Over the summer Fred has shared several tips and strategies to help you maximize your whitetail success this season. These past few brisk mornings are a sure sign that the whitetail archery season is not far off. Are any of you seeing activity in your hunting areas?
In previous weeks we wrote about mowed trails and creating bedding areas. So now it’s late summer, what more can a deer hunter do to better their odds? Deer are in their summer feeding mode, a smart hunter would scout a food source from a distance with binoculars in late evening to take note of the trails bucks use to enter the field. He or she would also note antler size. Although the bucks still have several more weeks of antler growth any buck who is going to be a big buck would show multiple points and a wider spread. If the hunter is watching an agricultural field everything will change in time, but if they are watching a food plot planted with such things as Imperial Whitetail clover or Alfa-Rack or any other type food that will not be harvested, these habits stay the same well into early archery season. A buck’s core area encompasses several hundred acres, which makes it hard to pattern a buck beyond what a hunter notes during their evening watch, especially since very few farms have that large acreage and the hunter does not have the luxury of legally crossing boundary lines. But the good news is, as a buck matures and ages his core area shrinks dramatically. Which means safety becomes his main goal and he is less apt to move about much to maintain his life cycle, food, water, safety, and reproduction. So if you note a big buck using the same run to enter the food source several times his predictability becomes your opportunity.
Well, Alyssa isn’t just any 15 year old girl when it comes to deer hunting experience, she is my oldest granddaughter and has been tagging along with us ever since she could walk. In fact, her dad Greg and I often referred to her as “The human sponge”, in reference to her desire to learn everything we knew about deer hunting, and she learned well. Last year I wrote an article in the Woods-N-Waters News about a compromise I made with my three grandchildren who had a desire to deer hunt, two of them wanted us to allow them to carry their smart phones on the hunt. Truth is, there were a few big problems that Greg and I had to overcome. For instance, none had the strength yet to pull a bow with the poundage needed for an ethical kill, plus they claimed that they could sit still in a tree stand, even with their smart phones, we rather doubted that.. The solution ? We bought each one of them a 5’x5′ Shadow Hunter Crossbow blind, and put crossbows in each of their hands. This would give them the safety we worried about, while giving them the independence all teenagers believe they should have. Now they could text, play their games, and hunt, all without missing a beat. In time, as they grow older and acquire more experience and skill they then can choose the style of hunting that best suits them. All three had shot deer that year from their Shadow Hunter blinds, a proud moment for all of us. We hunt in three Southern Michigan counties, and on several different leases. Last May we took delivery of two more Shadow hunter blinds for the farms that didn’t have any blinds on them (and will be taking delivery of two more this year). We asked each of our young hunters if they were happy with their blind’s location, or if any of them wanted to change blind locations, or even to hunt on a different farm. Two of the younger ones elected to hunt their same blinds. Alyssa, with three beautiful racked bucks under her belt elected to try a different farm. We all felt that the deer were starting to change their travel patterns in her area and that it would be beneficial in the long run to let things cool down. This will be a smart move because things like that will happen occasionly when deer no longer feel secure traveling in certain areas, for whatever reasons. We all studied the plat maps, aerial photographs and Topographical maps of the new lease that didn’t have any blinds on it.. With the plat maps we wanted to see the exact farm’s boundary lines, the aerial photographs will show us probable bedding areas, food plots , and funnels. The topographical maps will show changes in elevations and the structure of the land, and how the big bucks are most apt to utilize these structures to their advantage in their travels. After the three of us discussed different options and suggestions, it would ultimately be Alyssa’s final decision to chose the blind’s location. As it turned out her choice was outstanding. The blind would be situated where a beautiful highly active funnel plays out to disperse the deer in many directions, thus giving the deer freedom of choice without fear of ambush.Further, behind her chosen blind’s location is a ridge with several high producing White Oak trees and above the ridge is a 2 acre food plot planted with the Whitetail Institute’s Chicory Plus. Alyssa had actually chosen the absolutely most productive spot on the whole farm. Here’s why, not only did this spot allow the deer unobstructive travels to their nearby bedding areas, it gave them freedom of unobstructive movement to a variety of constant food sources as well, but wisely and most importantly Alyssa, weather knowlingly or not used the funnel to it’s fullest potential. The vast majority of experienced deer hunters, and I mean professional hunters as well, would mistakenly have chosen a pinch point somewhere in the funnel to hunt. That may work for a year or two on big bucks, but at some point the word will get out. I asked Alyssa why she had chosen this particular spot? Her response was spot on, “because they have everything they need here”, meaning what drew the deer to this particular area will continue to do so for many years to come. We placed her new Shadow Hunter blind exactly where she wanted it. The rut was nearing and the chase phase was in full swing. Greg and Alyssa had sprayed “She Heat” on several deer runs and mock scrapes to hopefully stop a buck in shooting range. A lone doe walked up to one of the scrapes,seemingly mesmerized by it, her tail twitching rapidly back and forth. Of course that got Greg and Alyssa’s full attention when all of a sudden Alyssa spotted the big buck comming out of the funnel, and he was making a beeline straight for the doe. But before anyone could react the buck chased the doe completly out of sight. Crestfallen, Alyssa turning to her Dad could only say, “wow”, when miraculously the doe having made a full circle was returning to the spot and the buck wasn’t too far behind her. This time Alyssa had her crossbow out the window and was ready. As soon as the buck came into range Greg grunted to stop him, and the rest is history.
“Master The Deadly Art Of Mock Scrapes”
Many of you readers are aware that my son Greg and I are inventors. We invent hunting products and we invent hunting tactics. We own A-Way Hunting Products and A-Way Outdoors Invention Consulting. The vast majority of our inventions are geared toward deer hunting. Especially for the big Michigan bucks that we love to hunt, and have so much respect for. Why Michigan bucks ? Because their low numbers in this State make them an amazing challenge. Over the years we started giving away our hunting secrets at seminars and articles in the Woods-N-Waters News. It’s no longer a secret that mock scrapes are the backbone to our success, so much so, that we actually invented and patented the world’s most powerful deer attractant scents, and by far the easiest to use. Since we rely heavily on scent use throughout the season it was only natural for us to focus on some of the problems that they can, and have created. When we discover a problem our mindset automatically seeks a solution. Unfortunately we have no control over mother nature, sometimes we all have to hunt in whatever weather she presents to us. Here’s the problem, the liquid scents that we relied on had a strong tendency to wash out at the first hint of rain or snow, worse, its two part application process forces all hunters into a self-contamination situation when mixing and hanging these devices. These problems were not helpful in our quest for big bucks, nor were they acceptable. Here’s our solution: We found and patented a way to totally eliminate the contamination and scent delivery issues (see photo).
Then we formulated an extremely powerful scent to last up to 5 days through RAIN OR SHINE, (the use of the words-Lasts Up To 5 Days was for legal purposes). The truth is if it rains the scent reactivates and can last days longer). We believe the stronger the scent, the stronger the attraction. No other deer attractant scent in the world today could do what these scents could do, thus conditioning any buck into returning time and again. We simply used a buck’s nose to our advantage especially with the knowledge that big bucks are always motivated or driven either by the rut or by sheer curiosity. Although this newly developed tactic you are about to read about has not been tested in the earlier seasons, we see no reason why this tactic shouldn’t work during the first pre-rut/rut time frames, especially where big nocturnal bucks are concerned.(This tactic was actually developed specifically for a December hunt). By the time our Michigan December muzzle loading season kicks-in many unsuccessful deer hunters recall what took place during the rifle season after the second or third day, where few shots were heard or fired, along with the lack of deer sightings. Many hunters believe the muzzle loading season will only offer more of the same and stay home. Absolutely not true. We consider this time frame to be our most productive, one where the biggest bucks of all are literally forced to be on the move. Consider the two dynamics that are taking place all at once in December… that DO NOT take place at any other time frame during the earlier hunting seasons, gun or bow. This much we do know, many big rutting bucks from the first rut have lost upwards of 25% of their body weight, or more, and have a desperate need to regain that lost weight back fast by frequenting food sources more often before the winter weather sets in. Otherwise they will be one of the first to die, and they know it. Another very important factor worth noting that occurs only in December is that many doe fawns born in the same year will mature enough to come into estrus for the first time. These doe fawns do not have the experience to visit scrapes to advertise their condition like a mature doe would do, a condition in which they have absolutely no inkling of what is occuring in their bodies. So what do they do ? They simply follow their mothers from food source to food source not knowing what the changes in their bodies mean. But a big buck surely does, and he is on the prowl actively seeking them out… and he knows exactly where to find them. So of course with this knowledge of deer behavior in mind our thoughts would naturally seek a solution to exploit these amazing dynamics. The vast majority of big bucks are by now fully nocturnal and will rarely enter a food plot during this time frame in full daylight, rut or not. Especially after having been shot at, or having fresh unpleasant memories of scenting humans for the past several weeks. But they most definately WILL STAGE somewhere close to a food plot, or some other food source while waiting for dark, especially if the food source contains estrus does. When Greg and I were developing this new tactic the main sticking point questions were two fold, could we assure a buck of his safety while moving him into position, and could we condition a buck into staging at a precise spot of our choosing… during daylight”? As it turned out later, the answer was: YES, and as it so happened, it would happen twice, thus activley eliminating the luck factor. The conditions that we felt we needed to suceed could only be found on two of the seven farms that we hunt. Here are the multiple elements that it eventually took in order for this tactic to become successful. We picked a well used deer run leading from the woods to one of our Imperial Whitetail clover food plots which was getting hammered daily by does and their fawns. We then chose a spot which gave a buck an absolute vantage point where the wind was totally in his favor, and we also chose a spot where he had the ability to see into the food plot, but remain hidden and unseen in the woods…a perfect set-up that would assure any buck of his safety. Further, we would attempt to entice him by creating a mock scrape and a licking branch off to the side of the run, and sprayed our most powerful scent, “She Heat” on both the licking branch and the mock scrape, this would be the ambush site. We then created a subtle shooting lane, this is a small lane barely 3 or 4 feet wide where we remove a branch or two, or a small tree in the lane that would not be noticeable to the buck. I would be hunting in one of our Shadow Hunter blinds which was roughly 157 yards away. Greg and I both shoot 50 caliber Ultimate Firearms muzzle loaders loaded with 180 grains of magnum triple seven pellets, and 300 grain Hornady SST bullets. A very deadly and accurate combination. Two days after we finished this setup a big buck advertised his presence by rubbing on a tree near the mock scrape. The large rub and his 4″ tracks confirmed him to be who he claimed to be, a big buck. Since this tactic could only work in the evenings we were hunting mornings on other farms. The very next evening after my setup was hit I caught a big buck working my mock scrape a full hour before dark. He had his nose in the scrape when I shot. The buck actually ran and died right in our Whitetail Clover food plot. We were amazed by his body size, reminding me of some of our Canidian bucks where the bodies are so big it makes the antlers look small. When we brought the quad to drag him out all four wheels sunk into the ground, we had to use our quad’s wench to pull us out. Later back at camp we tried to weigh the big buck but our scales only went up to 275 pounds, and it bottomed out. This Jackson County buck was easily the heaviest buck that I have ever shot.
Soon after I shot this buck our trail cameras on another farm picked up several pictures of a big buck hitting Greg’s mock scrape setup near our food plot planted with Whitetail Institute’s Tall Tine Tubers. We were elated to discover the buck was staging exactly where we were hoping he would, and most amazing, all of the pictures were captured in the evening with plenty of daylight left. This so excited me that I asked Greg if I could tag along on his hunt. Of course, was his response. The next morning we quietly went in and hung another stand near Greg’s stand. That afternoon we got into our stands a good three hours early. I could feel the tension and excitement growing as the magic hour approached even though I was just an observer. Both Greg and I were scanning the woods with our binoculars searching for any movement when Greg whispered, here he comes. I was riveted as the big buck went directly to the scrape stopping perfectly broadside. After taking the hit the buck whirled around and ran in the direction where he had come from. His mad dash only carried him about 50 yards and we witnessed him go down. It was a thrilling end to a thrilling hunt with Greg and I high fiving each other over such a beautiful majestic animal. This moment was truly a role reversal for me, imagine that, my son taking me on a hunt for a change, how cool was that ?
Hunters today are much more educated in their sport than at any time in the previous 150 years, and so is the technology that most embrace. They also are educated in deer behavior, so does that put deer at a total disadvantage? No, not at all simply because despite our knowledge and desire to be successful a certain sequence must fall into place. For example, a hunter has watched a big buck all summer long entering and leaving a food plot and knows exactly which trail the buck has been using. .Finally the season arrives and the hunter is waiting in ambush, but the buck never shows up because he had changed his travel pattern. The hunter’s mistake? He allowed the buck to control the situation. The simple solution was to mow a trail starting in late summer that the hunter wanted the deer to follow. Deer are creatures of habit and that habit could have been instilled in the summer, plus deer are lazy and will always take the path of least resistance. While there are no guarantees that live animals will follow the script, you do put the odds in your favor. As many of readers are aware, my son Greg and I are inventors and we own A-Way Hunting Products and A-Way Outdoors Invention Consulting. We invent hunting products and we invent hunting tactics. Ironically, all of the products that we have invented and now sell in our business were never initially meant for the consumer, they were for the most part designed solely to give us an advantage over the big Michigan bucks that we love to hunt. As our knowledge and experience in the field grew we realized we needed to invent different hunting aids for the many different situations that have created a problem for all hunters, especially since these hunting aids did not exist on the shelves of your local sporting good stores. Once invented it didn’t take long to notice that what worked on mature bucks easily worked on all other bucks. Some of these products have become extremely deadly on big bucks, and that’s exactly what we were hoping to accomplish. All of our tactics begin and revolve around deer/hunter communication in one fashion or another. We needed to first open a dialogue with bucks before we could ask them questions. The best starting point is in the late summer time frame near or over food plots, or some other favored food source where deer are most apt to congregate. Every one of our 24 food plots are planted exclusively with a variety of forage products offered by the Whitetail Institute. Starting in mid-August we create several small mock scrapes, along with using any existing scrapes on each farm that we hunt. The scrapes are scattered near the trails that the deer use to get to, or return from these food sources. This is the first phase, now we could ask questions through our actions. In about a week’s time we should receive partial answers through a buck’s physical reaction. For instance, our actions come in the form of using what are probably the world’s most powerful deer attractant scents, they are designed to work for up to 5 days or longer, through rain or shine in the scrapes and on the licking branches. We constantly change up by using different scents on each visit to keep the bucks interested and curious. The expected buck’s counter-actions will come in the form of expanding the scrape. In time each deer run will become so well defined that they will tell us exactly which trails the bigger bucks use, where his bedding area is (by back tracking), he will also tell us how big he is by the size of his tracks and how heavy he is by how deep his hooves sink in the dirt. This is what I mean by opening a dialogue. Mock scrapes and scrapes in general are not as seasonal as the vast majority of old school hunters believe. These scrapes are the equivalent of our internet to deer, and bucks are capable of scraping all year long, it’s simply a form of communication to them. If I had to choose one tactic over the rest it would be mock scrapes, we utilize them all season long. Like most hunters our favorite time for scent use is the all important pre-rut/rut time frame when the thoughts of every buck (of age) turns to reproduction, and of course like every hunter out there, we also use doe in estrus type attractant scents. But unfortunately there are highly ineffective times for scent use. The first (and worst) happens to fall during the early part of bow season where we have very few tactics to rely on, and the second falls after the rut. If you were to add both time frames together you will discover it covers a significant portion of our total deer season. If ever there was a problem that needed a solution, it was this one. After much trial and error we discovered certain patentable characteristics in proprietary synthetic scents which led to the inventing of “She- Duction”. It’s role is to specifically cover these two dead periods with its ability to heighten a buck’s sense of curiosity much beyond normal, (the stronger the smell of the scent, the stronger the attraction to a buck), and it all came about because we focused on a deer’s strong sense of curiosity tinged with a dominant buck’s territorial instincts. Nobody has ever merged these two known buck behavior patterns together, until now. We have always considered curiosity as a weakness that any hunter could exploit. Consider this, 75% of deer attractant scent use is geared strictly toward a buck’s sense of curiosity, and the other 25% is pre-rut/rut related doe in estrus type scents. Each has their time and place. Two years ago I was able to take a huge, gorgeous 11 point buck that had been nocturnal. I had spent considerable time bow hunting him when he finally made a critical 1st mistake by responding to a mock scrape with much too much aggression. Overkill, was my first impression when I discovered what he had done. This buck had just given up more information than he probably intended, and it would ultimately get him killed the very next morning. He spent considerable energy destroying big branches off of the same tree that held the licking branch above our mock scrape. He continued by kicking dirt 20 feet away and finished his tirade by making his own scrape near my scrape. His message was clear, actually it was more that a message, it was a strong statement. He was telling the world and any local or neighboring contenders that this was his territory and his intentions were to stick around and answer to all challengers. I knew timing was critical being so close to the rut. So I created another scrape near his scrape, informing the aggressive buck that his challenge has been accepted. My hope was to force him into another mistake that hopefully would stall him long enough until shooting light, you will never shoot a mature buck unless he himself makes a mistake. I sprayed three different powerful scents in the scrapes knowing that the buck could not possibly decipher their message. This is the incident where the inventing of a new tactic called “Cluster Scrapes” was born. Even before daylight I could hear a buck grunting, then as more daylight filtered in I could see the shape of a big body, he was going from one scrape to another sniffing so loud that I could hear him from 75 yards away. Legal shooting light had finally arrived and the buck not realizing that he had just made the worst mistake of his life was slowly ambling toward his bedding area, down the same trail where I was on stand waiting for him. Fast forward to last year’s muzzle loading season. We hunt in several different Southern Michigan counties and on 8 different farms, by the time we rotated back to the same farm where I took the big buck, the second rut in December was about to kick in. Earlier in the season we scouted this farm and found some mild scrape activity on the same scrape where I took that big buck the year before. Nothing to write home about though, which led us to believe that no new dominant buck took over the territory which is what usually happens in farm country. What we found this time on that same scrape absolutely shocked us. Broken branches, dirt sprayed all over, and this new buck even opened his own scrape near our scrape, an exact duplication of what we had found the year before. We normally pull our trail cameras early to avoid the temptation of checking them and to avoid disturbing the area. So, on this hunt we would depend on the sign left by the buck. We found plenty of tracks that indicated the culprit was a good size buck and based on the large tracks Greg choose to hunt this area. I was working a buck on a different farm. Since we didn’t know if this new buck was nocturnal or not Greg decided not to take any chances and would use the “Cluster Scrape” tactic again. He then refreshed each scrape with a different scent. The next morning Greg positioned himself on a high vantage point about 125 yards away from the scrape site. Greg’s muzzle loader is a custom (made in Michigan) Ultimate Firearms in 50 cal with 180 grains of magnum Triple 7 pellets and a 300 grain Hornady SST bullet, topped with a 3×10 power Swarovski scope. We not only use these guns exclusively during our regular rifle season here, we have taken these super accurate and powerful guns to Africa where we used 200 grains of triple 7 pellets and astounded the PH (guide) by dropping several big game animals at 275 yards on average. After the hunt Greg related the story to me how he had witnessed an exact replay of what had happened to me the year before. The buck came in grunting, taking his time to loudly sniff each scrape, and repeating the process over and over again until Greg could plainly see through the gathering light that the buck was a definite shooter. Here is where the story goes off script and takes on an odd bizarre twist that you only hear, or read about. As Greg was lining up his cross hairs behind the big buck’s shoulder a movement caught his eye, suddenly another, even bigger buck entered the picture from behind the first one and shockingly charged and gored the other buck with his antlers and chased him off, thus inadvertently saving the first buck’s life. The bigger buck began to do exactly what the other buck was doing, he went from scrape to scrape sniffing loudly then amazingly he ended up broadside over the same scrape where the other buck was standing. Once Greg got over the shock of what had just transpired his hunting instincts took over and he lined up his cross hairs on the new buck. The big buck fell a short distance later, but he would leave us with some lingering thoughts. Was he the buck who aggressively left his calling card, or was it the smaller buck who left the sign? Only time will tell, but what we do know is that there is another possible future contender in the neighborhood.
A-Way Hunting Products
A-Way Outdoors Invention Consulting
Whitetail Institute of North America
Fred once again is sharing his vast knowledge of Michigan big buck hunting at this year’s Woods-N-Water Outdoor Weekend. If you love deer hunting, you don’t want to miss this highly informative seminar. Fred speaks from unparalleled experience and has the proof to back it up. He is Michigan’s number 1 ranking trophy hunter with 56 bucks in the record books of Commemorative Bucks Of Michigan, with the majority taken with a bow, and is the only hunter in Michigan’s history to tag 4 trophy book bucks in one season, 1990, the last year Michigan had a 4 buck limit.
One of the most humble and likable people you’ll ever meet, Fred is well know for developing his own unique and innovative deer hunting tactics that he readily shares in his stories and interviews. He has a large following through his informative family oriented outdoor articles and his seminars. He has the rare ability to invent his own tactics (some used only one time to fool and harvest a specific buck) and deer hunting aids to outsmart even the wisest of whitetails.
– Former Co-Host of TV’s A-Way Outdoors
– Ranks #1 all-time in the state of Michigan for Trophy Buck entries in the record books.
– Currently has 56 bucks registered in the trophy books of CBM, Pope & Young, Buckmasters and Longhunters Society. Most of them taken with bow.
– The only Michigan hunter to officially tag and register 4 trophy book bucks in one year (1990, the last year to have a 4 buck limit.) During this feat, Fred spent 88 straight days afield. (And still married)
– Current record holder of Hillsdale County’s non-typical bow kill, 183.5 gross.
– Inventor of the Bowgrunter Plus, Scent Web, and several other hunting aids.
– Outdoor Writer
– Took early retirement to devote full time to hunt Michigan trophy bucks.
– Invented 2 new and effective calling techniques for “social” and “rutting” situations
“There is no other buck sign in the woods that gives up so much information about local deer, bucks in particular, than scrapes and licking branches. Humans can equate this to the equivalent of what the internet and smart phones can do for them”. FRED ABBAS
MOCK SCRAPES- THE DEADLIEST TACTIC OF ALL
When I first started deer hunting a number of years back the old timers used to tell me, “A rub is where a buck was, a scrape is where a buck is going to be”. Back then I took that advice with a grain of salt because I was just a deer hunter who was quite willing to shoot any deer that presented itself. As time went by I became a much more serious and selective deer hunter. Now I was looking for any weakness in a buck that I could exploit. The eyes and ears of a deer were easy to fool, but the nose is their first line of defense. They virtually live and die by their sense of smell. With that knowledge in hand I came to believe that a buck’s nose was exploitable, if I could present a scent that would create curiosity in him. Not only did I invent and produce several patentable deer attractant scents but I discovered that certain synthetic chemicals could trigger, or heighten a deer’s sense of curiosity many times above normal. Something absolutely no natural scents or deer urine could do. I also learned that I could communicate with a buck right down to asking him questions and getting answers from him. Of course the questions and answers were never verbal but through scent related actions and the buck’s counter-actions. The secret was in mock scrapes and licking branches. All bucks have the ability to scrape year round, it’s just another form of communication for them but to me it was an open invitation to speak directly with them. Many of you readers of Woods-N-Water News have read my many articles or sat in on some of my seminars over the years and have picked up bits and pieces of information about some of my tactics. Initially we developed a technique of using mock scrapes as a quick and efficient scouting tool starting as early as April on some of our newer leases. Any hoof print larger than 3 1/2” would gain our attention. We found that we could get a pretty good grasp of buck status, and movement on all of our farms by starting our mock scrapes in August.
Topographical maps and aerial photographs
These are extremely important tools whenever we consider a new lease. Aerial photographs can almost pin- point probable bedding areas along with the water sources and oak ridges, but most importantly, it will show funnels.
Topo maps show elevation changes. Smart bucks will always use any elevation changes to cover their travels, and a smart hunter would be able to set his stands at key interception points. Stands, as in plural, to adjust for wind changes.
Mock scrapes / food plots / speaking to bucks
The ideal mock scrape location is usually map chosen and is always near heavy cover that connects trails leading to one or more of our food plots. We use Whitetail Institute products exclusively. Each of our farms has on average four food plots, with each having a different planting. Our favorites are Alfa-Rack, Chicory Plus, Imperial Whitetail Clover and Imperial Whitetail Extreme. Deer are just like people, in that they all have different personalities and they all have different food preferences, if given a choice. By giving the deer such a great variety it not only keeps the deer on your farm but creates a rotation where the deer travel the cycle of food plots every single day. When working mock scrapes we always wear rubber boots and latex gloves to simply minimize our presence, deer are more willing to tolerate your intrusion if your scent is weak and non-threatening. A mock scrape and even a real scrape without a licking branch is a waste of time. Each mock scrape must have an over-hanging licking branch, create one by gently breaking the branch with, a portion hanging down and pour a little scent on it. We start out by raking open as many as ten small (about 10” in circumference) mock scrapes which leads to our first question. We are virtually asking a buck, “Are you comfortable with this spot or area that we have chosen for you?” It may take a week for his response but if the scrape is expanded his actions have answered our question. If any mock scrape goes untouched for a week that area is abandoned and recorded, the deer have spoken by their inaction. Since there are no messages in deer urine yet, deer urine is ineffective. We actually had to invent an attractant that would work that early in the year geared toward arousing a deer’s sense of curiosity, and we were very cost conscious because of the large volume that we would use over the following months. Although this top secret powerful attractant will never be marketed by us the attendees at our seminars at this year’s Woods-N-Waters Weekend will be shown the formulation along with other long held secret tactics The best part is the ingredients needed for the formulation can be bought at your local Wal-Mart store for pennies.
Separating buck tracks from doe tracks
Eventually by late August trails will appear from different directions with all leading to the mock scrape. Now we are speaking specifically to a buck asking him another question, “Exactly which trail are you using to visit the scrape?” Picture a wagon wheel with the hub being the scrape and the converging trails being the spokes. Now is the time to separate the bucks from the does. Backtracking down the trails, away from the scrape, we rake a 4 foot section of the deer run clear to the bare earth on each and every run leading to the scrape, and re-freshen the scrape before leaving. Upon returning about a week later we measure each track for size, usually we can isolate a run that bucks use, his 3 ½-” plus tracks have answered our question and are duly recorded. Backtracking even further away from the scrape at a point where other runs converge we again rake the earth to make sure that we stay on the right track. We have no doubt that if we wanted to press the issue we could probably track a buck right back to his bedding area, but of course we never want to tip our hand that we pretty well know his secret hiding place, that would be counter- productive.
Setting out cameras and stands, and changing scents
Assuming we have found big tracks and know for certain the exact run a buck is using our game cameras are then set out to see what type of head gear the buck has to offer. Once it is determined that the buck is a shooter we set out several stands at key interception points but far enough away from the scrape to a point where the buck will never make the connection that there is danger involved with the scrape if something were to go awry. Even if there were a mis-step on our part the buck will continue visiting the scrape but will come in from a different angle, then we would simply adjust our stands accordingly. Once a buck’s antlers harden and the velvet is removed mother nature plays a cruel trick on all rut age bucks implying that they could mate right now by automatically raising their testosterone level and amazingly the buck is now actually capable of mating, but of course mother nature will never allow fawns to be born in the dead of winter, so a buck turns to aggression instead. Unfortunately for the bucks and fortunately for deer hunters A-Way Hunting Products had developed two of the world’s most powerful deer attractants that cater to a buck’s weaknesses at this critical time frame. “She Heat” implies that, yes indeed there is a doe willing to mate, filling the confused buck with false hope and forcing him to come back to the scrape time and time again searching for a mirage. “Testosterone Fever” answers the challenge of a territorial aggressive buck, but in a non-aggressive way. The mere presence, or scent of a strange buck in any given area will never go unnoticed by the local buck population, never. Many times while filming an episode for A-Way Outdoors all of our pro staff, Greg and I included, had at different times focused and started to aim at a big buck when the cameraman, sitting at a higher elevation would question which buck were we aiming at? Almost all bucks, especially big bucks will closely monitor the travels of other bucks in their territory and usually the buck doing the monitoring is the bigger of the two. Tunnel vision can cost you.
Mock scrapes transform into real scrapes
By the time mid October rolls around the scent in the air changes for bucks and does alike. Now both begin to seriously pay attention to the scrape with each leaving chemical messages in the form of urine and gland secretions in the scrape and on the licking branches. The messages are giving a hint as to who is who, and what is soon to take place at this location, a location chosen months back by us to set such a trap. Deer without their knowledge have been conditioned to do exactly what we have asked them to do. Our only role now is to add scent every now and then to remind the deer of a presence of another that they will never be able to identify or physically confront.
Should hunters hunt over a scrape
Bow hunters or crossbow hunters should always hunt near a scrape, but not exclusively, especially when food plots are involved. The best possible stand site would be an area where the hunter could cover the scrape, multiple deer runs leading to a food plot or over a food plot, all within bow range. Things are a little different when gun hunting. Our ideal stand site would cover ridge tops, multiple deer runs, food plots and two or more scrapes from a distance, even during the heat of the rut if it happens to fall during the gun season. Many deer hunters question the logic of hunting over a scrape when bucks are actively chasing does? We beg to differ. I always question hunters when they tell me about a big buck that they were lucky enough to harvest. My first question after congratulating them always inquires if the hunter knew of the buck? 99% of the deer hunters questioned never knew the buck even existed. Big bucks get big by not showing themselves. But it isn’t unusual that a big, nocturnal buck could have lived right under the hunter’s nose without the hunter knowing about him. Trail cameras have proven that. Another reason a hunter is unaware of a big buck’s presence is because in most cases a strange rut driven buck could travel several miles from elsewhere in a single night in search of estrus does and end up on his buck pole. In our experiences whenever any strange rutting bucks entered into one of our farms they inevitably ended up at one of our scrapes seeking information about the local herd. Two years ago my son Greg and I were filming a gun hunting segment for television in Southern Michigan, we were keeping an eye on a scrape that Greg had re-freshened the day before with “She Heat” when all of a sudden we spotted several deer running towards us. As I zoomed in with the camera I locked on to a big 10 point buck with four does in tow. The buck made a bee line directly to the scrape where Greg was offered a perfect shot. This was a prime example of the power of a scrape. We never knew of the buck, nor had any of our cameras ever captured him, and to this day we are baffled as to why a buck with four does would seek more?
YOU CAN ASK FRED QUESTIONS BY VISITING OUR FACE BOOK PAGE A-WAY HUNTING PRODUCTS
A lot of inventors do not act on their inventions because they think that patent services are too cost prohibitive. They lack knowledge in this area and are not aware of the different types of patent protection that are out there. There are some shorter term protections that are affordable and allow you protection on the CONCEPT of your idea, even before you have a working model! It’s best not to show your idea to anyone prior to seeing a patent attorney unless they sign a non-disclosure agreement. Its also not a great idea to mortgage your house to fund your project based on the opinions of your idea from your friends and family. They often do not want to hurt your feelings and will give you a glowing report, whether they like your idea or not. A simple market survey will go a long way here BEFORE you bet the farm! Do not show your proto-type on any public forum. Doing so can cause your invention to be non-patentable.
If you decide to produce, package and market your idea yourself, two common issues that cause first timers to fail on the store shelf is lack of effective package design and lack of an effective name that describes what the product does. The color of the packaging should be a bright color that first grabs the consumer’s attention. AVOID camo packaging that does its job too well of blending in so nobody sees it! Design packaging that is quick and to the point with only 3-5 selling points listed on the front, along with supporting pictures of the features.
If you decide that you don’t have the time or the money to produce and market your idea and would rather do a royalty or private label deal, it is best that you know how to properly approach potential partner companies instead of just calling them up and “winging it”. This is where most inventors make the most critical error and either get show down quick, get no response, or even get their idea stolen. You will need to know how to approach these companies, when to call, how to quickly and effectively present your idea, what to expect, what your other forms of income are besides the royalty itself (most companies will not offer info on this when you negotiate). You will need to know what percentages are proper for the industry and what should and shouldn’t be in the agreement so that nobody can LEGALLY steal your idea. Yes it can happen if you don’t know what to look for. Its never your knowledge that will hurt you, its your lack of it if you’ve never done these deals. Your car and garage sale negotiating skills will not work here. This is a different kind of animal! Just like hunting, its best to know the terrain before going in. To find out more, visit the invention consulting page.