Fa­tal At­trac­tion


Modern Pioneer - - Contents - By Mike Yancey

Hunt near ir­re­sistible fruit trees to bag your next white­tail

Ev­ery step was care­fully placed with all at­ten­tion fo­cused on get­ting closer, un­de­tected, for a high-per­cent­age shot with the long­bow in my hand. With each step, my ex­cite­ment surged full-throt­tle. I could feel my heart pound­ing swiftly as the mo­ment’s in­ten­sity grew.

My prey was feed­ing in the shade of a large per­sim­mon tree, to­tally un­aware of my pres­ence. As the bow­string came back to my an­chor point, my wooden ar­row de­parted per­fectly. The shot was clean, re­sult­ing in a quick kill. It was my first deer with a long­bow!

Fruit trees are a white­tail’s weak spot, and you can ex­ploit that weak­ness this fall and fill your freezer with pre­cious red meat.

Per­sim­mons are Money Spots

In Arkansas, where I live, a white­tail’s life re­volves around the mast crop con­sist­ing of many oak va­ri­eties. But, in most years, the acorn drop hap­pens a lit­tle later than the per­sim­mons, mak­ing this early-bear­ing fruit tree a deer hotspot. The sweet fruit draws both does and fawns, as well as bach­e­lor groups of bucks, daily un­til the acorns be­gin to fall.

Early-sea­son white­tail hunt­ing can be as ex­cit­ing as the Novem­ber rut, but only if you play your cards right and do some pre-sea­son scout­ing. Un­like the rut-crazed bucks that you deal with later in fall, early-sea­son white­tails have but one thing on their minds: food. Food

sources are, at times, dif­fi­cult to iden­tify. But, I can help straighten the learn­ing curve.

I’ve been blessed to hunt the same per­sim­mon tree on my par­ent’s farm for more than 40 years now. In that time, it has pro­duced more early-sea­son deer for my dad and me than you could ever imag­ine. The tree is lo­cated in a per­fectly formed fun­nel where a farm road and two fence cor­ners meet. But, the spe­cial thing about this tree is that it’s an Amer­i­can per­sim­mon, which, dur­ing the 40-plus years that I’ve hunted it, failed to pro­duce fruit only one year.

“A qual­ity fer­til­izer mix … will make your fruit tree the most al­lur­ing in the area for miles …”

Ex­ploit the Pre­dictabil­ity

If left undis­turbed, early-sea­son deer are as pre­dictable as tax sea­son; you can al­most set your clock by their daily move­ments. With some game cam­eras placed in a few well-scouted ar­eas, you can track these pat­terns and for­mu­late a solid open­ing-day plan. Be sure to con­sider pre­vail­ing winds when strate­giz­ing am­bush lo­ca­tions, al­ways hunt­ing on the down­wind side of where deer travel and feed.

Of­ten­times, deer will visit per­sim­mon trees re­li­giously and at the same time each day be­cause they feel safe and undis­turbed. Don’t wreck that pat­tern by hang­ing a stand and dis­pers­ing scent one week be­fore sea­son. In­stead, do it in win­ter or spring. Why?

Per­sim­mons aren’t drop­ping fruit dur­ing this time, so you can go in with­out pes­ter­ing the deer and do your work, then re­turn months later to hunt undis­turbed deer on open­ing day. When set­ting up am­bushes, be sure to trim shoot­ing lanes.

Pre­dictabil­ity is the as­pect I love most about early-sea­son hunt­ing. Deer haven’t ex­pe­ri­enced weeks of hunt­ing pres­sure. All you must do is learn when per­sim­mon trees start pro­duc­ing the fruit that draws them year af­ter year. Ma­ture does know ev­ery tree in the area, and will train their young in their uses. Bach­e­lor groups of bucks also visit per­sim­mon trees, and I pre­fer to tar­get them, al­though a fine-eat­ing doe is hard to pass up.

Ac­cess is Key

When tar­get­ing a spe­cific per­sim­mon tree to hunt, I al­ways con­sider stand ac­cess. Of­ten­times, easy-ac­cess trees are lo­cated on farms that have daily chores/ac­tiv­i­ties where hu­man scent abounds, un­like a wilder­ness-type setup. Nev­er­the­less, you still must ap­proach care­fully when you hunt. The weather is of­ten very warm in the early days of archery sea­son, and you want to leave an area as undis­turbed by hu­man scent as pos­si­ble. If you have to fight through brush and walk long dis­tances to ac­cess a stand, you’ll surely cause com­mo­tion and con­tam­i­nate the area with ex­cess hu­man scent. This will likely change their pat­tern, mak­ing them un­pre­dictable.

Pears, An­other Solid Bet

Pear trees lo­cated on farms and aban­doned homesteads are also com­mon in my area, and are equally as pro­duc­tive as per­sim­mons. Ap­ple trees might be avail­able in your area, too. Re­ally, any fruit-bear­ing tree can be

“My prey was feed­ing in the shade of a large per­sim­mon tree, to­tally un­aware of my pres­ence.”

dynamite in early sea­son, and you must cap­i­tal­ize when the fruit is ripe and drop­ping. These few weeks can be out­stand­ing, but you must get out there, re­gard­less of heat and in­sects.

When the Fruit Drops Late

So far, we’ve pri­mar­ily ad­dressed early-sea­son hunt­ing, but if you lo­cate a tree that’s pro­duc­ing fruit and draw­ing deer later in the sea­son as the rut ap­proaches, does and fawns will likely be reg­u­lars, and soon the ma­ture bucks will scent-check the area down­wind of the fruit tree for a hot doe. At this time, any­thing can hap­pen. You may even en­counter a buck you didn’t know ex­isted.

Of course, bucks aren’t as pre­dictable dur­ing the pre-rut, but they’ll be there sooner or later. You might not be on stand when he comes by check­ing, and he might never re­turn. That’s why you must seize ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to hunt fruit trees while they’re pro­duc­ing.

Al­though most deer pop­u­la­tions rely on mast like the acorns dropped from oak trees, they en­joy sweet, ripe fruit and will go out of their way to fre­quent any trees drop­ping pro­duce in their area.

Per­sim­mons draw deer like mag­nets. Hunt near a per­sim­mon tree when the fruit is ripe and get ready for the ac­tion.

Yancey hap­pily ar­rowed this doe for the freezer while hunt­ing near an old, re­li­able per­sim­mon tree. PHOTO BY MIKE YANCEY

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.