The journey began early this winter with maps studied and plat maps scoured. In March the first real steps were taken as we trekked south to Ohio in search of shed antlers and the perfect peice of hunting ground. By the end of that weekend a small battle was won with the acquisition of our first Ohio property to hunt. Now, three months later, we have begun the next step in our mission to track down and kill a mature Ohio buck.
This past weekend my buddy Corey and I headed down to our SW Ohio property with four treestands, three trail cameras, probably 30+ screw in treesteps, three trophy rocks, 40 lbs of BB2 and a whole lot of excitement. Our plan was to arrive Friday night at around 8 to film velvet, then head to the property first thing Saturday morning, put in a few hours of on the ground scouting, get our cams and stands up and then film velvet footage for the rest of the night. But as we all know, things rarely go as planned. In addition to sharing the events of our trip, I also wanted to offer a few tips on the tasks we took upon ourself this past weekend. So read on for the tale of our Ohio trip and tips on scouting a new property, hanging stands and setting up trail cameras!
To start things off, we arrived late on Friday and didn’t get much filming time in to begin our trip. A dozen or so does and a few young bucks were all we saw the first night and we were both a little disappointed. But a pizza and two liter of Coke while watching hunting DVD’s made it all better that night haha. Day two began well as we unloaded the truck, strapped stands on our backs and headed into the timber for some scouting. Now, you should know that our scouting didn’t just begin this Saturday in the field. Before our trip we had acquired both aerial and topographic maps of our property and we’d studied them well. Friday night in the hotel room, Corey and I again looked at our maps and determined our key areas that we wanted to scout and most likely hang a stand. In the end, we determined four key areas of interest based on certain features of the land. We looked at small timber pinches, funnels created by inside corners and topography, and a key area where several ridges come together. On a new piece of property the use of maps can dramatically increase the efficiency of your scouting and, in the end, the probability that your stand is in a killer location.
Our first major challenge of the trip began during this scouting phase. We knew we wanted a stand off a certain back field, on a bench that ran through some thick timber. Two fields pinched this swath of timber to the smallest point, with hundreds of acres of timber above and below this pinch. We knew that come the rut, bucks would be cruising this huge block of timber, and most would have to funnel down into this small couple hundred yard wide area. After an hour or so of trekking around and learning the lay of the land, we decided we found our spot. At the top of this bench we found an area where 4 trails came together on the edge of a thick bedding area, that also looked over a creek bottom. We had a natural funnel, four trails coming together, good cover and good vision to the North across the bottom. It was ideal. That is until we began looking for a tree. The next 30 minutes or so was spent examining trees for potential stand locations, and unfortunately there was not one quality option available. We hummed and hawed about what might work, what we could do to make a tree usable and where we might need to move to make something happen. But in the end, we just couldn’t figure something out that would put us in a well covered position. So after several hours of scouting, we decided to put this area on hold and move on to a new section. Moral of the story here is that even if you’re in a killer area, if you can’t put your stand in a well covered position, it’s not worth it. A quality tree, with good cover can make or break your hunt. We decided that , in the end, we’d rather continue scouting and hopefully find another great location that offered a better tree.
After several hours of scouting in this area we moved to a new spot and ran into a similar challenge. We had a great area, but no good trees! Later we found our that this property had been heavily logged, and almost all the oaks, cherry trees and the like had been cut, leaving us with mostly skinny bean pole trees to work with. That being said, we finally did find a couple locations that worked well and had decent enough trees for us to work with. Now began a new kind of fun. We call that fun hanging stands and trimming lanes. Otherwise know as sweaty, bloody hell. I think I forgot to mention that this Saturday was humid, sunny and 90+ degrees. It made for one heck of a day!
One great thing about this property is that it’s filled with tons of really thick, nasty cover. It’s great for deer, but it’s pretty rough for hanging stands and trimming lanes. I’m pretty sure we spent 3 hours alone just on clearing shooting lanes and that was only for two treestands! That’s another thing I didn’t mention, after our earlier scouting foray that ended up with no stand hung, and then two more areas to be scouted, we ended up only having time to get two of our stands hung and fully trimmed out. That being said, in our opinion it was better to get two stands hung in the perfect spot, with great cover and good shooting lanes, rather than to rush and get all four stands up. We’ll be heading back in August, and we’ll have plenty of time to hang a few more. But as for our treestands, we worked very hard to ensure that we hung our stands in trees that had plenty of branches coming out to help keep us hidden in the tree and we also worked to not eliminate any more cover than was necessary. This was true both in clearing out a tree for a stand and in clearing our shooting lanes. Make sure you have a handful of good shooting lanes and positions you can fire from on stand, but don’t remove any more cover unnecessarily. The more cover, the better chance you have of evading a mature bucks super senses.
Another point worth mentioning is about a new tool I used this weekend that made my endeavor of cutting down a million branches much, much easier. Without the Wicked Tree Gear saw, I would probably still be in Ohio today sawing away. The new Wicked Tree Gear Saw, designed by our friend Todd Pringnitz, is without a doubt the best handsaw I have ever used. And I’m not just saying this because Todd’s my friend. I heard Todd talk a lot about the saw and I was excited to try it, but I couldn’t imagine it was that much better than my Hooyman or any other little saw I’ve used. I mean it’s just a saw, right? Well now after a good 3-4 hours of non-stop sawing, I can tell you that’s not the case. The Wicked Tree Gear Saw is the real deal, I shit you not. I’m planning on writing a full piece on the saw, but for now let me tell you that I was really impressed and that you won’t find me in the woods without it again.
Setting Up Trail Cameras
Now after hours of scouting, hanging stands and clearing lanes we were pretty dang exhausted. But there was still work to be done. One of our main goals for this trip was to put out cameras in an effort to get a better idea of the quality of deer in the area. We came armed with three cameras, a 40lb bag of BB2 and a handful of mineral blocks. Now here is a key thing to keep in mind. As mentioned above, for this first trail camera round, we weren’t trying to figure out natural deer movements for hunting season. Rather we just wanted to get a census of the local deer herd and better understand the quality of bucks. That being said, we wanted to place our cameras in the most high traffic areas during this time of year. So where would that be? Next to soybean fields of course. For you it might be clover, beans or alfalfa. But whatever the food source, make sure you have cameras nearby, because a buck’s life revolves around these high quality food sources in the summer and they won’t travel too far away from them. We hung two trail cameras on opposite ends of a large bean field to capture deer entering from several different bedding areas. Our hope was to have these cameras hung in popular travel areas, where deer will discover our trail camera attractants and then continue to return over the course of the next month and a half.
How do we get them to return? With the help of BB2 and a mineral. BB2 is a supplemental feed and amazing attractant that draws in deer with it’s strong aroma and great taste. Every time I’ve put it out, deer flock to it and keep coming back. That being said, we’ll be leaving these cameras for over a month and unfortunately I won’t be able to put out new BB2 after it’s gone in a week or so. That’s where the mineral comes in. We used Trophy Rock in this case, and the rock will be discovered by the deer when they come in for the BB2 and will cause the deer to return over the month, even after the BB2 is gone, to stock up on those important minerals deer need this time of year. Hopefully between the carefully thought out locations of our cameras and the strong, long lasting attractants used, we’ll have some good bucks on camera soon.
As you can see, given the novel I just wrote, it was a busy weekend in Ohio and we’re very excited about our chances of dropping a good buck this fall. We’ll be heading back in August for another round of stands and trail cameras so stay tuned and hopefully we’ll have some great pictures of our future hit list soon!