3 Off-the-Wall Whitetail Tactics

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Ever tried to sound like a buck making a scrape or put a stalk on a locked-down bruiser? Maybe you should

Try a new tactic this deer season. Image by Bruce MacQueen

Out on the Milk River in eastern Montana, Eliot Strommen glasses for a buck crossing an alfalfa field, swaggering alone nose down or trailing a doe. He watches where the deer enters the timber, then eases downwind into position. The longbow hunter stands behind a tree, picks up a stick and starts cracking trees and whipping brush.

The kicker: He picks up his right foot and paws the ground one, two, three… then the left foot, one, two, three. “If you watch a buck paw the ground or scrape, that’s the way he does it,” says Strommen, who wraps his routine by pinching his nose and cutting loose some mighty grunts and whiny wheezes with his voice.

The ruse is to sound like an inferior buck feeling his oats back in brush. “After making that racket, I’ve had bucks run up to within 30 yards of me, wild-eyed and hair up,” he says. “They stamp and snort; it’s pretty wild.”

Here are a couple more tricks you have probably never tried before, but should.

Stink Like a Buck

One morning in Virginia I smoked a fat 8-pointer with my muzzleloader. His hocks were black as clumps of coal, and he reeked so badly I choked as I opened him up.

Pop, pop, pop in the leaves. I peeked up and saw a hunky 10-pointer boring down on me, eyes ablaze and tines held low. The intruder marched to within 20 yards. I crouched behind the dead deer in a half-panic. The buck stopped, stared, finally detected no threat and turned and swaggered off.

It was one of my wildest hunts ever and it taught me something. Late in the pre-rut, dominant bucks are drawn to the musk of one another. Forget the doe pee, and set wicks with a heavy dose of buck urine and tarsal near your stand.

Be careful if you try this from a ground blind. A rut-crazed buck homing in on the stink of what he perceives to be a rival is one bad mother, I can attest to that.

Get Down and Go

One mid-November morning Realtree pro Don Kisky left his Iowa farmhouse with 5 steps in his pocket and a lock-on stand on his back. He hadn’t been seeing much from his best stands, so he knew it was time to change it up.

“In lockdown, a lot of bucks herd does out of their core areas and into a grassy ditch, brush pile, or other spot,” Kisky says. “They might not move for several days. So, find them and go to them,” he says. “A buck is so out of his mind and focused on his doe that if you stalk well, you can get super close.”

Later that November day, Kisky screwed in the steps, climbed an oak tree, glassed CRP for an hour and spotted a big 11-point curled beneath a cedar tree with a doe. He bailed out of his observation post, got the wind, stalked for a half-hour, closed to within 20 yards, drew his bow, rose up over a grass patch and nailed the 162-incher.

“Most bowhunters that spot a buck with a doe like that are reluctant to move,” Kisky says. “They sit there second-guessing and miss out on a good opportunity.”

Kisky says to look things over and devise a plan. If the wind, terrain and cover are conducive to a stalk, “don’t be scared to get out of that tree and go make it happen.”

(Don't Miss: How to Hunt the Phases of the Rut)

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