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Big Buck Central

Big Buck 411 Blog

Entries for August 2010

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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Will You be Ready?

If you can imagine what it would be like to unlock the doors of a giant retail store on Black Friday, when the thrumming crowd outside is like crude threatening to burst a deep-water well’s rigging, you might understand why experienced antler rattlers always keep their rifles or bows within a wrist flick’s length.

Whether intimidated, self-assured or just plain cautious, a buck might take his sweet time investigating the mock brawl, but, more often than not, he’ll arrive in very short order. And woe be unto the hunter who has his hands full of noisemakers when the bull of the woods charges through that opened door.

I once thought that scenario was limited to rattling. Even the numerous times I was caught holding a grunt call or bleat can didn’t convince me of the need to have my bow or gun at the ready while uurrping or wah-ing.

The notion took full shape after talking with Dale Larson, one of the sharpest knives in the deer hunting drawer.

I suspect most hunters have heard of Dale. Long before he began writing magazine articles or appearing on television shows, he arrowed one of the largest whitetails ever to draw a breath. Bunches of them, in fact.

The Kansas behemoth that launched his career (and cost him the lease where he’d been managing for these kinds of bucks) was “Dagger,” the former world-record Irregular by compound bow -- taken three seasons before Mike Beatty’s Ohio bruiser knocked it out of the top spot.

Grunting lured the giant whitetail to his string on a rainy Nov. 7, 1998.

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Rattling for All the Right Reasons

It’s one thing to throw a hail-Mary rattling sequence at a buck you can see walking out of your life, quite another to clash the antler cymbals when you’ve just clocked in for the day. I see it as reactive and proactive rattling -- the former when you’re willing to sing the “Star Spangled Banner” if it’ll bring that deer back, and the latter when you no longer equate the action to passing gas in a crowded elevator.

Whether employed out of desperation or as standard operating procedure, the clash of antlers -- real or synthetic -- can lure the bull of the woods into knee-knocking range. People with names embroidered on their camo shirts say the technique is most effective during the pre-rut (the couple of weeks leading up to show time). That might be true, but I’ve seen it work throughout the season.

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Welcome to Big Buck 411

If anyone had asked me five years ago to “blog” about whitetails, I would’ve looked at them as if their teeth were full of green beans.

Admittedly, I’m a little slow to embrace technology. I have the simplest cell phone available, and I rarely even use it. I consider “text” a noun, not a verb. And “tweet” is a sound a bird makes.

Troglodyte that I am, my quiver still carries Easton’s finest aluminum. I don’t know how fast my bow shoots or what my arrows weigh; I just know they’ll knock the wind out of a deer ... permanently. My Model 700 in .30-06 — the same rifle I’ve carried for the past 15 or 16 years — likes 165-grainers, and I fall in and out of love with bullet designs based on a buck’s deadness.

I’m coming around, though, like a whitetail circling downwind to sniff the breeze. A MySpace account came first, followed by facebook. And now I’m a blogger.

The numbers in “Big Buck 411” play off the old habit of dialing 4-1-1 for directory assistance. It’s our promise to deliver information about North America’s most bodacious whitetails, the states that yield them, hunters who shoot them, and the methods employed to bring these animals to ground.

My goal is to dish up a weekly column that addresses big bucks in the news, those ground out by the rumor mills, tips from hunters who have the bone to prove their mettle and other interesting and useful information that can be gleaned from the nearly 12,000 whitetails in our record book. I say weekly, but it could very well be more often than that. Thanks to the immediacy of the Internet, we’re now able to post breaking news (which is impossible to do in our magazines).

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