Who Needs Baiting?
Over the years my son Greg and I have given countless deer seminars from the Midwest to the Northeast. Both of us being inventors of hunting products and hunting tactics, we have always shared these new products and tactics with our fellow hunters. Now that baiting is banned in some parts of Michigan, and in all of the Lower Peninsula by 2019, these successful tactics take center stage.
We believe mock scrapes are the deadliest tactic of all because it is the only way for a human to communicate with deer. I feel like I have been repeating myself over and over again, and I am. So here’s how to do it. We start making mock scrapes around September 1 in Michigan, giving ourselves a month to gather information on certain bucks before our bow season begins. We start off with as many as 10 small (about 10″ round) scrapes on each farm near food or water sources, or well used deer runs, and especially those runs leading toward known bedding areas. Always utilize real scrapes where located.
We make our own buck attractant by mixing 1 cup ammonia, 1 cup kosher salt and 1/4 cup husk fiber, all can be found at Walmart. The husk fiber is in the pharmacy section. Add all ingredients in a gallon jug and fill with water. Spray on the scrape and the licking branch, within one week the deer will either expand your scrape or ignore it. Add scent to the expanded scrape, and each time you visit the scrape add a different scent. Two or three different scents will keep the bucks interested and curious. We use these scrapes throughout the season, bucks are capable of using licking branches and scrapes year round, this is simply a form of communication between them, which allows the hunter to communicate with the bucks as well.
SCENT MAKE SENSE MORE THAN EVER
The number one deal breaker for all hunters is a deer’s nose. So, of course in our way of thinking we naturally would ask ourselves, how can we use a buck’s nose to work in our favor?
When it comes to deer attractant scents on the market, there are only two types of scents, estrus or curiosity. Michigan has a three month-plus deer season. That means curiosity type scents are favored because they work for the majority of the season versus estrus type scents that work for a couple of weeks.
Our focus would turn toward inventing synthetic scents because synthetics can duplicate the smell of any scent, and unlike natural scents, you can build a buck’s sense of curiosity much higher. We eventually patented several new synthetic scents, and not only that, we developed them to last for days at a time oblivious to rain or snow, and they will not freeze.
White oak acorns are the number one favorite natural food a deer can find. So if you have oak trees on your land, how can you take advantage of this highly beneficial windfall? Especially since they create a feeding frenzy that doesn’t last long. This was a question posed between Greg and me.
The solution was to try to isolate each and every oak tree on the farm, but how?
Here is how we did it, in the spring we fertilized under each and every oak tree, not to advance the growth of the tree, but to encourage the growth of high 3-foot weeds under each tree. By mid-August you can plainly see which trees are producing the most mast. We number each tree that we plan on hunting when the time comes. We then weed whack and rake under the chosen tree to expose thousands of acorns. If you were a deer would you stick your head down, obscuring your vision, to find one acorn at a time, or would you be drawn to the tree with thousands of exposed acorns? Believe me, these deer get the message real quick. The hunter simply moves on to the next tree, and the next until they become successful.
BUILDING BUCK BEDS
The usual way to create a bedding area is to use a deep hinge cut where the tree lays down without detaching from the trunk. The problem with this technique is the tree eventually turns into fire wood in a few short years and the buck is long gone. We solved this problem about 15 years ago and these bedding areas are still producing. We hinge cut to the point where the tree just starts to lean and then we wench the tree into position and anchor it off permanently.
So how do you choose the location for the bedding area?
We let the bucks choose their own location, here’s how. All of our farms have food plots planted with a variety of Imperial Whitetail Institute products. But any food or water source can work. In late summer we observe from a distance the trails the bucks are using to enter the food plots, we then set up a series of cameras on the most prominent trails, not to get beautiful buck pictures, but to observe the time frames as the buck travels through the sight of each camera. Say for instance the furthest camera from the food plot picks up the buck passing through some time after dark on a fairly regular schedule that would indicate the buck is traveling from some distance to get here. The next camera shows the buck lingering for quite some time in one area until the nearest camera to the food plot picks him up entering the food plot. Somewhere between these two cameras is considered the staging area, normally about 150 yards from the food plot. Big bucks usually stage while waiting for dark, especially the experienced ones, every now and then one has been known to miscue by a few minutes and get themselves caught in daylight.
Food plots remain the backbone to all of our tactics. We have four food plots on each of the farms we hunt, three are what we call remote food plots that are usually situated near thickets, swamps, or anywhere a big buck is comfortable frequenting in daylight with the knowledge that he is one jump from safety. Deer love a variety and each plot has a different planting.
The whitetail Institute has a multitude of fall plantings that sustain deer throughout the year. We believe the best spring planting is Imperial Whitetail Clover which can last several years. We constantly change our fall plantings, giving deer such a variety that it actually creates a deer rotation that keeps them on our farms.
PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE
Deer can be lazy at times and will often travel the path of least resistance. We mow trails in the summer when the foliage is thick and high to condition bucks into using certain trails that will give us an advantage, and to give the deer a bad habit.
Every one of our farms has an area set aside as a sort of sanctuary. You would be surprised what a few set aside acres could do for you. We never enter these areas unless we are tracking a wounded buck.
Once the hunting pressure builds around us, we can expect a great influx of deer sneaking in at night. In time these deer will become acclimated by the local deer to the benefits we give our deer, and they will follow the path of the locals.
I would love to list many more tactics but unfortunately it would take a book to list all of them. I’m very pleased that all of my grandchildren have learned and embraced these tactics.
Mock scrapes have accounted for roughly 90 percent of our success. Sure, in the near future deer hunting will take more hard work, but think of the satisfaction you will gain once you have mastered the tactics that will make you successful, giving you the knowledge that you truly earned that buck, good luck.
Fred will be giving a seminar on these very subjects at Plaid Shirt Night held at Capac High school, in Capac, on November 1. For further information contact Joe Remenap at (586) 201-9093.
For more information; A-Way Hunting Products, A-Way Outdoors, Invention Consulting and Submission, (989) 435-3879, www.awayhunting.com. Whitetail Institute, (800) 688-3030, infowhitetailinstitute.com