8 September 2012 - Lowering your Impact - Move out of position stands - Shooting lanes
Lowering your impact - so you suddenly realize your stand is a bit out of position or perhaps long work hours or a LOT on the "Honey-Do" list hasn't allowed you to get shooting lanes trimmed up a couple weeks to a month or so before the season opener - what do you do? Well you make the needed correction. Don't sit there several times knowing the stand is out of position - move it. If you realize you need to trim or even cut in a shooting lane - do it. They key is to do it wisely. So how do you do that right during the hunting season? Lessen your impact by doing it in the rain or just before a good rain. And if rain isn't predicted anytime soon use a bee smoker and puff the area where you walked and touched things full of hardwood smoke to lessen your impact (assuming you hunt in an area where a number of folks heat their homes or shops with wood.) Yes it is optimal to have everything "just right" long before the opener. But yes you can move stands, put up new stands, trim shooting windows/lanes, etc. and thereby increase your chances right in the middle of the season if you find you need to and now you know (or have been reminded of) two ways to lessen your impact while doing so. Fact is my two youth hunters and I employed the "just before it rains" method yesterday evening to trim up a couple shooting lanes and cut in six new narrow ones into very dense cover around a stand site I've taken a number of deer from over the years - which this year was converted to a two-person stand site. Years of observation taught me places the deer moved through and stopped. So yesterday evening we used that observation gained knowledge and put two new shooting lanes in each of 3 directions (6 total) - so you had a "spot 'em" lane and a "shoot 'em" lane - it is that dense with all the leaves on. It was starting to sprinkle rain as we left the woods. And, praise God, from whom all blessings flow, it has been raining a slow easy rain for over 5 hours now - which is very much appreciated and very much needed here after the worst drought I have personally experienced here in Southern Michigan.
Hey, if you found this enjoyable or even helpful, how about liking CountryJackG on Facebook and perhaps even posting a comment. Maybe you employ other "lessen your impact" strategies - share them with us on Facebook - where more frequent updates are being made. Thanks and Happy Hunting!
Or if you want even more frequent updates follow @CountryJackG on Twitter.
14 July 2012 - "Micro Ambush Plots" aka "Kill Plots" - Path of Least Resistance
If you are going to put in some small kill plots in heavy cover you better have the weeds killed or get the weeds killed VERY soon (it is now 14 July). After spraying with RoundUp you need to wait at least 14 days before planting. If repetitive tilling is your mode of weed killing allow even more time. Here in Michigan the time to plant small kill plots or "micro ambush plots" is during August (time it with rain forecast that night or next day) - so they will be lush during early bow season which starts 1 Oct. If you are more of a visual learner - as MANY of us are - then follow the hyperlink in this post and get signed up for monthly video instruction series on improving habitat and hunting strategies geared toward HIGHLY pressured deer like we have here in Southern Michigan - the videos were filmed here in Michigan. I don't know hunter density where you live but I bet on the section (square mile) I live on there are 1.5-2 times as many deer hunters as there are deer - seriously - that is SERIOUS high pressure - and it takes different tactics than you see on the "entertainment only" TV hunt shows. The July 2012 videos are out now and they show you how to plant a "micro ambush plot" - you will have to be a paying member to watch those videos but "for free" you can watch over 40 minutes of video instruction showing you how one Michigander made 7 acres into buck heaven with over 100 scrapes - and another video showing you how to steer deer via hinge cutting. You certainly want to check those free videos out.
Now is a GREAT time to cut a path of least resistance. For example - several years back I shifted the entry point by about 6ft in a swale the deer approached through 3-4ft high grass. All I did was mow from where they left the nearby woods (on path) to where I wanted them to enter the swale (closer to tree I planned to hunt from). I made it easier for them to go where I wanted them to go - it is certainly easier to walk a mowed path than to push your way through 3-4ft tall grass on a deer path. In the woodlot you use the same principle - you make it easier to move where you want them to move and you make it harder to move where you don't want them to go -- put brush from cutting shooting lanes there or hinge cut trees there for example - in other words INCREASE resistance where you want them to avoid and decrease resistance where you do want them to travel. And hopefully soon I will get up some photos showing a path of least resistance or two.
For those of you on Facebook - you can "like" CountryJackG and get more frequent updates than I am managing to put up lately on my website. Or if you want even more frequent updates follow @CountryJackG on Twitter.
14 May 2012 - Sanctuary, an important key
Sanctuary areas are, in my opinion, a key to keeping deer frequently using your hunting land even during hunting season. In short a sanctuary area is an area you set as "off limits" for humans (and dogs) so that the deer have a "safe zone" right in the midst of your hunting ground. Good thick bedding cover and NEVER getting kicked off their beds by humans or dogs on a romp - a place where they can lie down and ruminate (chew their cud) without a whiff of human scent putting them on edge - that is the "sanctuary area" concept. Yes it is not only important to give them a safe place to bed down it is also important to never hunt next to the sanctuary when the wind would blow your scent into the sanctuary.
My cousin and I (over two decades ago) used to sit on the ground (tree stands weren't legal yet) for about an hour or so in the morning then we would go and do two person drives on every woodlot in walking distance which we had permission to hunt - then we would come back to our "start" spot and drive that on our way up for lunch at one or the other of our parents homes (farms around the corner from each other). After lunch we would go drive some more woodlots before heading back to our "start" spots and sitting for an hour or so until quit time. We paid ZERO attention to wind direction. -- Usually we saw VERY few deer in our "start spot" woodlot after the first two or three days of hunting that way.
I can't recall where now (though thankful to the author) but I read about the idea of setting up a sanctuary area and we started that practice. Our "start spot" woods was split by a creek so we made the creek the boundary line and on the west side of the creek we did NOT tread at all during hunting season unless we needed to pull a dead deer out of there - and if we did that we got in - got it out - field dressed it elsewhere so we minimized our invasion of the sanctuary as much as we could. And it worked. We also set up our stands on the East side of the creek so that we could get to them without kicking deer off beds on that side of the woods. And we picked it that way because of prevailing west winds that kept our scent out of our designated sanctuary area. We started seeing deer more often on both sides of the creek. It worked - and it worked well.
So if you haven't done it already - think about where you can set up a sanctuary area for the deer that frequent your hunting land - odds are if you do they will spend more time on your land because you made a safe spot for them to bed down and ruminate.
19 March 2012 - Be a woodlot "Johnny Appleseed" - trim down fawn killers - fertilize oak trees
Here are three things you can do now to make deer hunting better in your area.
Deer love apples. May I suggest that you save the apple seeds from the apples you and your family consume - then like "Johnny Appleseed" plant those seeds with hopes that in ten years or so some of them will bear apples to help draw deer more often onto the property you own/hunt/manage. I save apple cores by freezing them and don't bother to take the seeds out. After accumulating quite a few I take the bag(s) out to our woodlot, kick back the leaves where I think an apple tree might have a chance then toe jab a depression, drop in an apple core, and cover it back up with soil - then find another spot and repeat. I like to do this when it is very wet in the woods so I can more easily plant in the relatively high-dry spots mixed among the numerous temporary puddles. Spring or Fall are perfect planting times. So go be "Johnny Appleseed" in your woodlot - you can plant a LOT of apple seeds with zero extra expenditure because your food budget produces apple seeds as a waste product which you can use to make your future hunting better.
Where coyote hunting is allowed before and/or during fawn birth (and the month or two afterward) you can help cut down on fawn loss by putting hunting pressure on the coyotes in your area. Coyotes actively kill whitetail fawns - and contrary to popular belief when they work together they can even take down mature whitetails. So if you have coyotes in your deer hunting area keep them trimmed down.
Another good Spring prep activity is to fertilize some specific oak trees that are in huntable position. You can use "nut tree fertilizer spikes" around the drip line (a whole lot of them.) Or you can buy a bag of 12-12-12 or 19-19-19 and use a planting bar or something similar to poke a hole in the ground and pour in the fertilizer around the drip line. You aren't trying to fertilize every tree - just to make a few chosen trees have extra nutrients so they can grow slightly larger, sweeter acorns than the other local oaks.
20 & 21 Jan 2012 - After Deer Season Scouting - Time to invade Sanctuary - Bedding areas - Remember when snow fell
After deer season ends you have a GREAT opportunity for scouting. Where I live in Southern Michigan when the last deer season closes on 1 Jan the deer have been under hunting pressure for about 3-1/2 months since the first early antlerless season in mid-Sept. By this time the deer are pretty wary. They are also using late season food, water, and bedding areas as pressured prey animals. Basically they are ready to give away their secrets if you are willing to do some hiking. And if you bump the deer now it is many months away from hunting season so you just chalk it up to your personal continuing education - you learn from it - rather than fret about pushing them toward more nocturnal movement when you need daylight movement for a successful hunt.
I've mentioned in past posts that I don't own a trail camera. Now I'll be the first to admit I would love to have a whole bunch of those Buckeye Cam wireless units - but my budget says "it ain't happening" so I am not going to be getting my "deer intelligence" via sneaky infrared cameras snapping time stamped photos night and day. If you have the budget for trail cameras they obviously can be helpful tools but if you are like me and the old wallet just can't spare that kind of cash then don't despair because you can learn a LOT about deer movement right now just shortly after deer season closes without trail cameras.
Pay attention to when snow falls. Get out there on a "hike and learn" scouting trek AFTER a new snow. I recently did just that. It was snowing very large flake clusters until late morning. In the late afternoon I went on a daylight movement discovery hike. Any tracks with no snow in them had to be made after it stopped snowing. And tracks with a little snow in them were made sometime just before it stopped snowing. Tracks with considerable snow in them were likely made in the early morning (in this case). In other words you remember when snow was falling and how hard so it can help you determine an approximate time the deer made any deer tracks you discover.
I found that a lone large deer had feed a short while on the Imperial No Plow food plot. I could tell because a couple small areas showed snow pawed back some so the deer could get to the greenery that was buried under the new fallen snow. The tracks of that deer leading up to the food plot were crisp and had no fallen snow in them - which in this case (remembering the weather that day) meant that lone large deer ate there during daylight hours sometime after the snow stopped. Daylight movement was what I was looking for and I found it right away. I found a spot where the deer defecated - none of the deer scat "pellets" were covered with snow.
I then followed that track to see where the track making deer went after eating Imperial No Plow. I noted where it went and also noted when the lone crisp newer track joined up a trail with older tracks of several deer (snow in these tracks - probably made early morning). I now know that I need to figure out a good place to put a deer stand where deer moved by during both am and pm daylight hours.
When the deer left my property I turned off the trail and swung by a couple of my stands to see IF any deer tracks indicated daylight movement by either/both of those stands. I found no evidence of daylight movement that particular day by one stand but evidence of morning movement by another stand. I then hiked back to the house paying attention along the way. I didn't get the whole hunting area covered but after the season closes you don't have that kind of pressure to get it all done right now - you just do what you can when you can to increase your deer intelligence gathering.
After the season closes it is time to invade your Sanctuary - Bedding areas and do some scouting. A Sanctuary area is an area you do NOT enter during the hunting season (except to retrieve dead deer that fled there - as briefly as possible - just pull them out and field dress them elsewhere) so as to give the deer that frequent your hunting area a "safe zone" - a place where humans don't push them out - a place where they can feel secure when hunting pressure is high most everywhere they go. You also do not hunt upwind of your Sanctuary - because that would put human scent through the Sanctuary. ---- Well right now it is AFTER hunting season and a good 8 months before another deer season opens and there is snow on the ground. Now is time to scout out the Sanctuary - learn how deer move in and out of it - learn where they bed - maybe even do something of a deer census - look for buck rubs and sheds. Scout it well once or twice shortly after the season ends. Do any needed Sanctuary habitat improvement in this same time frame. You can hunt close to the Sanctuary as long as your scent does NOT go into the Sanctuary - so scout movement patterns to see if you can improve placement of stands next season or perhaps add a new location next season. Here are some photos of deer beds "in the thick" of one of our Sanctuary areas - it snowed the night before - I counted eight different deer tracks made inside the less than 24 hours since it had snowed. Between the 5 hunters that hunt this farm we killed eight deer this year - equal split between the sexes. That is quite a few deer to take off 120 acres in this part of Southern Michigan - yet obviously there are plenty of deer remaining since eight passed through this small area of the farm during the night and early morning previous to taking these deer bed photos.
Notice how thick the area is where they bedded down that previous night. It is seriously thick in there. And your Sanctuary area should have some real thick stuff too - good security cover - good bedding cover. Give them a place to feel safe close to where you hunt and you will have more opportunity. So invade that Sanctuary months and months before the season - then render it a "off limits" once again - except for quick removal of dead deer which were shot outside the Sanctuary but fled into it to die.
After deer season closes is also a great time to set up new stand locations - cutting shooting lanes now gives the deer months to decide the shooting lane is just a normal feature of the woods. Your human scent will have faded away months before the Season Opener.
After deer season closes is a great time to pull down all your stands, climbing sticks, any tree steps, etc. - give them a very thorough inspection and do any repair or repainting they need. Then you are ready to get them all back up (in scouted out spots OR in old standby spots) a month or more before the Season Opener whenever possible. Obviously if you can't get it done that early you do it as early as you can.
31 Dec 2011 - Happy New Year to everyone!!
Happy New Year to everyone!! May God be with, guide, protect, bless, and prosper you and yours as you strive to follow Him via following the example of His Son, Jesus Christ. May both His grace and His mercy be felt in your lives. May He draw you and yours ever nearer together and ever nearer unto God.
30 Dec 2011 - Ezine article published
Deer hunting with your kids is great! Gain some tips on making it enjoyable while reading about one of our whitetail deer hunts.
Deer Hunting With Your Kids - 9yr Old Son Calls in Nice 8pt Buck for 50yr Old Dad
17 Dec 2011 - Last Minute Gift ideas for deer hunters
As Christmas time approaches you may be wondering what to get for your deer hunter. And you are definitely running short on time to go out shopping. But since you have an internet connection you do have the option of online shopping. So what would a deer hunter like for Christmas? Many deer hunters here in Michigan that haven't already acquired a crossbow would surely like a crossbow to extend their hunting season. I personally favor the GT Flex made by Ten Point Crossbow Technologies because it is a recurve crossbow which means I can change the string myself without a bow press (and you don't get cable and pulley noise) but many people favor compound crossbows which can shoot arrows/bolts at faster speeds. The four deer put in our freezer this past year (see posts Christmas evening 2010, 10 Oct 2011, 11 Oct 2011, and 11 Nov 2011) with our GT Flex indicate that 300fps is plenty fast enough - though you can shop for up to 400fps if you wish.
Shop here for Crossbows.
If your hunter likes to plant Food Plots then perhaps something like seed might be the perfect gift.
Shop here for Deer Food Plot seeds and supplies.
Your deer hunter may want/need some new hunting gloves or blaze orange gear or perhaps some hunting boots.
Shop here for Deer Hunting Clothing and Footwear.
Looking for something cheaper? Perhaps a deer call would be perfect for a gift or a stocking stuffer. Lots of different calls are out there which can make shopping really confusing - so let me give you three specific suggestions. Two of my three suggested calls are calls we field tested with GREAT results during 2011 - one of them is the H.S. Estrus Doe Bleat can for calling in an amorous buck during the rut (VERY EASY TO USE - my 9yr. old son called in a NICE 8pt for me 11 Nov 2011) and the other is a calming, feeding call named "The Kruncher" which is also made by Hunters Specialties which during one test kept a buck inside 60 yards for over 40 minutes (12 Nov 2011) - the Kruncher goes with us every hunt now. I also like the TrueTalker - having used the original True Talker for many years especially during rattling sessions to paint the sound picture of two different bucks with unique grunt tones - able to do everything from fawn distress bleats up to deep guttural dominant buck grunts with the True Talker (and practice).
|Deer & Deer Hunting Shot Simulator Software|
|Limited Time ONLY---Save 30% NO MORE GUESSING - SEE EXACTLY WHERE YOUR SHOT HIT! Seasoned deer hunters know it is imperative...[Read More]|
10 Dec 2011 - Cold morning hunt - Missed does cycling back in heat - Bucks eating more to replenish fat reserves - natural funnel - take your kids hunting
Very crisp cold morning, 9F with -1F wind chill, wind from WSW @ 9mph - thin blanket of new snow - sounds PERFECT for a morning hunt with my youngest daughter. Bucks should be on the move looking for does that didn't take during main rut who are cycling back now. Bucks should also be eating more to put back on some "fat reserve" weight lost during the main rut. Gotta bundle up serious good in layers but the wind is right for the stand we are going to on the Swamp to Swamp trail near standing corn. Hoping my youngest daughter is blessed with the opportunity to fill her Restricted Buck tag today. This stand sits in a natural funnel produced by a swamp to the South which the deer skirt around the edge of - several deer have been put in our freezer from this stand over the years. You don't see deer every time you sit there - but you can be sure that if you sit there often enough with the wind correct to carry your scent away from the most likely places deer will come from then you will see deer. --- Perhaps much like where you hunt we have no place that is a "sure fire see deer every hunt" sort of stand - there is so much good cover and so much good feed all around here that you can go days seeing no deer sitting on a GREAT stand (for this agricultural area) --- but we do have places that are better than others under certain conditions. And right now conditions are set so that Swamp to Swamp trail stand should be one of the best places to hunt this morning. Well I need to sign off, wake my daughter, and get ready to hunt. Thanks for visiting CountryJackG's Deer Hunting Page - come back again soon - perhaps purchase something we advertise to help support the page - and do share a link with your fellow deer hunters. Thanks!!
30 November 2011 - Take your kids hunting - ManScape by GhostBlind - "Farmer noise bump"
Take your kids hunting. Let them watch the woods wake up while they sit beside you. Let them witness with you a late Fall sunset as the fog rolls over the seasons first blanket of snow. Help them develop a watchfulness, awareness, and attentiveness that picks up the little clues that tell them deer have been here OR are likely to come here OR are coming right now. Let them take ownership in your hunts when they are too young to "be the hunter." My youngest daughter still revels in the knowledge that years ago she spotted one deer quite a spell before I could see it - she knew her sharp young eyes helped put venison on the table and in the freezer before she could be the hunter - and now several years later she put venison on the table and in the freezer herself with me (Dad) by her side - just like it should be. My youngest son revels in the fact that he called in the 198 pound 8pt I (Dad) killed this year AND that when we came back out with better flashlights to find it he found it - he took ownership in that hunt - he called the buck in - he found it after the kill - "Dad just let the arrow go." Next year he says I'm going to be his caller-man and he is going to be the hunter - just like it should be. Take your kids hunting. Let them be a REAL and active part of Nature. Let them learn to see things how they really are. Take your kids hunting.
Not long ago I won the weekly drawing at GhostBlind.com and received a Green ManScape. If you are a repeat visitor you know we test things and tell you how they work for us. Well so far the deer haven't cooperated and given us a chance to see how it works on close-up deer but we can show you some photos so you can see why we are very favorably inclined toward this product designed to break up your human form . We think that it will work well on deer - and it is just a matter of time until we find that out first hand and report back to you. We have had the Green ManScape mounted on the crossbow mostly but also on my shotgun. It was easy to put together. It is easy to install (velcro). And you can bend the leafy branches to make a sight path hole to look through. Find here an over the shoulder view showing the sight picture opening with ManScape on our crossbow. Find also a deer's eye view taken at 10am on a bright Saturday morning looking up into the tree where believe it or not my youngest daughter is sitting with the ManScape attached to our UNLOADED FOR SAFETY crossbow - can you tell it is a human behind those leaves?
I previously mentioned using a tractor to get on and off field edge locations and called it the "farmer noise bump." My youngest daughter and I used that entry technique on this evening's deer hunt. And sure enough there was a deer on the field already when we got there. Watching our tractor and trailer all it did was walk along the field edge - it never bolted - it simply walked off the field onto a neighboring yard and went no further. And all we did is drive that tractor right along the headland then right along the rows of corn stubble that lead to the indent in the brushy edge about 50 yards from our stand where we park the tractor and trailer then walk to our stand. ---- Personally I'd rather walk in - but on this particular field there isn't a safe approach that allows you to avoid bumping deer - you can bump them going in and/or coming out - so to keep them coming back to the field regularly I don't walk in as I prefer when I go to that field - instead I drive the tractor in so the deer just think some farmer thing is happening rather than become rapidly aware they are being hunted on that field they like to frequent.
25 November 2011 - Bucks are out cruising downwind of doe bedding areas - Farmer noise bump
Due to wind conditions this morning I took up a Treesuit stand location which is positioned on the North edge of a field in position to overlook most of two other fields (a good observation post stand to figure out what is happening) - I chose this spot to insure my scent was NOT blowing across any doe bedding areas or travel corridors. This morning this stand location left me overlooking a large partially tilled very recently harvested field of corn stubble with the only untilled corn stubble on the edge closest to me. Normally I don't watch feeding areas on morning hunts - that is better for an evening hunt. But I knew that human activity the day after Thanksgiving might just bump deer my way as it has before. As it turned out I had to pass on a shot opportunity on a pretty decent 8pt buck who appeared to be out cruising the downwind side of doe bedding areas. I watched him cross 100+ yards of open field from a woods to a swamp at which point I lost sight of him for about two or maybe three minutes. When I spotted him again he was crossing the 150+ yard wide field heading North and eventually put himself into shooting range of a hunter with only an antlerless tag left in his pocket. Very fun watching him nonetheless. Wish my youngest daughter had been with me - she would likely have her Restricted Tag on him if she had been.
I got on and off this stand crossing a large open field using what I call the "farmer noise bump." Deer in agricultural areas get accustomed to "farmer noise" and they don't react as badly to it as they do to "hunter noise" - so I drove in a tractor to close to where my stand was - and when I got down to head out I drove back out as well. I did this knowing that there might be deer eating corn that got missed by the combine when I went in. Bumping them off the field with a tractor is a LOT more forgivable to deer than bumping them off as a hunter walking in. So think about "farmer noise" versus "hunter noise" when you may be able to use that to your advantage as a hunter.
23 November 2011 - 9:20pm EST - Thanksgiving morning is a GREAT time to hunt
Thanksgiving morning is a GREAT time for deer hunting. I love morning hunts and get far too few of them. It is just great to watch the woods wake up and watch the sunrise while being out there as an active part of Nature. Happy Hunting!! to all you deer hunters that are going to get out the next three mornings in a row. May your freezers be filled and may your homes be full of love, laughter, and fond memories as your hearts flow over with gratitude for the many blessings God has poured out upon you and yours.
22 November 2011 - 3:30am EST - Late Rut period in the North - Big Bucks up and moving
Typically by this phase of the Northern Whitetail Rut approximately 80+% of the does have been bred. Bucks now have to look harder and compete more heavily for the remaining does in estrus or soon coming into estrus. So don't give up now if you've not been seeing much buck activity the past week. The Big Bucks will be scent checking doe bedding areas - so downwind of doe bedding areas as well as funnels between doe bedding areas and doe feeding areas are GREAT places to hunt right now. Be out hunting all you can (while keeping up with family duties also). Hunt safely. Send me a photo or a link to a photo of your deer. Happy Hunting!!!
Thursday evening 17 Nov 2011 - Second test confirms The Kruncher works
Saturday morning 12 Nov I got on stand late - actually after my Hunt Start Time reminder caused my phone to vibrate. I had barely gotten my safety harness on and sat down when I spotted a yearling buck standing right next to where we found the nock end of the broken arrow the night before - we had marked it with white toilet paper. The yearling buck apparently saw me move a little or something because he was looking at me from 37 yards away. Since I had the opportunity to watch this young buck I decided to test out The Kruncher (feeding call) on him. He started out wary likely having seen me turn my head his way as I had planned to range the distance from the stand to where we found the broken arrow the night before. When I had an opportunity to move a little without being seen I got in position to use The Kruncher and managed to keep this yearling buck inside of 60 yards for over 40 minutes. At one point I was able to keep him in the main shooting lane for this stand for ten solid minutes. I got him to stop after he suddenly spooked as he neared our tractor path. And he crossed the main shooting lane 5 different times during the 40 plus minutes he was under observation. --- That makes two tests of The Kruncher this season on high pressured Southern Michigan yearling whitetail bucks. Very impressive results both times. Worth a spot in our bag or pocket. We have our Kruncher mounted on the Steady Eddy attached to our GT Flex crossbow so it is always at the ready.
Friday evening 11 Nov 2011 - 9yr old son calls in nice 8pt for Dad
This evening my youngest son (9) and I stopped for a kneeling prayer on our lane as we headed out for a short evening hunt. By the time we got on stand and set we had under 40 minutes until the "Hunt Ends" calendar alarm would start vibrating on my phone. Not much time - some might have passed up the opportunity thinking it wasn't worth the quarter mile hike there to hunt for that short a time. Decades of experience have taught me to get out there - because you certainly won't shoot a deer if you talk yourself out of hunting when you have the opportunity. I talked to my son about 4 spots we could go to that were set up for two people. I told him one of them we should probably figure was too far away on other side of road for the time we had to hunt - so that left us with 3 options on our side of the road. He thought we should go to one of our back corners and suggested the SW corner. I told him I agreed we should go to one of our corners but due to wind direction I thought the other corner - the SE corner might be better - so we agreed to go to the SE corner. I then put my son in charge of calling. Before we went out I had let him choose between just the estrus bleat can or the whole rattling sequence. He chose to go with just the estrus bleat can. Since we got on stand with so little hunt time left we did NOT wait the typical 20-30 minutes before calling - we waited about 5 minutes - until we heard a squirrel scolding something well to the South of us (out of sight.) On stand I coached him as to when to call - how long to wait before calling again - and whether to do a single bleat or two or three bleats in a row. He did a good job painting the sound picture of an estrus doe waiting near a scrape (a mock scrape with a scent dripper over it) and calling for a buck. Daylight was fading fast when he let out his last two bleats. And then heading North off property we can't hunt came a nice buck. I failed to get into position to take a crossbow shot when he hit the first shooting lane on our property but I got into position to take a shot as he passed off our farm onto another farm we have permission to hunt. I bleated with my mouth to stop him - found him in the scope of our GT Flex crossbow - put the 30 yard reticle on top of heart area and squeezed off the shot. I heard it hit the deer but could not see where I hit. After the shot I pulled out my phone and it read 5:49pm - exactly one minute before Hunting End time. We got down and thanked the Lord then asked for His help in recovering the buck. We then tried to take advantage of the rapidly fading light but very quickly realized it would be smarter to head up to the house and get larger, more powerful flashlights than the 1Watt LED I carry. I took the opportunity at the house to get out of my ScentLok and into jeans, etc. which I wouldn't mind getting the smell of diesel exhaust and deer blood on. We prayed again for the Lord's help recovering the buck before we hiked out with 2 - two "D" cell LED MagLites and as we walked I explained to my son that often mortally wounded deer head for thick cover and water. I suggested that based on direction of travel when hit this buck would likely either head North out of the woods into the adjoining standing corn or might go NNE into the swale due to the water there. Accordingly we looked at exit points from the woods (into corn or swale) as well as scanning corn stalks for blood - we didn't find any. I suggested that perhaps he didn't get that far or he may have headed further east where there was thick cover and water inside that woodlot. We entered the woodlot and I explained that we should look everywhere on the ground as we worked our way from where we thought he was heading to where the arrow hit him because we might just find the buck before we got back to where he was hit. If we did not find him then we would have to find and then follow the blood trail. As we moved along my nine year old son suddenly looked back and off to the side and said "there he is Dad!" So this nice 8pt was called in by a 9yr old - shot by a 50yr old - then found by a 9yr old. We weighed him before and after field dressing. Before field dressing he weighed 198 lbs. After field dressing he weighed 160 lbs. We will get him in the freezer Saturday - plenty cool enough for him to hang overnight - up well out of reach of the dogs. --- Oh, my son said "Next year you're the caller man Dad!" And I will gladly be his "caller man" - I can't wait to help him tag his first deer. It was a GREAT hunt.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!
6 November 2011 - Northern Rut should get serious this week
If the past accurately predicts the future then sometime this week (in Southern Michigan and nearby states) will mark the beginning of the 5-10 day period when 80% of the whitetail does will come into heat. As that starts happening many of the BIG bucks will be up and moving - at any time of day (including mid-day). My advice is simple - spend as much time as possible on stand - particularly BETWEEN doe bedding areas when it is not feeding time and at doe feeding areas when it is feeding time. Listen for the repetitive grunts of bucks on the track of a hot doe. When you hear that coming in your direction BE READY, stop the buck where you have a clear shot (estrus bleat can, whistle, etc.), aim for top of heart (aim small, miss small), make a good clean shot, and follow through. I would like to see photos.
Thursday evening 3 November 2011 - Seeking stage of Rut - Mid-day hunts - Mock Scrapes
Numerous hunters in the area are seeing younger bucks attempting to chase yet disinterested does. Haven't seen nor heard reports of the really big bucks yet. So it appears we are yet in the Seeking Stage of the Rut here in Southern Michigan.
Mid-day hunts can be productive - and this is especially true during the rut. Deer try to avoid hunters - generally they are pretty clever at it - after all they are full-time prey animals while we are merely part-time hunters. One simple way for deer to avoid 95+% of hunters and still get a chance to eat is to get up and eat AFTER the hunters go home after their morning hunt then get back bedded down before they come back for their evening hunt. Some hunters that aren't into getting out before the crack of dawn will just wait and go in at 9-10am and then sit through the 11am - 2pm mid-day movement period when most hunters aren't out hunting. By doing this they are all set up and ready when the "leave for lunch" crowd bumps deer on the way out to lunch and then again when they come back to their stand after lunch. Going in late rather than early is better than bumping deer on the way in before dawn. If you bump them you are teaching them to avoid you. Gotta get in and out without bumping deer.
Yesterday I didn't get a chance to hunt (car repair work took precedence) but after dark I did don my ScentLok and rubber boots and went out and made several Mock Scrapes. I used a small metal child size rake to rake the leaves/debris/etc. away down to bare soil (approx. 12" x 18" typical up to 24" x 24") under an overhanging branch about 4-5 ft off the ground along the edge of trails or shooting lane/trail intersections. I then misted the bare soil with Tink's Power Scrape. Two of the Mock Scrapes also got a Scent Dripper set up over them - also charged with Tink's Power Scrape. Generally not every mock scrape gets used but some do - so you freshen up the ones the deer like and use. ---- Other scrape starter scents can be used and "believe it or not" even human urine will work to start a mock scrape or to freshen up an existing scrape - no kidding.
Wednesday evening 19 Oct 2011 - Soil Test before planting - here's why
I grew up on a small farm in Ingham County, Michigan. I now own a small farm in Lenawee County, Michigan. I know you should do a soil test BEFORE you plant. But I started feeling pushed for time as August slipped by and though I own a soil test kit I didn't test either of the two small plots I planted to Imperial No Plow in late August. These two small plots are less than 100 yards apart - both in a power line right of way so they get good sunlight. But look at the difference. My guess is that the stunted plot area probably very seriously needs lime - but that is just a guess - I should have soil tested BEFORE I planted and made the necessary soil amendments prior to planting so that both plot areas did equally well. I knew better but didn't act on what I knew - that was silly of me - and because of it I have one small plot of Imperial No Plow doing well and another that isn't doing any good at all - for want of a soil test followed up by soil amendment. So if you didn't grow up on a farm but are interested in food plots to give nutritional support to your local deer herd - learn from these photos - YES you really should test the soil BEFORE you plant a food plot and then make the needful soil amendments. It can literally make ALL the difference in success and failure of your food plot. And yes I have seen deer munching on the "doing well" plot of Imperial No Plow already and it has a pretty serious trail beat right along its East edge - a spot that doesn't typically have a deer trail.
Friday evening 14 Oct 2011 - Two in the freezer - windy cold forecast
By God's grace and via hunting we now have two deer in the freezer. I am very happy about that as a meat hunter. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!! Scroll down to see a photo of my youngest daughters first ever deer - taken Tuesday 11 Oct 2011 with our GT Flex crossbow made by TenPoint Crossbow Technologies.
The weather forecast for the morning shows a wind chill of 38F with 24mph winds from the West. Showers up until shortly before hunt start time. Not ideal weather but I reckon we will still put in a Saturday morning hunt since that is the only morning we have to hunt.
Tuesday evening 11 Oct 2011 - Youngest daughter takes first deer ever!!
As my youngest daughter was deciding what stand we should hunt this evening (after her soccer practice) she related that when
she mentally looked toward our SE corner stand she had a good feeling - it went away when she mentally looked toward other locations - it returned when she mentally looked back at SE corner - so there we went - arriving with about one hour of hunting time left on the clock. Close around 7pm I caught a flash of movement in the thick which rapidly became discernible as a deer - a young buck. My daughter soon noted there was more than one - two young bucks. When one of them entered a shooting lane it turned and started toward us. She took a quartering toward shot with the crossbow at about 20 yards and made a PERFECT top of the heart shot. The arrow/bolt went clear inside the 5pt buck - which is where we found it when we field dressed him. I am VERY happy for her. And she is elated. My youngest daughter was shooting a 100gr 3-bladed RAGE tipped Red Hot crossbow arrow/bolt launched from our GT Flex crossbow (Ten Point Crossbow Technologies.) Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!
Monday evening 10 Oct 2011 - First deer of the season
Following a spark of inspiration on where to go I tagged my first deer of the Michigan 2011 Archery Deer Season this evening. From approx. 20 yards I double lunged a mature doe with a 100gr 3-bladed RAGE tipped Red Hot crossbow arrow/bolt launched from my GT Flex crossbow (Ten Point Crossbow Technologies.) Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!
Thursday evening 6 Oct 2011 - Week End Wish
I am hoping that my youngest daughter gets the opportunity Friday evening or Saturday to take her first deer. That would totally make my day. I would love it if she manages to take a deer this year before I do. Here's hoping your youth hunters get plenty of opportunity and can calm their nerves enough to make a good shot. Both my youngest daughter and my youngest son have been practicing with the crossbow from 20-50 yards. And since we hunt on our land and nearby neighbors we make every "uncock the crossbow" event into a confidence building practice shot. For safety's sake we ALWAYS put the broadhead tipped arrow/bolt in the quiver BEFORE lowering crossbow out of the stand we were hunting. Then when we get back to the house we put a field point tipped arrow/bolt in place and take a practice shot at our bag target. Gotta let it down - may as well get some practice.
Kids learn quickly from computer animations like "Shot Simulator." "Shot Simulator" teaches where to shoot, how long to wait after the shot, etc.. It is also useful after you take a less than perfect shot - so you can see what you hit inside the deer and get expert advice on follow up. You can purchase either a Deluxe CD Version or a Downloadable version here - Deer & Deer Hunting Shot Simulator.
28 September 2011 - "Prioritizing your hunting locations" (article by John Eberhart - Michigan)
"Opening Day Caution" - Bill Winke via Cabela's Whitetail Watch
26 September 2011 - Food Plot Photos
Thought you might like to see a couple whitetail deer food plot photos taken 24 Sept 2011 here in Southern Michigan.
21 September 2011 - Trail Cam strategy tips - Shot Simulator
CountryJackG doesn't own a trail cam. As a meat hunter since 1975 I haven't yet chosen to invest time and money into trail cams. I look for movement patterns that get followed year after year. I look for natural funnels that concentrate deer movement through a smaller area - could be a swamp they skirt - a opening in a fence - an easier place to cross a creek - etc.. I pay attention to changes in food sources being used. That is what helps fill my freezer with venison here in a HIGHLY pressured whitetail hunting area. But if I were to take up serious trophy hunting then trail cams would definitely be a tool I would acquire and use. The tips in this video may prove helpful to those of you who hunt trophy bucks or just want to try trail cams to see what bucks there are on your hunting property. Enjoy.
"Finding Killable Bucks" - trail cam strategies
I've mentioned this a few times lately and hate to be repetitive. Kids learn quick from computer animations like "Shot Simulator" which teaches them where to shoot, how long to wait after the shot, etc.. You can purchase either a Deluxe CD Version or a Downloadable version here - Deer & Deer Hunting Shot Simulator.
17 September 2011 - "The Kruncher" feeding call first impression - Whitetail Institute No Plow - Shot Simulator
"The Kruncher" is a feeding call - which simulates the sound of a deer eating acorns - I got my first chance to try it out on a live wild high pressure Southern Michigan whitetail deer 15 Sept 2011. The weather has been perfect thus far for Michigan's Early Antlerless Deer Season which opened 15 Sept 2011. On the evening of the 15th I was out with my youngest daughter who is hunting for her second season under Michigan's Apprentice Hunter Program. The Jackson, Michigan Chapter of Whitetails Unlimited picked up the tab for her Antlerless Deer license - thank you - what a great way to encourage youth hunting - BRAVO!! I spotted a deer in the thick - just a brief glimpse of a spot of deer fur. I immediately turned to my daughter and whispered - there's a deer coming in - you want to switch places? And we switched spots on the two man ladder stand and I handed her the 6pt GT Flex crossbow shooting Red Hot carbon bolts tipped with 3-bladed 100gr RAGE broadheads. The deer was oblivious to our presence just feeding its way along so it was a spell before it finally stepped out of the thick and into one of our shooting lanes out about 45-50 yards away. It stopped almost perfectly broadside BUT was a 1-1/2 yr. old 7 or 8pt buck with a nicely shaped but thin and narrow basket rack (good for his young age) rather than the large doe we were hoping for to supply meat for the freezer during Early Antlerless Season. So we watched the buck move on up closer, cross two more shooting lanes and then when he stood in the 3rd shooting lane where I could clearly see his reaction I started working "The Kruncher" call behind the cover of our blind's skirt (cover). The buck did not get the least alarmed whether I worked it fast and hard or easy and slow. He moved easy out of the shooting lane and I worked the Kruncher some more and could see his head pop up every now and again indicating he had been feeding then looking up and around. Eventually he came back into the shooting lane at which point he looked directly up at us and then did get alarmed a little and trotted off. I worked the Kruncher as he trotted off but he was then in such leafy thick cover I could not see him though it did sound like he dropped out of the trot and stopped probably inside of 50 yards. Didn't see him again. So first test of the Kruncher call gave me a favorable impression. This buck presented 5 different shot opportunities during the 5-10 minutes he was inside of my youngest daughter's 50 yard "shoot with confidence zone" with the crossbow.
Promotional video for "The Kruncher"
I am pleased to report that the Whitetail Institute No Plow seed has germinated well both out in the tilled full sunlight areas and also in the partial to full shade areas in the woods. Having planted it very late for this area (early Sept) it will be interesting to see if it gets to a point where it can help provide nutritional benefit to the area deer, wild turkey, etc.. You can purchase No Plow and other Whitetail Institute seed offerings here - Deer Food Plot seeds and supplies
"Country Jack" recommends "Shot Simulator" to teach and learn where to shoot, how long to wait after the shot, etc. and you can purchase either a Deluxe CD Version or a Downloadable version here - Deer & Deer Hunting Shot Simulator.
"Country Jack" Griffes
10 September 2011 - Work stand sites in the rain - Whitetail Institute - Shot Simulator
When it is lightly raining outside is an EXCELLENT time to set up stand sites. When cutting shooting lanes, setting up ground blinds or tree stands you can't help but touch lots of vegetation which is going to hold your scent during good weather potentially for days worth of detection by an animal with the scent detection prowess of the whitetail deer. You can wear scent trapping clothing - and you can wear it out as well. You can wear your regular work clothes and use hardwood smoke (see previous post) or you can do the work during a light rain. By doing the stand site work during the rain your scent gets washed away as you apply it - helping to insure that you haven't helped the deer pattern and avoid you before you ever get on stand to hunt. Use the rain to help you and you will start looking at those rainy days as opportunities to set up new stand locations - even during the season after observations suggest a need to move a little (or a lot) to be in better position.
I watched the Whitetail Institute video "Producing TROPHY WHITETAILS with Whitetail Institute products Vol. 8" earlier this week. I am VERY impressed with Whitetail Institute's extensive research program which includes a plant breeding program geared toward whitetail deer specifically. I emphatically agree with their emphasis on the need for soil testing and amending to maximize plot potential. I have planted two full sunlight plots and two limited sunlight plots inside the woods to Whitetail Institute's Imperial No Plow and the recent rains should have helped it germinate. You can purchase No Plow and other Whitetail Institute seed offerings here - Deer Food Plot seeds and supplies
So how do you learn or teach others (like kids or grand-kids) where to aim when hunting the fabulous Whitetail Deer? May I suggest doing it via a computer program which allows you to set your shot angle (ground or tree stand - deer facing any direction you choose) and point of aim then shows you exactly where your arrow would go. You can peel away layers and see what you would hit with that point of aim from that angle. The program is called "Shot Simulator" and you can purchase either a Deluxe CD Version or a Downloadable version here - Deer & Deer Hunting Shot Simulator. Shot Simulator also helps you, your kids or grand-kids learn about what you should do with different type hits - time to wait, etc. - because unfortunately even the best shooting hunter can end up with a poor hit for a wide variety of reasons and it is the hunter's responsibility to do all that legally can be done to bring that game to bag if hit. After a poor hit you could also use the program to assess what you hit and how you should proceed trying to recover the animal.
27 Aug 2011 - Scent Control via hardwood smoke - Fall Food Plots - Shooting Lanes
When you go in to work on stand locations it really is a GOOD idea to control your scent. Why let the deer pattern you before you ever start hunting? When you are doing hard, sweaty work controlling your scent isn't easy by commonly used methods (scent trapping clothing, scent killing sprays, typical cover scents). But there is a pretty easy way to control scent which is not commonly used or even recognized - applying hardwood smoke via a bee smoker (one company markets a competitively priced bee smoker under the name "Scent Smoker" but literally all you need is a good bee smoker, some hardwood chainsaw chips or planer shavings, a bit of newspaper and a match or lighter to get it started - it may work but let me assure you that you don't need a propane torch to get a smoker started - see video below). Smoke yourself all over before you go in and smoke the area before you leave and that will minimize your impact - reduce the chance of getting you patterned - and get it done pretty easily without needing to wear out or mess up your scent controlling hunting clothes. --- Click here to read about my first ever "close encounter" using smoke as a cover scent on Thursday 25 Oct 2007. More close encounters have followed - I HIGHLY recommend hardwood smoke as an easy to use, economical, and effective cover scent.
How to light a bee smoker so it stays lit
While deciding what to plant in my two food plot expansion areas I looked back at Rusty's Mixture and decided to give Imperial No Plow a try since Rusty saw it get "ate to the ground" at his location (indicating HIGH draw power). I bought a 9lb package of Imperial No Plow locally for about $36-. It contains Dwarf Essex and Sterling Rapeseed (an oil seed plant - one variety of which is known as Canola) along with Alex Berseem, Yucchi Arrowleaf, and Dixie Crimson clovers plus Gulf Annual Ryegrass (a MAJOR component in this mix @ 25.57%). I planted the two food plot expansion areas I have been repeatedly tilling using a small hand held plastic crank handle John Deere 4-Season Spreader (about $22- locally). I found that a setting of 2 was about perfect with this little JD broadcast spreader. I walked at a good pace longways on the plot with only slight overlap then did the same crosswise over entire plot area a second time. I recommend setting your planter to plant about half the seed on your first set of planting passes which cover entire plot area then do a second set of planting passes perpendicular to your original direction to help insure better, more complete coverage when seeding by the broadcast method. Using a broadcast spreader definitely helps with consistency as compared to the original broadcast seeding method of tossing seed by hand - but it can be done simply by hand tossing the seed - though it is very hard to get even coverage without a LOT of practice. Since our larger old shoulder strap hand crank broadcast spreader has seen its better years it was time to retire it. The little JD spreader has a lot less capacity but worked great for spreading the small Imperial No Plow seeds over fairly small areas.
I used the remainder of the Imperial No Plow seed to plant around a couple of two person stands in our woodlot - these areas got ZERO tillage - so they will test out how well it really germinates with no tillage. (Some of the seed is coated - which should help retain moisture and aid germination.) I also seeded the grassy tractor trail in between these two stands which are nearly 100 yards apart. And I opened up some better shooting lanes from one of those stands. Then to minimize my lingering scent I fired up my bee smoker and smoked down the area where I was cutting shooting lanes (with quiet hand pruning tools) - also where I had seeded inside the woods and the entire trail I followed in and out. Hardwood smoke in an area where many people heat with wood is a common smell to deer - they don't seem to be able to discern human scent through it (which is amazing but that is what it looks like based on observations I've made while hunting). Smoke leaves solid scent particles clinging to foliage, clothing, etc.. Hardwood smoke is also a GREAT and easy to use cover scent - at least where wood burning for heat is common - I can't tell you from my own experience if it works in areas where deer aren't used to the smell of smoke from wood burners - though some claim it works everywhere.
Now we just need a good rain to get the seed going. I can hardly wait to see how the tilled and untilled areas work out.
20 Aug 2011
Currently our food plot areas here in Lenawee County, Michigan are in wet areas where our concern is planting seeds which are either annual plants capable of making their growth during a very short growing season (short due to seasonal flooding forcing late planting) OR perennial plants that are both highly palatable to deer/turkey PLUS able to handle wet feet and seasonal flooding. My food plot objective is "year round nutritional support." If the local farmers till under crop residues that could have helped wildlife have an easier winter - the food plots remain standing for herd/flock nutritional support even through the winter (just paw through snow for access - and they do when they need/want to.)
This early morning I'm sharing with you a tip that doesn't have current application for me personally. This is a tip for food plots in higher, drier areas - areas where you don't get reliable rain - areas where your planting timing may not mesh with reliable rain to support germination and early growth. This tip comes in the way of a video about a type of moisture holding gel that has been used for years in certain types of agriculture and which Hunter's Specialties is now offering for easy food plot application via sprayer in a bag size more suited to food plot use. Check it out.
Vita Rack Moisture Trap by Hunter's Specialties
17 Aug 2011
My deer hunting tip for today is: Practice, Practice, Practice. Make sure your sights or optics are zeroed well before the hunt opener. Make sure you are very familiar with your equipment by means of lots of practice sessions. Practice sessions don't have to be long. You usually get just one shot opportunity at a time while hunting - so be ready to turn that opportunity into meat in your freezer. Practicing with my two youngest kids I often tell them - "you have to make a kill zone hit - if you make it on the first shot you are done at that yardage" - then I let them pick what yardage we shoot from. I worried at first they would always pick 20 yards but they don't - they switch it up OR go for longer range challenges. Other times I'll say "tonight it is two kill zone hits in a row." For my kids that motivates concentration on making good first shots during the practice session - since a good first shot is the objective when hunting.
The six shot group in the photo below was shot by me this evening under good light with just a slight breeze from kneeling position using the Steady Eddy on my 6pt GT Flex crossbow at its 180-lb pull setting. While it looks like a group fired from a single yardage it actually is two shots from 30 yards (middle crosshair), two shots at 40 yards (bottom crosshair), and two shots at 50 yards (where the upright post goes from thick to thin). That group tells me I have my scope well zeroed. It also confirms that my "almost every night" practice sessions have been paying off. Take a look.
6pt GT Flex crossbow video by TenPoint Crossbow Technologies
Steady Eddy video - a GREAT accessory from TenPoint Crossbow Technologies
6 Aug 2011
To double their size - a couple weeks back I mowed down the high grass near two small food plots and begin the work of repetitively tilling these areas to break up the sod and get them fit for broadcast seeding. I suspect I will have to till each area at least 2 or 3 more times before the soil is ready and the grass is defeated without the use of herbicides. One area is very wet so it will likely be going into Haman Farms "Junkyard" Birdsfoot Trefoil. The other area is a bit higher and drier so I may put it into the original Griffes - Neil whitetail deer food plot recipe. What we plant will also depend upon how soon we can get the grass defeated without herbicides and the soil fit for planting. It will also depend upon the outlook for rain needed during the early stages of growth.
If you start your deer hunting in September as we do then I hope you are well along into practicing your shooting with the weapon or weapons you intend to use. Do your sighting in off a steady rest - but be sure to practice offhand and improvised rest positions likely to be used in actual hunting situations. When checking 50 yard zero of the Charles Daly 2-7x Widefield scope on my shotgun on 3 Aug 2011 I found it to be "right on" putting two consecutive slugs touching each other and very near target center. Moved up closer and did a bunch of offhand shooting with a couple different .22LR rifles afterward to get in practice shooting offhand for a whole lot cheaper - while also being a whole lot easier on my shoulder. Following the "Aim small! - Miss small!" principle a couple of friends and I shot various small reactive targets with the .22LR doing the same from 25 yards.
I am becoming increasingly convinced that, where legal, the crossbow is very possibly the ULTIMATE young youth deer hunting weapon - allowing them a rested position - no recoil to discourage sufficient practice - and with AccuDraw they can even reset the crossbow themselves under watchful parental supervision. My nine year old son is doing very well off our monopod with the GT Flex crossbow shooting Red Hot crossbow arrows (aka "bolts"). At various yardages my nine year old son will shoot first then I shoot next with all the pressure on knowing if I don't make as good a shot as he just did then I will never live it down. Here's photos of 35 yards, then 40 yards, then 50 yards.
8 July 2011
Watch as a few friends and I literally shoot holes in claims still made in the Sportsman's Guide (SG) Fall 2011 Shooter's catalog. In a nutshell, their "Large Bore Shooting Tree" is "defective by design" and SG has known it for well over a year yet continues to run the same FALSE CLAIMS in their mail order catalogs. Be sure to share it with your friends so they don't get suckered by SG.
23 June 2011
Lots of rain this year has made me grateful for how well Haman Farms "Junkyard" Birdsfoot Trefoil handles wet feet. Here's wishing you great luck with your food plots and Happy Hunting this Fall.
21 May 2011
My youngest son and I planted approx. 20 apple cores (seeds inside) at strategic locations in our woodlot today - with hopes that in a decade they may bear fruit and draw deer. We also transplanted about a two foot tall oak seedling that I had avoided mowing in our horse pasture near a past stand location that someday will again have a stand. So our efforts of the day were all geared toward long range planning - for a decade out or maybe longer. We did do one "right now" thing - pulled down a couple of safety harnesses and a seat cushion and put them away for several months - break time when they don't have to get beat up by the weather.
28 April 2011 & 19 May 2011
All the rainy weather hereabouts lately reminds me of the best food plot seed I have found thus far for not only surviving but thriving in an area that normally is wet every Spring/Fall - wet enough that you just can't plant anything there unless you plant awfully late - well after cash crops need to be planted. I give a hearty recommendation to Haman Farms "Junkyard" Birdsfoot Trefoil. Both deer and wild turkey like it. It can handle wet feet. In a wet spot where "marsh grass" tends to out-compete everything Haman Farms "Junkyard" Birdsfoot Trefoil has thickened up and out-competed all comers with just one or two mowings per year as all the help it has been given to favor it over any invasive weeds. For wet areas I have not yet seen another food plot seed that is even a close match. Give it a try in your wet area - remembering, of course, that you always have to insure proper soil pH. And if you have another "wet area" option that really works with low maintenance please let me know. click
here to contact me via email with wet area food plot success stories.
6 March 2011
This time of year as we are in the Maple sap collecting season with some days that are above freezing and nights which are back below freezing - thoughts just naturally start turning to the woods and what might be done to improve whitetail deer hunting this coming Fall (over six months away)- perhaps wondering about the best food plots - perhaps picking new stand locations - perhaps getting hunting equipment touched back up after a long season afield. So what can be done right now to make whitetail deer hunting better this Fall?
Trail Improvement - If you make it easier to get somewhere the deer want to go they will use your trail sometimes even the night after you did your trail improvement even if you shift the trail a bit to make it better for your hunting purposes (and sometimes a rough mower is all it takes to shift the trail) - why not make your trails serve two purposes and become a green food source inside the woods where whitetail deer can mosey along your green trail feeding as they go before they would dream of venturing out into a more open and exposed food plot.
Stand Site Selection - Right now is the perfect time to be out scouting - snow and mud make for easy spotting of deer trails you might not previously have noted - and the lack of pressure on you gives you time to better analyze the best ambush point relative to wind carrying your scent, etc.. Perhaps not quite this early but do hang your stands months early as well and then let the woods forget you were ever there until it is time to hunt that particular stand via trusting your early scouting. (You pattern the deer rather than inadvertently helping them pattern and avoid you.)
Fertilize select oaks and select areas of soft mast (fruit) close to stand sites. - Either purchase tree fertilizer spikes for nut trees and pound them into the drip line (once the ground thaws a bit) or buy loose fertilizer and use a pick/mattock to make a hole to pour fertilizer into along the drip line which you then cover over with soil. Do a search or ask your county extension agent what is the best fertilizer for oaks or soft mast in your area.
Saturday 15 Jan 2011
Watch a video here of a call I plan to test while hunting next Fall. It is
"The Kruncher." I picked one up on half off closeout clearance for about $5 the
week between Christmas 2010 and New Years 2011 but didn't get a chance to test it
during that final week of Archery and private land Antlerless Deer hunting here in
Lenawee County, Michigan. I was hoping to test it during the late season when the
deer are grouped up and very spooky after 3+ months of hunting pressure but the
opportunity just didn't come - so I'll test it Fall 2011 instead, God willing.
Videos I've watched make it look promising - with a calming, drawing effect on both
bucks and does that stimulates them to feed - which they only do when calm. A call
that gives a calming effect sounds GREAT to me - as most calls tend to put the deer
on high alert when they come in (very actively looking for source of call.) I am
looking forward to trying this out and reporting what happens.
I would really like to see some side by side trials of deer food plots - a strip of
several competitive food plots right next to each other all on the same soil in the
same overall food plot area - just like corn and soybean seed test plots for
farmers. Then take and protect a small portion of each different strip of deer food
plot with a small circle of moderately tight weave fencing secured to a t-post so
the deer can't graze inside that fence protected area and you can thus see how much
they have been grazing the rest of the plot. That would be very interesting to me -
I may just have to see if I can find some food plot seed companies willing to
supply seed, (fertilizer, lime, and weed killer - if required) and rent the ground
required to conduct that experiment on some neighboring property. If you are a
food plot seed supplier and this interests you - click
here to contact me via email.
9 Jan 2011
Because of the possibility of your straps slipping through the
buckles which could cause you to fall we will need you to install a secondary
Please contact us to receive your safety buckles free of charge.
Contact us via email at email@example.com
or call (563)513-1192
or write to
Cox Outdoor Product Inc.
7240 Olde Davenport Rd.
La Motte, IA. 52054
Addendum by "Country Jack" Griffes
A second user installable redundant buckle has been added after each primary buckle and this redundant secondary buckle Safety Enhancement passed a Reliability Test on 8 Jan 2011 involving a 300lb dummy strapped in the Treesuit being dropped two feet to fall arrest 30 times from various angles (nothing budged - no failures) - then with no adjustment 30 three foot drops to fall arrest (1/2 inch of belt slippage - no failures) - then 30 four foot drops to fall arrest (1 inch belt slippage and Dee Ring bent but not broken - no failures). That's right - 90 drops of a 300lb. dummy and the Safety Enhanced Treesuit didn't fail - that's pretty impressive. IF you own the Recliner Strap accessory already it is STRONGLY recommended that RIGHT NOW (before you get new clips from Cox) that you use the two clip/buckles from your recliner strap to install the Safety Enhancement to your Treesuit - place one on your chest/safety strap a short ways after the Primary buckle and thread the running end of the strap through that secondary buckle after threading it through the Primary buckle. Do the same thing with the Seat Strap. This Safety Enhancement adds redundancy to the system and GREATLY enhances safety. I know you likely feel perfectly safe in your Treesuit already but please do install and use this Safety Enhancement immediately so you are protected against the unlikely event of belt slippage through the Primary Buckle which should not even be possible but which did happen to me causing a fall and a cracked right fibula on the evening of 1 Jan 2011. I contacted both the inventor and the current manufacturer on 2 Jan 2011 and just one week after my fall a Reliability Tested and user installable safety fix is ready for you to implement. I will be using my Safety Enhanced Treesuit this next season - I have taken 80% of the deer I have killed the past two years from my Treesuit with only 50% of my locations being Treesuit locations.
2010 update --- posted 2 Jan 2011
--Took a mature doe from my Treesuit with Mossberg 500 12 gauge shotgun and "regular"
Winchester rifled slug during Early Antlerless Season in September - deer came in
from multiple directions to feed on the abundant crop of acorns. With deer behind
me to my left and also coming toward my front right I decided to take a mature doe
coming toward my front right since I could take her at about 20 yards with minimal
movement on my part to get on target. On this hunt I was wearing multiple layers of
ScentLok which may somewhat have helped
reduce my scent on that hunt though I don't think the deer nearest my scent drop
zone (behind me to the left) had come far enough South to hit it - but you can't
always tell because slight wind shifts can really spread your scent drop zone out
at times. These were all "wander by" deer and none seemed alerted to my presence in
the least until that single shotgun blast rang out. As a "meat hunter" it is always
nice to get venison in the freezer early - takes pressure off the rest of deer
--Took a young doe with 6pt GT Flex crossbow (made by Tenpoint Crossbow Technologies) on Christmas evening with a 100gr. 3-bladed RAGE broadhead tipped carbon bolt/arrow.
As of Christmas evening 2010 I have now taken deer here in Michigan with 5 different weapons in this order:
1st - Kodiak 50 caliber Percussion Muzzleloading blackpowder side by side double rifle (patched round ball, Buffalo Bullet conicals, and Ball-ets) I hunted deer exclusively with this rifle for many years even during regular Firearm Season
2nd - 12 gauge Shotgun (mostly with various full bore slugs, one with 00Buck)
3rd - Compound Bow (Wasp SST Hammer broadheads and RAGE 2-bladed 100gr. broadheads)
4th - 45ACP model 1911 style pistol (Winchester 230gr. JHP Personal Defense ammo)
5th - Crossbow (RAGE 3-bladed 100gr. broadhead)
Haman Farms "Junkyard" Birdsfoot Trefoil still doing GREAT - nice and thick - out competing most things with near zero maintenance. I think I mowed it once in 2010 - perhaps once or twice in 2009.
I have been collecting mainly apple seeds (in the core) but also pear seeds and broadcasting them in some very specific areas of our woodlot where the canopy isn't as thick OR where the ash trees are dying due to the nasty Emerald Ash Borer which is killing 90+% of our Ash trees and thus opening up canopy where Ash trees once dominated. Not having had any luck with transplanted seedling apple tree survival I had pretty much given up on that notion yet still wanted to have more fruit trees in the woods for wildlife food. I recently read an article wherein the author had planted about 20 acres of oak forest via tilling ground to prepare seedbed then broadcasting acorns then discing them in about 2"-3" deep because he like myself had abysmal luck with transplants. The basic concept of planting his oak forest was getting as many acorns buried at about squirrel nut hiding depth as easily as possible. (Squirrels plant LOTS of oak and hickory trees via failing to dig up some of the nuts they bury for food storage.) Growing the trees from seed right where he wanted them garnered him about 25% germination and survival by year two AND a LOT lower cost - never had to water them, etc.. He did practice weed control via spraying to cut competition for light, water, and soil nutrients. That article on growing an oak forest via broadcasting acorns caused the "Johnny Appleseed" lightbulb to click on in my head and I started saving apple and pear cores for the seeds they contain. Generally Nature plants apple seeds atop the ground via fruit drop - so for now I am just broadcasting apple and pear seeds (in the core left after eating the fruit) atop the ground (broadcasting any seed you should expect LOW germination - meaning broadcast several times more seed than you would plant.) An internet search suggested a planting depth of about a half inch for apple seed should I decide to plant rather than continue to broadcast the apple seeds. And of course this is a "long view" type project as it could easily be six years to a decade before any apple tree grown from seed might bear fruit and possibly longer than that in the shady woodlot environment. Currently I have only found one apple tree growing near the North edge of my woodlot. So here's hoping for a few more woodlot fruit trees bearing fruit for wildlife food in about a decade. The idea is that I want to favor trees and plants in my woodlot that provide good wildlife food so that wildlife will be drawn to my part of the woods because there is a variety and abundance of foods they favor.
belated update for 2009 - added 19 Nov 2010
Haman Farms "Junkyard"
Birdsfoot Trefoil still doing GREAT - nice and thick - out competing most
things with near zero maintenance. I think I mowed it once in 2010 - perhaps once
or twice in 2009.
Mature doe taken with pistol from a tree stand in Lenawee County, MI
Find below my hunt reports of my ScentLok test hunts during the Early Antlerless
Season of 2008.
Saturday 20 Sept 2008 - hunt
Between 8 and 8:30am a mature doe with two this year's offspring
came in toward my "swamp to swamp trail" stand. As they got up within pistol range
I drew my Kimber CDP2 .45ACP and dropped the mature doe right in her tracks (photo
below) from what I later paced off as 22 yards. As I was about to stand up after
taking off my safety belt so I could go take the doe I suddenly saw another doe
with a single this year's offspring coming up my shooting lane from the East and
apparently extremely curious about the deer kicking out its last despite the
gunfire so recently. So I saw 5 antlerless deer and bagged one which the DNR Check
Station at Jerome Country Market believed was a 3-1/2 yr. old doe. ---- None of
these five antlerless deer appeared to detect any human odor. I suspect they were
all a bit too far North to hit my scent though they were East of me. But obviously
you can believe what you want to believe. On all my past hunts this season I only
spritzed my rubber "hunting only" boots with
Wildlife Research Center Scent Killer (unscented version). This morning I
spritzed all the ScentLok as well (based on a
suggestion from an earlier email from Greg Sesselman). I do wish these deer had
gone a bit further South so I could report whether or not the
Scent Killer seemed to make a positive difference.
This morning was the first time I heard any shots fired in this area during the Early Antlerless Season - and this evening I also heard a few. The folks at Jerome Country Market said they had taken in around 100 deer since Thursday when the Early Antlerless season began - with about 50 of them taken in yesterday (Friday).
As a meat hunter it feels good to have a good start on the venison gathering. I will likely spend the early part of Archery Season cutting firewood like crazy - either in prep for a few rattling sessions in early November or maybe with the way the Rutting Moon falls on 13 Nov this year - maybe I will wait and try rattling on Opening Day of Firearm Season. But I doubt I can stand NOT hunting at least a bit during Archery Season - so odds are good I will get in a few morning hunts at least - then get busy cutting wood once my help gets around.
Since calling proved pointless during this Early Antlerless Season all observations ended up being on wander by deer. Greg Sesselman believes wander by deer are the best test of ScentLok but I believe few wander by deer ever get in your scent drop zone IF you choose your stand site well for the wind conditions that day (but I also realize the wind shifts around a lot). Called in deer are a better test of any scent eliminating or scent covering product in my opinion BECAUSE called in deer are actively looking for the source of the sound and when they don't find what they thought they should see they tend to do a scent check to see if it smells like it should based on what they heard. This tends to eventually place them in your scent drop zone IF a shooting opportunity does not occur before then.
So that is my report thus far.
Friday 19 Sept 2008 - Hunt Report
morning hunt - t-totally skunked - no deer sightings - and I was
sitting on "old Faithful" which is generally a great morning stand and perhaps the
very best stand for calling either bucks or does - the dew was very heavy so my
lower pant legs got wet walking through the field to and from the woods -
accordingly I put all the Scent-Lok stuff I have been wearing (Base Layers, Pants,
Shirt, Head Cover, Shooter's gloves) in the dryer for a good 20 minutes or so to
dry off and get partially recharged while I got ready to go to work
evening hunt - approx 1-1/2 hour from time I started hiking out to hunt until quit time - rather than head to a stand I decided to sit on the ground in a narrow strip of woods bordering a powerline right of way to the North (with a swale after that) and a cornfield to the South - saw a six point buck that came in from the cornfield to eat nuts off the ground - he moseyed around foraging for quite a spell - quite oblivious to me - but eventually as he got about 40 yards away he noticed something that looked different - out of place next to the tree I was sitting next to - he got real curious and slowly came up to about ten yards away from me trying to do a scent check while watching me real close to see if I moved - the only motion I made was breathing and as long as the incident took I surely couldn't hold my breath - the buck stepped behind the tree I was seated beside (still about ten yards away) so that the only thing he could see was my shotgun barrel at that point and I could no longer see any part of him - and suddenly he turned with flag flying and bolted back toward the cornfield - not full tilt but decidedly alarmed - my bet is he finally did hit the right spot and caught my scent
---- oddly I have not yet been able to get a single doe to come to my calls - I figured this early season would be red hot for calling does --- so far it hasn't been but we shall see what tomorrow holds - I will head across the road and sit on the swamp to swamp trail stand tomorrow morning ----------------
Hunt Report - Thursday 18 Sept
This morning I got into my Chameleon Bow Blind (over a two-man ladder
stand) about 10 minutes before shooting time. I was garbed in the new ScentLok Base Layers, Pants, and Shirt - with high
rubber boots long dedicated to hunting only. I keep my phone on "vibrate only" and
inside a zip closure plastic sandwich bag with its calendar feature set up to
vibrate when opening time arrives and when closing time arrives - so I don't have
to watch the clock nor wonder. Approx. one minute after opening time a deer I could
not see behind me (to the South) did the alarm snort several times - my suspicion
is that it smelled me but it is possible that it had heard me climbing into my
stand earlier and come over to investigate already highly suspicious. But quite
frankly I did NOT blow any deer out of there on the way in and I had been up and in
for ten minutes - so my gut tells me it was a scent detection alarm snort. I could
not detect any hint of breeze. I sat and silently listened and observed for about
45 minutes then did one series of fawn distress bleats and nothing came to the
call. Later on two bucks - a 6pt and a long narrow forkhorn wandered by to the
North completely oblivious to my presence. A while later - while the pair bucks
were moseying off and occasionally coming into view about 100 yards to the West a
long narrow spike wandered by to the South - he seemed to note my scent - he looked
up at me (in the Chameleon blind) several times - he did not react with alarm
however and moseyed around eating, licking leaves, etc. and seemingly to keep an
eye on but some distance from the pair of bucks that had passed by earlier.
Evening hunt - I got out for only an hour - slipping in quiet I spotted deer when I was about twenty feet from the same stand I hunted in the morning. I could see I had not been noticed so when the time was right I carefully slipped a few feet forward to a tree I could use for cover and to help steady my shot IF a shot presented itself. It was a nice doe with a set of nice big this years offspring. They started slipping South probably 100 yards to the West of me and then suddenly they turned and came back quick seemingly alarmed a bit. They halted at about the area I had first seen them then slipped further North. I listened a while - scanned all around me to insure nothing had slipped in somewhere else whilst I was fixed on these three. I then got up in the Chameleon Bow Blind again. I waited a short while (time being short) and then did a series of loud fawn distress bleats - and briefly from the thick I saw the fleeting rumps of two younglings apparently spooked by the very loud call with them so close but unseen in the thick (likely the three I had seen earlier had been swinging my way quite unbeknownst to me because it was so thick there.) Later on, but not all that long afterward a long narrow Spike (probably the same one) came East to West to the South of me - never noticing my presence.
I did not blow any deer out on trips in or out today. So that is my report for the day.
I am yet pondering on going back to that same stand (obviously I have been seeing deer there so that is a pull) OR going across the road to another in the morning.
Saturday before daybreak 27 Sept 2008
This year for the first time in the thirty plus years I have been
hunting deer here in Michigan the DNR instituted a Early Firearm Antlerless Season
18-22 Sept 2008 (Southern Lower Peninsula plus a few Northern Lower Peninsula
counties) because they have not been able to reach their harvest quotas. It is
amazing how the deer population has changed since I was a teenager and the DNR
estimated the statewide herd at approx. a half million with a goal to reach a
million. Now the DNR generally estimates the herd at 1.5 - 1.7 million whitetail
deer statewide and hunters routinely harvest 400,000+ deer every year which is just
not enough to maintain the million deer population they feel we should have.
Basically after 30 years of population growth via scientific management using
hunting as a management tool we deer hunters now harvest each year pretty nearly
what was the entire state population of deer thirty years ago - and after we do
that we still have over twice the deer population we had thirty years ago. We see
most does with twins and an occasional one with triplets in this area. I have had
some people tell me triplets are commonplace in their areas any more.
I arranged with work to have a modified work schedule during this Early Antlerless Season so that I could hunt each morning and each evening hunt and try to get a jump on putting venison in the freezer. My kids have ate so much venison steak and roast over the years that they prefer it to beef - so to keep them happy I pretty much have got to get out and hunt - pretty rough duty but somebody's got to do it. (big grin)
Today I will gather up some mature Milkweed seed pods - so that I can use the "float in the wind" seeds for wind checkers while hunting - to help me keep easier track of where my "scent drop zone" should be at any time - which should help me tell if/when Scent-Lok is helping me "get away with something" as I continue to test the new ScentLok gear Greg Sesselman sent me. My objective is to give the new ScentLok gear a fair test. Out in the woods there are so many variables at play that I believe it is very important to KNOW as closely as possible where your scent should be when testing any scent elimination or scent covering product.
"Country Jack" Griffes
12 Sept 2008
We had a very rainy Spring and early Summer this year and the
"Junkyard" Birdsfoot Trefoil from Hamann Farms
in Wisconsin has thickened up and done just fantastic - made a really nice
stand in all 3 spots it is planted. The area is a low area - clay loam - so it
stays VERY wet during rainy periods and we had a long rainy period this year. So I
am happy that it has done as promised in a "wet feet" area which is where it is
supposed to shine. I know it has been visited by deer - I have let it go fully to
seed this year rather than mow it - I wanted it to produce seed and drop it on the
soil. The wild turkeys seem to like the seed methinks. I moved the ladder stand
that overlooks the plot because the ash borer killed the tree it was on (and a
bunch of others - which I took down a week or so ago and need to get cut up or drug
out of there). It is sickening seeing all these ash trees dieing off. I bet I have
cut down 30 plus ash trees so far this month - all killed by emerald ash
I put up my newly purchased Chameleon Bow Blind Wednesday evening. I have a VERY good first impression of it. Saw two bucks inside of bow range right after making final adjustments. The first one I saw only as he moved out of sight behind leaf cover so I didn't get to see his reaction (if any) to the "just appeared" blind over a two man ladder stand that had been there since just after Christmas last year. But I saw the second buck look over that way - and he did not look the least bit alarmed - didn't take a second look - just moseyed on along. And the Chameleon Bow Blind went up easily and pretty quickly even that first time I put it up - which is impressive. It can be used over a tree stand or as a ground level blind against a tree. I like the idea of having a roof over my head when hunting in light rain or snow and will report on how that goes sometime later after doing it.
Next week starts the Michigan Early Firearm Antlerless Deer Season (18-22 Sept 2008). I love calling deer and am a meat hunter so I am looking forward to what I believe will be a red hot doe calling opportunity. I will pack along my scoped 12 gauge Mossberg 500 along with my .45ACP Kimber. My hope is to get a deer or two in the freezer early on and if I get the opportunity to do it cleanly with my pistol that will be icing on the cake (but mind you "meat in the freezer" is the first priority and I won't blow that to take another deer with my pistol.) We have at least one doe again this year that has produced a very fine set of triplets - we had one in this area last year as well - probably the same doe I would guess.
Greg Sesselman of ScentLok has communicated with me several times thinking that I may have gotten a defective set of coveralls. He has generously sent me a variety of ScentLok products to test out while calling deer during the early season this year (2008). Calling gives the perfect opportunity to actually test out scent control because the deer that come to your call(s) ARE actively trying to find the source of the sound. IF a shot opportunity does not immediately occur they tend to circle the area they think the sound came from to scent check it once they don't see what they heard. This tends to eventually place them right in your "scent drop zone" (assuming you are in a elevated stand) and I noted to ScentLok that I was busted multiple times on scent when PROPERLY using ScentLok - so Greg wants me to test all new stuff and see if I get the results he believes are more typical of ScentLok - namely remaining undetected or leaving such a reduced scent plume that the deer think you are much further away - not an immediate danger. I have agreed to give the new ScentLok stuff a try - the new ScentLok clothing arrived a couple days ago. I look forward to giving it a try and hope that the deer cooperate well with calling on multiple occasions so I get a chance to REALLY see if ScentLok works "as claimed" or if (to me) it does not appear to make much (if any) difference. My past experience with ScentLok coveralls, head cover, and gloves - worn with rubber boots that NEVER were worn in the house nor vehicle, etc. has been that if it helps it is at a minor level - you can still get busted on scent even taking all the proper recharge directions, dressing precautions, etc.. So check back for a report - and hopefully deer will come in to my calls well so I have experiences to report on. Thanks Gregg for your generosity and your faith in your product which makes this test possible. I can definitely say that ScentLok supports their product better than any place I have ever dealt with - very, very impressive customer support/service.
"Country Jack" Griffes
Mature doe taken with pistol from a tree stand in Lenawee County, MI
16 Nov 2007 approx. 8am
"Country Jack" Griffes
11 Nov 2007
Had another very close encounter yesterday evening - two deer came
in shortly after my phone alarm told me shooting time was over. They spent a good
deal of time in the area and each came up to within 2 yards of the tree I was in
and looked right up at me. NO signs of alarm were given. The deer both acted calm -
like nothing was wrong. They both left by a trail downwind of me and they took
their jolly time moving out. I think one of them bedded down South of me and I
unfortunately bumped it on the way out - after staying on stand for likely an extra
half hour to try and avoid bumping any deer coming in or going out.
28 Oct 2007
As some of you are aware for a number of years I have taken the
"eliminate human odor" approach toward having close encounters with whitetail deer.
The objective is to be totally undetected (by scent - you still have to not get
busted for sight or sound and hardest of all by that "sense of danger" the really
wily ones seem to have). To try and accomplish this I use scent free soap and
shampoo (and shower just before each time out hunting) - after showering I use
scent free antiperspirant and for the past couple seasons I also have used ScentLok clothing (coveralls, head cover, gloves)
along with high rubber boots that are totally dedicated to hunting (never allowed
even in the house or car to avoid picking up foreign odors). I recharge my ScentLok
(in the drier per manufacturer instructions) about every 20-30 hours of hunting
(they claim it will go 40 hrs). And I use a scent killing spray to boot (mainly
hydrogen peroxide and baking soda along with a surfactant package). Using that
"strive to be scent free" approach I have had some close encounters with whitetail
deer (which to me is very enjoyable - having 'em up so close you can see them
chewing without any visual aid - whether hunting or not at the time). In calling
situations (I love to call deer) I have also been scent detected eventually
(despite all my efforts to be scent free as possible) on several occasions as both
bucks and does tend to circle the place they figure the sound came from when
visually things don't add up - they are apparently trying to scent check the area
to see if their nose agrees with what their ears told them but which their eyes
can't see - basically trying to make sense of what doesn't make sense visually.
Since they are essentially hunting for you at that point I have gotten busted for
scent in those type situations IF the deer eventually got into the perfect downwind
spot where my very faint plume of human scent was falling to their level (I
virtually always hunt from a tree stand or use a Treesuit ).
While doing a search for tree stands on eBay earlier this year I somehow pulled up another hunting related item that was on sale - it was called a "Scent Smoker" which as a beekeeper I immediately recognized as a bee smoker being used for a different purpose (The Mill in Onsted sells a couple of different bee smokers). I read up on what they were doing and essentially they are using the smoker to efficiently cover every bit of clothing and skin and equipment with a layer of hardwood smoke. Smoke has a bunch of small solid particles suspended in a stream of air - so it does have the ability to cling to and stay on surfaces and also overpower many scents that are gas based (and thus volatilize away from the area) as opposed to solid (like the smoke particles.) Lots of folks (including us) in our area burn firewood as a home heating fuel - so the deer hereabouts smell hardwood smoke frequently. And I have read of people either accidentally or intentionally using hardwood smoke to cover human scent in the past - in fact after reading the book Aggressive Whitetail Hunting by Greg Miller a few years ago I have sporadically taken my old camos down by the wood burning furnace and smoked them up on occasion - but never with intent to seriously test out hardwood smoke as a cover/eliminator of human scent. Actually using a bee smoker or ScentSmoker just makes the application of a heavy layer of hardwood smoke right were you want it (everywhere without missing anything)) so much easier and quicker. And to boot I already owned a couple of bee smokers (one on loan to a beginning beekeeper friend) - so I had on hand the equipment to do the experiment - no purchase necessary. (stainless bee smoker or stainless Scent Smoker - either one should last a lifetime - the bellows can be replaced if damaged by accident or neglect - and duct tape can repair the bellows at least temporarily in a pinch)
Here is my report of my initial "close encounter" report using hardwood smoke from a smoker. -----
On Thursday evening 25 Oct 2007 (about 1/2 hour before closing time) - I couldn't have had a doe along with her twin offspring (button buck and young doe) any closer to me UNLESS they started on up my climbing sticks --- and I was using hardwood smoke applied by my bee smoker - I was wearing clothes I had worn all morning the previous day while out hiking all over helping the surveyor find survey markers (to insure I had on stuff that was sweated in to make it a harder test to pass - just the opposite of what I did using ScentLok when I did everything to get as scent free as possible before donning ScentLok) - my under clothing was worn all day today at work (exposed to all sorts of lab, chemical, and manufacturing odors) - and my old camo stuff (not the ScentLok) along with a head net (not my ScentLok head cover) and jersey gloves (not my ScentLok gloves) and my farm work winter hat with ear flaps (worn a LOT while cutting wood and other sweaty smelly things) -- all quite thoroughly smoked up with hardwood bark smoke --- oh and I wore my work boots which I wear doing all sorts of farm and farrier work including stuff involving diesel fuel, pumping gas, cutting firewood, etc. (not my hunting boots that have never been even worn in a car nor even in the house). I was using my Treesuit ) (which I also covered with smoke) with my feet about 12.5-13 ft off the ground (not real high) and the doe came in and stuck her nose right on my raked trail (to cut down on entry and exit noise) yet never got alarmed. She walked right over to the very tree I was in to take a look and a sniff of my climbing sticks (smoked them when I hung them). She even looked right up at me (she looked like she spotted my climbing sticks when she stood on my raked trail which lead to the climbing sticks and came over to see what kind of odd looking tree/vine - it was as if she looked like she was merely following the shape of the climbing sticks up not looking up sensing danger - the button buck did the same thing as his Mom (I did not move at all aside from moving my eyes somewhat trying to keep the deer under observation without too much direct staring at them especially while they were potentially looking my way - though seemingly not recognizing me as a predator). Then they all moved over to the downwind side and yet not one of them every showed the least bit of alarm - not one snort - not one hoof stamp - not one sudden alarm jump - nothing. They got up so close on me so fast (and remarkably quietly considering the crunchy leaves) that I hadn't gotten a hold of my bow let alone gotten my release attached to the string. Finally as they began to move off (all three heads not looking my way in the least) I got the bow up and to full draw but the doe never gave me a shot - and the party of 3 just meandered off seemingly totally unalarmed.
So - while I am NOT totally sure these 3 deer got far enough downwind to hit my main scent plume (though I wasn't very high so they may have) I would certainly think they had every chance to smell anything from my boots on my trail in AND/OR where my gloves and boots had touched my climbing sticks as I climbed up since they were literally right next to it (could have dropped an acorn straight down on them) and at least the doe stuck her nose right up to it to check it out. So my first "close encounter with deer" using hardwood smoke as my "human scent eliminator" did produce the claimed results - the deer stayed calm - didn't perceive the nearby human threat - acted like nothing in the world was wrong - just went about sampling leaves hither and yon. But being a Lab manager let me assure you I realize that one experience does NOT a study make - so I will keep on trying it out and seeing what happens. So far I haven't donned my ScentLok this season (but I have barely started hunting - only been out 4 times) and I have to admit that lighting up my bee smoker and not worrying a pinch about all the scent free stuff is a LOT easier. I have yet to see what happens with a called in deer - one that is actually hunting for the sound I made - that is where I have been repeatedly busted with the "keep as scent free as humanly possible" method. So hardwood smoke still needs to pass that FAR HIGHER level of muster to get my full nod of approval but this first close encounter was amazingly encouraging. Quite frankly I will be surprised if anything can pass that level of muster - but I will let ya know what happens when I eventually see it firsthand.
If you also try out hardwood smoke to cover/eliminate human scent I would be very interested in your report(s) as well. IF you get busted (on scent - not movement or noise) - I want to know that as well (explain conditions).
Country Jack bowhunting in Ingham County, MI using
18 April 2007
It looks like finally now the deer have started eating the turnips in the Shot Plot. I understand it is a major attractor some places but the deer definitely did not use it much, if at all, here until well after hunting season ended - even now they aren't working it over but the sign shows they are now nibbling away at the turnips.
I am planning to plant "Junkyard" Birdsfoot Trefoil this year which I purchased from Hamann Farms in Wisconsin. I am trying the "junkyard" birdsfoot trefoil variety because I am looking for something that can stand flooding since hereabouts my food plot areas tend toward the wet side. I also want to grow something that is well adapted to the area AND HIGHLY palatable for deer but is not commonly grown with the intention that if they want it they have to come get it from my plot(s). (Hamann Farms calls "Junkyard" - "Trefoil Trophy Rack Starter" - adapted for low pH, low fertility, low drainage areas - perfect fit for where I have it planted. As I add this parenthetical note 13 Sept 2008 "Junkyard" birdsfoot trefoil is doing GREAT in 3 small low fertility, low pH, low drainage areas - nice and thick - where other stuff has struggled "Junkyard" birdsfoot trefoil has thrived.)
I may yet order some CanaMaize ClearShot fast maturing "grazing corn" (considered 65 day corn) for one particular plot here - or at least the higher, drier parts of it. Due to the quick maturing ability I can wait out the wet season and plant up until mid-June and have corn ready for deer season (based on what the CanaMaize folks have told me via email). They also tell me that Kester's Wild Game Food Nurseries in Wisconsin now carries CanaMaize. (A friend in Munith, MI planted CanaMaize last year and had LOTS of deer traffic - he was VERY impressed and I believe he planted it in late July if memory serves me. - parenthetical note added 13 Sept 2008)
I have already been out fertilizing a few chosen oak trees via opening up a slit in the drip line with a shovel - pouring in 12-12-12 fertilizer - covering it over with dirt - moving forward 3-5 feet and repeating the process. On really HUGE old oaks you can put a 50 lb bag of fertilizer around a single tree. Smaller trees will have a smaller dripline circumference and thus tree size will determine amount of fertilizer used. You need to do it early to be most effective. Objective is to increase fertility around specially chosen trees (huntable spots) so that they will bear more plentiful, larger, and more palatable acorns (also more reliable) than the surrounding trees - making them somewhat of a magnet among the many possible oaks dropping acorns in a given area. Hey - be aware that some "lawn and garden center" places are IMO "trying to pull a fast one on consumers" by selling fertilizer in smaller than 50 lb. bags at basically the same price as a 50 lb bag. So when you are comparing prices be sure you are comparing apples to apples as far as size of bag OR figure out price per pound.
25 December 2006
- unseasonably warm here just lately - not a white Christmas - but
we did have our first snow in mid-October which is early for us
We have had a very wet year. I tilled up a food plot area several times using a former one row Cultivator we removed the depth gauge wheels and row space from. I mixed a LOT of several year old White Blossom Sweet Clover and Alsike Clover seed in with a brand new bag of Shot Plot seed (forage rape and forage turnips). I broadcast seeded it by hand - fan tossing it by hand - so I was glad to have all the clover seed mixed in to make it possible to have a LOT to broadcast. Due to the wetness I planted it too late but decided to plant the rest of the freezer stored Silver King seed from last year - the corn came up fine but never got a chance to set ears. So far I have seen little evidence of deer using the plot much. (note added 13 Sept 2008 - while I hunted on the opposite side of the road since initial scouting showed no serious feeding occurring the plot suddenly hit the palatable stage and EVERY stalk was taken to the ground - EVERY ear stripped off - I missed it but eventually there was a window of time when the plot got hit hard - sometime during an approximately two week period when I failed to check the plot as I focused on another area - did the work - missed the benefit - oops.)
After several years of attempting to rattle a buck in close enough for an archery shot I managed to rattle two into archery range this year (different days - different stands). I have rattled in several bucks in previous years but they would generally hang up about 50 yards out - which is too far with archery gear for me. I got a shot at the first buck I rattled in this year but cleanly missed due to a deflection - the buck jumped about two steps forward into the thicker tangle and stayed there trying to puzzle things out for about 5 minutes - I thought he might give me a second chance but he wisely walked straight away in the tangle until he crossed my shooting lane about 50-60 yards out. The second rattled in buck of 2006 stopped where a LOT of branches prevented me from even attempting a shot. I was at full draw and he just stood there and stood there. I had about a 2 foot shooting window that required him to step only about 3-5 steps forward so I kept waiting and hoping but he just stood still. Eventually my arms were getting fatigued from holding that bow at full draw all that time and I started shaking but kept holding. He kept standing still. Eventually I figured I was shaking so bad that I couldn't hit him if he did step forward so I tried to let down my draw easy. The buck caught my movement and bolted out of there not quite sure what was wrong.
On Opening Morning of the 2006 Firearm Season (15 Nov) I killed a decent 8pt (14-1/4" inside spread)with my scoped shotgun. From that same tree on the second morning of Muzzle-loader Season I took the fattest deer (a mature doe) I have ever taken in 30 years of deer hunting. One shot from my trusty old .50 caliber muzzle-loading double rifle put her down in a heap where she had stood. My son and I measured 1-1/2" of fat atop her back at the tailhead --- a very fat deer even for an agricultural area. These are the first two deer I have taken using my Treesuit. The Treesuit allows me to shoot safely in every direction from an elevated stand with bow or firearm. It also allows me to set up a stand site which nobody else can sit on - unless they happen to bring along their own stand. I just set up a set of climbing sticks leading up to no stand because I pack the Treesuit in with me each time. I have a "cable climber" for using the Treesuit as a climber - it works but takes too long and makes too much noise for my liking BUT I do use it to test out new spots at times.
2 Oct 2005
- Lenawee County - My 16 yr. old son and I fertilized the oaks in
our woods with 19-19-19 in late Spring. I limed the ground we later planted corn on
after doing a pH check. I bought and planted 4 recently grafted apple trees on M-7
rootstock (good for heavy soil) this Spring from our local QDMA chapter and they
all died (grafts failed to take properly) - while they were still alive I kept
worrying a deer or other critter would nip off the grafted wood (didn't happen
though). So that is going to the "lessons learned" file and I will plant only trees
on their own roots from now on - no grafts to fail - if they get browsed but live
they will still produce the expected fruit. The trick is finding apples that bear
late or at least hold their apples into October and November (or beyond). My
initial research keeps turning up old varieties that are not readily available -
may have to get them shipped in - would prefer to find a local source. Perhaps I
will have to visit a local orchard or two and ask them a few questions. My neighbor
and I paid my 16 yr. old son to rototill the East and West ends of the Swale food
plot. That proved quite a task for Troy-Bilt and son - breaking sod is never easy
with a roto-tiller - it took two passes (perpendicular to each other) and left a
LOT of trash near surface (we mowed it short before tilling - that saves on lots of
unclogging the tiller). My 7 yr. old daughter and I planted the Silver King
(Wisconsin # 7) white field corn (open-pollinated) using a one row garden seeder -
in the heavy trash that was no picnic - one would pull while the other steered and
tried to keep the planter in the ground. Most areas did come up well. The planting
was done late - this is a wet area so it gets plantable late - plus I wanted the
corn to ripen later. Deer and likely raccoons are seriously trashing the corn plot
now - it may never get to dent stage. All the corn planted at normal times is
drying down - this corn remains green. We band fertilized the corn partially with
just 6-24-24, partially with just 46-0-0, partially with both fertilizers. The
grass in the rest of the plot has largely taken over despite mowing certain areas to
try to give the clover a chance. I overseeded the mowed areas with Tecomate Monster
Mix (white clover & chicory) - also seeded some of my trails to see if either
the clover or chicory could/would make a stand in partial to full shade. I am
hoping to get more types of palatable plants growing in the short mowed areas. May
end up having to Round-Up the short stuff in the Spring then reseed two weeks later
OR just live with the grass. I was hoping to hurt it by keeping some of it very
short but it is very resilient stuff. I have intentionally left some areas with the
tall grass (we call it marsh grass because it grows in the wet so well - don't know
what kind it really is) to serve as cover and windbreak areas. Can see a deer trail
heading from woods to swale right beat through one mowed area. That is a long
standing trail we have opened up more in the woods - made it driveable by our
utility tractor so we have access through the woods to take care of the food plot
when the crops are up around it.
The poison ivy vines have dried out and started to let go on the tree I picked in 2003 to hold a stand near the Swale food plot. I pulled the vines out of the tree and put up a pair of climbing sticks I made. The tree trunk will serve as cover for deer in the plot - with my archery equipment I can reach the section of the East corn plot that they have mauled so badly. A few day's later (Thursday 29 Sept 2005) my sons came out (the 3 yr. old just came to watch/help) and we cleared shooting lanes and got it set up for use with my Treesuit. Deer can literally come from 360 degrees - so I wanted to use something that gives ability to safely turn and shoot a bow in any direction. You can do that in a Treesuit if you practice a bit. Will let the site sit a while to cleanse all the human scent we left during setup and lane clearing. OR wait until after a good rain perhaps. I was really wanting to sit there yesterday on the Opener but luckily I stuck with my plan to use the stand I did rather than chance using a scent polluted stand site we had just set up two days before (chainsaw and all). This stand will be tried for a rattling setup. We have seen a buck fight in this plot during a previous year.
Saturday 1 October 2005
Nearing the end of the first hour of MI's Opening Day of the 2005
Archery Deer Season I bagged a nice doe (just before 8am Saturday 1 Oct 2005). That
is a GREAT way to start deer season when you are a meat hunter - as I most
assuredly am. You have thus accomplished getting some meat and a load of meat
gathering pressure is relieved - you are on your way to putting in the year's
supply of venison.
After hearing what I strongly suspect was a deer scraping for and eating acorns just as the season opened (still too early for squirrels) but not managing to coax it into sight via grunting nor doe bleating using my TrueTalker I switched to using my quite old Burnham Bros. D-4 Long Range Deer Call (no lanyard) and on the second call session with it called two does in by really wailing out a fawn distress call (only seems to work in really early season - if you wail loud be READY - we have had a pair of does RUN up within 3-5 yards of the tree we were in one past season). Today's pair of does came trotting in Southeast of my stand then once they got about 20 yards west of my stand they came North - the dominant doe in the lead by several yards. They gave every indication they were trying hard to find the source of that fawn distress call - they were looking like they intended to circle the area where the sound came from and use eyes, ears, and nose to find "the fawn." I moved to get in position to draw and the goofy call popped out of my shirt pocket, bounced off my stand platform and landed on the ground right at the base of the tree. I am thinking "busted" as the does froze and looked at the place it hit - luckily this was an oak tree and more than likely they thought an acorn fell - which they had been doing. They never looked alarmed and soon started to move again. I drew while they were yet South of my stand using the LARGE oak tree this particular permanent stand is in as very complete cover for my drawing motion. After I was at full draw the doe pair slowed down and came in slower than anticipated and I was VERY glad to be holding back a compound bow because I had to hold a long time (braced against one knee part of the time - even with a compound bow it was a long hold). I tried to get on the dominant doe but she kept stopping with a brush screen between us (wary old gal). The other doe stopped on one of our trails - looked straight at me while I was trying to get on the dominant doe - I suspected I was about to get busted but she did not stamp nor blow - apparently in my full camo including camo head net I stood still enough despite the adrenaline rush making me feel pretty shaky. She seemingly didn't recognize what I was or at least did not interpret me as a predator. Eventually the dominant doe just stood still in the brush where I couldn't see her and a wee bit farther away than I felt comfortable shooting even if she stepped into the clear of the trail she stood near. So I remembered my oldest son's admonition from a few years back ("Dad I just want to have venison to eat") and decided that if I was going to get meat for the freezer this morning I better switch to targeting the smaller doe that was spending more time in the clear and was about 5-10 yards closer and now lagging probably 20-30 yards behind the dominant doe. My new target then moved slowly up into an area with several clear zones and I put my bow sights on the first opening - she stepped through too fast so I swung forward to the next larger clear zone and when the doe walked into my bow sight I tripped the trigger on my release. I heard the arrow sound like it struck and saw the doe react like she was hit hard - spinning and running toward the thick stuff to the West-southwest. With many of the leaves still green and on the trees I could not see for sure if the doe was down but my ears told me she was. The dominant doe surprisingly did not take off when her buddy did - making me think she was oblivious to what had just happened - likely not oblivious (probably heard the sound of the bow) but not alarmed enough to leave. I could hear the dominant doe move occasionally and it sounded like she was continuing to circle the area she thought the fawn distress call came from. She stopped about 50 yards out right in a shooting lane I cut and looked straight at me (too far out and WRONG angle for a good bow shot from a tree stand). She did not stamp nor blow nor run but just moved off after a while. Once she got in the brush again I got out my TrueTalker and did a soft doe bleat, waited a couple minutes, did another doe bleat. After I was pretty certain the dominant doe had moved off out of the area so I wouldn't spook her off I got down to look and see if I could find my arrow - it wasn't where I would have anticipated it to be if I made a complete pass through shot. I tried hard to keep believing what my ears which thought I heard her fall - but I wasn't seeing what I had expected where she had stood. I went up to the house to use the restroom, get both my son's, get some toilet paper (biodegradable blood trail marker with HIGH visibility). As I exited the woods I noticed the heads of several wild turkeys poking up above the soybeans in the field just East of us - I had earlier heard them and caught brief glimpses of a couple getting down out of their roosts. Since I was moving slightly away from them they did not attempt to duck down, etc. but watched me as I walked up through the back horse pasture right out in the open. Once my sons and I got back out to the woods (youngest HAD to get all his camo stuff on) we pretty quickly found the first part of the blood trail (marked the blood with toilet paper) and it didn't take long to find the deer. The arrow did not exit. She was quartering away and the arrow hit textbook perfect - slicing through the liver, one lung and slicing top of heart. She ran between 65-70 yards and was found piled up against a tree. I couldn't see but did hear her fall. The arrow was in her and was not broken - it is now soaking in cold water to get the blood, fat, etc. out of the fletching - then it will go right back in my quiver ready for re-use - gotta love those carbon arrows. The meat from this doe was in our freezer by the end of the same day. A GREAT way to start out the 2005 deer season for this meat hunter. May you likewise be blessed with venison in your freezer.
I still want to take a buck I have rattled in - that remains a goal. I have rattled in several bucks (one with VERY tall tines) in past years but thus far have not got an arrow off at one. The one buck that responded to rattling during one gun season did not every get into a position where I could shoot. So I have gotten 'em to come in but just not gotten off a shot - generally because I either got surprised OR most of the time because they didn't get up within bow range - hang out about 50 yards away.
This year I got a Fall Turkey tag for this area as well. So I am hoping to bag a wild turkey for Thanksgiving dinner - while I am bow-hunting for deer (the rules now allow bow hunters to hunt turkey from elevated platform). MI's Fall Wild Turkey season is 3 Oct - 14 Nov 2005.
28 Nov 2004 Lenawee County
- 3 antlerless deer killed within 150 yard radius of food plot on
Opening Day of Firearm Season (by 3 different hunters - I was one of them). I
killed a second antlerless deer within 150 yard radius of food plot two days later
--- my youngest daughter came hunting with me that evening, she saw the deer first
(I had her looking one way while I looked another way) so she was very
Plans in beginning stages to cooperate with a neighbor and his nephew to add standing corn into the Lenawee County food plot mix. Often the nearest standing corn is three quarters of a mile or further away - standing corn provides a HIGHLY favored food source that is also GREAT cover for deer. Even if the "cooperative" plans don't work out - I plan to plant LATE bearing apple trees in one or two small clearings in my woods (looking at varieties that bear in Late Oct or even in Nov - planning for the future because experience tells me that deer KNOW where the apple trees are in the area) - I also plan to fertilize the oak trees within a 50 yard radius of my stand sites (supposed to improve regularity of acorn crop, as well as increase size of acorns and improve palatability) - and fertilize along and beside all my trails - also plant shade tolerant plants that deer like on the trails. The idea behind the fertilizing campaign is to try and make a "better tasting browse and mast" zone along my trails and near my stand sites - basically to increase deer traffic where I want it to be. Time will tell how well it works.
2004 Ingham County
- I haven't hunted up in Ingham County at all this year. Last time
I looked that plot needed to be reseeded. The woods there was logged and the creek
that runs through it was scheduled for cleaning as well. Last time that woods was
logged the remaining treetops left from logging provided GREAT cover and the deer
used it a LOT the following year. Tim Neil insured that the tree tops and openings
were placed advantageously for hunting from his two "hunting condos" (lockable,
elevated, carpeted, insulated, with inward opening windows - only takes a small
propane heater to keep cozy rather than freezing or calling it a day rather than
staying on stand during rougher weather).
- received the following email from a fellow Michigander that has
been working on food plots in his area - quoted in its entirety below.
---- begin quoted email - including Rusty's Mixture" ----
"I found your website yesterday when I was searching with Google to find out more about Canola (Rape) seed. I have experimented with several food plots on our hunting property in Alpena County for about 3 or 4 different planting seasons. So far, the plot that has worked best for us was Whitetail Imperial No Plow (the deer ate it right down to the soil) legume mixture. I believe that the key to No Plow's success is the fact that it is a "mixture" of legume types/flavors. At the same time, we planted the regular Imperial Whitetail Clover (basically one clover type) and the deer hardly touched it whereas they whacked the No Plow mixture. Again, I believe that this is back to flavor preference thanks to soil pH. With a mixture your odds are better that there will be at least on flavor that the deer prefer given you unique local pH. I am convinced that soil pH causes each plant type to taste more/less bitter to the deer. And this is why the deer tear up food plots in one locality but completely skip it in another. I know when I eat, I always prefer what tastes best and I'm sure that the deer prefer taste in addition to protein content. Certainly there are other factors too such as soil type (sandy, loamy, wet, dry), overall climate, length of growing season, other local agricultural crops available for browse, etc., etc., that also factor into a particular food plot success too. Experimentation is 100% the key.
My latest experiment is listed out below (dubbed 'Rusty's Mixture'). My goal is to create a 'salad' of different flavors to sample to improve the overall draw of the food plot.
4# Rape (20# total)
2# Alsike (10# total)
2# White Clover (10# total)
2# Ladino Clover (10# total)
2# Alfalfa (10# total)
2# Birdsfoot Trefoil (10# total)
2# Imperial No Plow (10# total)
1# Annual Rye (5# total)
Approximately 16# per acre, well worked soil - thanks to the
farmer next to our place, multiple 15/15/15 fertilizer feedings, no weeds or grass,
broadcast spreader, cultipacked, approximately 5 acres shaped like a giant kidney
bean, 85# total.
Thanks for placing your info on the web. I found it very helpful. Especially since I am in Michigan too. I'd appreciate your thought/feedback. If you want, I can keep you apprised of my success.
Regards. Dan Russ
---end of quoted email ---------
1 Nov 2003
- I have had a tree picked out for a stand next to our new food
plot for over a month BUT it had Poison Ivy vines (the stuff gets HUGE here)
growing up it. I severed the vines near the tree base and the stuff is drying but I
don't trust it as dry enough to handle to remove the vines just yet. There really
isn't another good tree to hang a stand on that is located correctly with reference
to prevailing wind, proximity to main trail into/out of cover, etc.. So I finally
decided to get serious about a ground blind for now - though a tree stand is so
much better. Directly in front of the chosen tree is a bit of brush and I noticed
it had a decent sized open grassy spot inside the almost complete circle of brush.
I was able to use that area quite handily to make a natural materials ground blind
with two shooting windows covering the plot, excellent cover to back and sides,
etc.. I rattled from this new blind that same evening. Saw nothing but found it to
be GREAT for rattling with cover for your motion (which is important in my
opinion). Time will tell but this could become a favored location. We still aren't
certain IF the new plot is drawing in more deer to area. Right now I think standing
corn (and none of it bordering our hunting area) is pulling deer away. This plot as
noted earlier is not in a high traffic area - PERHAPS when the corn is down and
deer move about more looking for food more of them may find this plot and allow us
to learn IF it will change into a higher traffic area or not. Time will tell.
30 Oct 2003
- Decided it was time to try new food plot again. Rattled in a
nice young buck - likely 6 or 8 pt - he hung out of my archery shot comfort zone by
10-20 yards for about 5 minutes in the food plot (he was 35-50 yards out most of
the time). About 30 seconds before my wristwatch alarm went off signaling end of
shooting time he headed for cover. I was burning (under a specially prepared 5
gallon bucket) smoking deer scents made by DeerQuest - flavors in use were Curiosity and
Rutrageous. My bucket was setting in the wide open of the plot and the buck acted
like he did not smell the smoke (he was upwind of it when he came into plot) but
spotted the bucket and was curious but VERY suspicious of it. He moved across far
side of plot to where I suspect he could smell the smoke - about that time he also
looked at where I was in the tall weeds - he didn't bolt but may have spotted my
bow sticking up above weed tops - may have seen it move tracking him (I spent about
5 minutes at full draw waiting for him to come closer but he never did). I figured
the Rut was started because a couple days previous my oldest son spotted a buck
chasing a doe from our North stand (not on food plot). The Dwarf Essex Rape is 6-8
inches tall in the best places - barely an inch or two tall in other areas (likely
a pH problem) - Alsike clover is coming up very well too but still quite short (as
expected) - some areas are heavier in Alsike Clover - others heavier in Dwarf Essex
Rape (likely due to moisture and fertility and pH differences).
2 Oct 2003
- I rattled near new food plot. Thought it worth trying based on
buck fight we saw there earlier. Saw nothing.
Tried to keep human pressure off new plot so didn't hunt near it for some time after that. Hoping to get deer into habit of feeding there. Hoping to make this a "frequent visit" spot for local deer.
Sat. 27 Sept 2003
- Youth Deer Hunt - on way out to South stand in morning (a bit
late but doing it my son's way) we spotted two bucks fighting on the new food plot.
Figured it was just a momentary sparring match this time of year but they kept
after it. When one pushed the other so we had a brush screen we moved to attempt a
stalk. By the time we stalked in they were gone. We hung around a while to see if
they would come back - then went to the South stand as planned (not on food plot)
where my son had me wail out a fawn distress bleat and about one minute later a
buck walked in right across two shooting lanes we had cleared at about 25 yards but
unfortunately my son's safety belt got hung up and he couldn't get into position to
take the shot (that's hunting). That evening my son's plans for his hunt took us to
the new food plot. We hunkered down on the ground - had excellent frontal cover
from tall grass, overhead we had oak leaf covered branches. A doe came in (VERY
wary), my son was getting his borrowed muzzle-loader up on shooting sticks. I
watched her back-trail and saw two small fawns following - fawns were apparently
born late so not to weaning stage - when I saw them I said "Don't take this one."
Then we just watched them. This was an AMAZING morning and evening of hunting. I
don't recall ever seeing 3 live bucks in the wild in one day of hunting let alone
in one hour PLUS 6 deer in one day is highly unusual to spot during a day's hunting
on stand in this area.
Friday 29 August and Saturday 30 August 2003
Lenawee County, Michigan (Southern part of Lower Peninsula) -
started a brand new three quarter acre plot - I mowed down nearly chest high thick
grass, a few very small saplings, etc. - Neighbor farmer attempted to plow the
thick sod with his JD 4010 pulling a 3 bottom 18" spring reset plow (area not
tilled for over a decade - power line right of way) but plow would not stay in
ground properly. I removed coulters from his plow and installed new plow shares
(points). Neighbor farmer found that his plow stayed in ground better with new
points and no coulters but still gained a GREAT appreciation for how hard it was to
bust sod on the prairie with a team of oxen or horses - "that was the hardest to
plow ground I have ever plowed." I disced the ground 5 times to get a good seedbed
ready - with furrow direction twice, across furrow direction, diagonal to furrow
direction, then back with with furrow direction at higher speed to get more
churning action from disc harrow. Then I used a crank style shoulder carried
broadcast seeder and planted Alsike Clover and Dwarf Essex Rape - after which I
made one pass over the plot with a Culti-packer to press the seeds into firm
contact with the soil. On Sunday and Monday we were blessed with 2 inches of slow,
steady, soaking rain. The plot has germinated very well as of 7 Sept 2003. Time
will tell if it gets good growth this Fall. At the moment this area gets occasional
traffic (not even every other day) from only one doe with two fawns and one other
single deer judging by tracks left in it this past week. There are more deer in
this area but this is not a current part of their main traffic pattern. Therefore
this plot is hoped to test draw power in a way that a plot in a prime travel area
cannot do. Check back to find out what happens. Obviously, I may not make that
update until deer season is over. Here in Michigan Archery Deer season starts 1 Oct
and runs through 1 Jan - with a break 15 Nov through 30 Nov for Firearms Deer
23 Jan 2003
Hunting Season 2002 Report - 4 deer killed in Ingham County
woodlot with our plot. 3 out of the four where killed from my permanent stand that
overlooks the plot. This year deer came in during morning rather than evening but
they did still come in. No deer taken during Archery (all time was spent hunting in
evening.) Opening Day of Firearm Season - 3 Antlerless Deer taken - 2 by Tim Neil -
1 by Gerald Neil (his first). Second Day of Firearm Season - 6pt. Buck taken by Tim
Neil. I did not hunt in Ingham County but did kill a big doe in Lenawee County on
the Second Day of Firearm Season. My oldest son and I planted Dwarf Essex Rape and
Alsike Clover in a small plot here at home in Lenawee County. So far we aren't
certain the deer are using that plot - possibly planted too late. In Lenawee County
during Archery Season my oldest son and I saw 4 different bucks but never got a
shot - one was a very high tined 8pt - a Big Boy. We rattled him in but he wouldn't
quite come close enough for an archery shot. Rattled in another buck later in
season off same stand.
4 Nov 2001
==== TEST IN PROGRESS======We are currently testing Buck Fever Synthetics (was Hawgs Limited when
tested) - they are synthethic scents that do not break down, thus have an infinite
shelf life, and are moisture activated in the field - "lasts months in the woods,
not hours." So far we are favorably impressed with the BF Pre/Post Rut version
(used in Tink's Scent Bombs and on scrapes when first opened up) and the BF FGland
version (used on mock rubs and also licking branches over scrapes). Just now
beginning testing on the BF Rut version - bucks are chasing does here now.
Jared and I are also favorably impressed with their version of Scent Eliminator called "Vanishing Hunter" but it seems overpriced and thus we do NOT use it exclusively. We can purchase other quite effective scent eliminators for half the price or less. The most favorable part that keeps us liking "Vanishing Hunter" despite its "priceyness" is the fact you can apply it safely to bare skin according to the label - other products specify NOT applying it to skin.=========
- Jack Griffes and Tim Neil worked out this recipe and planted it at a location in Ingham County, MI. Right now (late Oct 2001) with corn still standing nearby the deer are routinely visiting the planting. Tim saw 15 deer including 4 bucks one evening. Last Friday we saw 2 bucks and 1 doe. Tim has already harvested a (likely car crash) crippled doe from the planting with bow and arrow. My 12 yr. old son, Jared, has come to full draw on a BIG buck but intervening brush caused him not to shoot. I had two perfect opportunities to take the same big buck but managed to botch it twice (back to back within 5 minutes) due to a combination of 3 archery shooting form errors that threw my arrow SEVERELY to the left of point of aim. To date this is the best $50 we have spent on improving deer hunting.
Whitetail deer food plot mix - Griffes/Neil version (2001 prices)
Cat # Description Wt. Cost
SCN900 Rape Seed (Canola) 5.25 lbs $3.50
SCN205 Chicory (high mineral) 1.05 lb $7.60
SCL310 Clover, Crimson 1.05 lb $1.90
SCL320 Clover, Ladino 1.05 lb $3.90
SCL305 Clover, Berseem 1.05 lb $2.30
SCL300 Clover, Alsike 1.05 lb $4.20
SCL370 Clover, Sweet White Annual, raw 1.05 lb $1.70
SCL006 Alfalfa, Winter Dormant, raw 1.05 lb $4.60
SCL200 Birdsfoot Trefoil, Broadleaf 1.05 lb $2.80
Total shipping wt. is 14.70 lbs
Shipping to MI from CA by UPS Ground cost us $14.59
so our Grand Total was $49.69
(seeds designated as "raw" are NOT coated with the inoculant they require to do their BEST - the others are rhizocoated (inoculant coated)- you can buy inoculant for the raw seed - we did not though it is cheap - we figured we had enough inoculant coated seed to pull us through but it is possible that we don't have the proper inoculant for the raw seed on our coated seed - we should likely look at that aspect more carefully in the future and advise you to now)
remember that this planting was designed to grow in the Midwest - in mid-Michigan - if you live somewhere with a vastly different climate you may need a different recipe
we ordered from
Peaceful Valley Farm Supply
PO Box 2209
Grass Valley, CA 95945
toll free ORDER line (888) 784-1722
43,560 square feet = One acre (thinking that maybe if you aren't a farm boy or girl you may not have that tidbit of info permanently etched in your memory)
we planted a 1/4 acre clearing in a mixed hardwoods woodlot (sunlight must reach the ground for the food plot to grow) -- we broadcast planted (with a strap carry broadcast seeder) the seed very thick after bush-hogging, plowing, discing ---- if we had drilled in the seed we probably could easily have planted one acre --- if you broadcast you MUST plant thick
Rape grows fast - is favored as food for whitetail deer and seemed to act as a nurse crop for the legumes as well. When they come eat rape while ripe corn is in the field right next door you KNOW it has draw power.
The various legumes reach peak draw power (their highest palatability) at differing times - to "keep 'em coming" to this high protein feast
Chicory is a high mineral herb. Takes lots of minerals to make a nice set of antlers.
You can use "Roundup" to kill existing weeds, then wait a couple weeks and broadcast (or hydroseed should be better) without tilling if tillage equipment cannot get on site.
So if you are interested in improving your deer hunting prospects now you have our recipe - put it to use. Then please let us know how it works for you by emailing your results to firstname.lastname@example.org --- Thanks.
Archery buck taken by Jack Griffes on the evening of 6 Oct 2000 about a half hour before quit time from same Ingham County, MI permanent stand mentioned below. Spotted him on a trail about 70 yards out stopping to trash some saplings. Having forgotten my grunt tube I simply grunted with my mouth via making a pig grunt sound I had practiced as a kid. I saw zero indication he even heard me. I then tried to mentally time out about two minute intervals and grunted just one time after each interval (odds are it was actually more frequent than every two minutes - remember I was NOT clocking myself). He moved into some thick brush and I lost visual contact but kept up single grunting as previously mentioned. Suddenly he came into view up close. He had crossed into the headland of the corn field and walked toward sound source there in the clear. I had just one opportunity to draw and that was when his head passed behind a HUGE triple trunk tree. I came to full draw, he kept walking, I didn't think to grunt to get him to stop but rather put my sight forward of him and as soon as I saw the leading edge of his chest I shot. While the 12 yard shot on the walking buck wasn't perfect placement you could tell he was hit hard because he did NOT completely clear the barb wire fence - he shook the fence pretty hard but made it over. He went for the thick stuff near the creek and expired there. --- The very next morning from the same stand another decent buck came in on the same trail and did exactly the same thing. This time I could see he did hear my vocal grunt. Came to full draw when his head passed behind same huge tree but somehow he picked up on my presence. He stopped and peeked his head around the tree looking right up at me. He then turned and walked away allowing me no further visual contact.
"Go afield with a good attitude, with the respect for the
wildlife you hunt and for the forest and fields in which you walk.
Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person."
: 14 May 2012