John's Journal...


Not Knowing Where To Put Lure, And Not Understanding When To Rattle

EDITOR'S NOTE: Good bowhunters can become better bowhunters if they don't commit 10-deadly sins that decrease their odds for bagging any deer and especially trophy deer. Here's 10 of the most-common mistakes that even good bowhunters – sportsmen who have taken several deer with their bows and who have hunted for four or five years - make that I've identified by hunting with through the years.

Not Knowing Where To Put Lure:

Most hunters become very excited about all the new lures and scents on the market today. However, many good bowhunters don't understand the difference in a cover-up scent and a deer lure. You’ll use a cover-up scent or a masking scent to help disguise human odor and not attract deer. Therefore, I think the most-effective scents are best pinned-to, poured-on or wiped-over the sportsman's outer clothing. A deer lure is a substance that's made and designed to attract deer. In other words, when the buck smells the lure, he's supposed to come in looking for whatever gives off that odor. For example, a lure like doe-in-estrus is produced for the hunter to put around his stand to hopefully Click to enlargecause a buck to come into the area searching for the estrous doe that's urinated in that spot. Since the buck comes in looking for the doe, if the hunter puts that buck lure on his body, then the deer will come in searching for the hunter. The deer's nose shows the deer's eyes where to search for the critter that gives off the odor. If a bowhunter in a tree stand smells like an estrus doe, that buck will come in and look up that tree for the doe that surely must have climbed it. He'll spot the hunter, spook, and run.

To use a buck lure effectively, the hunter should leave the buck lure on the ground or at eye level to the deer. Then when the deer comes in, he's looking at the lure and not at the hunter. Another mistake that hunters make with buck lure is that they put it on their feet, the soles of their shoes or the cuffs of their pants and then walk into the woods. If a deer crosses that path and smells the lure, and the hunter is facing into the wind and has walked into the wind to go to his stand, then when the buck follows that lure scent, he will walk up behind the hunter. Then he'll look up into the tree where the strongest scent is coming from and spot the archer. If you plan to utilize any type of scent on the cuffs of your pants, be sure it's a cover-up scent. Only put out buck lure where you want the buck to show up, and only place it in a spot where you want him to look.

Not Understanding When To Rattle:

Click to enlargeMost experienced bowhunters know that rattling can be an effective tool to call in a buck, but many of them believe that the best time to rattle is during the peak of the rut. The rut occurs at the same time every year in a given area. Some of my friends even plan their vacations for the next year during the rut. The shortness of the day and the amount of light that enters a deer's eye controls the rut. Therefore each year, December 22 generally has the same amount of light. If that happens to be the day when the peak of the rut occurs in your region this year, there's a very good chance that the same day next year will be the peak of the rut, too. Although old timers believed that a cold snap touched off the rut, all that usually happens during a cold snap is that deer become more active. I think deer are just more comfortable in cold weather since they have hollow hair and are well-insulated. I believe the deer may be uncomfortable when the weather's colder and move more. But that doesn't mean that the time of the rut has changed.

Remember that the buck is ready to breed as soon as he comes out of the velvet. But he won’t breed until the doe is ready to be bred. The male bucks will be in the woods waiting on that first estrous doe to come into heat. I believe that rattling or using a grunt call two weeks before the rut begins is the most effective way to call in a buck. When that ole buck is in the woods listening and hears horns clashing, he thinks to himself, "Somebody out there has found a hot doe, and while they're fighting over her, I'll move in and breed her." Or, he hears a grunt call, and he may think, "Some deer is tending an estrous deer. Maybe there's two of those does, and I can move in and breed one before anyone notices." Just after the rut, the buck is looking for a late bloomer, a doe that will be ready to breed after the other does. Therefore using rattling horns and grunt calls two weeks after the rut also can be very productive. During the peak of the rut, many bucks will have does with them, which means they may be less likely to come to rattling horns or grunt calls.

Click to enlargeTo learn more about bowhunting, order “The Masters’ Secrets of Bowhunting Deer,” which contains information from more than 50 top bowhunters, written by John E. Phillips. You can send a money order or a check for $13.50 to 4112 Camp Horner Road, Birmingham, AL 35243 and specify the book you’re ordering, or pay by PayPal by sending the money to You also can learn more about the book by going to where you’ll also find a direct link to PayPal.


Check back each day this week for more about "ROOKIE ERRORS - 10 DEADLY SINS OF NEW BOWHUNTERS"

Day 1: Starting To Trophy Hunt Too Quickly, And Shooting Too Quickly Or Waiting Too Long
Day 2: Ignoring The Wind, And Overusing A Stand
Day 3: Controlling Body Odor, and Overdressing
Day 4: Not Knowing Where To Put Lure, And Not Understanding When To Rattle
Day 5: Not Being Alert In The Stand, And Waiting On A Perfect Day



Entry 317, Day 4