Dallas Robinson from Hollidaysburg has heard plenty about there not being any deer in Pennsylvania anymore. Nevertheless, he had his eye on one really nice buck for the past 3 years, scouted and followed its habits during that time and finally bagged the huge 10 pointer just a couple weeks ago in Blair County.
It's the buck of a lifetime and taken with his crossbow. He knew how to read the sign: the huge trail that cut through an alfalfa field on the near side of a swampy woodland seemed like the right place to intercept that buck. So one rainy night, he hunkered down along the fencerow. He had only a small opening to get that arrow through.
About 6:30 he saw the movement, glimpsed the deer and antlers and could only hope that animal would stop in the open space in front of him. And sure enough it did! It was only 9 feet in front of him but his shot was true.
Why the buck stopped right there, Robinson isn't sure. Perhaps it was the doe-in-heat lure he had strategically placed. But the Red Dot sight he had on his crossbow helped his aim to be true. The huge buck weighed just over 200 pounds and the inside spread of the rack is something over 20 inches.
So this buck is the proof that there are some really nice bucks out there. A lot of people, it turns out, had been watching this buck during the last winter, as it browsed a ridge not far from town. Persistence and scouting are two of deer hunting's most important factors.
This is the time of year the archers live for. The rut is fast approaching and bucks are busy chasing does. This is the time for the grunt tube and the doe-in-heat scent and patience.
I remember hunting with a bow in the days when you could take one deer a year and if you chose to take one with a bow, you couldn't hunt at all in the regular rifle deer season. Because the rifle season is such a tradition in this state, hunters felt as if they had somehow "lost" something if they took a deer in the early season. Most hunters, including me, back then opted to hold out for a buck in archery season.
Today, with all the licenses a hunter can get many choose to add to their hunting days and hunting excitement by going after at least one of the 3 or more deer they will be allowed with a bow. The most exciting segment of archery hunting is during the rut. For the first couple weeks, hunters mostly stake out travel lanes- as Robinson did- where deer go from bedding to feeding areas and back again. Food sources, such as apple trees, mast crops, grass fields will have archers hiding on its fringes hoping to be within archery range of a deer, should one appear.
An incredible array of intricate details have to be implemented perfectly to get within 35 yards of not only the spookiest wild creature in our woods, but one that can smell us too. Sometimes it seems hopeless but by paying attention to a lot of the "little" but important things, hunters have learned to overcome the advantage that the whitetail deer has over us. Here are some of those tips.
Steve Lecorchick of Barnesboro, a really good bowhunter offers these suggestions: "Bucks hang-up to antler rattling just as gobblers do to turkey calls. If a buck comes to where he thinks he should be able to see the battling bucks but he does not see them, he'll stand out there and scan the scene but not come any closer. The ideal set-up is to have a buddy about 50 yards behind your stand rattling antlers on the ground. That often draws a buck right into bow range. "
Lecorchick's second tip is to make a mock scrape if there is not one at the site where you want to put up your treestand. A scrape is the best location for clicking antlers. "I put my mock scrape within 50 yards of an existing scrape, making sure it is smaller than the real scrape. I scent the mock scrape lightly with deer urine. The idea is to fool a buck into thinking a smaller buck is trying to horn in on his territory," Lecorchick said.
Terry Rohm, a Pennsylvania hunter who now works for Wellington Leisure Products offers this tip which I consider one of the best pieces of deer hunting advice I've ever received. "Two things hunters neglect when it comes to masking their human scent is their hair and their breath. I wash my hair just before I hunt with scentless soap then I wear a hat that covers my head completely."
Rubber boots seem to control scents from the feet better than do leather boots. Archers often spray their feet with anti-perspirant to keep down the odor but it will work only if your socks are not ones you've worn for 3 days straight. Even as a small tendril of breeze will betray you, so inattention to details will yield you only another day of frustration.