Hang in There!
Coming down the home stretch of the PA archery season, many archers are asking themselves, " What is up with this November weather?" Over the past week, it has gone from perfect conditions for rutting activity to beach weather. The weather may disrupt some of the rutting activity but don't despair. If you are still hunting these last weeks, here are some tips to help you succeed.
Lights, Camera, Action
Cellular trail cameras are an essential tool at this time. Cellular cameras can send you up to date pictures multiple times a day. During November, the cameras should be your best friend. I like to set my cameras up near my mock scrapes that border doe bedding areas. The cellular camera will let me know when bucks are on their feet during daylight hours. Run those cameras and let them work for you.
Location, Location, Location
Great real estate moguls will tell you that location, location, and location are the keys to success. November is when archery hunters should break out the climbing stands and look for new places to hunt. I like to find dense areas of cover that does want to use for bedding. Does will search out these areas before they go into estrus. Grab your climber and head for the downwind side of this dense cover and wait for cruising bucks to come scent check the area. This strategy has worked great for me during the last week of the Pennsylvania archery season.
In the musical Fiddler on the Roof, the main character sings a song called Sunrise, Sunset. You may have never heard that song, but you need to follow that advice. If you run trail cameras, you have probably noticed many bucks on their feet during the midday hours. Now is the time to find that thick cover and sit all day. Pack snacks and plenty of water and plan to sit the entire day. I like to pack a paperback book to read as it helps me pass the time. Sitting sunrise to sunset can be challenging for many, but the rewards can be getting a shot at a lovesick buck.
The Nose Knows
If you have ever watched a buck searching for a hot doe, you will notice his nose is close to the ground. The buck uses his Jacobson's gland to track a singular doe he believes to be in estrus. Since each deer has a unique interdigital gland scent, a buck can follow that doe until he finds his prize. As a searching buck looks for does, he will use this gland in his mouth to help identify the estrus doe. Now is the time to start using fresh estrus and a drag rag. I strongly recommend Smokey's Deer Lures because they are fresh and work great. I like to use the drag to walk the entire way around my stand. I have seen great success with this strategy. Lastly, get some Buck Cage Canisters or a Wyndscent 2.0 unit and get that scent in the air. Be ready at all times as the bucks may close in on you fast.
Bring the Noise
Back in the '90s, the group Public Enemy had a song called, Bring the Noise! I still love that song and will frequently play it on Pandora. Now that the calendar has turned to November, it is time for hunters to Bring the Noise! I love this time of year when I can hit my rattling antlers together and watch for a buck. Along with my rattling antlers, I always carry a grunt tube and a Primos Can Call. All three of these items used with a good estrus drag can bring in a cruising buck. Archers can't be afraid to "Bring the Noise" while they are hunting in November.
If you have a dominant buck in your hunting area, you will need to provide him a challenger. There are a few tricks you can use to draw the attention of a dominant buck. First, you can make multiple mock scrapes in his core area and use Smokey's Wicked Wicks to introduce a new buck. Dominant bucks don't like another buck coming into their core area. Second, make a fresh rub on a tree and use Smokey's Forehead Gland lure. Don't be afraid to use a little more than usual. Dominant bucks produce more forehead gland lure than younger bucks. Lastly, use some Smokey's Tarsal Gland lure. Creating an illusion that a new buck has entered the area can lead to the dominant buck becoming more aggressive. Play your cards right, and you can bring that big buck into shooting distance.
The first few weeks of November are the perfect time to break out that decoy. Decoys work great when bucks are on the move. I have a few inside corner stands that allow me to use a decoy. I have seen excellent results while using a single doe decoy. I like to set my decoy up in an open area where bucks can see her. Using doe in estrus, I will make a drag directly to her. I will then pray estrus on the inside of her legs. I love watching bucks posture as they come in to meet the receptive doe. Decoying a big buck is a blast.
Sunday Bloody Sunday
The 2020 Pennsylvania archery season has a few bonuses for the hunters. First, the archery season has been extended an extra week and will close on November 20th. Secondly, hunters will be able to experience Sunday hunting for deer on November 15th. The PA Game Commission made these changes for the 2020 season, and hunters are excited about the new opportunities. Remember to have written permission from the landowner so you can hunt on that Sunday.
Go All In
Now is not the time to play it safe. Think outside the box and try some new tactics. As bucks are out searching for receptive does, they are prone to making mistakes. Deer are curious by nature and will investigate noises and scents. Many bucks throw caution to the wind and fall prey to their primal instinct to breed. These strategies can help archery hunters seal the deal as the season is coming to a close. Best of luck and shoot straight!