Riege: Deer Camp 2012Published 8:10pm Wednesday, October 31, 2012
“Deer hunting season is a special time in Minnesota bringing together friends and families to share in a special and long-held tradition. This popular sport is part of the fabric of our states culture. Half a million Minnesotans will be sharing this tradition throughout the state this Nov. 3. To honor the great deer hunting tradition, educate our youth and promote ethical hunting practices, Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association, in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Explore Minnesota Tourism and the Winona community is proud to announce the 2012 10th Annual Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener celebration.” — Welcoming comments from Minnesota Governor’s Deer Hunting Opener website.
The opening of firearm season in most Midwestern states corresponds to the mating cycle of the whitetail deer. This mating period is commonly referred to as the rut. At this time of year the bucks are the most active. They do a lot of traveling in search of the receptive does.
During some of these travels the buck marks his territory by leaving a “calling card” of sorts. These “calling cards” are commonly referred to as scrapes. A scrape is a bare, pawed-out patch of ground made by a buck with his front hooves during the breeding season. Rutting bucks mark each scrape with their scent by urinating on them. Does in the area deposit their scent on a scrape when they are ready to breed. For this reason bucks make a regular checks on their scrapes. The crucial thing here is that the scrape is only made at this time of the year, during the rut. The hunter needs to key in on this area if he is looking for antlers on a deer.
Over a period of 24 hours bucks visit their scrapes numerous times. Many of the scrapes that are nearest to roads and humans are visited during the night, but some scrapes that are located well off the beaten path are visited during the day light hours. A hunter looking for a productive ground scrape during the daylight hours needs to look for a scrape away from most roads and adjacent to heavy cover.
Preseason scouting is a must when selecting a proper stand to hunt from. A week before the opener is usually enough time to look for a spot. The more time spent in the field the better chance the hunter will have to locate a trophy buck. Remember, this is a period of breeding and the deer that was located in the bean field and cornfield in the summer time might have moved more over by the swamp. Therefore, move to high ground and glass the areas, with a set of 9×25 mm binoculars from Leupold, at dawn and dusk to locate and see the movements of those bucks.
While scouting don’t hesitate to use a scent cover up like Scent Killer, from Wildlife Research. Also, don’t forget to wear 100% rubber boots, to cover the human scent while walking around in the buck’s environment. Even during the rut a deer can smell downwind about 500 to 600 yards. They will pick up a snap of a twig, a rustle of leaves or a scuff of a boot at unbelievable distances. These unfamiliar sounds may not stop the buck from looking for the doe, but it makes the buck wary and an alert buck will seldom find his way into your freezer. He has the uncanny sense of smell that a deer has, and as a tool for scouting. I like to use my portable treestand. This treestand allows me a high vantage point to watch deer and it gives me the mobility to move my stand were ever the deer seem to be making the scrapes. The treestand will enable me to hunt with the wind at my advantage, instead of being at the wrong place when the wind decides to shift.
With the area selected for my stand now, I like to position my treestand so that I have a clear vision of at least two active scrapes. One way that I am sure that this area will be active during daylight hours is to attach the Ultimate Scrape Dripper, from Wildlife Research, to an overhanging branch or limb. The Ultimate Scrape Dripper, is a scent delivery system that is activated by the rising daytime temperatures. I put in Active Scrape, or Special Golden Estrous in the Scrape Dripper during my preseason scouting.
Picking a stand where you can ambush a buck is never certain, but with these helpful hints and looking for his “calling card” you will definitely put the odds in your favor. With enough patience, preseason scouting and determination you will be taking a stand on a rutting buck.