Antler Rattling

Apple Creek Whitetails Photo

Rattling is most effective immediately prior to and immediately after the prime rutting period. Even though I’ve rattled and several whoppers, it’s not my favorite method of calling. Horn rattling can be a little too aggressive for the more timid big buck.

Big bucks are increasingly wary in areas where a lot of hunters are pounding antlers together. However, in areas with little hunting pressure it is still one of the most effective w ays to harvest a big buck. Just remember the buck always approaches from downwind in hopes of catching the scent of the bucks he believes are fighting. It’s important to have a good shooting lane downwind from your rattling position.

I begin by crashing the antlers together. Then I twist and work the antlers together in an effort to imitate the sounds of two bucks sparring. My entire rattling sequence only lasts about 15 seconds. I try not to rattle more than once every 10 to 15 minutes because the last thing I want is a buck to catch me rattling. It’s happened more than once and every time the results have been less than desirable.

Today, I rely more on bleat calls and grunt calls. I still carry rattling horns with me, but use them more as a last ditch effort.

Many times I’ll have a big buck approaching my stand and for no good reason at the last minute he’ll turn and walk out of range. As soon as he is out of sight, I’ll crash the antlers together for a few seconds. Often, if the buck is not on a hot doe’s trail, he’ll immediately return to investigate and I’ll be waiting.
Jim

Stand Placement

Apple Creek Whitetails Picture

Morning stands are generally more productive than evening stands. With the exception of early-season hunting in mountainous terrain. In those instances an evening stand at the base of the mountain is for more productive since it utilizes the evening air thermal direction.

For the rest of the season morning stands rule. I try to keep my stan d on the highest ground possible. There is more deer activity in the bottom lands during daylight hours, but the danger of the daytime air thermals lifting your scent and spreading it for several hundred yards in all directions is just too great. Always opt for a stand high on the ridge.

Throughout most of the United States the prevailing wind direction comes out of the southwest. Approaching from the east keeps us from stinking the whole place up before we even start to hunt. I like to keep my stand, whether it’s a tree stand or a ground blind, on the eastern side of the funnel for the same reasons.

It’s hard to find a perfect set up, but the basic principles of wind direction, undetected approach and concealment hold true no matter where you hunt. Having the prevailing wind in your face and an undetected approach to the stand are crucial for consistent success.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,

Jim

Taking Advantage of the Buttonhook

Apple Creek Whitetails Photo

Big bucks have the nastiest habit of looping back on their own trails in order to see if anything is following them. I only had to be button hooked by big bucks a kajillion times before I figured out what they were up to.

Eventually and with some reluctance on my part, I discovered if I paralleled the deer’s trail 30 to 40 yards on the downwind side I had a much greater chance of intercepting him. It doesn’t wor k every time, nothing does, but for a change I was putting the odds in my favor.

The first time I tried this technique I killed a big 4 x 4 buck lying in his bed at seven yards. He was watching his back trail, expecting to catch me following him and was totally unaware of my presence until it was too late. I’ve been able to trail and harvest several big bucks over the years with this technique.

You can learn more about this and other techniques in my new book, Buck Naked; The Straight Dope on Trophy Whitetails. Available in bookstores and on the Internet.

Good Luck and Good Hunting,
Jim:

The Buck Communication Hot-Line

Apple Creek Whitetails Photo

Most communication between mature deer is through the use of scent. Every hunter knows about scrapes and some even understand their importance in buck hierarchy. While scrapes are important, they don’t start showing up until immediately before the rut. This leaves us wondering where the bucks are the rest of the year.
While all scrapes are used to communicate a bucks presence to other bucks, all scrapes are not equal. The scrapes which are most important are the ones with a well used “licking branch” above them. These are the scrapes which will be visited by several bucks.
The most important roll of scrapes to a hunter is in helping him to locate these “licking branches”.
To a deer, a licking branch has more meaning than a scrape. Bucks use “licking branches” throughout the entire year. Licking branches hold scent better than scrapes. Urine deposited in scrapes dissipates quickly. Pre-orbital scent on licking branches stays considerably longer.
One way to really get the a buck’s attention is to remove a licking branch from one area and place it over a scrape in an area where you plan to hunt. It won’t take long for the bucks to notice an intruder is in their area.
Licking branches get way more attention than scrapes.
-Jim

Buck Analytics for Dummies (Part 1)

Buck analytics is a method of turning data into insights which will allow us to better predict deer behavior. It helps the hunter to segment this data, uncover hidden patterns, and to make optimal decisions on where and when to hunt. The challenge is to figure out what data is useful and what should be ignored.

Turning data into predictable insights includes:

Finding the ideal buck to hunt.
Locating the ideal stand location.
Optimizing your valuable hunting time.
Increasing your success rate on big bucks.

Today hunters can find all of the data they need to dramatically improve their hunting success. There are harvest reports from wildlife departments, satellite images from outer space, and trail cameras. Our ability to gather data has changed the way we hunt forever.

While gathering data has become relatively easy, segmenting that data can be difficult. Start by defining what you want to achieve through analytics. What will have the biggest impact on your hunting? Is your focus on finding new locations to hunt or are you trying to determine how to better hunt an existing location? Perhaps your biggest concern is limit unproductive days? The questions you ask yourself up-front will narrow the amount of data you’ll need for any scenario.
-Jim

Early Season Stand Placement

Apple Creek Whitetails Photo

There’s an old saying, “When the velvet comes off, the brains go in.” By now the majority of bucks have shed their velvet and are entering the transition period between summer hangouts and the rut.
Bucks who were as predictable as clock work have seemed to vanish. Bachelor groups are now breaking up and the bucks are establishing a pecking order.
Early season hunting is not as productive as it will be when the weather cools and the rut kicks in. Early in the fall, stand placement is critical for success.
This time of year I do most of my hunting in the afternoon. It’s just too easy to spook deer while trying to get to your stand in the early morning. I focus on feed and place my stand between bedding areas and the primary food source.
Big deer like to enter a field on a inside corner and this is an excellent place to place a stand. Mature bucks are always the last to come into a food source. Often the bigger deer don’t show until it is too late to shoot, for that reason, I prefer to place my stand a 100 to 200 back form the inside corner of a food plot.
I like my stands high and 20 feet above the ground works real good at keeping your scent above the deer. Be sure to hunt only when wind direction is favorable. You don’t want your scent blowing towards the trail where the buck will becoming or blowing directly towards deer feeding. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been busted by my scent drifting down on feeding does.
Jim

Lost Connection

The vast majority of people on this contentment have lost all connection with the earth. They think food comes from a grocery store. They have never raised wheat, grown a vegetable garden, plucked a chicken, or shaved a pig. They have lost connection to where food comes from.
There is a lot more to hunting than killing a deer. The biggest part of hunting is to provide food. Few of us can actually process a deer into eatable meat.
My friends at Deer Dummy have produced a great video on how to properly butcher a deer. I only wish this video had come out years ago when I first started hunting. It sure would have saved a lot of wasted time.
Become a complete hunter and learn how to process your own venison. I can promise you that venison you cut and wrap yourself tastes better.
Be sure to visit deerdummy.com and order your copy of “follow the bone deer cutting” today.
Jim

https://www.deerdummy.com/

The Three Most Important Qualities

Apple Creek Whitetails Photo

The Three Most Important Qualities a Hunter Can Possess

I believe the three most important qualities and abilities a hunter can possess are:

1. An understanding of one’s self (self-mastery)

2. An understanding of the nature of deer

3. An understanding of how to carry out a real investigation

We will manage the hunt by first mastering ourselves. There’s a world of difference between mastery and control. The average hunter will attempt to establish his self-importance by controlling his environment. The more experienced hunter may actually have more difficulty practicing proper scouting techniques than a relative novice. He may think he’s seen it all and thus will miss subtle but essential changes in a deer’s behavior. Thinking we “know it all” is the kiss of death in hunting. We must lose our ego and look at everything with fresh eyes. That’s where the novice has it over the seasoned veteran.
Jim

http://jimcollyer.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Buck-Naked-Straight-Trophy-Whitetails/dp/1466498234/ref=sr_1_18?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1337214685&sr=1-18

Your first mistake might be assuming deer are rational

Your second mistake could be assuming that hunters adapt to changes in environment quickly.

And the hunter’s third mistake is assuming that once they learn a strategy, they will be able to apply it.

Jim

http://www.amazon.com/Buck-Naked-Straight-Trophy-Whitetails/dp/1466498234

Stooge Hunting

Apple Creek Whitetails Photo

The Three Stooges have impulse control issues.
It’s not that they are stupid, slow, or even dimwitted. No, the problem with the Stooges is they do whatever comes to mind without any thought of the consequences. They slap, poke and stumble their way through life. They never consider the outcome of a project, they just do it.
Stooge hunting is much the same. It’s what happens when hunters when hunters do what feels right in the short term without thinking of the alternatives or implications. It’s due to boredom, fear, or lack of focus.
Nearly every hunt gone awry is the result of Stooge hunting. We aren’t thinking of long term success just the satisfaction of immediate impulses. We would do better if we didn’t act like Stooges.< o:p>
Look at the BIG picture. Short term thinking often leads to dead ends and failed hunts.
Jim

http://jimcollyer.com/