Im hearing a lot of things from a lot of folks that suggest the rut maybe already coming on strong this year. From bucks already chasing hard to a good friend killing a mature 8 pt this past friday that came into his stand nose to the ground, about 200 yds behind a doe, swole up and soaked in sweat. Had another good friend who saw 5 bucks killed on the side of the road in a 15 mile commute home from work just today. Sure sounds to me like deer love may be in the air in the central/eastern part of the state as I reside in western North Carolina and have noticed no such behavior where I'm hunting. Going to see if I could get any feedback as to what others have been noticing as far as behavoir in the woods lately as I am only able to make it down to my lease in Randolph county so many times a year and have taken my vacation a little later in Nov. Hoping I'm not going to be arriving to the deer camp during lockdown!
(I'm well aware of the moonphase dates and estrus cycle predictions that have been put out in every hunting publication known to man. Just trying to get an idea of what hunters have actually been seeing)
I am in my third year of managing around a 200 acre parcel of property in Randolph County. If you can imagine my property being an island of hardwoods and creek bottom completely surrounded by ag fields, you have a pretty good idea of the area Im hunting. My property is surrounded on three sides by soy bean fields, and on one side by corn, used mostly for silage. This creates ideal conditions for keeping deer around, but also makes it very difficult to see much action in the early part of the season as my property is cut off from these fields by a two lane road that runs the length of the mostly rectangular shaped property. I, like I assume other hunters are, am constantly bombarded by hunting magazines, outdoor channels and mailers from outdoor stores with products promising to attract and hold the biggest deer in the area to your property and benefit them with boosted antler growth and improved overall herd health. Like every other sucker that keep these companies in business, Ive finally decided to see how efficient these products really are at bringing deer in that would usually be out grazing most of the early bow season in the abundant ag fields. I went to my local Tractor Supply and Dicks Sporting Goods and purchased some of the most popular and most widely advertised products I see. I picked up Hank Parkers favorite CMere Deer powdered attractant, as well as a gallon of ready-made Deer-Cane instant mineral lick site creator. I also got 200lbs of shell corn, my personal favorite and a Big and J long range attractant block. Last but not least, after being an occasional reader of this site for many years, I purchased the highly touted trophy rock that has been so highly spoken of here. Below are my results from a one month trial, ranging from July 19 to August 16. I chose 5 spots, that I typically see a lot of good deer action during the majority of the season to put out these products out and watched them with Wild Innovations infrared game cams.
Let me preface these results by stating that I am not, nor do I claim to be any kind of a wildlife expert. If you dont agree with my statements or methods of baiting that is completely understandable and you are certainly entitled to your opinion. I have hunted my entire life and done a fair bit of research into the tactics and science and mostly luck that make up a successful hunt. All I did was follow the directions for the application of these products and reported them in the hopes that this info might help others have a better hunt and harvest more deer.
1. CMere Deer: I sprinkled the Xtreme Powder onto a rotting stump about 20 feet from a creek bed on a downward sloping hill. There is a well established trail that crosses the area about 15 feet away from the site. I wound up with 181 pictures on the cam at this site. Mostly does or does with fawns. Most simply licked the stump with no real digging or rooting noticeable. Overall I would say that this is a pretty decent product but nothing that is going to cause deer to sprint over and stay around.
2. Deer Cane Ready to Use Liquid: Of all the products I used, the deer found the Deer Cane first. I cleared a 4ftx4ft area of ground on top of ridge climbing up and away from the creek bed on the cornfield side of the property. I noticed the deer really dug a good hole, trying to get as much as possible of the trace minerals that leeched into the ground. There were 269 pics on the cam in this area with bucks and does of all ages but mostly only one at a time. Definitely a good product, that the deer found within 3 hours of me leaving.
3. Shell Corn: My all time go to attractant. Ive harvested more deer in the vicinity of corn than anything else. I had a feeder standing in a ½ acre clearing coming off an old, dry creek bed. I had 312 pics on my cam in this area but you have to take the good with the bad. There were plenty of deer, one being the only true shooter I saw on camera, but there were also tons of pictures of crows, raccoons, possums and squirrels. Everyone likes the corn! You also have the advantage of the timed feedings bringing the animals in at the time you designate.
4. Big and J Long Range Attractant Block: I placed this block at a worn out trail that cuts across a small creek at the furthest southward edge of my property. It could have very well been poor placement on my part but this product did the worst of them all on my property, with the camera over that area only capturing 86 pics, most of those being of rabbits and raccoons. Ive seen several good deer in this area, but might have just not been an ideal location for the block.
5. Trophy Rock: After seeing all of the hype of the trophy rock on this particular site, I decided to try one out. I placed the rock off a well used trail in a small opening in a hardwood bottom. The lowest part of the surrounding areas, I figured the water that collected in this area would help the minerals from the rock leach into the ground. To my surprise this did the best of any of the products I used as far as picture count. The camera in this area captured 517 images. There were no monsters, but several pics with 7,8 and 9 deer in them at a time pawing and rooting at the ground around the rock(which disappeared rather quickly.) I wonder after seeing the ingredients of the trophy rock if this isnt almost like a Gatorade for deer on a hot summer day, the salt and other trace minerals replacing what deer sweat out on long hot days. I wonder what the effectiveness of this product is when it gets cold and deer are looking for an easier digesting, faster source of energy like corn. Any suggestions??
Pics included are around trophy rock. Apparently it is so good it can turn a grey squirrel into a flying squirrel.
Again this info is not meant to bash one product or endorse another. Ill always be a shell corn man and usually just wait until the acorns start falling and latch my climber to an acorn dropper and wait for a big boy. Just hoping this might be helpful/interesting info to my fellow hunters.