Late-season may be the best time to shoot a big whitetail buck, especially during harsh weather. Chris Parrish, a Knight & Hale and Code Blue Ultimate Hunting Team pro staffer, says that bucks will bed close to food sources after the rut, and frigid temperatures keep them feeding every four or so hours. This is the time to locate a trail from a food source toward bedding areas, and set up so the wind carries the hunters scent away from the trail. With the stress of the rut over, bucks concentrate on regaining the weight lost during the breeding season, and this is just the time a hunter can slip in and take the best buck of a lifetime. Parrish prefers afternoon hunts during the late season, not only because of the frigid temperatures of early morning, but because he believes bucks head to food a little earlier in the evening when its brutally cold.
Many deer hunters use cover scents, but it's important to note that cover scents work best when applied to hunters who have taken care to eliminate their human odors. Otherwise, a deer will simply smell a cover scent and a human. Hunters should wash their hunting clothes in a non-scented detergent, and their bodies in a similar product designed especially for hunters. There are even soaps and detergents that have the cover scent built-in, so hunters eliminate their odors and apply cover scent at the same time.
Late summer is a great time to scout your fall hunting spots from afar. Glassing crop fields from a safe distance is the best method of unobtrusive scouting. Set up an hour or two before sunset and glass until it's too dark to see. After several of these trips, you'll get a fair idea of the deer using the area. Be aware, however, that many times food sources change as fall sets in, so use late summertime scouting as a way to gauge the animals in the area, but more intrusive scouting methods will be needed as the season nears to pinpoint actual stand sites. Set your stands and cut your shooting lanes a month or more (if possible) before the season begins to give the area time to return to normal.
Deer hunters wanting to get an edge on the competition should try using a scent drag soaked in high-quality deer urine. Here are a few tips for using this scent drag system. Code Blue Scents Drag consists of multiple frayed cords, and they soak up scent like crazy. First, to keep from contaminating the drag with human scent, do not touch the drag portion of the system unless wearing rubber gloves. It's also a good idea to spray or dust the rag with a scent-killing product before adding deer urine. Once the drag is free of scent, dip it into the urine or set the rag on the ground and pour urine over it. Use enough deer urine to totally saturate the drag. Attach the drag to a belt loop or around the boot, and let it drag to your hunting spot. Upon arrival at the treestand, remove the drag rag from the body and hang it in a tree down-wind of the treestand. Whitetail bucks crossing the trail the hunter took to the treestand often pick up the drag trail and follow it to his or her hunting spot, especially when bucks are in the chase stage of the late pre-rut and during the peak of the rut. Want to take it to another level? Try a double drag system with one soaked in doe urine and one in buck urine to simulate a buck trailing a doe.
Try using the concept of territorial infringement on the bucks in your area this deer season. Territorial infringement occurs when a new buck shows up in another buck's territory, and this can be duplicated by using buck urines, tarsal glands and buck grunt calls. Before getting into the treestand or otherwise settling into a hunting spot, Code Blue spokesman Don Bell says to pour some buck urine and Tarsal Gland Gel downwind and in front of your hunting spot. Buck urine even can be used on a drag system. When using buck and tarsal gland products, be aware that the bucks responding often will be the dominant bucks in the area and not the smaller ones, but when a big dominant buck smells another buck in his territory, he'll come in ready for battle.
Deer decoys can not only provide that extra something that brings a buck in range, but they can be a lot of fun to use. Each year hunters report experiences with a deer decoy that are hard to believe, such as enraged bucks tearing the decoy to pieces, or simply trying to mate with this plastic imposter. But, care needs to be taken when decoying deer to ensure that the deer will be totally convinced that the fake is real. As with most deer hunting accessories, care needs to be taken to ensure that the decoy is free of human scent, so either spray the decoy with a scent-eliminating product or dust it with Code Blue's Stealth Dust, which accomplishes the same without the messy liquids. Once the decoy is scent-free, handle it only while wearing rubber gloves. To provide the total package, the hunter should provide a total sensory experience, so adding buck or doe urine near the decoy is a good idea. A grunt call or doe bleat (depending on if the decoy is being used as a buck or a doe) can be used in association with the decoy to provide auditory stimuli. Position the decoy facing toward the hunting spot about 25 yards out, in an open spot where deer can easily see it. Decoys are suggested for use only during archery season or in archery only areas for safety reasons. Deer decoys are available from several manufacturers, but many hunters swear by the realism provided by Carry-Lite's deer decoy. A final tip, if you're going after big bucks, attach only one antler to show a weakness. Big bucks, sure they're going to whup some tail, walk right on in toward this subordinate buck.
The decline in hunter numbers is a concern that affects every one of us. And, it's up to each and every one of us to make every effort to introduce someone to the pleasures and excitement of hunting. Related to declining hunter numbers is a decline in the number of people pursuing small game such as rabbits and squirrels. Small game hunting is a perfect activity for introducing youngsters to the wonderful world of hunting. A morning of squirrel hunting is relaxing and fun, and shared with a youngster will create memories that will last a lifetime. And, everyone knows a fence-sitter who would benefit from the experience of watching the sun rise and being introduced to hunting first-hand, instead of hearing the lies anti-hunting groups spread. It's those fence-sitters who will vote for or against hunters in the future, so it's our job to make sure we sway as many as possible to our side.