"Bayou Bill" Scifres
Dedicated to the conservation and enjoyment of Indiana's natural resources
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It's What You Do With What You Got
Copyright © 2006 by Bill Scifres

It’s what you do with what you got. . . sings Walt Disney and Joel Chandler Harris’ much loved Uncle Remus, and it fits nicely in my story of how a loaf of sourdough bread turned into a shot at a nice eating buck on a November day a few years ago.

My daughter, Patty, at the time was well into sourdough bread. There was always a loaf or two around, and I was enjoying it vastly, especially warm with butter and a dollop or two of homemade jam with a little glass of milk. Only trouble was that it tended to cause belching from deep in the tummy--a no-no for one ensconced in a deer blind with the hope that a corn-fed buck would pop out any second.

I hadn’t been seeing a lot of deer, though, and it (the warm bread) smelled so good as it wafted across the kitchen that I joined the club an hour or so before I went to my deer stand for an afternoon vigil.

I should have known it. In the afternoon a sort of low grumble started building in a full tummy, but I was able to let the sourdough pressure creep out of my lips without sounding like a thunder-boomer in August.  However, the burps started growing more forceful by late afternoon, and it became obvious that I had to stifle the burps or call it a deer hunt day. 

The next time I felt a burp coming on I thought to myself that I should try to turn it (those little rascals) into grunts like a buck deer makes when he is happy with the way life is going. Actually, I think it may be tied somehow to interloper bucks infringing upon another buck’s territory, including does (they are monogamous, you know.)

Every time a burp decided to be free, I would turn it into a deer grunt. All was happy as a marriage bell, I thought, but nothing happened. No buck showed. Still, I kept the vigil, watching mostly the long, narrow willow swale that filled a long drainage ditch (a few inches of water and overflowed to a thickly covered hillside that ran easterly). It was a fun day, though--lots of hawks, birds and other critters were keeping me entertained.

Then, as the sun parked on the horizon in the west, the head of an eight-pointer came out of the willows, as only a cautious buck can emerge from thick cover. I was in business. This deer wasn’t just going some place, as many deer do as the day ebbs and dies--he was out looking for the interloper who dared to invade his territory and was brazen enough to challenge him with a grunt. I was in the sourdough business, perched at the top of a ladder stand against a fork of a big walnut tree.

Another trick that I rely heavily on in deer hunting is called rattling by most deer hunters. It is very simple, too. Just save the antlers of your next buck, and cut them apart. Rejoin the antlers for easy carrying (around your neck on a cord so you will always have them handy) and use them sparingly to simulate two bucks jousting when things are slow. I try to use the two half racks no more often that once or twice an hour. Rattling can be overdone, I believe.

The thing you have to remember in rattling--or any other deer-hunting tactic--is that deer (like other wild critters) are on “slow time”--the slower the better.

Both rubs and scrapes are thought by some to convey much information to other deer. I do not know about that. But it is always interesting to be aware of them because they often tell the hunter that there are--or have been--bucks about these areas. But for the most part (bad days excluded) these areas hold the interest of deer at night--when hunting is a no-no. Still, they have their place in the overall deer-hunting scenario. Rubs are made on plants in removing velvet on antlers, usually long before the season, and scrapes are made with the feet in the earth--a sort of calling card left for does any time the rut is going.

All columns, essays, and photos are copyrighted by Bill Scifres and may not be reproduced in any form without prior permission from the author.  For reproduction permission and media usage fees, contact: Bill Scifres, 6420 East 116th Street, Fishers, IN 46038, E-mail: billscifres@aol.com

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