Of Course, You Know…
By John Sloan
As our season winds down, I started thinking about some things most deer hunters should know. With an archery season full of opportunities mostly under our belts and now all sorts of options with firearms waning, here are about a dozen little facts about deer all deer hunters should know. These are facts, scientifically based facts, not myths. See how you do.
You know of course, 20-25 percent of twin fawns have different fathers. Maybe that accounts for more than one buck following a doe even if she is with another buck. Sometimes the bucks are together and sometimes separated by several seconds or even minutes. Might make you want to hold off on shooting that first buck. Might also make you want to sit very still if you kill that doe. Best deer decoy in the world is a freshly killed doe. But you knew that.
During their entire life, most bucks sire less than five fawns that survive to six months of age. They fall to disease, predators, cars, and of course, hunters. Think about that. Fewer than five fawns per buck make it to a year old. Hard to fathom is it not?
How many spots do you think the average fawn has? Now I don’t know how many fawns some poor grad student somewhere had to count but the average they came up with was 300. Yep, 300 white spots on the average fawn. Why is this important? You may be on Jeopardy some day.
When is a fawn old enough to have a chance against a hungry coyote? Contrary to the belief of many, fawns do have a scent when born. They can be smelled. However, they spend most of their time separated from mom I suppose to avoid compounding the scent problem. So what happens when a yote or a loose dog comes along? A few days after birth, a fawn can outrun a man. However, it takes a good six weeks to escape a predator.
Know what bio-stimulating means? It means to stimulate life. We hunters refer to it as the rut. Most of us figure it is the doe that gets things started and she might. However, buck pheromones left at rubs and scrapes and licking branches may be bio-stimulating and have a trigger effect on the rut.
See few rubs in your hunting area but know you have a few young bucks? Reason is an area with more mature bucks will have up to 10 times as many rubs as an area with few or no mature bucks. How old is a mature buck? For general purposes, most of us agree anything over 3.5 years is considered mature. Not a lot of them around most places. Therefore, if you see a lot of rubs, you may wish to rethink your hunting strategy. May want to hold out for the old one. Of course, you do know they are much harder to kill. That is how they got mature.
A mature buck will make 85% more scrapes than a yearling and 50% more rubs. However, don’t let lots of scrapes fool you. They are not very valuable in terms of killing a mature buck. Scrapes are badly misunderstood in terms of usage and hunting tactics. They are good for gathering information but don’t amount to much in terms of killing a mature buck.
Bucks of all ages use scrapes and many individual bucks may use the same scrape. However, they are not used as many think. They have little to do with breeding. The doe does not come along, urinate in the scrape and then walk off to later be followed by the buck and bred. She may well urinate in the scrape though I have never seen one do so. But it is not to attract a buck. Scrapes are communal information centers. I like to compare them to message boards at a local store.
You may find an active scrape, one worked by several individuals, male and female, any time of the year. When I was fooling around with mock scrapes, I often started them during spring turkey season and I used nothing but my own urine. It worked well on several scrapes as long as I had the right location and a good licking branch hanging down. Human urine works every bit as well as the most expensive bottled product. It is a lot cheaper, easier to carry and easier to refill. No, I’m not kidding. It is about all I have used for over 25 years.
The problem with keying on a scrape to try to kill a buck is that 85% of all scraping activity occurs at night. If we are to be legal, we do not hunt at night.
I might as well drop a little more factual info on you in regards to scrapes. There is no such thing as a scrape line. At least, not as we think of one. You may find scrapes in a line but most of the time; they are made by several different bucks and tended by several different bucks. The old thinking that one buck came along and made a line of scrapes is myth. Of course, you know does make scrapes, too.
I’m sure you also know that antlers can grow up to one inch a day during formation. In addition, if you get a piece of a pedicel imbedded in another part of the body, an antler may form there, too. The pedicel is the base upon which the antler grows.
All of this is fact, hard, proven fact. It may or may not help you but it sure will not hurt you to know it. There are a lot of myths in deer hunting. Many of them started by someone with something to sell.
Remember, our muzzle-loading season opens Saturday, Nov. 5 and runs through Nov. 18. No break this year. The limit is three does per day and one buck per day, no more than three for the year. Wear your orange and hunt safely.
It was a hot November day in TN when I caught this 3.5 year old buck sneaking along the edge of a thicket. I could still shoot a compound bow back then.
I was walking out from a morning hunt when this better than average, AL buck tried to make it back to the swamp. He paused in an old logging road just long enough for me to shoot him. I can’t remember who the guy is that helped me drag him out.