“There’s a kind of a hormonal switch that goes off within male whitetails,” Bud Congleton figures, about the time the little ghouls and goblins come out..
The Midland, Michigan resident has been hunting deer–bowhunting only–for more than 50 years, and he knows where he wants to be when Halloween arrives and ushers in November, and how long he wants to be there.
“I can easily say that I see more than twice as many bucks in a morning of hunting after Halloween as compared to before,” said Congleton, who measures the success of his hunts not by bucks taken, but in bucks seen. “More likely three times as many.”
And while he almost always considers mornings his prime hunting time, he stretches his days come November.
Then, “there’s no time of day when you’re not going to see a buck,” said Congleton. “Mid-morning, while I’m eating my lunch, mid-afternoon, anytime.”
Bucks which had moved warily, at dawn and dusk, now move freely across the landscape as reproductive urges prove stronger than survival instincts.
That means you want to get in the woods as much as possible as October ends, stay there as long as you can, and come back every chance you get.
Cover scents, estrus scents, fake scrapes, antler ratting–they all come into play now, while baiting, like it or not, remains part of Michigan deer hunting. Food can draw does, and does surely draw bucks. That makes it two-stage tactic, bait drawing bait, if you will; or, a bit on the risque side, treats setting the stage for tricks.
You can stack the odds further in your favor by learning more about the animals you seek, and a great way is through a new DVD by Richard P. Smith, an Upper Peninsula outdoors writer and white-tailed deer expert.
Walking With Wildlife shares insights into deer behavior that Smith gained after investing countless hours gaining the confidence of a doe in a local, unfenced park.
At last, she allowed him to tag along. She browsed, bedded and raised fawns who, having never known differently, also accepted Smith as a companion. Like the purveyor of a pyramid scheme, Smith gained a widening sphere of deer confidantes.
Eight years later, he and his wife Lucy LaFaive distilled hundreds of hours of imagery into 90 minutes of solid natural history–from a doe’s early days with her fawns, to mature bucks growing, rubbing and shedding their antlers–several years in a row.
Interested in rattling antlers to draw in a buck? Here’s where you can learn what playful sparring sounds like – and ditto, a real deep-rut dominance battle.
This isn’t a hyped-up, blaring-music, chest-thumping video production; it’s more like a live stage lecture introducing stunning imagery. And although hunters can learn plenty and Smith explains the role of hunting in sound deer management, this is about deer, not deer hunting. But knowing more about deer will make you a better deer hunter.
Order Walking With Whitetails for $24 postpaid from Smith Publications, 814 Clark St., Marquette, MI 49855, or from his web site at www.RichardPSmith.com. Take a look, too, at his other DVD and books available there.
Image by Steve Griffin