Heading out to Pennsylvania. And I’m happy I caught Preston Mullens before he took off for Ontario to take about Deer Hunting as a DIY Hunter. He and his crew and the family, they’re going to go up walleye fishing and they’re going to just slay walleyes. They’re going to have a blast. I’m kind of jealous, actually.
But Preston Mullens is a doctor of chiropractic medicine in Pennsylvania, but more so than anything he’s just a crazy DIY hunter and he’s just a joy to have on the show and we’re going to have fun in the next 45 minutes or so. So, Preston, welcome to the show.
Deer Hunting – DIY Hunter – Preston Mullens
Hey, thanks, I appreciate it. I’m glad we got this technology thing figured out. My schedule sort of jumps around a little bit, but it kind of worked in our favor that I’m a night owl and I’m two hours ahead of you, so it sort of fell into your schedule a little bit better.
Right. And today, you know, was a huge day. I started at 8:00 this morning and now it’s 7:29. So if people think this podcasting stuff is easy, I’m just laughing instead of crying I think. But, anyway, let’s kick this off. You’ve got a couple of nice bucks behind you. And take your phone and put it where that second main beam came off, and it snapped off after you got the trail camera picture of it.
Tell us the story.
…he has another main beam, I think you can see it right here. And this main beam actually crept out to about this far on the front. And he had it on trail cam pictures and lost it. And in the same year that I took… This is a Pennsylvania buck, he’s just a solid, nice…just a mainframe eight. And in the same year, seven days later, I had this guy with two double-hook brows hard. And he had his brow at 12:30 the day before and I shot at 9:30 the next day and it was gone. So in seven days I managed to lose a brow tine and a third inside beam off two bucks in seven days. So that was tough, but, hey, that’s deer hunting, I guess, right? It was rut, they were probably out busting things up and I guess it cost me. But I have the pictures of them, so it’s better than nothing, I guess, right?
Well, yeah. Now once…the solid eight was in Pennsylvania, and where was the crooked brow tine?
Oh, sorry, Ohio.
So I hunt very, very heavily. Yeah. So I hunt very heavily. I’m in Pittsburgh, I can get into Ohio, depending on where I hunt, anywhere from an hour and a half to four hours from where I live at…I hunt. And since we can’t hunt Sundays in Pennsylvania, I actually…I’ll hunt Ohio until I fill my tag, until I come back to PA first. Some of the areas I hunt are a little bit higher quality in Ohio, so I’ll put all my time into Ohio until that tag is filled, and then I move back to Pennsylvania. Or at least the last two years I’ve done that. And this year I have all expectation. I probably won’t hunt in PA. I work until late at night, so I don’t even have evenings for early season.
So I’ll spend my weekends in Ohio and hopefully can get a tag off kind of early so that I can get back into Pennsylvania. But just the quality of deer and the time. If I drive out to Ohio Friday night after work, I can hunt for the next two days. But if I sit in Pennsylvania, I can’t hunt on Sunday, so it’s sort of a waste of time. So that’s kind of how I approach things. But I got lucky, three years in a row I filled a tag in PA and Ohio within seven days of each other, so it was kind of cool.
Okay, tell me the dates. Okay, stop right there, that’s an interesting thing. Now tell me the dates. Tell me those dates.
So you’re going to laugh because I actually am always curious how people do this because they’ll rip off dates of everything that they fill. I can’t give you exact dates, but I know time frames.
Okay. Time frames works.
Yeah, 2015 I know I shot my buck in Pennsylvania first somewhere around November 6th or 7th
2015… 2015? No, 2000… Yeah, 2015 I know I shot my buck in Pennsylvania first somewhere around November 6th or 7th. And I know that a Saturday because I know you can’t…I can’t hunt here Sunday. And then the following Sunday I shot my buck in Ohio, so that was somewhere around seven days, eight days apart. And then 2016 I shot my buck in Ohio the Friday before Halloween weekend, so I don’t remember how that felt. And then the Halloween weekend Saturday I shot my buck in Pennsylvania. Because it actually got up in the 80s that day and I shot him in the morning. It was only about 45 degrees and it got up into the 80s. And I got him down in a creek bottom about 10:00 in the morning. So that was only a seven of six-day span, I think. No, I actually shot…yeah, I shot the buck Saturday, and then the following Friday, so six days. And then the year after that it would have been November, like 11th or 12th, and then like November 15th.
So I don’t know why, but I always got hot in those streaks. So it would have been four November bucks before the 20th, and then two were before Halloween weekend, but right at the end of October. And that was a hot fall, that was 2016, it was a really hot fall. So I was, like, pretty glad to be done with going into the 80-degree weather every day hiking.
Yeah, and that’s non-scientific evidence. I had a guy on earlier and he hunts from the 25th of October to the 15th of November. He just flat hunts. So basically what you’re saying is that we went from November 6th, the earliest was the 27th-ish of October, and then the 30th-ish. So you hit it right…you know, the 26th, 27th, 28th, Halloween. And it was kind of funny, he says never…not sit in your tree stand the evening of Halloween. And I believe that.
Oh, it’s my favorite, absolutely favorite. If I do any trip hunts, that’s when I’ll pick. I’ll pick to be in my stand the day or two days before Halloween. That’s my favorite. That’s personally…I don’t like getting two weeks, three weeks into November. Have I had success? For sure. When I think I can control it a little bit better is at the very back end of October, give or take three, four days, into the very start of November. That’s when I tend to have a lot more luck being able to control the hunt versus…I don’t want to say “luck,” but a little bit more luck in just something moving your way randomly. Things get a little too chaotic for me there, too, three weeks into November, everything is going every direction.
Oh, it’s my favorite, absolutely favorite.
So I agree with him. Halloween, I mean if it’s Tuesday, I’m not going to be at work.
Bruce: So let’s talk about controlling the hunt during… And, you know, it’s pre-rut. I’m not going to pick the date, but, you know…
Pre-rut activity going on.
It’s pre-rut activity and they’re seeking and chasing or chasing and seeking. They’re looking, they’re out and about. And then it really starts to ramp up, and then things get serious. Once things get serious, you know, I love to hunt funnels, I love to hunt topographical features. I love to hunt places where, one, I know deer are. I’m going to do an all-day sit, doesn’t matter, and I’m going to wait them out because I know the deer are here. Now are they five miles away or are they 100 yards away? I don’t know. But I know they’re on their feet and they’re moving. And in Buffalo County I’ve hunted a couple of river bottoms that I had a perfect funnel, I see deer all day long, and I just didn’t see the deer I wanted to kill.
Period. You know, I had a guy say, “Do you know how big that deer was?” A big body deer. I said, “Yeah, it was a big deer, but look at his rack.” He goes, “Yeah, can’t eat the rack.” I go, “I didn’t want to shoot him. I didn’t want to shoot him.”
No, I agree with you there. I agree. My green light is just purely instinctive. If I instinctively jerk on first glance for my bow, odds are there’s almost no percentage that an arrow isn’t leaving my bow. If I don’t instinctively jerk for my bow, there’s just something in the back of my head from experience and from doing it that I just…I’ve almost already made the decision. Because if I get my hand on my bow, I don’t have a quiet enough trigger finger to not shoot. So if I instinctively don’t go for it, I’ll have to fight the urge to grab it off the bow hook. Because if it comes into my hand, if it goes into my bow hand, I’m probably going to shoot.
So I’m kind of with you, it’s either I don’t know what the score was or wasn’t. I mean you kind of black out when it’s happening. I’m either I’m going or I’m not going, and it’s basically from first glance. I don’t overanalyze. I feel like you can get paralysis by analysis sometimes in deer hunting, I go off 100% instinct. And then if an arrow hits it and I get up to it and it’s smaller than I thought, which is pretty much every time, there’s not a bone in my body that regrets the decision I made in that split second. And you know how it goes, it might be 15 seconds from when you saw it and when you have to shoot. Like you don’t got all day.
No. And like the deer you saw sitting over my shoulder, it’s the prettiest buck, perfectly frames 10-point. And just he’s a Booner buck, except I killed him too young. And I saw him come out, everything was perfect. I went, “He’s such a pretty buck,” boom, it was gone, it was over, that was it. And I couldn’t have been happier. I mean I couldn’t. I walked up to him, everybody goes, “Well.” I go, “Well? Look at him, he’s a gorgeous deer, he’s perfect. No deductions, he’s like 135, and it’s just a perfect buck.” I mean, you know, and so I shot him. And I’m like you, if I see him, I’m either going to shoot him or I’m not. Boom.
I mean I don’t think…as I’m saying it I’m thinking in my head, I’m talking the last eight bucks I’ve taken with a bow I don’t remember even having a question or doubt. Like the bow was in my hand, I mean, almost immediately until he got into my shooting line, like it never…I never backed off from it. And, I mean, I’m not killing 160, ’70-inch deer, but, like, it’s all relevant to your area, right? I mean if a 125-inch deer walking by is in the top 10% of any buck you’re going to see every year, to you that’s still big because that’s what you’re scouting and seeing and looking for because…
That’s what’s there.
Yeah, that’s what’s there, it is. I’m always…the amount of podcasts I’ve done, and this has come up on probably half of them and I always tell everybody, like you have to hunt to your environment. And I have a buddy that runs a podcast here in Pennsylvania, too, Tradgeeks Podcast. And I’ve heard them say over and over, because they’re in Central Pennsylvania, and they’re like if I get a three-and-a-half deer or a 120-inch deer, my arrow is leaving a bow 100 times until I take my deathbed. And I’ve said it, here in PA, which is my primary home turf, it is producing bigger deer and it’s getting larger deer. But, like, the tracks and the ability that I have to get on and off property, that’s not an equation. Because once gun season hits, there’s nowhere to hide, there’s nowhere to turn. If I get on a three-and-a-half or a four-and-a-half-year-old deer, I’m doing everything I can to put an arrow in that thing before Halloween. Because once that nose goes up in the air, he’s ending up somewhere with an arrow in him.
So it’s your environment. You hunt to your environment, you don’t hunt to the quality of the deer you think you want to hunt. That’s not how it works. You hunt to the quality of the deer in the area that you’re hunting. And a trophy is relevant to the person and to the area, I think personally.
Now let’s talk about Ohio. Ohio is known to have some big bucks in certain areas. I mean, you know, you see pictures and pictures. And, oh, I can’t think of his name, he killed just a monster buck. He was on the show two years ago and I’m sorry I can’t remember your name. But just this huge, huge buck. I’m going, “Oh my goodness.” I’ve only seen in the United States one 200-inch buck and that was in Buffalo County. I’ve seen a couple in Saskatchewan. Neither time did I have a shot. But that didn’t matter, I saw them and I’m going, “Oh my goodness.” I mean because they’re big, I mean they’re really…
In real life I’ve never seen one in real. I would say the top end that I’ve ever seen in real life with my eyes was tipping 160. And I didn’t even know how to react, I mean I was just, I mean, shaken. And I had a shot coming up and he got 32 yards, because I had a 20-yard opening that he was walking, feeding, right to and a doe popped out and he took after her. But, I mean, if you tack 45 inches onto that I don’t know how I would react or that I even could react. It probably watching him leave.
So what’s it like hunting…
I’m being honest with you.
No, I’m good. What’s it like hunting public or…do you hunt public or private land?
Preston: Both in both states. This year is going to be a lot more overwhelmingly public in Ohio than private. And PA is going to be a very fifty-fifty, pending on activity I’m seeing in a couple new areas of public that I turkey hunted that I plan on deer hunting. So I’ll pull the ripcord on it if I’m not getting into stuff. I don’t have that many days in PA.
So if I’m not seeing what I like once I get into there, I’ll pull the ripcord and kind of fall back to my fail-safes, properties that I’m a little more comfortable with. But I’ve had a ton and ton of miles put on in public in Ohio. I’ll probably be 90% public, 10% private in Ohio. Again, depending on how the season goes. Because I’ve got some late season areas that I can get into some food on some private that will help me come December, January if it gets to that. I’m not so stuck on hunting public only that I’ll just ride it to the gravestone to the end of January not seeing anything. I’ll back off to where I’m a little bit more comfortable. But primarily it’s going to be… And Kentucky is going to be public, as well. All public, 100%.
Yeah. Kentucky opens September 1. I’m going to hunt it Saturday, Sunday, Monday the first two weekends of September. And then, depending on how the season unfolds, I have two elk hunts I’ve got to jockey in between.
Two elk hunts out east? Out east or out west?
I have an Idaho elk hunt in archery, and then I have a Colorado elk hunt in rifle.
Where are you going in Colorado, what part?
Up by Craig?
Very close, yeah. Yeah, very close to Craig. We actually looked at houses in Craig, yeah, yeah. So we won’t be too far from there at all.
No, that’s where I live. I don’t know, do you know I live in Colorado?
Yeah, that’s where I live.
So we actually ended up renting. The only place we could find that was big enough was in Steamboat, we’re on the western side of Steamboat.
Okay. Along the Yampa River.
We got about a 45-minute drive, 50-minute drive to where we’re hunting. But, as you’re aware, there’s nothing there. So you’re driving… We’ve been in this area before and we stayed about an hour away. Because, you know, there’s just not homes to rent for six guys anywhere. And we were going to do…we’ve all got… The hard part is with archery hunting we all have individual camping tent stuff. We didn’t have anything to buy for six of us to stay in and we just said, “You know what? The rifle hunt, our favorite thing is when we’re all back at the lodge.”
And I’ll be the first to admit to you I don’t think being in the woods makes it any cooler than when I get to sit back with my dad and have a beer and we’re in heat with a shower, in beds. That’s just as fun to me because there’s…you’re not festering or struggling because of the elements. You get to do what you’re there to do, but actually get back to civilization a little bit, as well. Now when we archery hunt, we’re backwoods the duration, we don’t come out. But, as you’re aware, that’s…archery hunting is a lot different than rifle. A little different game planning.
Yeah, completely different. Yeah.
It’s not even in the same realm of each other.
No, it’s a completely different deal.
Yeah. They both have their fun, their pluses and minuses, but we make the rifle hunt a lot more fun, yeah.
It’s a little easier to drink beers and have fun when you’re in a warm house instead of in a tent freezing.
I’ve done it both ways and, you know, the older I get the more I like…you know, I like a sauna or a hot tub.
Oh, hey, I’m only 33. Well, I’m 33 this week and I don’t disagree with you at all, it feels great. You know, roughing it is fun to an extent, but you’re like, “I’d love to just lay down on something,” or, you know, be in the heat or be in the air condition, whatever it is. But I enjoy all of it. But, again, like I said, the name of our brand there, DIY, I mean we run and gun all this stuff ourselves and, I mean, I have an Alaska archery hunt for moose in 2020, we have a rut rifle hunt in Wyoming next year for bull elk, I’m doing a boar hunt in Florida next spring. It’s like we kind of just jingle around and do all of it. Eventually I’d like to just be at least mediocre at hunting most species, or at least say I did.
Yeah, yeah. Just so when someone is talking to you.
Well, you just got to keep applying, you have to keep applying for tags though. As much money as you have, you just got to… That’s one of the secrets of hunting out west and cheap and all those other game, you have to keep applying.
Yeah, yeah. We’ve been…we’re now just hitting full stride. We’ve got about a five-year turnover, the way our points fall, where right now… I mean we just in theory, you know? And you don’t know, life changes, work, family, but, like, through 2023, 2024 we basically can just roll over our elk hunts with states because we’ll have enough points that we need, we can plop Iowa in for whitetail in there, we have mule deer points. And we have it gridded out where, like, if everything goes accordingly, the next eight years on paper we’re good to go. Unless point creep starts coming into effect, which is a whole other topic.
Which it will.
Yeah. Theoretically we’ll be okay. And, you know, we may take a lesser unit that year or just go straight public because we don’t have enough points, which we’re absolutely okay with. I mean we…
Yeah, because Colorado…I mean Colorado there’s plenty of places you can hunt.
Idaho there’s a ton. Wyoming is changing their laws. I think I just saw you only have to be with a Wyoming resident to hunt all of the… What do they call it? The wildlife areas. Which opens up half the state. So if you can find a resident or somebody you know and give them a couple bucks to hoof along with you. I mean there is plenty over-the-counter stuff, so, I mean, we’re not concerned. Because we’re not trophy hunters. I mean we got three of us going for our archery elk hunt. And, I mean, we’re spiraling on Western hunting here instead of whitetail. But we got three of us going and, I mean, we’re going to go and it’s guy A is the shooter, guy B is the filmer with a backup bow, and guy C is the caller. And if it’s a freaking spike and you passed it, guess what. If you’re letter A, you’re at the back of the bus, you’re the letter C now because guy B probably…
Just make sure he’s legal. Some places it’s four points or better.
Correct. Well, see, we generally…we’re picking units based on statistics, but we’re also going in to draw units with our bows if spikes are legal. Because to us Eastern guys it would take a lot of spike bull elk for me to probably put an arrow in before I get sick of it. Because if you’ve ever experienced it, it’s like nothing else. And to get one opportunity in a week’s hunt, and if it’s a spike bull, you know, you don’t get five, six opportunities in a week.
No, you don’t. No.
So, I mean, if that comes in and you pass, you’re back of the line and you’re at the end of the rotation. And if there’s three of you, you’re probably not getting up again.
So we come in with that expectation and we say, “Hey, it is what it is.”
That’s cool, I like that. I’m going to give a shout-out to goHUNT.com Insider. And if you’re not a member of goHUNT Insider, you need to do that because it’s got the best Western research. I wrote a lot of the profiles for Colorado, so I wrote a lot for them. So use my promo code WR. And anybody can do this, WR. And, you know, use that and you’re going to get the best research that you can possibly get. It has everything that you need to do it and it will save you so much time. And it costs a $150, you get a $50-dollar gift certificate when you sign up.
So, you know, out of pocket, yeah, it’s still a $149 for the year, but it’s the best information at all. And as much as you guys are going to hunt different states, it’s good to find out, “Yeah, you can go here, you can have a restaurant here, here’s places you can stay, here’s, you know, access points.” No hunting holes, but, you know, “Here’s the trends and here’s where the elk should be in these drainages,” blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Expect… You know, will you see a 300 bull? No. But will you see Pope and Young bulls? Hell yeah. You know, and that’s open, that’s just off-the-counter stuff. You know, the limited access is where you’re going to see unit two takes 22 years to get a tag. You know, there’s 350, 370 bulls in there. But good luck getting a tag.
We’ve run goHUNT now for…I don’t know how long it’s been around, but we were on board with it and it wasn’t a thing.
Well, you should have told me right away. You should have told me right away.
Sorry. Hey, you’ve got that punch in there.
I got my plug in.
And I was just going to say, anybody that’s listening, I mean, that’s… We have a YouTube video that we explain like big game Western application and, I mean, we have almost no views on it at all, but to us it was really informative because we figured it out years ago and we got our shit off an Excel spreadsheet and into goHUNT. I mean I’m talking hours and hours. Like this year in New Mexico we picked… Because with New Mexico, the way they draw, long story short, you get three shots at it. And we go, “Cream of the crop, cream of the crop, decent percentage chance of drawing unit.” And without goHUNT we used to do this stuff through forums and websites and talking and talking, and I mean endless hours and hours and hours.
And now, like we’re heading to Idaho, we just pull up all the units, and then we get back together and we go, “What five units did you come up with? Where do you want to hunt, which five?” Based on trophy versus population versus bull to cow. And then whichever five that we have, whichever one of those that we layover, that’s how we pick our unit. And this year three of the five units we each picked and I was like, “Well, that’s one zone-ish, let’s pick one of those.” And we just said, “Okay, cool.”
And now we’ve been scouting. It’s what? June 27th. We’ve been scouting it since February. We made our decision and it’s… Like you said, that and onX. I don’t know what we did without it before, it was a lot more of a pain in our butt. But goHUNT we use even for our whitetail, tracking all of our whitetail, “Do we have to draw in Kansas? Don’t we?” Blah, blah, blah. Our Excel spreadsheet sucked before this, it was not fun.
Well, you know, I’m pleased to say, proud to say I was part of their success.
And they’re still good… You know, Chris Porter and Brady Miller and, you know, the guys there. Lorenzo Sartini owns it, or, you know, is the President and stuff, and they’re just all great guys. And if you ever meet them at the shows, they’re just like you and I. I mean they’re just super, super guys.
So a shout-out for http://goHUNT.com/INSIDER, promo code WR, get your $50-dollar gift card in the goHUNT gear shop.
Yeah, and I stand by it, we run it. It’s a cornerstone to us. I mean I look forward to meeting those guys. I know I will, it’s just a matter of when.
Yeah, they’re just great guys. I mean, like I said, they’re no different than you or I. There’s no reason why they would be, but anyway.
So moving along. So you’re 33, so, you know, five years ago, your one big thing that you know now, what do you wish you knew five years ago?
I go over that all the time because I actually sit out in the tree stand at times and I go, “Could you imagine my deer hunting success if I knew X when I was 20, and if I could add all those years up?” But I think, I mean, maybe someone like yourself, does that ever really stop or do you always feel like you’re more knowledgeable than 5 or 10 years? You’ve probably never hit a wall, have you? You’re always better than what you were? Yeah, I didn’t figure. You’re shaking your head “no.” I feel like it’s always…
Well, but you got to…the thing is UV light, okay? I just talked to the guy that has a UV product that dampens the UV. Because at early light and late light your camo will glow if they have blue thread in them, any kind of blue.
Okay, so you got UV light. So I didn’t know that until a few years into it, and then I was hunting…actually I was hunting out west. And I had my blue jeans on and it was dusk, getting darker, those suckers were glowing. And I went, “What the heck is that?”
Because they had bleached, or it had brighteners in the thing. And, you know… But then you take your wools. And how the guys hunted, the Benoit brothers… I don’t know if you ever read their books.
Yeah, the Benoit brothers, they wore wool clothing. Everybody in New England wore wool. All my elk hunting stuff is all wool for cold. Not for archery, for late season, you know. For late season it’s all wool. And, see, wool doesn’t have the same threads as our camo and stuff.
Not at all.
And so you start learning that and say, “How did that affect it?” And the times I’ve been sitting up in my, you know, black black, you know, blank blank camo and all of a sudden the deer bust me, I go, “Shit.” And I don’t care if it’s carbon or…I don’t care what it is. But it was that low light thing and the hues, the blue hues, came in which the deer can see readily, they see blues readily, and all of a sudden gone, no interest. And I’m going, “Dang.” I’m downwind, everything is set up. I was glowing, had to be.
I would say for me one of the things that I did not know but one of the things that now is like a primary focal point and/or that I feel very good about is where and when and in what situations bucks are going to be bedding, and moving to and from where, and calculating in temperature changes during the day. Because here in PA, even in Ohio, I hunt very hilly terrain and I would say what I’m better at now but knew then is correlating all that. Meaning a primary dominant northwest wind on a day that it’s going to go from 30 in the morning to 70 in the afternoon, where and when are these buck going to be bedding, and how and why are they going to be moving.
I feel like I’m getting down not to a science, but really, really a lot better at it. And had I known it then, probably my success in the last five years would be better than what it is now. But it was a little bit of more me refining or, I should say, taking that a little bit more serious than I did maybe in my 20s, my late teens. I would just bust in full-blown, go hunt. “I have two days to hunt, great,” and I’d just trudge right in. “Oh, I know this is a bedding area.” Kind of like you said, “Hopefully I catch something, I don’t know if they’re five miles away or a mile. Hopefully they’re going to come running by.” And it was a little bit more luck, shot in the wind, whereas now it’s a little bit more scientific.
So I would say that would be my big…the thing that I’ve refined the best. Getting into an area or a knob where I know I’m going to find buck bedding if I go into it completely blind. Now whether they bed there that day or not I don’t know because, as we know, bucks move around and whatever pulls them here and there, food, whatever it happens to be. But I would say I can at least almost guarantee you by walking into areas I could find us a buck bed on a knob that I would like to hunt or get near hunting to pin between him and feed.
Not a tough part around PA is how many hardwoods we have. And a lot of those knobs and those spots that I find have feed right on top of them, so they don’t actually have to go anywhere. And they’ll get onto these… We have predominant northwest winds and they’ll get onto these little benches and flats and they never leave it. They don’t have to, they don’t have to go anywhere. You can’t really hunt or kill a buck that does that until he slips up.
So that’s all situation-dependent, but learning that I think I got a lot better.
Now on the ridges where do they get their water? Because they need water.
Nighttime. And I’ve actually watched them up on these ridges. I’ve seen the deer… Because of these…we’ve got huge red oaks, huge maples. I’m talking, you know, you can get them, they’re four feet in diameter. And I actually had a deer two years ago digging at the base of one down in the root system and I didn’t know what it was doing, I couldn’t figure it out. I figured it was fishing out acorns. So I waltzed over to look and there was actually a dampness to the fungus and the moss down at the base of the tree and I’m pretty convinced it was actually digging down under there and it was pulling moisture up out of the root system of this tree, because we were in a really bad drought. I think that was two years ago, it might have been three.
But the water, that’s one of the big things that’s tough because certain areas we get into these hardwoods, I don’t know that their moving to it too much in the daytime because our creek bottoms dry up pretty fast when it hits fall season until we start getting snow. And they’re hitting bodies of water, like ponds, lakes, but they go so nocturnal from the pressure to hunt one of them just doesn’t… You could sit on it until you’re dead and you’re not going to have a deer come down to it in the daytime, they just don’t do it, they hit it at night.
That’s my opinion. That could be wrong, but that’s my opinion.
So you have to be the transition zone if the bucks are staying up on the ridges because they got food and they got shelter. How are you going to hunt them? Because they’re not moving.
Well, that’s the thing, is a lot of our woods there’s big transition lines. And you can get into, like, the ash and birch, but it’s also a great area for bedding. And maybe you have… So I’m talking on a year where we have a mass production, where there maybe is a set of hardwoods up on a big, flat, wide-open bench, because we don’t get a lot of undergrowth with our old growth. You can get into an oak bench or a maple bench and it’s…I mean 100 yards every direction you can see plain as day. And the goal is finding the bedding that isn’t in that mass production, getting that face of a hill on, like, a south-facing slope maybe where they’re going to have to come down to it. And get as close…tuck into that bedding as absolutely as close as I can physically get, and quiet, to where you’re maybe going to creep them at that last minute before dark.
Now, like you said, with rut it changes everything. Just get into the corridors. But early season is very difficult hunting around here. Like this year I think is going to be a huge mass production. I don’t know yet, it always seems like a shot in the dark. But if it is, I’m telling you mineral sites, you don’t see them hitting any mineral sites. They eat white oak acorns here like crack cocaine. I mean they will find…whichever ones are dropping and hitting the ground, your odds are highest they’re coming to those ones because it’s like those deer know, it’s crazy how they find it.
How do they know though? I just had a guy, he said, “I’ll be on white oaks, they’re dropping. And the deer are 60 yards away and my tree is dropping the same exact things and they go over there, and then they leave that tree and come over to my tree.” What’s the magic?
I think it’s the nutrients of the tree, because some acorns are sweeter and some are bitter.
And my uncle and his friends actually, about five, six years ago, kind of did a test run on this on their private land back where I grew up and they picked three white oak trees in the spring to start liming. And they limed it all summer. And when that thing started producing in the fall, those trees were the first trees that every single deer ate every single acorn that fell.
and to that extent what I thought was trees are just like any other plant. If you grow three tomato plants in your garden, one of them explodes, one does okay, and one dies, or maybe it barely hangs on. Why? Something in the soil, some type of nutrients, there’s an absorption rate that was higher, maybe the production of the acorn itself had a higher nutrient content. And all I can come up with…because this happened to me two years ago. Me and my hunting partner both killed a deer, a whitetail, in Ohio six days apart out of the same tree to the deer, to the buck, eating from the same tree that was dropping. And the whole bench was dropping acorns, but they came to that tree. And all I can come up with is nutrients in the soil producing a better acorn.
And, like me or you, if you went to five buffets five nights in a row, you’re going to rank them one to five and you don’t forget why, you knew which one was better. Well, if you’ve ever watched them mill out through these benches, they’ll cover 100 yards in three minutes eating. I think they just know, they taste it. One is bitter. Because they don’t really like red oak and they won’t eat black oak because black oak is very bitter. And I think some of them are sweeter than others and it just attracts them to that tree. And until it’s done dropping, I mean I’ve literally watched entire herds of doe [Inaudible 00:35:56] around one tree and just eat that white oak and they don’t move. They sit in a 10-foot circle right there and you can hear them dropping all over the woods.
So I think that maybe comes with experience. Because I would assume odds are that tree the next year is going to produce sweet ones and so forth and so forth. But when they did that test with the lime on the trees, that to me told me that it’s…
Is that legal? Can you do that?
On private? On private?
I don’t see why not. They did it preseason, it wasn’t baiting, and they were doing it from trees that they own on their property. All you’re doing is helping the tree along, no different than planting a crop field or putting out mineral sites.
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