Hunting at eye level with deer requires that your blind be well concealed. Brushing in that ground blind is crucial for making your blind a seamless part of the natural surroundings. In addition to brushing in your blind with natural vegetation, Gordon says the longer your blind is out the better so the deer become accustomed to its presence. Even a few weeks can make a huge difference when it comes to deer accepting a foreign object in their environment. That’s one of the things that can really hamper the casual hunter, Gordon says. Some hunters under estimate how attentive deer are to their surroundings and any changes within them. Change could mean human odor left in an area from a hunter setting up a stand, but most of the time it’s a visual change and deer do notice. With other game species like turkeys, Gordon says, you can get away with not concealing your blind. However, deer don’t behave in the same way, they are far more skeptical. The key, he says, is to set your blinds up early enough that deer will get used to them and won’t be wary of them.
Creating mock scrapes can be a very effective tactic to draw deer into an area that is also affordable and an easily accomplished DIY project. Gordon explains why he likes to use mock scrapes, not to hunt over, but for scouting purposes. Mock scrapes create great trail camera hubs to catch images of deer on the property and help you inventory some of the bucks that are in the area. This tactic can be especially helpful for hunters complying with landowner restrictions or hunting states where baiting and/or the use of mineral blocks is prohibited. If you can’t hang trail cameras near bait sites, mock scrapes are a good alternative to enticing deer to come by and getting them on camera. When it comes to making mock scrapes, Gordon says there are a lot of ways to do it, but ultimately you want to make a buck think there is an intruder or rival around. Minimizing your own scent while creating a mock scrape is important. As for deer scents, Gordon offers some interesting insight on whether or not doe urine and other natural deer scents are really effective or not.
Next, Gordon talks little known, but solid whitetail states. States like Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, Missouri, Texas and others are known for their whitetail prowess, but there are plenty of other states with fantastic whitetail hunting opportunities that largely fly under the radar. For public land hunters that are willing to work, hustle, hunt hard, and get an over-the-counter tag, Gordon says southern West Virginia is a place that is worth checking out. The genetics there are outstanding, they have a track record of producing big bucks and when they kill a “big one” there, it truly is big. A lot of people on the east coast drive through places like West Virginia to get out west to where “all the big ones are”, yet they are oblivious to the fact that they are driving by places where some exceptional deer are killed. A lot of the counties in the southern part of the state are restricted to bow hunting only, Gordon notes, so there is a great trophy whitetail opportunity. If you want to push farther west, get an over-the-counter tag, be able to hunt the rut with a rifle, have a long bow season, be able to bait, and more, then Oklahoma should be considered. There is a lot of land out there relative to the population and a lot of big deer. Plus, Gordon says that any place that’s between the Texas panhandle and Kansas is good country to be hunting. Aside from West Virginia and Oklahoma, another dark horse whitetail hunting state is Arkansas. They have produced some pretty great deer and yet many people don’t associate Arkansas with great whitetail hunting. For those who are in on that little known secret, the hunting pressure could be small, but the rewards could be big.
Finally, Gordon will discuss crop cycles and how this year in particular is so different. Highlighting an article in the October issue of North American Whitetail, Gordon says rain and flooding had a big impact on agriculture this year - crops being planted late or not at all due to excessive moisture. Some people shifted to milo because they couldn’t plant beans or corn in time. Some people are forced to leave their fields fallow this year because they couldn’t get crops in at all. As the water levels came down, some crops did get planted and now there are lush, green bean fields that would have otherwise been yellow and dry by now had they not been planted late. Mast crop is also important and in places it looks like there will be a big mast crop this year so there could be a lot more deer feeding in the timber that may have normally been out in the fields. All of these factors change the available forage for wildlife this fall. In other places like Iowa, when the rain stopped, they started having issues with EHD. Clearly, the weather controls a lot of things in the natural world, Gordon says, and it’s yet to be seen how it will all play out. Certainly it has been a different kind of year and in the October issue of North American Whitetail magazine they’ll take a more in-depth look at what this all means.
Listen in as Gordon Whittington, Editor in Chief of North American Whitetail magazine and charter team member and regular contributor to “North American Whitetail TV”, stops by with tips for hunting from ground blinds, creating mock scrapes, whitetail hunting destinations and much more. Be sure to catch “North American Whitetail TV”, Wednesdays at 8:00 pm ET on Sportsman Channel or anytime on MyOutdoorTV. Plus, pick up the October issue North American Whitetail for tons of how-to tips and while you’re at it, purchase a subscription that will keep you in the whitetail wisdom, year round.