Back in 2005, B.J. Clement got a trail-camera photo of a young but impressive 10-pointer on his Kansas hunting area. That was all he saw of the buck for four years—he didn’t get any more pictures and he never laid eyes on the deer.
B.J. and his son, Todd, are diehard archers who love to bowhunt in early December, even though that is when rifle season runs. They have found that in Kansas the second rut can be as good as or better than the peak of the rut, especially when the weather is cold.
Last December, B.J., who almost always hunts from the ground, set a blind in an old farm yard near a milo field. He decided he’d hunt from it in a few days. In the meantime, to help his father out, Todd went to work with his favorite late-season tactic: He littered the farm yard with mock scrapes and scent trails; he used an estrous doe scent and urine from a buck he had killed earlier in the year. For several days, Todd re-juiced the scrapes and trails.
On the afternoon when B.J. sneaked to his blind, his eyes popped. A buck or bucks had rolled into Todd’s scent-posts and ripped a slew of new rubs and scrapes. “They’d torn the place up,” said B.J.
He’d been sitting awhile when a big buck worked along the edge of the milo. The buck cut into the farm yard, paused to rake a big hedge tree and then crossed within 30 yards of the blind. B.J. stayed poised and let an arrow fly.
B.J. and Todd found the giant 120 yards away. It was the ghost from the trail-cam picture back in 2005! This was one of the most impressive archery deer of 2009. The stunning 12-point typical scored 181 7/8.
Lessons Learned -A well-framed buck might disappear for a few years, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the buck has left the area or was killed by a car or another hunter. A buck that matures five years or more might vanish into thin air, only to pop up 30 yards from your stand one day when you least expect it. That’s a nice surprise, just ask B.J.
-Don’t put your scents away after November. Estrus can work especially well in early to mid-December, when there are far fewer does available for breeding. A buck looking for one last fling might cut your scent trail and lope to your stand. Also, mix in mock scrapes and buck urine, like Todd Clement does. Create a late-rut “stink zone” that attracts deer.
-Saving (by freezing) urine and/or the hocks off a buck you shoot early in the season might help you lure a big boy in the late rut. Commercial scents work okay, but it’s hard to beat the real thing.