Here’s an off-the-wall tactic to try one day this November, courtesy of my friend Eliot Strommen (Luke’s dad) who hunts strictly w/a longbow out on the Milk River, Montana. It’s similar to rattling, but w/a twist.
Eliot glasses for a mature, rut-crazed buck crossing an alfalfa field, swaggering alone or trailing a doe. He then eases into the timber downwind of the deer, glides lightly through the woods and creeps as close as he dares to a spot where the buck can hear him. He sets up behind a tree, picks up a stick and starts cracking trees and whipping brush, making all sorts of racket.
For the interesting next step, he picks up his right foot and paws one, two, three….then the left foot, one, two, three. “If you watch a deer paw the ground or make a scrape that’s generally the sequence it uses,” says Eliot, who wraps his unusual routine by pinching his nose and grunting and wheezing with his voice.
The idea is to sound like an inferior buck there in the brush, one that is invading the big deer’s airspace. “Try to get on the buck’s nerves,” Eliot says. Sometimes it works. “I’ve had big 8-pointers run up to within 30 yards of me with their back hair raised,” he says. “They often stamp, snort and look.” He’s never killed one using the technique, “but I’ve missed a few w/my longbow.”
Other bucks have fallen for his ruse, but they have hung up outside Eliot’s self-imposed 20-yard longbow range. “You compound guys hunters who can shoot a lot farther than me ought to try it this fall,” he sums up.