By Mark Kenyon
I’m sitting in a bookstore, seated next to the fireplace and sipping a coffee. Strangely, I’m the only one in the cafe paging through a book full of big buck hunting tips and the ladies seated at the table next to me, currently knitting, don’t seem to be too impressed with my reading material.
Despite the knitting ladies’ reproachful glances, at the moment I’m looking through the newest book from Duncan Dobie, titled “Trophy Whitetails with Pat & Nicole Reeve.” You might recognize Pat & Nicole from their show on The Outdoor Channel, “Driven TV.” As I was flipping through pages, my eyes were drawn to a header proclaiming the use of “Calling Cards”, and after giving this section a read, I realized there was a lesson here that was worth passing on. Here’s the lowdown on how you can use “calling cards” to improve your chances of hunting success.
What Are Calling Cards?
A “calling card”, as defined by Pat Reeve is “some type of physical object or contrivance that will entice deer to come close to your stand and offer you a shot.” Essentially the calling card is any extra little thing that can be added to a stand location that can help improve your chances of a shot opportunity, and Pat explains that he always makes sure at least one of these “calling cards” is present at any and all stand locations he uses.
A calling card can come in many forms, but a couple examples were given in “Trophy Whitetails”. These include water holes, licking branches, mock scrapes, minerals, small food plots, fruit trees, or decoys. In addition to these, I’d also add mock rubs and maybe certain forms of scents and/or attractants. Additionally, I’d throw in other habitat alterations, such as using cut trees or brush to funnel deer closer to where you want them. Whatever it might be, as long as this object or habitat alteration will slow a deer down or bring him a little closer to your stand, it can be valuable.
Why Use Calling Cards?
I like this basic idea, and while it’s a simple one, I think it’s powerful. Lets take a look at an example. You’ve got a stand set up in a funnel to hunt during the rut, and it seems like the perfect location this time of year. As you expected, on an early November morning you catch sight of a tight and tall racked buck cruising, nose out-stretched and hovering just above the ground, and headed straight your way. In scenario #1, you have not added a “calling card” to this location, and the buck hurriedly trots through the funnel, straight across in front of you, and despite your best efforts he will not stop long enough for you to get a shot. Opportunity missed.
In scenario #2, you are hunting the same location, but you added a mock scrape along the main trail ahead of you, and when the buck cruises through he catches wind of the scrape, and swings towards it for a quick check. As he slows to a stop and raises his nose to the licking branch, your arrow slips behind his shoulder before he knows what hit him.
No matter how good a stand location is, I think it’s fair to say that it can always be improved. When it comes to hunting mature bucks, details are of the utmost importance, and any time I can tweak a detail to put the odds a little more in my favor – I’ll do so. That said, this spring/summer, think about how you might be able to use a “calling card” to slightly improve your odds and then do the work.
Maybe you can add a mock rubbing post to a large food plot to draw deer closer for a shot. Maybe you should add a small water hole to your favorite treestand tucked in the timber. Maybe a tiny hidey hole food plot could be added near your ridge top stand. Maybe a mock scrape at your funnel stand will be just what you need. Maybe you can block one popular trail to push deer towards the trail that runs closer to you.
Think about each of your stand locations, and then consider its potential weaknesses. Finally, use a “calling card” to shore up those areas of concern or to improve on an already good set-up.
Every little bit helps.