As I said in my last deer hunting post,there is no substitute for boot leather in the field,you have to get out there and scout,you have to locate bedding areas,water sources, food sources,and deer trails.
You also have to plan ahead because ag fields get harvested,and the summer/early fall food sources change. What deer are feeding on now,and in the opening weeks of bow season will change as soon as local ag fields are harvested.
Once acorns drop-that’s the primary food source,deer will eat white oak acorns above all other foods in fall. Apples are a close second. In NE Ohio,the crabapple becomes a food source when other foods aren’t available.
When you pick your stand/blind sites,you have to consider multiple things,first are bedding areas and water sources,then food sources,then comes trails leading to and from these areas.
You have to be able to get to your stand/blind without spooking bedding deer,there are two ways of doing this,first is to get to your blind long before deer return to the bedding area-which means in the dark,at least an hour before legal shooting light.
Second is to locate your blind/stand far enough away from the bedding areas,that you don’t spook deer.
This approach is best for afternoon/evening hunts,as the idea is to catch the deer leaving their bedding areas to drink water and feed.
It’s best to pick several sites,so you can hunt no matter which way the wind is blowing.
If you are hunting on a ridgeline/rise in the land,remember that in the morning,as it warms up,air moves from low to high,it does the opposite in the evening,so pay close attention to the wind direction,if it’s parallel to the ridge/rise it’s okay to hunt,if the wind is blowing at your back-pick another place to hunt,wind in your face means the wind will carry your scent over the ridge,and it will go to the bottom behind you,and not the bottom if front of you,so you’re good to hunt that site.
Same with any other blind site-keep the wind in you’re face,so it’s carrying you’re scent away from any approaching deer.
While you are hiking through the woods now and in early Sept,take binoculars with you,and scan the tops and branches of the oak trees,find a few with more acorns than the rest,and use these trees to set up your stand/blind near.
Another great stand/blind location is what is known as edge cover- the brushy areas between woods and fields. This is where bucks make rubs year after year,look around and you should be able to spot last year’s rubs. If there’s a lot-put a stand/blind near the edge cover,preferably just inside the woods,where there are known buck trails.
Locate another stand right on the field edge,pick a spot where there’s a few small trees with branches about the height of a deer’s head,then pick a couple more so you can hunt the edge cover from either the field side or the woods side in any wind direction.
Once you’ve got your blind/stand sites picked out- take a small rake,a folding saw,and a pair of hand pruners with you into the woods. Clear any branches that you would brush against,or snag your pack,bow,or clothing on. then rake the leaves and debris from the trail. You’ll have to do it again after the leaves drop,but it’s much easier to rake the leaves away if you’ve already cleared your trails.
Do this now,or real soon,as deer notice changes in the woods.
Starting the last week of October,make a two or three fake scrape lines,pick small trees with a branch the bucks can reach that’s toward the open area/field.
Rake away all the dead grasses,leaves and debris in about a 3′ semi-circle under the trees,use a stick,or old deer antler to make marks in the dirt like a deer was scraping it’s antlers to clear debris from the scrape.
Make a line of these,4-6 to a line,and either use a scent like Active Scrape,or drink a lot of water before you head into the woods and piss in the scrapes yourself-I’ve done it for years,and it works just fine.
Starting the last week of October/first week of November,hunt the scrape lines every evening hunt.
I’ll start hanging scent wicks with doe in estrous scent near the scrape lines starting the first week of November. I do not leave them out-I use bottles with a wick that can be re-capped and reused all season,you just have to add more estrous urine every so often.
These are what I use…
Tink’s reusable scent bottles
The whitetail rut in NE Ohio hit’s the peak around the 15th of November every year,breeding starts around the first of November. This is when you want to hunt for a big buck,if that’s what you’re after.
The last week of Oct. until the last week of Nov. is the time to rattle and use a grunt tube and estrous bleat call.
Pay attention to the rut,because any does not bred in Nov. will cycle back into estrous 28 days later-in Dec. then in Jan. there’s a much smaller period of breeding.
I’ll do a post on rattling and using grunt tubes doe and fawn bleats and estrous bleats before the rut hits.
The guys who get a deer every year are the guys who get out there and scout,get their hunting spots picked out/set up long before the rut hits,and stay in their blind/stand once they get to it.
So get out there,find your stand/blind sites,get your shooting lanes cut now,clear your trails to and from your blinds now and you’ll be way ahead of most deer hunters.