Rack Magazine

Building a Better Deer Trap

Building a Better Deer Trap

By Dale Weddle

Don’t listen to people who say scrape hunting is overrated. Even if you have to build it, they will come.

Just when Hunter Jones was convinced his mock scrape would never yield a photo of a decent buck, the 19-year-old got the surprise of his life.

Hunter created the scrape and left a trail camera pointing at it around Oct. 1, 2016. He never dreamed he’d retrieve an image that would unhinge his jaw.

“Young bucks took it over after the first week, but then HE showed up,” Hunter said, referring to the huge whitetail he began thinking about day and night.

“I called my dad because I was freaking out. I’d never had a deer like that on camera in my life,” he added.

The teenager from Breckinridge, Kentucky, was no novice. He had taken several nice bucks since his introduction to the sport. He was also accustomed to seeing other hunters’ trail cam photos of big bucks.

Farm country surrounds the property he hunts, and the genetics are there.

Even so, no other buck in Hunter’s personal collection of photos comes close to the huge one that eventually visited the scented-up patch of dirt.

The big whitetail had a rack well beyond its ears, with long main beams and lots of tines.

“For two weeks, the buck was a regular,” Hunter said. “I had two cameras out, one next to the scrape and another on a corn pile. The deer would come to the corn, but he wouldn’t eat. He’d just chase off the does.”

Because there was no climbable tree near the scrape he’d made, Hunter considered setting up a ground blind. Ultimately, however, he decided not to risk scaring the buck.

“I had tried putting blinds out, and deer blew at them and were spooky the first week or two before they got used to them,” he said.

Hunter was working a part-time job and going to school that fall, but he still found time to hunt. Through scouting, he thought he knew where the big buck was bedding.

There were several good spots to hunt within the buck’s home range, including a water hole about 75 yards from the scrape. Another possibility was a ridge that ran above the bedding area.

The peak of Kentucky’s whitetail rut is generally considered to occur around Nov. 15, but there’s some buildup.

Toward the end of October, Hunter began seeing pre-rut activity. He knew his best chance of getting a shot at the deer with his bow would come between Nov. 1 and Nov. 12, the opening of the statewide modern gun season.

“On Nov. 3 and 4, I hunted out of a climbing stand on the ridge above the bedding area,” he said. “I saw some good bucks, but not the wide one. The next day, I moved to the other side of the farm.

“I actually drew my bow back on an 8-pointer and was going to shoot it, but I couldn’t get it to stop,” he continued.

“I didn’t get to hunt again until Nov. 8. I wanted to go back up on the ridge, but the wind wasn’t right for that stand. So I hunted back where I had drawn my bow on the 8-pointer.

“My buddy, Garrett Ammons, killed a nice deer that morning, and I helped him retrieve it. By midday, the wind had shifted and was right for an evening hunt on the ridge.

“I almost didn’t go up there because it’s a pretty good climb. I left the truck about 2:30. By 3:15, I was set up in a shagbark hickory after clanging around climbing up the tree.

“In front of me was a thicket and a big draw. A soybean field was above the draw. To my left was the big bottom where the camera was set up on the scrape.

“The afternoon started out windy, but the wind stopped by about 4:00,” he said. “After things grew still, I rattled, but nothing happened.

“About 15 minutes went by, and I rattled again. Still nothing,” he continued. “Five minutes after that, I grunted. Then I caught a glimpse of something brown — a buck — coming my way. I could tell from the tines that it was a good one.

“The buck popped out of the cover at the edge of the thicket and stood about 50 yards away. I could tell for sure it was the big deer I had been hunting.

“It had stopped and was turning its head, looking back and forth,” Hunter said. “When it started walking again, the buck was angling to my left. I had already stood and nocked an arrow. I was trying to range it as it was coming closer.”

When the buck stopped next to a scrape at 32 yards, Hunter’s bow hummed.

“The arrow looked like it hit perfectly, right behind the shoulder,” he said. “When the deer wheeled, I saw blood as it ran back the way it had come.

“I couldn’t believe it had happened. I sat back down and called my dad, Troy. He got all excited and said, ‘All right, wait it out and call me back in 30 minutes, and then we’ll decide what to do.’

“Sitting there looking through my binoculars, I could see blood all over something I thought was a log. I waited the half-hour and called dad back. I had finally quit shaking,” he said.

He’d also realized the log was actually his deer.

“When I got over to the buck, I took some snapshots and sent them to friends. After that, my phone just blew up,” he grinned.

Hunter’s dad arrived about 45 minutes later, and the two of them wrangled and loaded the buck, which was one of the largest taken by bow in Kentucky in 2016.

Editor’s Note: Dale Weddle, a regular contributor and regional director for the BTR, was named 2017’s wildlife conservation communicator of the year by the Kentucky Wildlife Federation Foundation.

This article was published in the October 2017 edition of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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