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The Must Have Attractions for Your Stand

When it comes to hunting whitetails, we want to create every advantage we can. It is also important to establish a routinely visit for a mature buck in shooting range of your stand. It's important to have the right attractions in the right locations for the best possible potential for success.

Natural wetland water source
Natural wetland water source

Water Sources

Having a natural water source is king, especially if it has been around for years. During a mature whitetail's life, they like to have a routine, and that routine shrinks over time. They put theirselves in the least amount of danger as possible. Once the rut hits, we often see a buck will still have a routine pattern, but when it comes to chasing does, this pattern could be broken, and he could be upwards of 2 miles away from his home range. This is when supplemental water holes can have a major impact.

When creating a water hole, we like to focus on a few things:

  • Ensure the water hole has a shooting lane from your stand. Adding in an attraction should allow you to have the opportunity to use it as well.

  • Try to make the water hole as attractive as possible. We use 100-300 gallon water tanks, which typically, aren't found on your everyday trip to the woods. We like to bury the tank as flush as possible with the ground, so it looks like a natural pool of water. If possible, we plant perennial ryegrass or oats around the edge to help it blend in more.

  • The bigger the better. The bigger the tank or hole, the less you have to fill it up. Unless you have a natural spring feeding the hole, which is hardly ever the case, you have to manually fill them up with insufficient rain. Having enough wildlife movement and buck travel, a 100 gallon tank may go from full to nearly empty in 3 weeks. A 300 gallon tank typically lasts all of deer season unless there is a major drought and you are the only water source for a mile or more. It just requires more digging.

  • Choose locations that make the most sense. It won't do any good to add a water hole right next to pond or lake. A buck will typically never use your water hole unless he has no place to easily access the pond. A stream may be a weird option, but it can provide a centralized pool of water and will constantly be fed. Just ensure it is in a secluded spot.

  • Always have your varmint stick. Putting a log or 2x4 in the tank or hole will ensure that a raccoon, opossum, rabbit, or other critter can crawl out. Otherwise, they could fall in, trap themselves, and die, ultimately making your water hole unattractive and untouched.

Bachelor group foraging
Bachelor group foraging

Food Plots

Food Plots are an ultimate attraction source when it is the only green left available. During the summer months, deer have a plethora of options to fill their diet from natural forbs and legumes to cash and cover crops. This is a different story in the late fall and winter months. They change their diet to woody browse, twig tips, buds, and other opportunistic forages they can find. This is when a late green source or the remaining cash crop can become a huge attraction for deer.

Picking the right food plot can be just as important to your hunting strategy as any. You want to ensure you are:

  • planting something nutrient rich,

  • something that will grow well in your region,

  • something that will offer peak nutrition when you want it, and more importantly, when the deer need it.

- Region specific research is important because every region and even every ecosystem is different for hunters across the country. Some deer have access to thousands of acres of ag land, some have access to none. Depending on where you are at and what summer nutrition deer have had, it is important to feed them at opportunistic times.

- Diversity can come in handy too when using it the right way. Using a diversity of plants with different peak forage times, ensure that your food plot can have season long attraction. Keep in mind that some species are better at competing than others.

  • Clover (5-10lbs/acre) - low growing legume that offers heavy foliage in mid to late spring and late summer to early fall. Great to plant in early spring or late summer/early fall, depending on rain and your specific region

  • Brassica (4-8lbs/acre) - Candy crop that is a great, green forage option for middle of fall to early winter. Great to plant in middle summer to early fall, depending on rain and your specific region

  • Cereal Grain (50-100lbs/acre) - Small grain that offers a green option in late fall and throughout the winter, with spring green up. Great to plant in late summer early fall, depending on you region's frost dates. Best to plant 40-50 days before the first frost.

- Planting times are important to know for your specific region and how frost dates will affect northern regions before southern regions. It's also important to know that cereal grains will grow faster than clover and brassica, and when planting together, be sure to plant your clover and brassica 2-3 weeks prior to planting cereal grains with it.

Mock Scrape Creation
Mock Scrape Creation

Mock Scrape

Scrapes are used to mark territories and to checkup on other deer moving through the area. They are also great to us for taking inventory for late summer pattern or early fall pattern bucks in the area.

A buck will typically have a few scrapes he keeps fresh year round, but their number of scrapes will double, sometimes triple, when we get to the rut. They become more territorial, and they are great tools for them to track does in estrus.

When making mock scrapes, keep in mind:

  • the proximity to regular used trails

  • a low hanging branch for a buck to rub his preorbital glands on

  • on or near a gathering spot for deer like a destination food plot or water source

We can use these to determine if a mock scrape is a good idea or not. We have about 4-5 mock scrapes per every 100 acres. There is no right or wrong number, but we typically use them for inventory and deer movement. We like to see what is coming in and out of the area and which bucks frequently hit each scrape, if at all.

Overall, it can be a great opportunity to catch a curious buck in the area off guard and an opportunity at a successful hunt.

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