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Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

The Forest for the Trees

Have you ever been so focused on a distant deer that you were oblivious to - or unprepared for - one in your lap?

I made that mistake once. I was hungry for venison, determined to put down the first legal deer I saw, and I did. And when I shot that doe, the earth moved, trees swayed, I was struck mute and reduced to a mouth-breather ... while the largest buck I’d ever seen whirled and ran. He’d been right behind me.

And then there was the time I forgot all about a young 6-pointer a mere 15 yards from my stand, and it saw me draw my bow when a record-book 10-pointer was a couple of steps away from a broadhead’s kiss.

I know I’m not alone. I hear the stories.

Greg Sims has a good one with a happier ending. His is proof of what can happen when you’re able to think and act on the fly. He probably doesn’t snore either, but I digress.

The Arkansas bowman was hunting in Iowa in 2005 when he saw what he swears was a world-record Typical 500 yards across a pasture. He was willing to barter with the devil to gain the giant whitetail’s attention.

Greg smashed his rattlin’ antlers together in a Hail-Mary attempt to stop the buck with the wall of tines, but it never flicked an ear. Seconds later, his cell phone vibrated. A buddy was calling from Kansas to tell him that he’d taken a big 8-pointer.

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Redefining “Scraping”

Doomed since I froze midway along 30-foot-high scaffolding at age 17, I might never shoot a monster buck. My fear of heights isn’t as paralyzing as it was 22 years ago, but even being called a wimp cannot force me to step onto a climbing stand.

Ladders and some fixed-position models accessible by tree steps are okay, but that took some doing. Most still give me the heebie-jeebies.

Why then, you might wonder, given that dozens of jaw-dropping bucks are shot from the ground (and ladders, and lock-on-type stands) every year, do I say my chances at a huge whitetail are slim or slimmer?

Because unless I begin taking steel or aluminum rods in the woods with me, I’m fairly certain I cannot imitate the noise that has piqued more than one dominant buck’s curiosity. I’m talking about the metal-against-bark sound of a climber going up a tree. It makes most hunters wince, but the racket apparently drives some bucks crazy. Seems they can’t resist coming in for a peek at who or what is destroying the furniture in their houses.

I’ve been told this too many times not to believe it.

If you have doubts, just ask Bill Collins, a senior analyst for the U.S. Army, whose going-away present for his recent Kansas-to-Massachusetts move wore a bow with 21 points.

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Thinking Out Loud: CWD and Pee

I know I’m opening a can of worms – or, to be more specific, a bottle of urine. But I’ve long been a fan of using deer pee to tilt the scales in my favor.

Now, because of the threat of spreading chronic wasting disease, several states are considering banning real deer urine. It’s already prohibited in Saskatchewan.

State wildlife agencies aren’t terribly concerned about hunters eating tainted venison, since CWD hasn’t been proven to affect humans. But they are concerned about the introduction of a disease that could infect native whitetails.

The reason for concern is that CWD is more prevalent in captive herds, and urine bottlers don’t go out into the wild and tap deer as if they were maple trees laden with syrup; their sources are penned. Plus, the disease is believed to be transmitted through bodily fluids.

To be honest, I don’t know who or what to believe. Because it is so effective, I’ll continue to use bottled urine until it’s made illegal to do so. My gut tells me that my little drops cannot possibly taint the soil beyond the few seconds it takes for them to evaporate.

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The Phew Factor

I’ve used Eau de doe in almost every form imaginable. I’ve poured it in scrapes, on foliage, on rags and boots. Used incense sticks, heated scent dispensers, regular scent droppers and pee-scented candles (one of my favorites). I’ve sprinkled impregnated granules on trails, hung cookie-sized wafers up- and downwind, and I’ve used fake pee.

I’ve dished it out sparingly, and I’ve emptied entire brown bottles.

I’ve shot a bunch of deer that were so into it, their faces looked as if they were about to sneeze.

I believe in the stuff, whether it’s garden-variety, lab-made, from one doe wearing lipstick or from a herd of ugly ones, with maybe an effeminate buck or two thrown in for good measure. I’ve been hooked on “buck lure” since the very first time I used it.

Take it from me: At least one of four hunters who shoot monster bucks has used some form of scent, whether or not they give it full credit.

Texan Edward Gurka will quickly give credit where it’s due. His Lone Star State record (Semi-irregular by shotgun) died with a curled lip.

The day before the 2002 gun opener, Edward drove to his cousin’s place and chose a spot where deer had been crossing a gully. He picked out a small oak tree with a limb “big enough for his butt” and nailed three boards into it as steps. The limb he would sit on was 10 feet off the ground, and the tree was growing along an old, single-strand fence.

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