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3 Simple Shed Hunting Strategies

By Nate Coughlin: M.C.T. Productions

 

One of my favorite times of the year is shed hunting season.  It gives you the opportunity to go into those bedding areas that you have been staying out of all year long, learn new routes that the deer like to take, and find antlers from the deer you have been watching all year long.  When it comes time to start putting the boots to the ground, there are 3 strategies that I always keep in mind.


          The number one strategy is food and field edges.  The last few years there has been some harsh, cold winters and that cold pushes the deer towards food more than any other time of the year.  That being said, fields that provide food and the edges of the timber around those fields are a great place to start.  It is also not uncommon for me to search a whole entire open field if I know there has been deer feeding in a certain field.  Areas like this is where I will find a mass majority of my sheds.


          The second strategy is looking on heavily travelled deer trails that are between the food and the bedding areas.  During this time of year, most of the deer movement that happens is going out to the food and back to their bedding area.  The deer try to minimize the amount of energy that they exert to get to the food, so usually that will cause the deer to bed closer to the food source but, still in areas that offer cover and safety.

 


          The last strategy that I use for shed hunting is getting right in the main bedding areas or sanctuaries.  Even though I go to these areas to find sheds, I also like to look for deer sign such as rubs, scrapes and pinch points.  These signs can teach you a lot about the deer movement and give you the upper hand for next deer season.


          Get out in the woods and remember to check out food sources, heavily travelled trails, and bedding areas the next time you’re shed hunting.  Get as much intel as you can while you are searching but most of all, enjoy your time in the great outdoors.  Good Luck!

 

Mock Scrape Tactics That Work

By Tracy Breen

Here in Michigan, deer hunting is changing. Baiting deer will soon be a thing of the past. As a result, hunters are going to have to employ new tactics if they want to get within bow or gun range of deer. One of the most popular way to entice a buck within bow range is by hunting over mock scrapes. Doug Roberts from Conquest Scents in Michigan knows a lot about the subject.  Doug’s company has been selling deer urine for over a decade.  He has spent twice that long hunting mature bucks over scrapes.  “Hunting over scrapes can be a lot of fun.  Hunting over scrapes is extremely effective when done correctly.  If a hunter wants to focus on killing mature bucks, hunting over a mock scrape is one of the best ways to do that,” Roberts said.   

What Doug likes best about hunting over scrapes is the fact that he can control what bucks do and where they go by building a mock scrape in the right place. “I start building mock scrapes long before most hunters. I like to build them in September near my favorite treestands which are always located near deer travel corridors. I like to build my scrapes upwind and within bow range of my stand.”


BUILD A SCRAPE THAT IS WORKED IN 360 DEGREES

 

Doug believes there are four basic components to a good mock scrape that will fool deer. “First, hunters need to build a scrape so dirt is distributed in all directions. The ground needs to be worked in 360 degrees around the scrape and the ground needs to be torn up. This makes the scrape more noticeable.  It also makes it a territorial scrape that drives bucks crazy.  This type of scrape is one that does will use.”


ALWAYS HAVE A LICKING BRANCH

 

The second step is the licking branch. Doug never builds a scrape without a licking branch. “The scrape should have a licking branch over the top of it and should be roughed up like a real licking branch is.  It should be hanging down low enough that deer can easily interact with it.”


BUILD RUBS AROUND THE SCRAPE

 

The third step is putting a buck foot print in the middle of his mock scrape and rubs around it. “Bucks can’t always see scrapes from a distance.  By making mock rubs around my scrape, bucks and does will approach the scrape because they will notice the new rubs from a great distance. When they approach the scrape, they will see the footprint and be able to see which direction the deer was walking when it left the scrape. Deer often leave their print in scrapes and hunters rarely do this when they are building a scrape. My goal is to make the scrape look as authentic as possible.”


USE EVERCALM

 

The fourth and final step is putting a rutting buck scent in the scrape and EverCalm on the licking branch. “I want the scrape to smell like a real buck built the scrape. By using EverCalm, I am making the licking branch smell like deer have used the licking branch. By building mock rubs and by using scent in the scrape, deer can find the scrape two different ways: by smell or by sight. By using this method, 95% of the time my scrapes become active scrapes.”


ELIMINATE HUMAN ODOR

 

Many hunters don’t build mock scrapes because they have had a negative experience with scrapes. In many cases, Roberts believes that happens for a couple different reasons. “Probably the most common reason why deer spook when they approach a scrape is because human odor was left behind at the scrape. Hunters should be as scent free as possible. I wear rubber gloves and boots when I build scrapes and put EverCalm on my boots. Human odor ruins a lot of scrapes. Second, small bucks will often get spooked by a scrape if they think a big buck made the scrape. They will smell it and run away.”


BE PATIENT

 

Roberts is a firm believer in hunting over scrapes.  He is quick to point out that if a hunter wants to be successful when hunting over scrapes, hunting all day is a necessity. “Our research shows that many bucks check scrapes in the middle of the day. They want to catch the other bucks or the does near the scrape so they will often check them in the afternoon so I hunt all day. The problem is most people work during the day. If a hunter guy wants to increase his odds of killing a mature buck, they need to hunt over scrapes during the middle of the day. My favorite time to hunt over scrapes is early afternoon during late October and early November.”

The key to success when hunting over scrapes according to Roberts is building a good quality scrape and sticking with it. Don’t get impatient.

NEW DEER SCENT TECHNOLOGY

 

Sidebar: Not much has changed in the deer urine industry in the last decade or so ... until recently. Conquest Scents recently partnered with Wyndscent, a company out of Grand Rapids, Michigan that makes a scent dispenser that vaporizes deer scent.  It heats up the scent and turns it into a fine vapor. Independent testing by a tracker and his bloodhound determined the dog could smell the heated vapor from several hundred yards away. The cool thing with the Wyndscent unit is it is controlled by a remote control so hunters don’t need to pour scent in a scrape or contaminate the ground with human odor. They can turn it on and off from their treestand. Conquest Scents most popular scents can be purchased for the Wyndscent unit. Learn more about this new technology at www.wyndscent.com.

Every Deer Hunter Should Try Synthetic Urine

By Tracy Breen

 

Deer season is here.  This means many guys are standing in the checkout line at the store holding a bottle of pee.  Most deer hunters at some point or another over the course of their life have used deer urine in an attempt to get a big buck to walk within shooting distance of their treestand or ground blind. Some deer hunters say they wouldn’t hunt without using a certain brand of deer urine. Over the years, many hunters have shown me pictures of big bucks on their trail cameras or grip and grin photos of them with the buck of a lifetime.  They say they wouldn’t have killed the buck if it wasn’t for the mock scrape they built and the bottle of urine they poured into the scrape.   

For every hunter who swears by mock scrapes filled with deer urine, there is a hunter who says the urine he used spooked the buck he was hoping to tag.  Some hunters love using deer urine; others hate using it.  One thing is certain: the way deer urine is purchased and sold is changing.  The type of urine hunters will be able to use in the woods is changing too.   

CWD Is Spreading

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is slowly but surely spreading across North America. As the disease spreads, Fish and Game Departments are spending a lot of time researching the problem and doing what they can to stop it from spreading. One of the things they have looked at closely over the last several years is bottled deer urine. Many biologists believe that the prions that cause CWD can be spread via a bottle of urine. Until recently, the deer urine business hasn’t been regulated. Deer farmers can put urine in a bottle and call it whatever they want and sell it to any hunter or store they desire. Because the business of collecting and selling urine isn’t one that is tightly regulated, some states are taking it upon themselves to ban the sale of deer urine. So far, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Virginia have banned the sale of deer urine. Many other states have been considering banning the sale of deer urine.

ATA Approved Scent

The Archery Trade Association (ATA) recently created a a deer protection program that sets guidelines and procedures in place for manufacturers and suppliers of deer urine who want to sell urine within the ATA. Members that adhere to the program can put a seal of approval on their products. Members of the program must manage their deer herd and bottle their urine in a facility that meets certain standards. The goal of the program is to ensure that the urine being sold does not contain CWD causing prions.

The majority of scent companies within the outdoor industry including Wyndscent are following the guidelines. Will this protection program be enough to stop the spread of CWD? Will more states ban the use of deer urine?



Synthetic Deer Urine May Be the Answer

The odds of more states banning the use of deer urine for hunting purposes is extremely high. If deer urine is banned, what will hunters do? The best option is using synthetic scents. Synthetic deer scents have been around for decades. In fact, I used a bottle of synthetic deer urine for the first time when I was a teenager. At the time, many people laughed at the idea of using fake deer pee when hunting. People aren’t laughing at the idea anymore.

Synthetic Deer Urine Works

Synthetic deer urine works. If used properly, it can attract deer and other big game animals. In fact, in some cases, synthetic deer urine is a better option than real urine. It is legal everywhere.  You don’t have to worry about being stopped by a game warden or given a ticket for carrying around a bottle of urine.

Synthetic Deer Urine Doesn’t Spoil Like Real Urine

Another reason synthetic urine is a great choice is because it doesn’t break down like real urine. It doesn’t take long after a bottle is filled with urine before the urine starts to smell bad. Some companies sell fresh urine that fools a buck’s nose most the time. Some scents, on the other hand, have spent a long time on the store shelf before they are sold. Because synthetic urine isn’t real urine, it smells fresh much longer.

Finding a Quality Synthetic Urine

Not all synthetic urine is created equal, but over the last decade, many companies have started producing synthetic deer urine that is very effective in the woods. As the demand for synthetic urine rises over the next several years, the quality of synthetic deer urine is sure to rise as well.  

The Vapor Scent Advantage

Wyndscent is one company that is on the cutting edge of deer scent technology.   Wyndscent offers a deer scent dispenser that vaporizes deer scent. Independent testing has shown that the heated vapor scent can be smelled hundreds of yards away. Wyndscent makes a high quality synthetic estrus scent for their unit that drives bucks wild during the rut.


Vapor Deer Scent Travels Further

Best of all, the Wyndscent unit can be operated from up to 40 yards. When a hunter wants to put out heated vapor scent, they can hit a button on their remote, so they are not contaminating the area with human odor like sometimes occurs when building mock scrapes.

There is no question synthetic deer urine is here to stay. Pick up a Wyndscent unit and take advantage of heated vapor scent.

Levi Morgan Decoy Tactics

By Tracy Breen



Levi Morgan is one of the most recognized names in archery today. He wins a pile of archery tournaments every year and is one heck of a hunter.  One of his favorite things to hunt is big whitetails.  Over the last several years, he has been hunting whitetails over a Dave Smith deer decoy and loves how close bucks come to the decoy when he is bowhunting.  “I love watching deer react to a good doe decoy.  Bucks love to come in and check them out,” Morgan explained. 
 
Decoys can really help bowhunters punch a tag because a decoy can quickly distract a a big buck. “I love hunting over decoys because a bowhunter needs a buck close. Getting a shot is much easier when the buck is distracted by the decoy,” Morgan added.
 
When setting up a decoy, Morgan prefers having the decoy facing his treestand so when a buck approaches the decoy to face off, he will give Morgan a broadside or quartering away shot before he is about to attack the buck decoy. Of course Morgan prefers to have the wind in his face and the decoy out in front of him twenty or thirty yards away so he can take a close shot. “I can take longer shots, but the wonderful thing about a decoy is I can put it right in front of me and know exactly how far away it is so when the shot opportunity presents itself, I don’t have much guess work before the shot.”
 
One issue Morgan says happens occasionally when a buck approaches a decoy is it gets spooked because the decoy isn’t moving. “To reduce the chances of a buck getting spooked, I use a Wyndscent vapor deer scent unit. I place the unit right under the decoy so when a buck approaches the decoy, he smells real deer scent. It vaporizes urine and the scent travels extremely far as it is heated up and vaporized.”
 
One thing Morgan has noticed about using the scent is even when the wind direction isn’t just right, the scent peaks the curiosity of a buck and then comes in.  “I have had bucks catch my wind, get a little spooky, but come in when they smell the Wyndscent unit. The scent is strong and works much better than pouring scent onto the ground. The Dave Smith decoy combined with a Wyndscent is a great combo.”
 
Learn more about Wyndscent by clicking here.

Travel Corridors: Learn to Beat Deer at Their Own Game

By Pro Staffer- John Ruiz, Jr.

 

What are travel corridors? Where are these high traffic travel areas located? What is a pinch point, and what causes deer to use these travel areas? These are common questions that every hunter will encounter at some point in their hunting career. The answer to these questions can be found through years worth of experience on your own hunting properties. I’ll address these questions and give you some insight from my own experiences in the timber.

Travel Routes

There are many lessons to learn in the whitetail woods. One of the most important strategies to decipher is learning your property’s travel routes. This one thing can instantly keep you in the game. Sometimes just seeing a deer can be the difference between becoming a hunter for life and just another check on the bucket list. Nobody really enjoys not seeing deer during a hunt, especially the young hunter, our future generational conservationists. Yes, there is more to hunting than harvesting an animal and seeing deer, but seeing them consistently will keep you in the field more often. To see more deer, you must think like a deer and figure out where they move in their environment.

Locate Bedding, Food, and Cover

The game animals on your property consistently travel from bedding, to cover, to food and back. Your property will likely have several bedding areas. It will also contain different food sources such as acorns, row crops, or man-made food plots. Take a walk on your property and mentally mark these bedding areas and food sources. Get on Google maps or Google Earth and click through layering filters. That will help you read the flow of your land, see the high and low points, and locate these food- to- bed areas easily. This will intern give you the best idea of how the deer travel through your property. Learning how to read topographic maps will teach you the flow of your property, but it can also teach you how to do the same thing on an out-of-state lease. It will also help you see if that outfitter you’ve been thinking about booking has some good land or if it’s worth the price tag. Figuring out how to decipher this puzzle will put you in the best spot on the property before you ever set one foot on the dirt.



Learn Their Roads

So what are travel corridors? They are simply routes that game animals use to maneuver around your property. These game animals are masters of their environment, and you are the student. They have spent their entire life on this property and know how to move, when to move, where to move, so it’s your job to try and beat them at their own game.


The Road Less Traveled By

Where are these travel areas located? They are typically located between bedding, thick cover, and food. They are also located between water holes, streams, and rivers. They can be easy to spot. Many times heavy tracks, or a well worn down trail will show you how they are moving. However, it is much more difficult to locate a big buck’s travel corridor. He often uses the path less traveled by, slipping in and out of edge cover. He will use a trail high upon the ridge, or zigs and zags through thick cover. He will also use a tall agricultural field to give you the slip when you least expect it.

Pinch Points

What is a pinch point? A pinch point is where two or more varied terrain elements converge together. This is typically a very high traffic hub that the deer will use for communication purposes. If you’ve found one of these, you’re in the right spot to hang a stand. Pinch points are a hunter’s best friend, especially during the rut when the big boys are on the move seeking those receptive does. A great pinch point example would be where a hard bend in a river or stream occur, making a natural funnel to cross. Where a fence row meets another fence row, causing the deer to flow in a specific way, or where several rolling hills meet. These are all excellent pinch point areas.


 
Figure Out Their Game

Finally, what causes deer to use the travel routes? Deer primarily are creatures of habit. They listen to their bodies like you and I do. When they are hungry, they travel to food. When they are thirsty, they hit the water hole. When they want to feel safe, they creep through thick cover. Keep a keen eye open for these trails, and over the years you will have figured out their game.

 

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