by Dave Hurteau
With today’s high-tech gear and cutting-edge stategies, are modern deer hunters losing the old-school skills? Apparently not, if you people are any indication. Earlier this month, I asked you to share your best old-school deer-hunting tips for the chance to win a Brunton 15TDCL Compass.
You people live to make my job difficult, don’t you? Okay, here are the ones I felt were most useful, fresh (some good tips were a little too close to what was in the linked article), and let’s not forget old-school (some other good ones were more new-school than old, which I forwarded to the editor of the magazine’s “Campfire” section for consideration). Here are the finalists (edited for space), one of which will win its author a new Brunton 15TDCL Compass:
–When tracking big bucks along rocky ridges, it is important to check small cliffs jutting out from the ridge. Old bucks love to bed on these high crags to see their surroundings. If a track heads toward such a place, circle around and sneak up on the buck from uphill. Often times, he won’t even be looking up there. -tourneyking734
–If you jump a buck while stalking or tracking in thick cover, resist the urge to follow it. Instead, hold your ground, listen, and watch. If you are still and quiet, the buck will only run a little ways and then circle back towards you to see if you’re following–often presenting an easy shot. -Walt Smith
When you spook a deer, its stride and gait change, making it tough to stay on the track [in marginal or difficult tracking conditions]. So cut a stick to measure the strolling, leisurely back-trail, from front to back feet. Then simply flip the stick across the ground–in reverse–to see exactly where the hooves parted the soil, eventually back-tracking into the buck’s core area, where he was, and will return. -trout whisperer
I use a toothpick to scrape wax from the glands between a harvested deer’s hooves. It’s the best scent cover I have ever used. Store it in a 35mm film canister, and put a very small amount on each boot when you’re ready to hunt. Better than any commercial cover scent and a whole lot cheaper! ( Google “deer interdigital gland.”) -Arlo269
Where legal, try filling a spray bottle with fresh apple cider and soaking trees, shrubs, and brush upwind of suspected bedding areas. My dad — now in his 80s and still hunting — has used this as an attractant and cover scent for decades. -Dances with Deer
–While stillhunting for deer, I keep a squirrel call and a diaphragm turkey handy. I use them to make the sound of my steps seem natural to deer as I approach a blind ridge, for example. But I also use the calls to calm a deer that has scented me or to stop a running deer I’ve spooked off a bed. Used with the 45-degree method detailed in skill #9 of the linked article, these calls can shorten the amount of ground you need to cover to get a shot. -VAHunter540
–When walking through crunchy leaves, I wear a thick pair of heavy-duty wool socks over my boots. It dampens noise significantly, letting me sneak close to bedding areas. -foxhunter18
–I keep emergency matches in a plastic bag in the butt end of all my guns, each of which has a large hole under the butt plate, which can be easily removed with a dime. -baillargeon_ra
These are all good, guys. Well done. But I’m going to go with Arlo269 and his interdigital wax. Congrats, Arlo. I’ll be in touch soon.