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Baiting Mature Bucks.

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I'll begin by saying I don't believe anyone can have this down to a science. This is after all an animal that possesses a sense of self-preservation honed over hundreds of thousands of years. No matter how finely tuned that sense is however, it can always be exploited. I've managed to witness this flaw exploited with consistency on a yearly basis, and have intimate knowledge of 8 mature bucks ranging from 130 - 185 who fell to this method. A few years ago I shot a respectable 131 inch 7 point (mainframe 8 with a missing G1) not 30 minutes after arriving on stand on my second hunt of the year.

Availability.
You first need to have a mature buck available, and you need him to call your hunting area home. Very rarely, if ever, will you force a roaming buck to suddenly up and change his core area because you dumped some bait.

Control.
You need to have the ability to control traffic to this area. If you share the property with 10 other jackwagons who throw caution to the wind; you're fighting a losing battle. If you can locate a secluded portion of the property they never venture to however, you may still be in business. Control is the most critical element to this entire thing.

Access.
You need the ability to access the area preferably with a motorized vehicle such as a quad or side by side. Besides the obvious ease of delivery, the noise plays a critical role that you'll see later.

Location.
You need the bait location to be within close proximity or even inside thick cover. A hundred yards away from cover out in mature timber is not a good spot. The edge of a field is another nogo. Both of those require the buck to expose himself which is something we all know they detest doing. Get that bait into an area where he feels safe visiting prior to dark, and feels that he can easily make an escape if need be. Place the bait so that the setting sun is not directly behind you when you're on the stand. Ideally, this is also going to be relatively close to his core bedding area. Far enough away where he feels comfortable staying put when he hears a quad approach, but close enough that he can easily make it to the bait before the end of legal shooting light.

Consistency.
I can't stress this one enough. Be consistent. Load the bait on the quad and drive to your spot. Leave the quad running when you get off to dump your bait. Dump the bait, swap cards, then hop on the quad and leave. Putt along at a leisurely pace in and out and do it the same every single time. Do this three hours before dark once or twice a week. The once or twice a week will be dependent on consumption of the pile. If you have a lot of deer and coons you may want to start at twice a week; even if at first you still have bait on that second visit. Don't get hung up on the clock, deer can't tell time, but they can always tell how long it is before sunset. Before season this may be around 6pm, as season approaches, and before the time change, it may be closer to 4pm. Deer don't have calendars and don't understand days of the week, but they very much understand timeframes and days between events. Wednesday and Saturday, or Thursday and Sunday are good times. One of these days should be a day you are more likely to hunt.

There is Method In Your Madness.
What you're attempting to do is social conditioning. You're using a bucks method of self-preservation against him. His natural instinct is to identify and pattern danger while maximizing his opportunity. He will lay in his daytime bed and listen to you arrive on your quad, he will hear you stop, and he will listen to you leave. He will hear this with consistency at the same time of the day (three hours before sunset), around the same timeframe (every 3 to 7 days). He will figure out that you are dumping food that he can use for himself on a consistent basis. He has no concept that the food is for him, but his natural instinct will be to utilize that food to his advantage. He will begin to feel confident that he listened to the danger arrive and leave, and that he can slip over there before dark and remain in cover to grab a quick bite. You will begin to notice a pattern emerge on camera, pay attention to it. What you're doing is feeding him a narrative and conditioning him to believe he has you down pat.

The Time Has Come.
Within the first three weeks of season or so there is always a short-lived and mild cold snap. It may not be huge or longlived, but there is always a shift in seasonal weather around this time. The day or so before it arrives is the time to strike. Have someone assist with dropping you off three hours before sunset like every time before. Take a bag of bait and drive to your stand on your quad; explain to them the need to leave at the same pace you drove in at. When you arrive at your stand do just as you have done so many times before, stop the quad and leave it running. With your buddy still on the quad dump the bait and climb up in your stand. Once you're up and locked in motion for the person to drive off. It's imperative that you take bait. I have never seen a deer that didn't stop to look over a bait pile before committing. You do not want him to arrive and notice that new bait hasn't been delivered. Since this is abnormal to every time before, he will get skittish and may not commit. He thinks he has you patterned down to a T and his visit is as safe as it always has been. You've conditioned him to believe this to his core. What he has no way of accounting for is that this time you didn't leave.


Massive Don'ts
Do not ever hunt this spot in the morning. Even if your cams show him arriving after daylight. While it will be tempting to think you can sneak in, the reality is you have no idea where that buck is in those woods at that time. I can almost guarantee that before daylight when you walk in he is not in his daylight bed yet. The odds of him hearing or smelling you is too great and it will destroy every bit of conditioning you've done.

Don't get in a hurry and tear ass back there to dump bait or leave. This variation causes doubt in his mind of his ability to pattern you.

It's better to miss a day than go a day late. While both are variations, showing up unexpected is worse than not showing up when expected. The pizza guy randomly barging in your house to deliver a pizza that you weren't expecting is far more surprising than the pizza guy not showing up when you did expect him.
 
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Comments

Chass

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#81
You picked me out. I've said all that. (Only bait for my kid, won't hunt over it, etc.) I don't care if someone baits. Just isn't for "me." At the end of the day, you are spot on Lundy. Needs to work for the individual involved. Ultimately, I'm simply too cheap to spend the money on feed, and don't have the time nor desire to do it. I may change my ways down the road. For now, I'll keep doing what I am doing. Everyone else can keep doing what they are doing.
I used to be in that boat too, didn't bait because it was unfathomable to me to spend money in the hopes of securing food. I'm fortunate enough now to be able to hunt just to enjoy my time in the woods and be selective on what I harvest. So now I have spent a whole lot more money on the HOBBY and invested in cameras which bring much enjoyment not only to me but for my family and friends that I can share the pictures and excitement with of nice bucks and other cool critters doing weird stuff. You don't have to have bait in front of your camera to get a lot of pictures, but it helps.
 

hickslawns

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#82
I used to be in that boat too, didn't bait because it was unfathomable to me to spend money in the hopes of securing food. I'm fortunate enough now to be able to hunt just to enjoy my time in the woods and be selective on what I harvest. So now I have spent a whole lot more money on the HOBBY and invested in cameras which bring much enjoyment not only to me but for my family and friends that I can share the pictures and excitement with of nice bucks and other cool critters doing weird stuff. You don't have to have bait in front of your camera to get a lot of pictures, but it helps.
It's a bit ironic. I've spent plenty of money on cameras, gear, stands, etc. We all draw the line somewhere I guess. lol
 
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Jackalope

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#85
Nice bucks!

Is shelled corn better than ear corn? Or does it make it any difference?
I should add they're not mine. Sent to me by a budddy.

I've never seen it matter. Ear lasts longer and doesn't mold or rot as fast this time of year. Apples, corn, soybean mixed with corn, goat feed all can be used. They key is dumped instead of a feeder.
 
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Chass

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#86
One thing I have noticed that if you dump one pile, the deer go right for it and will just stand there popping their head up a lot to check around. Instead I "corn bomb" the area. Just scatter it everywhere, takes a little more time when you're doing 100+lbs a site but it's worth it. You will notice that instead of sticking to one spot and being much more alert they will feed along and their head will be to the ground a lot longer.
If you mix in molasses and other additives it can be a bit more difficult, super easy to scatter from a bag.
 

Jackalope

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#87
One thing I have noticed that if you dump one pile, the deer go right for it and will just stand there popping their head up a lot to check around. Instead I "corn bomb" the area. Just scatter it everywhere, takes a little more time when you're doing 100+lbs a site but it's worth it. You will notice that instead of sticking to one spot and being much more alert they will feed along and their head will be to the ground a lot longer.
If you mix in molasses and other additives it can be a bit more difficult, super easy to scatter from a bag.
Very good point.
 

giles

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#88
So a lot has been covered here but I don’t see anything about introducing a feeder. So that would be my question, when is the best time to introduce a feeder?

My experiences with deer is telling me late season when it’s cold or around March when there isn’t match food around. My problem with both of these timeframes it that deer don’t generally “yard” on my property. Most of the deer are here to have fawns, bred and then disperse once crops come off.

This is an electric feeder.
 

Jackalope

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#89
So a lot has been covered here but I don’t see anything about introducing a feeder. So that would be my question, when is the best time to introduce a feeder?

My experiences with deer is telling me late season when it’s cold or around March when there isn’t match food around. My problem with both of these timeframes it that deer don’t generally “yard” on my property. Most of the deer are here to have fawns, bred and then disperse once crops come off.

This is an electric feeder.

In my opinion, there isn't a "good" time to introduce an electronic feeder. It will take at least a year before mature bucks use them on a killable pattern like they do dumped corn. Even then they will still skirt it a lot and it will not be as reliant for conditioning as dumped corn. Gravity feeders are a better option, and even better still are the gravity feeders that spill directly on the ground. Can deer be conditioned to an electronic feeder, sure, but from what I have seen it takes a long long time of constant use.
 

giles

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#90
In my opinion, there isn't a "good" time to introduce an electronic feeder. It will take at least a year before mature bucks use them on a killable pattern like they do dumped corn. Even then they will still skirt it a lot and it will not be as reliant for conditioning as dumped corn. Gravity feeders are a better option, and even better still are the gravity feeders that spill directly on the ground. Can deer be conditioned to an electronic feeder, sure, but from what I have seen it takes a long long time of constant use.
I don’t feed for mature bucks. I do it to keep the doe’s here on my property and have the chance at seeing them in my yard. Has nothing to do with bucks at all. This is basically going to be like a bird feeder for larger wildlife in my yard.

My bad, should’ve said that in my first reply. I realize this thread is about mature bucks, just looking for a little advice.
 
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#91
I never used electronic feeders, couldn't get any mature bucks to use them.:D:D

There is not a book with a absolute set of rules of what will work, what won't, when, on what. Deer don't read books to know what they should do or should not do. The deer will tell you very quickly what they will tolerate or not and you will see differences based upon the big list of variables. I do now this for 100% fact, I could control the amount of food and when there was food available with an electronic feeder. There is no way to do that with dumped bait. Deer learn pretty quickly that if they show up after dark there are no goodies left for them. Deer that visit at night and get what they want have no incentive to go during daylight.

Just my personal experience.
 

Jackalope

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#92
I never used electronic feeders, couldn't get any mature bucks to use them.:D:D

There is not a book with a absolute set of rules of what will work, what won't, when, on what. Deer don't read books to know what they should do or should not do. The deer will tell you very quickly what they will tolerate or not and you will see differences based upon the big list of variables. I do now this for 100% fact, I could control the amount of food and when there was food available with an electronic feeder. There is no way to do that with dumped bait. Deer learn pretty quickly that if they show up after dark there are no goodies left for them. Deer that visit at night and get what they want have no incentive to go during daylight.

Just my personal experience.
How long did it take before you began to see killable patterns of mature bucks at a new feeder site?
 
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#93
Varied a bunch by location and the individual deer, some within a couple of weeks, some never and everywhere in between. However if I had a known deer that didn't want to play I would move the feeder to another location to try and entice the same deer. Sometimes that worked sometimes not. Deer blocks strategically(50-75 yds away but within site of feeder for buck. ) located near feeders can be extremely productive It also varied greatly by timing, During active rut periods it was somewhat easy to get a buck to a feeder location mid day but typically the most successful time is late in the season.late in the year all they care about is food and safety, sex is off of the table so you are appealing to one of only two primary drives every day There were many deer that I was able to switch from night time only to early morning by only feeding a small amount about an hr after daylight and then again at 2 in the afternoon. There would be no corn available at night, it was all consumed by the time he would show up.. He would show up on the camera at night but wouldn't stay as there was nothing to eat. I have heard some say that a deer won't continue to show up at the bait site if there is no food available for a number of days. My experience was different, By far my favorite part of hunting in my later years was trying to devise a plan to get the deer I wanted where I wanted him, when I wanted him there. Sometimes it worked sometimes it didn't and that was OK. I got to where I didn't want to kill anymore anyway, but I sure do miss the challenges presented by different deer and the locations they live in. I know this will sound a little strange but I enjoyed being beaten by them much more that I enjoyed killing them.

My results and experience may or may not translate to anyone one else, their deer and their locations. I only know what I saw and experienced
 
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Joel

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#95
I have been hunting very small areas where I use the corn just to hopefully draw them to where my set up is. Personally I've found it works way way better in the late season. It's like they know they shouldn't be there but they come anyway.

I have a little more room to move around this year so to speak so I'll probably dump some bait at a set up for my daughter and let her shoot a young deer. I'll be waiting patiently with no bait when I hunt solo and if I'm still hunting in the late season I'll drop some coin on a bunch of corn. Shit gets expensive if you do it all season.
 
#96
Ok. Question for the experts. What is someone like me supposed to do when I am only at my hunting spot every 2-3 weeks. I show up on Friday night and leave on Sunday. Sometimes I come in Saturday night and leave Sunday. Any solutions as it is hard to dump feed and have it still there in 2 weeks.
 

Jackalope

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#97
Ok. Question for the experts. What is someone like me supposed to do when I am only at my hunting spot every 2-3 weeks. I show up on Friday night and leave on Sunday. Sometimes I come in Saturday night and leave Sunday. Any solutions as it is hard to dump feed and have it still there in 2 weeks.
Rain and coons are your biggest enemies. The old gravity feeder method works good for preserving and dispensing corn. Something as simple as a 55 gal drum with a mouse hole cut near the ground and a secure top. The coons will still take their share but the corn will stay good
 
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#99
Rain and coons are your biggest enemies. The old gravity feeder method works good for preserving and dispensing corn. Something as simple as a 55 gal drum with a mouse hole cut near the ground and a secure top. The coons will still take their share but the corn will stay good

I may try that next year. I haven't had any luck with keeping a spin spreader running. Seems like after a year they quit working. Now with the drum do you just set it on the ground or elevated? I was also looking at those bank outdoors feeders that mount on a post. Seem like those with a plastic pipe covering the post may deter some of the raccoons especially the smaller ones from getting on it.
 

Jackalope

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I may try that next year. I haven't had any luck with keeping a spin spreader running. Seems like after a year they quit working. Now with the drum do you just set it on the ground or elevated? I was also looking at those bank outdoors feeders that mount on a post. Seem like those with a plastic pipe covering the post may deter some of the raccoons especially the smaller ones from getting on it.
Yep. Something as simple as this will work fine.

Jeff-Neal-Feeder1.jpg
 
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