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How To/Pro-Tips

Debugging Devices

This isn't about computers. It's about defeating insect pests that plague the archery season. The early autumn woods are full of bugs that either want to suck your blood or will bite or sting you.

The bloodsucking biters include mosquitoes, chiggers, fleas, gnats and several types of biting flies. All are uncomfortable companions and several, particularly mosquitoes and ticks, can carry serious disease. The fighters include yellowjackets, wasps, hornets, spiders and scorpions. These are painful and dangerous to allergic individuals.

Insect repellent is messy and must be reapplied frequently. It deters the biters but has little effect on the fighters. Also, most repellents have a strong chemical smell that could repel the deer you are hunting.

A "bug suit" is a coverall of fine mesh that keeps out both biters and fighters. Many are being made in camouflage patterns or with cut-out camo fabric stitched on. Washed in a no-scent soap, a bug suit not only de-bugs your deer stand, it enhances your camouflage.

Hunting the Scrapes

Scrapes are made by bucks to attract does. The buck paws out an oval or circular area and urinates in it, letting the urine flow over his tarsal glands. He also usually marks an overhanging twig with his mouth and forehead scents.
A passing doe, coming into estrus, will also urinate in the scrape. When the buck returns to check, he will pick up her scent and try to track her down.

All scrapes are not equal. Sometimes bucks make spontaneous scrapes that are seldom if ever visited again. Once things get serious, the buck lays out his scrapes in a pattern and checks them regularly. Often, he checks them by scent alone, passing downwind of the scrapes without actually going to them.

When hunting scrape lines, I position myself downwind of them rather than right over them. If I find a rub line paralleling the scrapes on the downwind side, so much the better. This tells me the buck's normal path while checking his scrapes.

Hunting The Pre-Rut Period

Keep your eyes open for the first signs of the oncoming rut because the pre-rut period is one of the best times to bag a buck. The first rubs signal that bucks are getting interested but are not yet quite all the way "there."

At this period, buck grunts work well but keep your calling subdued. Rubbing your rattling antlers on trees and just lightly "tickling" them is the best play early on. I like to occasionally rap a tree or the ground sharply to simulate the actions of rubbing bucks early in the pre-rut.

As the pre-rut period advances you may become more aggressive in your grunting and rattling and start to simulate full-scale buck fights. Adding doe bleats at this time also is a good idea.

What you are trying to accomplish is staying in synch with the natural progression of buck behavior during the pre-rut period. Coming on too strong, too early, may spook rather than entice bucks that are not quite territorial yet.

Timber Shooting

The green timber shooting of eastern Arkansas and other areas in the southern Mississippi Drainage area are justly famous. It is productive and it is fun. However, it is almost as much fun to watch waterfowlers from other areas try it for the first time.

This type of hunting requires a good bit of loud calling and relatively few decoys. In fact, many experienced hunters use none at all or at most two or three. Good thing too, because timber shooting often requires a long trek in to a good spot.

The ducks drop in through holes in the tree canopy, often without warning to waiting hunters. The ducks are just suddenly there among the shooters. It is fast, in-your-face action and when the shooting starts the ducks are no slouches at dodging through the trees.

Ranges are usually short and I prefer rather light shot. Don't handicap yourself with too much choke. A wide pattern yields better results on these quick and fast-moving targets.

Big Buck Hideouts

Generally, we consider the buck's core area or sanctuary to be a rough, tough forbidding place deep in a swamp or some other relatively inaccessible place. Often it is. However, a wise old buck, after some serious pressure and particularly after his core area has been invaded, can hide right under our noses.
From the buck's point of view, cover is cover and any well-protected place is a good spot to bed down. An unharvested cornfield provides both food and cover. Even a fallow field, overgrown with high weeds, is suitable. An old brush pile or a gully makes a weed field even more attractive.
Many big bucks have an ultra-secret spot they head for when the pressure is on. Often it is a small, insignificant patch of cover most hunters pass by. It doesn't take a big piece of cover to hide a big buck. If a buck feels secure, he will stick in his spot until you almost kick him out.

Camo Pattern by Realtree
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