Build a better deer trap

Don’t listen to people who say scrap hunting is overrated. Even if you have to build it, they will come.

Just when Hunter Jones was convinced his fake scratch would never yield a decent dollar shot, the 19-year-old got the surprise of his life.

Hunter created the scratch and left a camera pointed at it circa October 1, 2016. He never imagined he would retrieve an image that would dislocate his jaw.

“The young bucks took over after the first week, but then HE showed up,” Hunter said, referring to the huge white tail he started thinking about day and night.

“I called my father because I was panicking. I had never had a deer like that on camera in my life,” he added.

The teenager from Breckinridge, Kentucky, was no novice. He had made several handsome dollars since his introduction to the sport. He also used to see the photos of large sums of money from the trail cameras of other hunters.

Agricultural country surrounds the property it hunts and the genetics are there.

Even so, no other dollar in Hunter’s personal photo collection comes close to the huge photo that finally visited the scented land.

The large white-tailed deer had a rack well beyond its ears, with long main beams and many teeth.

“For two weeks the male was a regular,” Hunter said. “I had two cameras, one next to the scraping and another on a pile of corn. The deer would come to the corn, but it would not eat. He would only chase deer.

Because there were no climbing trees near the scrape he made, Hunter considered installing a shade on the ground. In the end, however, he decided not to risk scaring the male.

“I had tried putting blinds on, and the deer were blowing on them and were scary for the first week or two before they got used to them,” he said.

Hunter was working part-time and going to school that fall, but he still found time to hunt. Through scouting, he thought he knew where the big buck was laying down.

There were several good places to hunt within the male’s home range, including a waterhole about 75 meters from the scrape. Another possibility was a ridge that ran above the sleeping area.

The peak of the Kentucky whitetail rut is generally considered to occur around November 15, but there is some buildup.

Towards the end of October, Hunter began to see pre-rut activity. He knew his best chance of shooting the deer with his bow would be between November 1 and 12, the opening of the statewide modern gun season.

“November 3-4, I hunted from a climbing stand on the ridge above the sleeping area,” he said. “I saw good dollars, but not the broad. The next day I moved to the other side of the farm.

“I actually shot my bow on an 8-pointer and was going to shoot it, but I couldn’t stop it,” he continued.

“I couldn’t hunt again until November 8. I wanted to go back on the ridge, but the wind was not good for this stand. So I hunted where I had drawn my bow on the 8 point.

“My mate, Garrett Ammons, killed a nice deer that morning, and I helped him get it back. By noon the wind had turned and was good for a nighttime hunt on the ridge.

“I almost didn’t go up there because it’s a pretty good climb. I left the truck around 2:30. At 3:15 a.m. I was put up in a hickory shagbark after scolding while climbing the tree.

“Ahead of me was a thicket and a big draw. A field of soybeans was above the draw. To my left was the large bottom where the camera was set up on the scraping.

“The afternoon started out windy, but the wind stopped around 4:00 p.m.,” he said. “After things calmed down, I shook, but nothing happened.

“About 15 minutes passed and I was shaking again. Still nothing,” he continued. “Five minutes later, I growled. Then I saw something brown – a male – who was coming towards me. I could tell by the teeth that he was a good one.

“The male came out of cover at the edge of the thicket and stood about 50 yards away. I could tell for sure that was the big deer I was hunting.

“He had stopped and turned his head, looking back and forth,” Hunter said. “When he started walking again, the buck was turning to my left. I had already stood up and nocked an arrow. I was trying to outrun him as he approached.

When the buck stopped beside a scrape at 32 yards, Hunter’s bow buzzed.

“The arrow looked like it hit perfectly, just behind the shoulder,” he said. “As the deer turned, I saw blood rushing back where it had come from.

“I couldn’t believe this had happened. I sat back down and called my dad, Troy. He got all excited and said, “Okay, wait and call me back in 30 minutes, then we’ll decide what to do.”

“Sitting there, looking through my binoculars, I could see blood all over something that I thought was a log. I waited half an hour and called dad back. I had finally stopped shaking,” he said.

He had also realized that the log was actually his deer.

“When I took over, I took a few snaps and sent them to friends. After that my phone just blew up,” he smiles.

Hunter’s father arrived about 45 minutes later, and the two sparred and charged the buck, which was one of the biggest bow catches in Kentucky in 2016.

Editor’s note: BTR regular contributor and regional director Dale Weddle was named the 2017 Wildlife Conservation Communicator of the Year by the Kentucky Wildlife Federation Foundation.

This article originally appeared in the October 2017 issue of Rack Magazine. Subscribe today to have Rack Magazine delivered to your home.

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Helen L. Cuellar