Bait and switch common in hunting

Most of us have probably been the victim of some sort of “bait and switch” advertising. You recognize the ploy: an item is advertised at an amazing price, so you hustle to the store to get one and sure enough, they are all out of it. However they do have similar ones – in fact better ones – which will, of course, set you back a bit more than you planned on.

We don’t like being snookered, but the “bait and switch” tactic is exactly what we do when we go hunting and fishing. We promise one thing to our quarry by the sounds and smells and decoys we set out there to fool them and when they show up to collect, they get something different than what they expected.

Archery season perhaps more than any other except for spring gobbler, relies heavily on bait-and-switch tactics, promising one thing but delivering another. Some hunters stumble into the woods during a season and stand around hoping their quarry will just happen by. Sometimes that works. But those who are successful at bringing home the wild bacon season after season, have learned some techniques at luring, tempting and enticing their quarry to come to them. We appeal to the natural and instinctive urges all wild creatures have to eat and to procreate.

You’ll find a baffling array of scents available at the store, each one promising to bring that big buck close enough for a shot. Some appeal to a deer’s appetite, offering acorn, apple, strawberry, even corn for the early season as the first half of season deer are more interested in eating than in their love life.

Things change after a week or so of archery season. Now the rut is on. Does come into estrus and bucks are chasing does and challenging other bucks for breeding rights. Smart archers take advantage of this behavior.

Archers scout the woods and fields for signs that the rut is on. Scrapes (large areas pawed out of the leaves where bucks leave their scent) identify a buck area. Interested does come by the scrape, smell the delightful scent the buck has left for them and wait in the vicinity for him to show up.

Archers purchase various artificial scents to fool deer into believing the love interest they want is nearby. Hunters make mock scrapes and douse them with artificial doe-in-heat scent. Then the hunter puts a stand in a tree or takes up a watch nearby, hoping his offering will dupe a buck into thinking that hottest doe in the woods is waiting for him. All this is nothing more than the old bait-and-switch at work in the woods. Lure the buck with sex but reward it with an arrow that converts it into steaks and chops.

Turkey hunters employ this same technique extensively. Turkeys are lured by talking to them. A turkey hunter has to learn how to speak the turkey’s language or he’s in for long, fruitless hours. We have to use calls skillfully enough to persuade a big, long-bearded gobbler, how at any other time of year except spring, when he is addlepated by lust, that you are the sexiest most desirable hen in the woods.

To further help in this delicious deception, we set out realistic looking decoys with no other goal in mind than to lure that gobbler over to visit the phony hen.

If all goes well and the deception is successful, the gobbler comes parading in strutting, puffing, drumming gobbling and promenading, making a total dodo of himself, all in anticipation of the sexy tryst he is sure is awaiting him. He’s expecting one thing but what he gets is a load of six-shot.

It isn’t just the big game we try to lure. There are squirrel calls, coyote howlers, and fox calls and scents, dove decoys duck and goose calls and so on. If there is a season for it, some manufacturer somewhere will devise a decoy, scent, and/or call for it. I can’t wait to see what they will think of for the porcupine season we have been gifted with recently.

Actually, porcupines do have an eerie howl they make on rare occasions. perhaps it is a mating call, I don’t know. But I remember the day I was in a tree with my bow and arrow when I heard this screeching howl, unlike anything I’d every heard before. Soon I saw a porcupine come toddling along. No far from my tree, it stopped and let out several of those whining howls. Had I not been privileged to actually see it happening, I’d never have guessed it was a porcupine emitting such a weird sound.

Perhaps this strikes you as taking unfair advantage. We implement this bait-and-switch tactic because it is the one way in which we can gain some ground over a quarry who can see far better than we, who can smell us from afar, run faster, scurry up trees, dive into holes and hide behind a blade of grass and fly. We ungraceful humans clump around the woods, smelling like bologna, garlic, gas and the family dog and are at a decided disadvantage.

Every angler you know has several tackle boxes filled with lures.

So if weird, scary howls and hoots are emanating from somewhere in your neighborhood, the hunters in the vicinity are no doubt the culprits. Be patient, it won’t last long.

Believe me, without goose calls there would never be a Christmas goose.