Hunters have at their disposal a number of tricks that can arouse the curiosity of rutting bucks and help get them into range. Rattling, calling, scents and decoys are among the more popular ones.
Other hunters rely entirely on stealth tactics and choose to make no sound, leave no scent nor give any indication to a wary buck that there’s a hunter in the area.
Roger Stancell, who hails from Coahoma County, suggests a combination of the two, depending on circumstances.
“I may blind grunt once or twice when on stand to try to locate a deer,” he said. “When I call, it will be at least a half-hour to an hour apart. I don’t believe that decoys work very well in this area, and my experience with rattling is it can be effective if you know what you’re doing and can cost you a shot at a deer if you don’t.”
Stancell said the most-effective use of calling or rattling is when the hunter has knowledge that a deer is just out of range or sight. Grunting a deer into range has worked well for him, and rattling just enough to arouse curiosity and change a buck’s direction of travel is his preference.
Another important skill in quality deer management, no matter where you hunt, is learning to age deer on the hoof. Even if a deer meets certain antler point and size requirements for the club, lease, or land you hunt, understanding a deer’s potential is important to trophy management.
Knowing you’re looking at a 3½-year-old deer that has the potential to be a bona fide monster next year helps ease the pain of letting a good buck walk.
“A trophy is in the eye of the beholder,” said Stancell. “The state has enacted antler criteria for each deer zone, but that’s not going to guarantee trophy bucks. All that does is allows the yearlings and 2-year-olds to grow up enough and maybe get smart enough to avoid most hunters until somebody either gets lucky or gets the best of him.”