The Last Stand

Here‘s an old Midwest hunting proverb; “Whoever has the last standing cornfield wins.”

We’ve been farming corn for so many decades in the Midwest that corn has become the natural food preference of whitetail deer in that area. As the harvest of the corn begins the deer are well spread out throughout the region. Towards the end of the harvest, the deer congregate around the last standing cornfields in frightful numbers. Receiving permission to hunt on farms with standing corn once the season begins might be the single best thing you’ve ever done for your hunting.

Years ago the corn harvest in Iowa was much later than usual. There were several cornfields still standing. Heavy moisture in the morning and late afternoon limited the cutting of corn to a couple of hours each day. The result was that the deer had freshly knocked down every afternoon. Unfortunately, I was hunting over a turnip field and I didn’t harvest a deer on that hunt.

But did I ever see a lot of big deer. Big bucks were in the corn every evening. I mean the ones that dreams are made out of.

Regardless of where you hunt, keep an eye on which crop fields are still available to the deer once the season starts and try to get permission to hunt close to those fields.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Jim

The Transition Zone


Most hunters agree that once a buck knows he is being hunted he becomes nearly unkillable. They believe the buck vanishes. They still see sign, but not the buck. They think the buck has gone nocturnal. This isn’t often the case, it’s usually a simple matter of the buck playing well in front of the hunter.

First off, most of what we interpret as deer sign was made at night or nocturnal. Such as tracks, rubs, and scrapes that are near or on the edge of a known feeding area. While you might see some bucks in the feeding area during daylight, you won’t get many shots at the big boys in such spots. Those bucks generally have you figured out already.

The best way to beat a big buck is to intercept him traveling between bedding and feeding areas. But first you must know where the primary feed source is, where the preferred bedding areas are, and where the buck travels to scent check his scrapes. Setting up in these transition areas, while it requires considerable more effort, is the best way to give yourself a fighting chance at a real monster.

Most hunters are a bit lazy. They are content to sit and watch a primary food source, let’s say an alfalfa or soybean field, night after night and year after year. Even though a lot of big bucks are killed in crop fields, they don’t tend to produce consistent success. At best, a hunter can expect to harvest a big buck maybe once every four or five years using this method. He would be far better off to places stand 100 or 200 yards away from the food source and hunt in the transition zone.

Good Luck & Good Hunting,
Jim

Nibblers

Snowberry is an important native mast crop for northern whitetails

Deer don’t just feed at night. The fact is deer must eat. Knowing where deer feed on during daylight hours can often put you on a big buck.

All deer foods can be separated into two categories; primary food sources and secondary food sources. The difference between the two is literally – night and day. Primary food sources are the ones that deer feed on during the night. Secondary food sources are those available to the deer during daylight hours. Knowing the location of the secondary food sources or mast is critical in understanding deer behavior and travel patterns in your area.

I like to look around and see what mast is available in the area. Hard mast is your nuts; acorns, chestnuts, and beach nets. Soft mast is your fleshy fruits such as apples, plums, and berries. Wherever available I prefer to hunt over soft mast, especially if I could find it in the transition zone. Deer have the tendency to feed on soft mass prior to entering their primary food source. I’m not sure hwy. Maybe it’s because soft mast is easier to digest or it’s because soft mast contains a lot of moisture. Regardless, there will be a flurry of deer activity in a soft mast food source just before evening falls.

You’ll find an extensive list of plants whcih deer prefer in my book; Buck Naked: The Straight Dope on Trophy Whitetails.

As the saying goes, “If you’ve got apples; you’ve got deer.”

Good Luck & Good Hunting,
Jim

Tracking

I grew up in the era before tree stands, camouflage, and deer calls. When deer season came, we tracked deer from dawn until dark. It was not only great fun, but also a great lesson in life. Do a kid a favor and put him on a set of tracks. Tell him not to come back until he kills the deer or it gets dark. If he comes back wide-eyed and excited, he’ll be a hunter for life. If he comes back bored and resentful, you can always buy the kid a set of golf clubs.

I can’t blame hunters for giving up tracking and heading for the trees. Tree stand hunting is, without a doubt, the most effective way to harvest big deer. Tracking can be physically and mentally exhausting; it’s a blend of optimism and desperation. Tracking is the most exciting and rewarding way to harvest deer. The thrill of killing a buck out of a tree pales in comparison to the thrill of following a track and taking a buck face-to-face, on his own terms. It is a joy that is unbelievable.
Jim

Good Scouting

Good scouting is not so much looking for answers as it is looking for the questions. In nature nothing is random and nothing happens by accident. The when and the where are a lot easier to figure out if we know what makes the wheel go around.

It is impossible to be a good investigative hunter without keeping a log or journal. Observation isn’t enough, especially when you’re scouting multiple properties. Notes are necessary. All details should be noted, even some that may seem unimportant at the time.

Remember the old adage, “make notes, take notes, and never forsake notes.”

A good place to start is to keep a hunting log or journal. You’ll want to record as much information as possible—both the important and unimportant details (perhaps especially the unimportant details).

We need to be able to adjust our strategies to keep in step with changes in deer behavior. We can only do this through careful observation. We must choose to be as good an observer as a hunter.

Jim

Rub Lines

Personally, I prefer hunting over rub lines as opposed to scrape lines. First off, bucks make rubs, does don’t. Secondly, bucks rub trees for three months each fall, while ground scrapes are limited to a few of weeks during the rut. Thirdly, scrape lines almost always follow rub lines. You can take it to the bank. Most important, it is far easier to tell the potential size of a buck from a rub than from a scrape.

Hunting rubs is more effective earlier in the fall before the urgency of the rut sets in.

Rubs come in four varieties:
Rub Lines
Cluster Rubs
Sign Post Rubs

Random rubs are just that, random. At best they tell us that a buck was here and we need to search harder for more meaningful signs as to where he was headed.

Rub lines are commonly found between feeding and bedding areas. I consider it a rub line when there at least a half a dozen rubs over fifty yards of trail. This tells me the buck is regularly using this trail. Pay particular attention to which side of the tree the rub is on. This will tell you what direction the buck is traveling. Is he using the trail in the morning to return to his bedding area or is he using the trail in the evening to go to feed? These are the little things that tell you which side of the trail to put the stand on and how best to approach the stand to avoid detection.

Cluster rubs are my favorite to hunt. They are multiple rubs close together, often in the same cluster of brush or saplings. A buck will often make a flurry of rubs when he first gets out of his bed and is headed to the feeding area. It will be obvious that the buck is using this area a lot. However, you need to be extra careful because you are already too close to his main bedding area. You might want to come back late in the evening, when he is already out feeding to place your stand. Regardless of whether you hunt rub lines or cluster rubs, it is important to place your stand as close as possible to—but never within—the bedding area.

Sign post rubs really get your attention and make your heart skip a beat or two. They are huge and high. The tree will be between three and six inches in diameter. Not only will there be shredded bark on the forest floor, but slivers of wood as well. These rubs tell other bucks just who the boss is in these here parts, and they are often used year after year. The biggest problem in hunting signpost rubs is that the buck will usually visit the rub after dark. The biggest bucks are usually the most strongly nocturnal. For that reason it is always best to hunt signpost rubs before the velvet comes off.
Jim

Ground Scrapes

I’ve always been amazed at how some experts can take something as simple as a ground scrape and imagine the choreography of a complicated breeding ritual. The old story went like this: a buck scrapes the ground, then puts his hind legs together and urinates over his tarsal glands so that the urine drips into the scrape. Legend has it that this is his calling card to receptive does. The doe, upon seeing the scrape, will rush up and spread her own urine in the scrape. This is supposedly her way of saying, “Come on big boy, I want you so bad.” Later, when the buck returns, he can tell by the smell of the doe’s urine whether she is receptive or not. If so, it’s time to let the romance begin. It’s a good story, but just not true.

Actually, whitetail bucks are very territorial. Scraping activity has more to do with letting other bucks know he is in the area than it does with attracting does, think of it as very similar to how male dogs mark areas belonging to them. I’m sure that you have seen how the pooch lifts his leg on the corners of buildings, bushes, car tires, and fire hydrants, and then how the next dog to pass by will leave his own little remembrance in the same locations. It’s as if whoever pees last wins. It truly isn’t any more complicated than that.
Good Luck and Good Hnuting,
Jim

The Heart Pounding “HIGH”

Nothing quite matches the heart pounding “HIGH” one feels as a big buck steps within bow range. It is a thrill and it ignites within us a desire to repeat the rush over and over again.

There’s nothing quite like the experience of walking upon a buck we have just harvested to find that he not only meets, but exceeds our expectations. That’s why I wrote the book Buck Naked: The Straight Dope on Trophy Whitetails. I want to give my readers the knowledge, skills, and techniques necessary to produce consistent results no matter where or what type of terrain you hunt in.

In this book you will learn:

1) Scouting Techniques

2) Deer Psychology

3) The Magic Formula to Success

4) How to Get Lucky

And much, much more.

If you’re looking for a higher quality hunt and a more productive use of your hunting time, you’ll want to read Buck Naked: The Straight Dope on Trophy Whitetails.

Currently available at Amazon.com for the low, low price of $10.78.

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Best Regards,

Jim Collyer

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Best Regaeds,

Jim

Stop Whining, Crying, and Lying to Yourself

We are halfway through the year. Have you done your scouting? Have you? If you have, you are in the top five per cent of all the hunters in America. If you haven’t scouted yet, you are about average.

There are hunters who harvest trophy class bucks once in a lifetime and others who harvest a trophy buck nearly every year. Why? Does one have more opportunity? Is one smarter? Does one hunt harder?

I often have new hunters tell me their plan is to follow Mr. Superstar Hunter around for a season. Figure out what he is doing and do what he does. It does not take long to figure out what Mr. Superstar Hunter is doing. He is scouting. What a great idea! He gets out in the woods and looks for deer. How has not scouting worked for you in the past?

You can not answer that question and lie to yourself. Be honest with yourself. Make a rule for yourself to do more scouting. Do not let the sun set again without looking for a new spot to hunt this fall. If you are new you must understand the necessity of advanced scouting. It is imperative. Nothing happens until find a big deer.

True or false The main reason I hunt is for a big buck. I can not answer for you but for me the answer is yes. The main reason I hunt is for a big buck.

True or false Is hunting more productive in areas known to hold big deer? If you have not figured this out yet, start doing some research. This is not debatable. It is a fact.

True or false The most important thing to do is to scout. You tell me how many times you have been scouting and I can predict your next seasons results. You need to scout more. This is true.

Stop lying to yourself about how much scouting you have done. The year is half over. Take the number of big bucks you have killed in the last five years, double it. That’s the number of big bucks you can expect in the next five years. Nothing changes until you change. What else are you doing with your time?

Try scouting more and your success will improve dramatically.

Jim