Making The Best Of It: Opening Weekend at The Farm

As luck would have it, my much anticipated opening day on our farm was a soggy monsoon. I don’t mind hunting in the rain. In fact, a little cloud cover and some “light” precipitation can do wonders for deer movement, but this was not one of those times. A hurricane had been sitting off the east coast and it poured for the better part of 3 days. The rain and wind didn’t deter me, though. I went to the timber and hunted the edge of our property with my trusty Lone Wolf climber. Given that the weather was poor at best, I decided to head to an area of our farm that I’ve not hunted all that often to do a recon sit. I have a few camera pictures of deer movement in this area, but my hunt was a bust as I came up completely empty. The only good thing that did come out of the hunt was discovering my rain gear actually worked well, and my makeshift rain shield kept my cameras dry.  While I sat in the rain, my father-in-law stayed dry and had more deer action from the window of our cabin than I did. Sitting in his rocking chair, he saw two nice shooters cross the field into a known bedding area to the west of the cabin—I filed this info away for later use.

With my Saturday hunt a bust, I decided to use the damp conditions to my benefit and make something of the weekend. The wet conditions that continued into Sunday (no hunting on Sunday in Pennsylvania) were ideal for keeping scent to a minimum while in the timber, so a friend and I decided to do some stand maintenance. We moved a stand location to a field edge off of a saddle connecting two cut corn fields—now winter wheat. This location is notorious for deer movement on our property, particularly during the rut. I’ve had several encounters in this area with mature deer the past few years and we’re hoping our decision to relocate the stand pays off.

New stand location 

 With the new stand location in place, I turned my attention to pulling camera cards and moving a few camera locations. My cameras were still in their summer locations, predominantly over food plots and mineral sites. This time of year I like to move my cameras further into the timber along travel corridors and near known scrape locations. This year I’ve also decided to make a few mock scrapes using Smokey’s Preorbital Gland Lure. I’ve heard good things about this lure and wanted to see for myself how well it performs; the photos will tell the tale when I check them the third week of October. I also used the intel of the Saturday buck crossing my father-in-law witnessed and placed a scrape and camera on the edge of a thicket where I believe these bucks are bedding during the day. In this instance, I’m using the mock scrape to hopefully close the distance between my nearby stand locations and bucks who may travel this corridor. QDMA says 85% of natural scrapes are visited after dark. This is why I’ve placed my mock scrape in an area that historically has more daylight action—hoping to intrigue a cruiser. The past few months I’ve had a few camera pictures of a nice 9-point and an 8- point who like to enter this field during the same 8:30 AM time frame they were seen crossing on Saturday. Hopefully my mock scrape will yield some daylight pictures and confirm my assumptions, allowing me to target one of these daylight cruisers.

Here are a few tips on mock scrapes and how I made mine

  1. Mock scrapes can help enhance any stand location. I pick out a low hanging branch about 4 feet off the ground within range of any one of my stand locations. I try to make sure the position of the branch will afford me the best shot opportunity, while keeping the eyes of the deer averted. Once I locate an ideal branch, I generally apply some of Smokey’s Preorbital Gland Lure to the licking branch.

  2. With my licking branch picked out, I go ahead and scrape up a section of the soil below the branch using a twig or my scent free boot. Some like to place deer scents or urine in the scraped soil. I prefer to relieve myself on the scrape, as studies have shown deer do not react negatively to human urine. (This option is cheaper and can be fully accomplished with the help of a malted beverage—particularly if you’re making multiple scrapes)

  3. For those who may not have a branch that is at the right height for a licking branch, or an area (like the middle of a field) where a tree isn’t near, you can make you’re own licking branch tree! Here’s a how-to video: