Luke Clayton: How to shoot a big buck

Outdoors columnist gives valuable tips on bagging big antlers this fall

Luke Clayton
Daily Light contributor
This buck is working a mock scrape created by Stephanie Murphy last season. Scrape King and Pre Orbital Spray by TRHP Outdoors brought the buck out of the woods and under the licking branch.
Luke Clayton

There are all types of deer hunters, those like me that love venison profess that any mature, healthy buck or doe is a candidate for the freezer and ultimately chicken fried venison steak. And those that love venison but long to harvest the biggest antlered buck in the woods. I believe every deer hunter (yes, myself included) that professed to be strictly a “meat hunter” might not be telling the complete truth!

 When we look at the ancient cave drawings made by early hunters, what do we see, crude drawings of spike bucks or possibly does? No, our ancestors that had to harvest meat to survive also held big antlers in high esteem! A heavy antlered whitetail buck is ultimately what we’re all after and we hunters will go great lengths to harvest one with often equates to setting long hours in a deer stand waiting for Mr. Big to come along.

We put out corn feeders, bait with everything from peanut butter to ripe pears hoping to entice a big antlered buck within bow or rifle range. Through the years, I have tried every known method to attract buck to my hunting spots. Corn feeders work well until the acorns begin to drop or nearby agriculture crops ripen. By the opening of bow season, about the time we think we have our deer patterned to our feeders, Mother Nature gives them what they really want, an abundant acorn crop and we have to change our hunting tactics and go where the deer are! So what can we do to stack the odds in our favor of that up close encounter with the buck of our dreams? I’ll give you a couple of tips that have helped me through the years.

I have long known that deer and all wildlife need and crave natural occurring minerals. I’ve hunted natural salt or mineral licks that deer seek out and frequent often. One ranch up in New Mexico I’ve hunted has a deposit of minerals on the side of a mountain that is a magnet for migrating mule deer and elk. Through the years, the animals have pawed and chewed the deposit so much they created a very visible depression. I’ve found spots in East Texas where wildlife appear to actually eat mud and dirt in isolated spots in the woods. I always assumed these places held deposits of salt or minerals the wildlife needs but with a chemical analyst there is no way to know for sure.

I had access to some great hunting land close to my home for 17 years and I placed salt blocks in a remote strip of hardwoods for many of those years in the same spot. Deer used the spot as they would a naturally occurring salt or mineral “lick.” When the land sold a few years ago, I lost access. A couple years after the sale, the new owner allowed me to come back on and retrieve a couple of ladder stands. I just had to check my old “baited hole!” Believe it or not, the spot had been recently visited by wild hogs and deer, their tracks were all over the area. I’m sure the salt and minerals had leached down into the soil over the years.

A few months ago I discovered a company, New Beginnings Attractants, that produces a mineral mix that I have found to be very effective in bringing deer in to the areas I hunt. I began my artificial “mineral lick” by digging a slight depression in the ground and pouring in 3 pounds of the mix. I placed a trail camera on the spot and soon had several whitetail does and smaller bucks hitting my man made “lick.” Every few weeks, I freshen my spot with a couple pounds of the minerals. I now have identified 6 different doe hitting the mineral and a couple of young bucks. As we deer hunters all know, during the rut where the doe are, there will be bucks.

Around these mineral “licks,” I am using Curiosity Blend from TRHP Outdoors www.trhpoutdoors.com. This blends smells like well, deer and I’ve found it to attract and calm both buck and doe coming to a newly “baited” area. The attractant leaves deer scent in the area and is highly effective as an early and late season attractant. When it gets closer to the rut, I will begin using the Mock Scrape kit to create scrapes within bow range of my tree stand. About this time the Inflame Doe Estrus Scent will be applied in heavy doses to not only the scrape but also adjacent limbs and branches.

Even in areas with heavy concentrations of deer, it’s important to concentrate the deer into areas where you hunt. The use of minerals the animals crave and attractants will greatly increase your chances of putting venison in the freezer and antlers on the den wall.

To learn more about TRHP, visit www.trhp.com .

To learn about New Beginnings Mineral Attractants, “Like” New Beginnings Attractants on Facebook or call 234-567-6576.

Hog trapping tournament

The Miller Grove Volunteer Fire Department in northeast Texas is hosting a hog trapping tournament to generate funds for the operations of the fire department. For complete details contact Ray Sparks 903-439-5717. Trapped hogs are sold to a local hog buyer and a percentage of the monies go to the fire department. Entry is $100 per team with a 50 % payout. Weigh in 9-18-21. This is a great event that will not only help remove hogs but also put dollars in the contestant’s pockets and…. help a very worthy cause of supporting the local fire and rescue department.

Contact outdoors writer Luke Clayton via email at www.catfishradio.org