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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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finelyshedded

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Jackalope

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Although the pics are very telling but can’t we all agree that 3 nice nice bucks such as these won’t be coming into bait piles together after shedding velvet,breaking away from bachelor groups and being hunted here in Ohio.
Perhaps not together but typically when the bigger one shows up the others run off to make way. He's still showing up every evening.

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Here are my thoughts on this.

First of all, in order to 'bait' a 'mature buck', there actually has to be one living there. And if you do dump it in his core area, he is likely to visit it as they are just animals looking for an easy meal.

We 'bait' all summer across he farm. Certain feeders have several 'mature' deer visiting, and some have 0. All on the same farm. It has nothing to do with their intelligence as an older animal, but has everything to do with their current home range and taste palate.

As for daylight versus nocturnal, I don't feel it has much to do with intrusion/pressure. In my experience as soon as the velvet comes off, the deer go to a more nocturnal pattern (until the rut of course). I am basing this on the farm we hunt that has constant pressure/intrusion all year. We get tons of daylight pics in the summer, then they drop to next to nothing during September and October. It's just the way mother nature programmed them and has nothing to do with us visiting the property on a regular basis.
 

Jackalope

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Here are my thoughts on this.

First of all, in order to 'bait' a 'mature buck', there actually has to be one living there. And if you do dump it in his core area, he is likely to visit it as they are just animals looking for an easy meal.

We 'bait' all summer across he farm. Certain feeders have several 'mature' deer visiting, and some have 0. All on the same farm. It has nothing to do with their intelligence as an older animal, but has everything to do with their current home range and taste palate.

As for daylight versus nocturnal, I don't feel it has much to do with intrusion/pressure. In my experience as soon as the velvet comes off, the deer go to a more nocturnal pattern (until the rut of course). I am basing this on the farm we hunt that has constant pressure/intrusion all year. We get tons of daylight pics in the summer, then they drop to next to nothing during September and October. It's just the way mother nature programmed them and has nothing to do with us visiting the property on a regular basis.
That's a symptom of the constant pressure and intrusion that you mentioned. A buck that believes he is secure in his home range has no reason to go nocturnal. The trick is to make him believe he has you figured out and is therefore secure. Deer are not by species a nocturnal animal, they adapt to be that way due to safety concerns.

Now don't get me wrong they sometimes still do go nocturnal after peeling but if intrusion is kept to a minimum they sometimes pop right back into daylight activity within a couple weeks
 
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That's a symptom of the constant pressure and intrusion that you mentioned. A buck that believes he is secure in his home range has no reason to go nocturnal. The trick is to make him believe he has you figured out and is therefore secure. Deer are not by species a nocturnal animal, they adapt to be that way due to safety concerns.
Deer are actually crepuscular meaning they move and feed mostly at dusk and dawn. Most of the studies I have seen shown more nightime movement than daylight movement even during non pressure times of the year.
 
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Here are my thoughts on this.

First of all, in order to 'bait' a 'mature buck', there actually has to be one living there. And if you do dump it in his core area, he is likely to visit it as they are just animals looking for an easy meal.

We 'bait' all summer across he farm. Certain feeders have several 'mature' deer visiting, and some have 0. All on the same farm. It has nothing to do with their intelligence as an older animal, but has everything to do with their current home range and taste palate.

As for daylight versus nocturnal, I don't feel it has much to do with intrusion/pressure. In my experience as soon as the velvet comes off, the deer go to a more nocturnal pattern (until the rut of course). I am basing this on the farm we hunt that has constant pressure/intrusion all year. We get tons of daylight pics in the summer, then they drop to next to nothing during September and October. It's just the way mother nature programmed them and has nothing to do with us visiting the property on a regular basis.

I see this at home in PA. Our house sits on a hill where I can watch a bunch of hayfields from the house. From July thru about now you see buck out in daylight hours quite frequently. About the time they shed velvet you see them less and less in daylight hours. This isn't in a change of pressure as during the summer the neighbors groundhog hunt and there is quite a bit of human activity. Probably more in July and August than there is in September until bow season starts.

Now some of this I think can be attributed to other food sources becoming available, but trail cam pics usually show the same thing. We see the same thing year after year though.
 
That's a symptom of the constant pressure and intrusion that you mentioned. A buck that believes he is secure in his home range has no reason to go nocturnal. The trick is to make him believe he has you figured out and is therefore secure. Deer are not by species a nocturnal animal, they adapt to be that way due to safety concerns.

Now don't get me wrong they sometimes still do go nocturnal after peeling but if intrusion is kept to a minimum they sometimes pop right back into daylight activity within a couple weeks
What is a symptom of the constant pressure? Maybe you missed my point. They go mostly nocturnal this time a year with no change in our constant pressure. So no change in feeling secure.
We see this year after year after year so this is based on experience as opposed to something I have read.
They are just animals. Find out where they like to travel and hunt there with the correct wind during the rut. No need to overthink it.
 

Jackalope

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What is a symptom of the constant pressure? Maybe you missed my point. They go mostly nocturnal this time a year with no change in our constant pressure. So no change in feeling secure.
We see this year after year after year so this is based on experience as opposed to something I have read.
They are just animals. Find out where they like to travel and hunt there with the correct wind during the rut. No need to overthink it.
I disnt misunderstand bud, just have a different opinion. They go nocturnal because of the constant pressure, they simply understand that you are no danger to them this time of year then when you are, they change. The same as deer in a park understand that hikers and bicyclist are no danger standing 20 feet away just staring at them, but go in that park trying to hunt them and the behavior changes. Or at night coon hunting when I could have thrown a rock and hit numerous 160 class bucks feeding in a field and cared less that we were standing there at 2am.

As for having just read something, every single one of the deer pictured below died to the method I'm talking about, and all within the past 5 years.

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Bigslam51

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I see the same thing every year. Less and less daylight movement as we get into August, and there's no pressure on these deer. They bed in standing corn right next to beans in the middle of the field. I glass them every year.
 
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I'm not saying you can't kill a deer over a pile of bait... I just don't think you need to overthink it and wear the same coat and pair of undies every time you add to it (and of course at the same time of day and same day of the week since deer must understand the concept of a calendar too).
You are right though that we have different opinions. I don't think deer 'understand' that hunting season is coming and therefore go nocturnal. They are just dumb animals that due what mother nature tells them to do.
As for our constant pressure, it is actually very light pressure due to the size of the farm and our intrusion methods. I doubt any of them really know they are being hunted with a bow either.
Some nice deer in those pics!
 
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Jackalope

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I'm not saying you can't kill a deer over a pile of bait... I just don't think you need to overthink it and wear the same coat and pair of undies every time you add to it (and of course at the same time of day and same day of the week since deer must understand the concept of a calendar too).
You are right though that we have different opinions. I don't think deer 'understand' that hunting season is coming and therefore go nocturnal. They are just dumb animals that due what mother nature tells them to do.
As for our constant pressure, it is actually very light pressure due to the size of the farm and our intrusion methods. I doubt any of them really know they are being hunted with a bow either.
Some nice deer in those pics!
You are correct in that they don't have calendars to know when season is coming. Yet deer are very in tune to changing seasons right down to the total amount of light in a day that triggers their estrus cycle, or their ability to feel that storms and weather fronts are approaching. They don't need a calendar as they are quite in tune to environmental factors that matter to them. And nothing matters more than their ability to remain safe. Deer absolutely know when things are about to get dangerous each year. Each deer is different and some will tolletate more than others, but one thing is for sure, mature bucks won't tolerate much. The intent with this method is to have them believe that they have you figured out, which they are extremely good at doing, and then throw them a curveball. It is quite literally a bait and switch.
 

giles

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I think Larry’s first paragraph says a lot...

”has to be mature bucks in the area”

This is also what Kim was saying in his own way. I also believe that you will always get pics after dark if you aren’t in the deers bedroom. This is part of what I’ve learned and seems to be the same here. Adding food isn’t enough, just the icing on the cake, so much more is involved.

You can only “pull” an animal so far and each animal has its own limits on that. Area has a ton to do with that too. A mature deer isn’t going to travel across an open 300’ field in NW Ohio during daylight for some corn. But in a SE Ohio thicket, he just might. My point being, how close it too close and you bump him out? I think this is where there deer training comes into play and every deer will react different.

Do I have thing straight? Going off my personal experience and what I’ve read here and in this thread. Trying to recap all this great info in my crazy brain. 😂
 
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OhioWhiteTails

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I think Larry’s first paragraph says a lot...

”has to be mature bucks in the area”

This is also what Kim was saying in his own way. I also believe that you will always get pics after dark if you aren’t in the deers bedroom. This is part of what I’ve learned and seems to be the same here. Adding food isn’t enough, just the icing on the cake, so much more is involved.

You can only “pull” an animal so far and each animal has its own limits on that. Area has a ton to do with that too. A mature deer isn’t going to travel across an open 300’ field in NW Ohio during daylight for some corn. But in a SE Ohio thicket, he just might. My point being, how close it too close and you bump him out? I think this is where there deer training comes into play and every deer will react different.

Do I have thing straight? Going off my personal experience and what I’ve read here and in this thread. Trying to recap all this great info in my crazy brain. 😂
The biggest reason why MOST of my pictures of good bucks are during the night, until they start seeking. Once they go in search mode, they scent check my plots and piles during daylight. When they do, they usually stop for a quick bite and a picture. I just need to be out there when they do.
 

giles

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The biggest reason why MOST of my pictures of good bucks are during the night, until they start seeking. Once they go in search mode, they scent check my plots and piles during daylight. When they do, they usually stop for a quick bite and a picture. I just need to be out there when they do.
And I think you are pretty much screwed for the deer training program. Those mature bucks are bedding in areas you just can’t get close to. Tree lines, super small thickets, low spots in a field...spots you just can’t get up to and bait. Just put him over on the next mile.
 

Jackalope

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And I think you are pretty much screwed for the deer training program. Those mature bucks are bedding in areas you just can’t get close to. Tree lines, super small thickets, low spots in a field...spots you just can’t get up to and bait. Just put him over on the next mile.
From what I have seen if you are very close to his bedding area you will start to see him in the morning and the evening with regularity. Presumably the first and last thing he does before heading to his bed close by. He will feel safe enough to visit before dark and stop in before heading to his bed in the morning.

This morning.
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This evening
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Yesterday morning
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Yesterday evening.
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