The Race Is On
The bucks are hitting scrapes and starting to chase does.
Hunters are stoked when the calendar changes from October to November. Archery hunters look forward to the scenario that plays out throughout the month of November. Bucks begin to seek and chase does and are on their feet during daylight hours. The game of cat and mouse begins and is played out all over the country.
One of my favorite tactics for November is adding tarsal gland lure to all my scrapes. I spend time in the woods freshening up all of my scrapes with Preorbital, Forehead, and Interdigital, but I begin to add buck tarsal gland. I see an increase in activity at my scrapes and vines immediately. I will get trail camera pictures of bucks that will work a scrape for a few minutes. One of the most interesting things about adding buck tarsal is how the does interact. Mature does begin to visit the scrapes more to check out which bucks are in the area. Does leaving their scent at the scrape is an added benefit to running mock scrapes?
Doe Interdigital Plus
Two years ago, Smokey McNicholas had an idea for a new gland concoction. He asked if I would test it for him, and I agreed. The new mixture was a combination of doe interdigital and 10% estrus. I was fascinated by this combination and told him I would gladly test it for him. The first time I used the new product, I killed a beautiful seven-point buck while using a decoy. In 2022, I killed a beautiful Ohio eight-point that walked directly to my stand and gave me a ten-yard shot. Doe interdigital plus is great to use as a drag or with a decoy. It has become one of my favorite products to use in November.
Scrape placement is essential in November! Most of my active scrapes in November are located in areas outside of thick bedding or cover. These secluded scrapes get hammered during daylight hours at the beginning of November. Both bucks and does will deposit their scent at the scrapes daily. These hidden scrapes get attention throughout the year, but most of the action happens from Halloween until Thanksgiving.
Many of my stands are hung before the season, during the summer, so I don't have to disturb an active area in November. I place many of my hang-on stands in areas where my secluded scrapes will be. I will do my best to stay out of these stands until November. If I get daily activity at a secluded scrape, I will roll the dice and take a chance at hunting my stand. During November, every time I access a stand, I will make sure the wind is right, and I put doe interdigital on my boots. I want to leave as little human scent as possible.
An amazing little product I have been using is called the Buck Cage. This device allows a hunter to disperse scent where they want. The little canisters will soak up any non-oil-based scent. I fill up my Buck Cages with Smokey's Doe in Heat and hang them in a semi-circle around my scrape. Buck Cages are vented on all sides, so the scent will go where the wind takes it. I like to hang the cages when I am hunting and take them down when I leave the woods. The scent will last nearly two weeks before I have to fill them up again. These inexpensive cages have helped me harvest many bucks!
Before November, I primarily hunt the first few hours of the morning and the last few hours of the evening. In November, I try to hunt as many times as possible during the mid-day. This is when I will focus on the secluded scrapes and hunt out of the stands near those scrapes. This tactic has worked well for me on many occasions. I know there is a solid chance that a buck will come to work the scrape and scent-check the bedding area.
Make Some Noise
November is the time to make some noise! Rattling, grunting, and bleating becomes an important part of every hunt during November. Bucks begin to respond to blind rattling and calling. Over the past few years, I have rattled and grunted in numerous bucks. Quite often, a doe bleat has also sealed the deal on a love-sick buck. When you head out to the stand, plan on making a lot of noise. Be ready for a buck to come and check you out.
For years I have watched hunters use decoys during November. In 2021 I purchased a doe decoy and planned on using it during the rut. That purchase has been one of the best decisions I have made. On a chilly November morning in 2021, I harvested my first buck using a decoy. A blind rattling sequence followed up by numerous aggressive grunts brought a beautiful seven-point to my decoy. I shot the buck at 15 yards, and he never knew I was anywhere near him. I look forward to using my decoy as much as possible now.
These are some of the strategies that have helped me successfully harvest bucks over the past few years. Every year I look to use these techniques to give me an opportunity at a beautiful Pennsylvania buck. Over the past twelve years, I have killed eleven bucks using these strategies. I hope they can help you have success in November.