but for big, dominant, Type A, testosterone laden bucks.  The problem is that the rut is more than half over, and many, perhaps most does have come into season and been bred.  There’s fierce competition for those that are left, and the old mosshorns that do most of the breeding are getting touchy, more aggressive, and prone to fight for any receptive females.  Which makes an archer’s chance of bagging a wall hanger better than ever.

There are several ways to go during these final weeks of the rut.  One is to sit in your tree stand just as before, watching a good scrape that’s been well doused with doe in heat scent, and maybe with a styrofoam doe right beside the scrape.  That works fine anytime, but it’ll work even better if you have a buck grunt up there with you and use it occasionally.  I have one made of rubber that emits a deep throated grunt, and if there’s anything that will turn the eyes of a big buck red, it’s seeing a distant doe and hearing the grunt of an encroaching male poaching on his territory.  They’ll often come in at a run.

A second technique that’s becoming popular in our area (and elsewhere) is rattling in bucks.  Two men are best for this with one holding a bow or crossbow and the other whacking together two antlers to simulate a pair of bucks fighting over a female.  Even small bucks will ease in when antlers or pieces purchased from a sporting goods shop are rattled, hoping to steal away the doe or just to watch.  And again alpha males will often come tearing in to whip both of their competitors or chase them away.

Rattling should simulate a good fight, which means you’ll clash the antlers together loudly a few times, then stop for a moment or two as bucks will to catch their breath.  Then rattle again.  If nothing happens in 15 minutes or so, move to another location and try again.  The business made a believer out of two Ashland County hunters last year.

One said “We were rattling between a brushy woods and a field of standing corn, and I’d done it just a minute or two when I heard one crashing toward us through the brush.  It sounded like a freight train and my partner was getting ready to shoot when another came flying our way through the corn.  I could see stalks flying as it came, and my partner had plenty of time to get ready.  He got the cornfield deer, a nice 12 point.”

Whether you rattle or grunt, both or neither, it’s always important to keep wind direction in mind, which too many archers don’t.  The bucks may be stupid this time of year, but they’ll still react to human scent, and if your tree stand is built to take advantage of the prevailing westerly wind and it turns to the east or elsewhere, your scent could blow right into the bedding and feeding areas.

 When that happens, smart archers will climb down out of that tree and take up a ground stand where the wind is more advantageous.  Ground stands are tough for longbow and compound bow hunters because you’ve got to be above the ground a bit to draw your string, and the deer usually see that movement and race off.  Even with  camouflage netting and a blind among fallen tree limbs, they’ll frequently spot some movement and fade away.

 But a crossbow hunter has it made in a ground blind, because he’s essentially shooting a gun with a long bullet, and needs move only his trigger finger.  More than once I’ve laid flat on the ground with a small tarp below me and a few leaves or a small grass clump piled in front of my face, and waited for a passing deer.  They’re not looking for 12 inch high humans, and become easy pickings for a crossbow.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.