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Outdoor Life - Outdoor life is a column by Mick Bohonis.
2011-10-21 at NOON

The buck stops here

With the month of October winding down, there is no doubt in my mind many decent bucks have already been taken by hunters in the last few weeks.

A lot of reports I have received so far  indicate this year’s whitetail harvest on a whole has been decent even though we still have the month of November and half of December to go.

I for one have been bow hunting whitetails for more than 25 years and have watched a multi-billion dollar industry evolve around the most popular game animal in North America.

The money generated directly or indirectly from deer hunting in Canada and the lower 48 states is staggering. Nothing compares in the outdoor hunting world and statistics show the whitetail deer is king when it comes to producing the greenbacks and in popularity amongst the ranks of hunters whether you favour a shotgun, a bow, a muzzle loader or a rifle.

I believe today’s modern deer hunter is much more informed and educated simply because of television, magazines and books and the Internet. There are so many shows on TV geared towards the deer hunter and site after site on the web that anyone can access with loads of information and available gear for purchase.

Take a walk into Chapters and see how many magazines there are available on this animal and the practice of hunting deer. There are probably 30 different publications on this alone.

In Northwestern Ontario, we are fortunate to have an array of big game animals such as the moose (which is probably as popular  as the whitetail), black bears, deer, wolves, elk, a few cougars  and in some areas caribou (although protected).

In comparison every one of the 48 states in the U.S. has a huntable whitetail herd with regular seasons. No wonder why this critter is such a popular ungulate.

In the old days the whitetail deer was hunted mainly by rifle hunters who walked the woods in hope of spotting a deer within range and getting the shot, or driving the woods where a shooter would be placed in an area only to have his partners push the animal towards the hunter who was at his post, ready and waiting for the fleeing animal.

Today these maneuvers are still used quite often, however, the most popular method used by hunters is the tree stand.
More deer are harvested from tree stands than any other strategy, and as a bow hunter it’s my personal choice for setting up on big bucks.

Tree stands allow you to be just about anywhere and in a relatively quick amount of time. They are portable and can be moved in a moment’s notice and come in about 100 different styles and patterns.

The one major advantage of hunting out of a tree stand is it allows the hunter to get off the ground and out of direct wind currents, which is so critical.

It also gives the hunter a much better vantage point and line of sight. When the wind is blowing, hunting out of a tree stand for obvious reasons will allow you to get away with a little more movement. This is critical, especially if bow hunting and you have to draw your bow on a big buck a few yards away.

Disadvantages of tree stands are they are somewhat noisy to hang and are not usually the most comfortable things to sit in for hours especially if you are a bigger guy like me.  

Another method of harvesting some decent bucks is the use of calls and scents.

This, if done properly, can be deadly on rutting bucks.

Big whitetail bucks are for the majority of the year loners and when fall time rolls around and their necks start to swell and tarsal glands turn black, a remedy of guttural grunts and a dose of doe-in-estrous scent will drive them crazy.

I think more big bucks have fallen to arrows and bullets because of the use of calls and scent than any other attractant.
Deer do a lot of communicating through the use of their own scent glands and a mature buck has seven glands he uses on a regular basis.

If the deer hunter understands the glands on a rutting buck, he can improve his chances on a trophy whitetail simply by choosing the right scents to use at the different phases of the whitetail mating season.

No matter what we choose to help us in our quest the one most important thing all deer hunters need to remember is the wind direction. Nothing will ruin your hunt faster than getting winded and we have all been there I’m sure. I certainly have.

There are so many camo clothing lines out there that claim they are scent eliminators (and I own some of them) and also so many sprays that claim they will eliminate your scent. However, these may work to some extent and give you a better chance than if you didn’t use any, but they will never completely eliminate human scent.

This is why I have several stand locations in different areas, so I can get out and hunt the stand where the wind is in my favor.
Did I mention the wind?


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