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Illinois hunting and fishing

Here is my 2008 buck taken at 11 a.m. the second time he came around. This buck appeared at 7:30 a.m. but did not present a shot at the time.

A novel approach to your deer stand

September 29, 2009 at 07:36 AM

Contact the author

Ed Smith can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) Tis article and the accompanying photos remain the exclusive property of Ed Smith aka illinoisdeerhunter. Reproduction without permission is prohibited.

The question often arises, “What’s the best way to approach the stand you are going to hunt?”

Many discuss morning hunt approaches that include questions like, “Should I use a flashlight or not?” “Is it REALLY necessary to get in my stand an hour BEFORE first shooting light?”

Over the years I have done a little experimenting especially with morning hunt approaches. Through these “experiments” I have come up with a few strategies that I will discuss and share one with you here.

It all actually happened quite by accident and not all at once but, over about three seasons. Quite humorously, in my youth, on several occasions after I got down out of my tree with my climber stand, and as I was putting things back together to leave, I’d look up and see a nice buck staring me down from 30-40 yards. OK, so I’m no exactly the quickest thinking in the woods sometimes. It took a few times to figure out that maybe I should climb down and just sit for about 10 minutes before I “packed it in.”

Likewise, on several occasions in the morning, I found myself half way up a tree only to hear a noise and turn around to see a buck staring at me while my bow sat on the ground albeit tethered but in no position to make any attempt at a shot. About, 15 years ago, it got me thinking; “Is this coincidence or, is there really something going on here?” 

And if there is really something going on here, how can I take advantage of it? That’s when I started to not only really pay attention but also experimenting with approaches and departures from my stand.

The first fix was easy as I explained above. Nowadays, after I descend my tree with my climber, I fetch up my bow and wait quietly, scanning the area for movement until I’m sure I haven’t inadvertently attracted the attention of a nearby buck. What took a little more time to develop was a strategy for morning stand approaches.

Several years back, I used to try to get into my stand an hour before sun up. In doing so, I needed a flashlight and even with a light, I often trampled through the woods with seemingly echoing crashes of footfalls. One morning, right at sun up, I shot a small buck. My shot was high and unfortunately penetrated the spine leaving the buck with a healthy front end but, a paralyzed set of back legs. The result was a very loud, thrashing and guttural bleating buck! 

It took me a moment or so to get another arrow nocked and then to have the buck pull himself around so I could make a clean shot to end his misery. About the time I shot, I noticed movement not from one direction but, from two different directions! In the chaos that ensued, I watched as two different bucks, much bigger than the buck I’d shot, divert their attention from deer on the ground to each other. I witnessed, from 50 yards away, a brief showdown and then a few moments later the show was over. 

That experience really got me thinking though. “Why can’t I imitate a similar scenario to attract dominate bucks?” As a result, after a season or two of development, on a few selected mornings each rut, I perform the nearly same routine as follows:

I select a stand placement a couple of hundred yards inside the timber in my hunting area. The trees I select are on the flat, preferably within 100 yards of at least if not more ravines. My tree always includes a small maple tree that is within easy reach when I’m in stand. Although I prefer to make my approach into or at least across the wind, it is not totally necessary. I make my approach to my tree so that I am ready to hunt, in stand, at or a little before legal hunting light. 

As I leave my vehicle and once I enter the woods, I have it timed so that I can see without the aid of a flashlight. I may or may not use a “drag rag” doused with dominant buck urine. As I approach my intended tree and from about 100 yards away, I turn into the wind and arc my route so that my path takes me 20-30 yards up wind of my stand site. I go beyond my stand site about 50 yards. All this time, I’m walking quietly but not overly concerned about noise as long as it is natural sounding. Sounds like leaves and sticks crunching and breaking are OK. Metallic noises and other man-made noises like coughing and sneezes are strictly taboo.

At this point, I return to the area in front of and upwind of my selected tree. Here I empty out my bottle of dominant buck urine. Let me point out here, many hunters use synthetic scents. I prefer to use 100 percent natural and I’ve had outstanding success with products from Hunzicker’s Deer Scents, located in Eureka. 

I spray the bottle onto the ground in wide sweeping motions attempting to get as much concentrated buck scent into the air and on the ground as quickly as possible. Afterward, I walk the 20 yards or so to my tree and wait patiently for a few minutes bow and arrow ready if it is indeed shooting time. After being relatively sure a buck isn’t going to walk up op on me in mid-climb, I begin the process of quietly taking apart my climb and assembling on my tree and then inch-worming my way up my selected tree.

Anybody who has used a climber can tell you, climbers aren’t exactly the quietest way to get up a tree at times.  Not to worry as far as I’m concerned!  As long as the noises produced are strictly not man-made in appearance, I climb away to my designated height. Once in place, the first thing I do after getting my safety harness good to go is to as quickly as prudently possible, get my bow within reach and ready to shoot. 

It’s at this point that I take the time to get my possibles bag and such where I can reach them! Several times in the last few years, I’ve had bucks approach my area at this point. I’ve even had one which I harvested, before I had a chance to hang my possibles bag or even get my face net on! 

Once in position, I take little time to rest and I start a vigorous series of calling including grunts, rattling and short but furious shaking of the maple tree within my arms length.  I continue this series for about a minute. Then, as quickly as I started, I stop and put up the rattling bag and grab up my binoculars to thoroughly scan the area. Often, within a minute a dominant buck appears on the fringe, looking for a fight. This is where a light grunt or more recently I’ve found, a snort-wheeze, works beautifully to bring a big boy a little closer.

If a buck fails to appears, I usually wait another 20-30 minutes and start the series all of grunts, rattles and tree thrashing all over. Of course, success in the whitetail woods is more equitable to a batter in baseball. If a batter can average .300, I understand he’s pretty good. If this technique produces .250 or 25 percent of the time, I count it as a winner.

Try it for yourself. You be the judge and please, let me know your success stories and of course, a few of your “not-so-success” stories if you have them.

These are bucks taken using “The Challenge.”

Illinois hunting and fishing
2003 buck taken 20 minutes after sun up.

Illinois hunting and fishing
2007 buck taken at 8 a.m. 

Illinois hunting and fishing
2006 buck taken at 10 a.m.

Illinois hunting and fishing
2005 buck taken at 9 a.m.

The following are pictures of a buck passed up but brought in by “The Challenge.”
Illinois hunting and fishing

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Great information, thanks for sharing it.

Posted by WhoaThereBigFella on 09/29 at 09:38 AM

I’m going to try your method this November in MWA.

Posted by S.B. on 09/30 at 10:07 PM

I’ll try it but i’m not telling anyone thats for sure

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/08 at 07:13 PM

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