Info you need on bucks and bears

Conservation officer Al Zellner told me recently that Game Commission officers are indeed fielding plenty of nuisance bear complaints this summer.

They are about to get more frequent I would guess as the corn in farmer’s fields gets to that stage that bears love. Landowners will see bears traveling back and forth from their bedding grounds to the choice cornfields.

Deer love these cornfields too. Zellner told me that they are seeing bucks with bigger racks than they have seen in a long time around here. Many of these are road kills and here is the warning for you as you drive around in your car take note how many fields are planted right up to the shoulder of the highway and the very edges of wooded ground.

Since deer and bear haven’t learned to “stop and look both ways” before crossing, they just take a step or two toward their bedding area and they are on the highway.

Anyplace there is a cornfield planted right up to the edge of the road, an animal can pop out at any time, especially at the dusk-to- dawn time period. So it behooves us to be a bit more careful – translate that as slowing down – when driving in those areas. Frankly, hitting a fat bear with my car or motorcycle is not my favorite thing to anticipate.

Archery time

The tinge of cooler weather starts the juices flowing for every archery hunter on the planet. It signals that it’s time to get that hay bale set up in the back yard or whatever target you use and get the shooting eye and aim with the bow up to par. Not to mention the arm muscles conditioned.

It’s also time for the archery deer hunters to begin scouting for sign of deer activity and what better place than looking for animals than now, when they are hugely attracted to cultivated fields.

It’s time to just see what bucks and bears are in the area. Come season, they will be still be in the area -that is, within a square mile or two – but narrowing down specific bedding areas comes a bit later. Now it’s just the sheer joy of getting out and glimpsing those big boys that makes all our hearts race.

Look around

Frank Lecorchick of Barnesboro champions starting deer scouting in August. He bagged in 1996 a record book buck with bow and arrow. He first saw the buck in August and employed certain techniques from then on that insured he’d still know where it was come season.

But according to Lecorchick, there are some things that you have to do as soon as you spot that August buck.

“As soon as I saw this buck one August night while I was spotlighting,” Lecorchick told me. “I switched my scouting from evening to morning and that is vital. Evenings he’s just milling around in the middle of a field with other deer, but I sneaked in at dawn many mornings to see just where he would enter the woods.Once you discover which end of the field he leaves from, you can get in there and find the very trails he uses. They lead to bedding areas and I would put a tree stand there in season.

“I do my August watching from a distance. I use binoculars and a spotting scope because I don’t want to disturb the area. I thought I had him pegged for the 1994 season but I found I didn’t. Come season, I never saw him. I realized I needed to do some inseason scouting and I needed to branch out.

I was not seeing any rubs that this big boy would have made, no tracks big enough to be his. I began to wonder if he was not perhaps coming from across the hard road, from a creek bottom I knew was there.

“After archery hunting one morning I went over there just to scout. Sure enough, there were a couple big deer trails leading from the creek bottom to the field where I ‘d see him at dawn.

I headed deeper into the woods to look around and found some really big tracks on a deer trail,” Lecorchick explained.

“I’ll bet that’s him,” Lecorchick thought. “Then I found a couple huge rubs and I was convinced this is where he lived. I kept scouring the area and found a flat oak ridge loaded with acorns. Turkeys were scratching there and two more big rubs right in the middle of it. So I started looking for a place to put my tree stand.

“Believe it or not,” he said, “I caught a glimpse of him that afternoon, bedded in some thick stuff. I hadn’t brought my bow with me since I was just scouting. It was 70 degrees and 1 p.m. I just walked away like I never saw him. I looked over my shoulder once and he was still lying there. By the time I sneaked back with my bow, he was gone.

“I put my tree stand up there then did not hunt there for the next two days. Even though I hunted there several times after that, I never saw him again. He had evidently moved out. But I continued to scout every morning after the hunt. That’s what a lot of hunters don’t do. But hotspots change, usually because of food availability. The most important thing an archery hunter can do is to keep looking for fresh sign.

“After I spot the buck I want, I change to morning scouting. I watch which end of a field he leaves from, follow that direction to find trails and fresh sign, noticing the normal wind direction. It is also vital to be absolutely scent-free on scouting missions as it is on hunting trips. You do not want to waft your human scent all over the woods where your big buck lives. Even if he never sees you, your scent lingering in his haunts will scare him away,” he said. ” The closer it gets to season the more avidly I look for his rubs. And scouting during the afternoon for his sign, will yield big rewards. You’ll find out why he has moved and where he is now. That’s what a lot of guys don’t do. They just stick to a stand they picked out in September and stay there no matter what. That’s a mistake.”

Lecorchick told me that once he has zeroed in on a particular buck in August, he stops spotlighting. He goes to bed instead so he can arise early and be staked out at the field at daylight.

“At dawn, the buck is moving with a purpose,” he said. “He’s moving toward a bedding area. “

It would be two more years before he bagged his prize and he kept track of it all those years. Most time that hunter than gets “lucky” during archery season, started in August.