FEBRUARY IS, according to Hallmark, the month of love—Valentine’s Day. Yet another day to celebrate something. After the whitetail season that I had this past year.
You really need to love this sport to get up every morning at oh dark thirty, brave the elements and plan on doing it all over again next year.
As I write this column, hunting season is winding down. With only 12 days left on the whitetail calendar, it looks like there is a strong possibility that my freezer will be void of any venison.
Oh well, that’s the way it goes some years. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I had plenty of opportunities early in the season. I let small does walk by and a few small bucks as well. A nice six-point tempted me, but I knew there were a few big boys in the area so I passed up on him.
Looking back, I may have made a mistake. As I admired that buck in my scope, I had memories of the previous year. While hunting the same area last year, I had already shot an eight-point with my bow.
The following day, I had an absolute monster come into bow range. Yes, it was the biggest buck I have ever seen in the wild’ and he was standing broadside to me at 30 yards.
The problem was I had no tag for a buck. I was driven and determined to find him this year.
As it turns out, the lack of deer sightings in my area proved that I was not alone. As a matter of fact, I have yet to find a hunter who had a great season. I am sure they are out there, but I fear that they are far and few between.
I, along with many outdoorsmen, think that the numbers are down. I hope I am wrong, but I suspect I am not. Numerous coyote sightings and the fact that some hunters have the “if it’s brown, it’s down” attitude, have contributed to the low numbers of deer—at least in my area. Add the amount of rain we had, and I would have to say that, all in all, it was a pretty miserable season.
Readers of this column are well aware of the tricks I have come up with to fool the deer or to lead them your way. A few years ago, I wrote about a dummy I made and placed up in my stand long before deer season. The deer that noticed it would get used to that dummy only to find a different dummy up there on opening day, one that can pull a bow string back.
My good friend, Tom, decided to take my idea one step farther. He was hunting near a spot where the deer would bed. The problem was that if he hunted the lower end of his area, the deer would always go to the fields to feed from the upper end. On the same token, when he hunted the upper end of the field, you guessed it; the deer would always use the lower end.
He was always careful not to overhunt the area and to keep the wind in his face, but as any grizzled veteran hunter knows, a whitetail deer seems to have a sixth sense. They just seem to sense that trouble is brewing someplace, and they escape to safety. He just never could connect and hunt the right area. Feel free to imagine a light bulb on top of his head at this point.
He made his own scarecrow, or as he called it, his “deer”crow. He secured it next to the upper deer trail that led to the cornfield. He even used a pumpkin for a head and took the time to paint a face on it. Talk about dedication—or crazy hunter—I’m not sure which applies here.
Anyway, he put an old flannel shirt on it and doused it with the cheapest cologne he could find. He even brought a few more shirts and tied them onto branches in strategic locations and poured cologne on them as well.
He left the lower end alone. The plan was to “guide” the deer from the bedding area to the one deer trail that had no human scent. That will be his ambush site.
I told him I think it should work. He wants to try it tonight if the weather cooperates. I wished him all the luck in the world. The way Mother Nature has treated us so far this year, he will need it.
Do not wait until last minute to make any major changes on your lease. If you have found that the deer are using a trail that’s impossible to hunt, go there a few months before the season.
Stack branches or brush on the trail to guide them your way. Take a small saw and cut a path that leads to your stand. Deer will use the easiest route, and if you make it easy for them, they will come.
I can tell you that I have decided to spend as much time in the woods as I can this year. I need to find more deer activity. I have no answer as to why the deer are not in my area any longer, but I am bound and determined to find them, no matter how long it takes.
I know that as you read this, your season is now a memory. I hope you had a better one than I. If you did not, then may I suggest you sit with pen in hand and jot down any ideas you can come up with to improve your luck next year. As for me, I’ve written so much that my pen is out of ink.
Have fun and hunt safe.
Email Lou Marullo at [email protected]