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Specialized gear for rutting white-tails: more "bucks" for retailers.

Specialized Gear For Rutting Whitetails: More "Bucks" For Retailers

More than 95 percent of all American bowhunters avidly pursue whitetail deer. Whitetails reside in 47 of the 50 states, and bowhunters from non-whitetail areas often travel out-of-state for a chance at these exciting animals. Consequently, most archery retailers should carry a few products designed specifically with whitetail bowhunting in mind.

The primary time to bow hunt whitetails nationwide is the fall rutting period. There are actually three rutting cycles--a prerut in late October or early November, a main rut in late November or early December, and a post-rut in mid-to-late December or early January. Bowhunting rutting whitetails has become quite a science the past few years--a deliberate set of tactics requiring specific commercial products. Gunners also hunt rutting whitetails, but an archer's close-range shooting needs necessitate use of several unique items. Here's a look at consistent sellers.

Scent Products

Two basic types of scent products are used by avid whitetail archers. Rutting urine attracts bucks when properly employed. Scent-locking sprays chemically destroy or lock in human, deer-scaring odor. Here's what to carry in your store and how such products are utilized afield.

Rutting urine takes the form of a doe in heat scent or buck urine. Top scent companies like Robbins and Buck Stop collect such urine at peak times during the mating cycle to ensure a genuine, whitetail-attracting product. Since natural urine sometimes goes bad over time, several manufacturers now sell synthetic rutting urine which has a longer shelf life. Saf-Tree's fine Hot Doe scent is such a product.

Some whitetail hunters squirt doe in heat scent or buck uring on their boots and trouser cuffs to mask their foot trails to and from a stand. This procedure serves a dual purpose, because rutting deer that intersect such a trail often follow it to investigate. Another technique commonly deployed is dragging a urine-soaked handkerchief outward from a treestand site in several directions. This forms a "drag pattern" of rutting scent radiating away from the stand like the spokes from the hub of a wheel. The theory is that any rutting buck crossing such a drag line will come sniffing in like a bird dog after a covey of quail. Fortunately, this theory often pans out, allowing close bow shots at normally wary trophies.

Experienced whitetail bowhunters often make "mock scrapes" in early October to attract rutting bucks later on. A mock scrape duplicates a genuine scrape, and when properly prepared, whitetails will take it over and regard it as a genuine meeting place for rutting bucks and does. A bowhunter simply finds an outstretching tree branch at chest height, scrapes away leaves and dirt to make a washtub-sized depression beneath this over-hanging branch, and "freshens" the mock scrape with a few drops of doe in heat and buck urine. Whitetail bucks always scrape beneath an antler-high "licking branch," so such a branch must be present above a mock scrape.

To keep the mock scrape saturated with deer-attracting urine, a bowhunter must sneak in periodically to freshen it or tie a slow-drip scent bottle to the licking branch above the scrape. Saf-Tree's Hot Doe System incorporates such a bottle with a wick that's adjustable for drip rate. By keeping visits to such a scrape at a minimum, a bowhunter does not broadcast enough human odor to spook wary whitetails. When the rutting period arrives, a treestand near a mock scrape will produce shots at bucks checking this territorial marker for does in heat.

Scent-blocking products like Robinson's Scent Shield are a must for best results on whitetails. A bowhunter must somehow walk to and from his stand without leaving human scent on the ground. One fairly effective method is wearing rubber boots. However, a few squirts of Scent Shield or a similar agent (check with Buck Stop, Hunter's Specialties, Pete Rickard, Inc., et cetera) blocks all human scent in the foot/pant-leg area -- which completely fools deer that wander by. Bowhunters who tramp near their stands to lay down urine-scent drags or freshen mock scrapes can also be assured that scent-blocking spray will leave the area free of whitetail-scaring human odor.

Doe Decoys

Rutting whitetail bucks respond to visual lures as readily as they do to scents. For this reason, many bowhunters set out a full-sized doe decoy near their stands to draw bucks close enough for a shot. Such decoys can provide the extra confidence needed to make a wary buck trust the urine odor he smells in a drag line or scrape.

Several companies sell doe decoys -- both silhouettes and collapsible models made of foam. A silhouette makes good sense from a sales standpoint. It is fairly inexpensive, easy to display in your store, and convenient for a hunter to tote into the woods. One of my favorites is Lohman's Archery Deer Decoy, which instantly sets up with two stiff wire stakes. Jim Dougherty Archery sells another model with a unique moving-head feature that reportedly fools bucks completely.

In fairly open whitetail terrain, using doe decoy is sometimes a bowhunter's primary weapon against a wary buck. Deer frequenting Mid-Western prairies and harvested farm fields will often sneak or run toward a doe decoy -- even when they do not smell or hear a thing. Doe decoys make good sense no matter where or how you prefer to bow hunt rutting whitetail deer.

Buck Calls

Whitetail bucks are quite combative at the peak of the rut, cruising their home turf and grunting to warn away subordinate bucks. Quite often, equally matched deer will square off like teen-age boys in a schoolyard, clashing antlers maliciously for the favors of a nearby doe. The sounds of both grunting and antler-rattling attract dominant trophy bucks.

Not surprisingly, a host of companies sell deer calls and synthetic rattling antlers with bowhunters in mind. Haydel, Lohman, Golden Eagle Archery, Bear Archery, H.S. Calls, and dozens of others market hand-held, mouth-blown grunt calls. Some of the same firms also sell dense-plastic antlers that sound authentic when clashed together. These are fairly inexpensive items which sell briskly as bowhunting deer season approaches.

A few enterprising archery dealers also sell genuine whitetail antlers for rattling. Most taxidermy shops and antler collectors will sell matched sets for a song, letting you make major profits. About $30 is the going retail rate for a pair of synthetic or genuine rattling antlers.

When selling grunt calls and rattling antlers to your customers, be sure to stress the need to coax in deer from an elevated stand in very thick cover. Whitetails respond best to calls when they feel safe and secure -- and they are most comfortable in dense foliage. An elevated stand lets an archer peer downward through bushes and trees to spot in-coming bucks.

Final Thoughts

Rutting whitetails rely on their noses, eyes, and ears to find doe deer in heat. A smart bowhunter uses this knowledge to set up point-blank shots. As a dealer, you can help by offering top quality scent products, decoys, and rut-hunting calls.

PHOTO : Commercial rutting buck urine can be applied directly to boots and cuffs to mask odor. It

PHOTO : is also essential for making scent drags and freshening mock scrapes.

PHOTO : A whitetail silhouette decoy can visually attract mature bucks from a distance.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:hunting lures, bow and arrow hunting
Author:Adams, Chuck
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:May 1, 1989
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