John's Journal...

How to Take Hot-Weather Buck Deer

Day 4: Cut the Grass to Attract a Buck Deer

Editor’s Note: Bow season opens in mid-October in many states, and in the South, the weather still can be hot and humid then. Hot-weather deer hunting calls for different tactics than when you’re cold-weather hunting. The deer are eating different foods and moving at various times. If you’re hunting in the South, especially if you decide to take advantage of North Carolina’s mid-September bow season, or the August hunting available in South Carolina on private lands, you need to know how best to hunt hot-weather bucks. You can bag bucks with your bow in hot weather. As winter seems to last only a short time today in many parts of the nation, more archers will have to learn how to bowhunt hot-weather bucks. The sportsmen we’ve interviewed this week live and hunt deer primarily in the Deep South for three to four months under hot-weather conditions each year and consistently bag their bucks every season.

lick for Larger ViewWesley Ashcraft of Birmingham, Alabama, hunted just outside of town on his aunt's small farm. A deer trail led from an old garden spot through Johnson grass back to a small creek. A 2-year old clear cut bordered a 30- to 40-yard stretch of hardwoods through which a small creek ran. Ashcraft had taken a stand in a tree half-way between the old garden and the creek bottom the year before during rifle season. He had seen bucks moving along the creek bottom but never could get a shot. The bucks never used the trail leading from the garden spot back to the creek bottom during daylight hours.

The following summer Ashcraft had an idea about how to bag a buck with his bow. He knew he needed to get the deer in close. He brush hogged a 6-foot wide path from the old garden spot past the tree where he placed his tree stand. A month before bow season, he noticed tracks along the path he had cut. Click for Larger ViewAshcraft never had hunted deer with a bow until that year’s bow season. But on opening day of bow season with temperatures in the 90s, he left work early and hurried to his aunt's farm. According to Ashcraft, "Just before dark I saw a storm coming. The sky got gray, and I spotted a big thunderhead in the distance.

"As the storm approached, I decided I shouldn't remain in my tree until dark and get wet. I let my bow down. As I bent over to pick up my bow, I looked through the thick brush and spotted a buck at the end of the bush-hogged trail I had cut. I couldn't believe cutting the grass and providing a trail for the bucks had worked."

Ashcraft had practiced with his bow and felt confident to take a shot out to about 30 yards. He had planned a tree stand shot, not a shot from the ground. He had hoped to take a spike or a 4 point. However, he realized the buck in front of him and coming straight to him would score about 140 points on the Boone and Crockett scale. A quartering wind blew from behind Ashcraft. As the buck approached, Ashcraft knew he would have to make the shot at 30 yards or else the buck would smell him. The deer continued to close ground. Ashcraft began to doubt his bowhunting ability. "I realized I only could have a head-on shot, and I didn't want to make that shot," Ashcraft commented later. "I knew if the buck kept coming, he'd stand so close I couldn't miss him. But I thought I had watched the buck for so long and had had so long to think about the shot that I'd still probably miss. At least 100-different things went through my mind as the deer headed my way."

lick for Larger ViewPreparing for the head-on shot, Ashcraft drew his bow and began to rise up just over the cover. He had to move some limbs out of the way to take the shot. When the buck reached 30-yards away, fate dealt Ashcraft a winning hand. "The wind changed direction and started blowing straight from behind the buck," Ashcraft reported. "I knew he couldn't smell me. He kept coming straight to me." At full draw and looking through his peep sight, Ashcraft suddenly couldn't see when a leaf fell between his peep and his pin sight. He had to move a limb on the bush, but his luck held. Just as he got a clear sight picture of the buck, the animal, only 15-yards away, turned broadside. Then the big buck presented Ashcraft with a dream shot as the buck quartered away and almost stood still when Ashcraft loosed the arrow.

Click for Larger ViewThe buck jumped, ran about 25 yards and piled-up in a heap. Ashcraft took his trophy of a lifetime on his very-first bow hunt and utilized a strategy many hot-weather hunters employ throughout the nation of cutting trails through grass to lead deer to their stand sites. Creatures of habit, deer prefer to take the path of least resistance when they move from one location to another. Since deer stay and move in thick cover during hot weather, many bowhunters have learned they can cause deer to pass-by their tree stands by cutting paths through that thick cover for the deer to travel. You actually can funnel deer into your tree stand by cutting trails the length or the breadth of the cover. You can make deer leave one trail and walk your man-made trail if your trail allows deer to move through thick cover easier than the trail the deer already has established.

In hot weather when thick-cover regions have plenty of food, the deer don't have to come out of the cover to feed. If you can make paths that allow the deer to walk in thick cover easier, you'll often cause deer to come to you.

Tomorrow: Hunt the Water and Stay Scent-Free in Early Deer Season

Check back each day this week for more about "How to Take Hot-Weather Buck Deer "

Day 1: Look for Soft-Mast Foods and Pea Patches for Deer with Nationally-Known Hunter Eddie Salter
Day 2 :Hunt the Birds and the Squirrels to Take Hot-Weather Bucks with The Shed’s Larry Norton
Day 3: Larry Norton of The Shed Finds Salt and Mineral Licks for Successful Hot-Weather Hunting
Day 4: Cut the Grass to Attract a Buck Deer
Day 5: Hunt the Water and Stay Scent-Free in Early Deer Season


Entry 578, Day 4