-By Randy Cooper
Over the course of the deer season here in Ga. I’ve had 3 Moultrie trail cameras out giving me information and insight as to what is using the areas that I hunt. One of these cameras is in a remote area on private land. I call this place Crescent Ridge. I named it so because my stand is located on the edge of a steep, crescent-shaped ravine overlooking a beautiful river bottom. I found this place through intense scouting and a little luck. Last year I was caught in a sudden rainstorm while hunting. I bailed out and took the straightest way I knew out of the woods to the truck. On the way, I topped a ridge that literally flattened out like an old road bed had once been there.
As I stood there in the rain looking around I started seeing buck signs you only dream about. There were horned trees the size of your calf, but what really got my attention were the worn down trails that crisscrossed the area. I took a few more steps and it all became clear why: I was standing on top of a ridge that dropped away at a very steep angle right into a beautiful river bottom in dense hardwoods. I was in a natural funnel for all the deer in the area. Because deer are creatures that travel the path of least resistance, they were coming around the rim of the crescent-shaped ridgeline rather than coming up the steep hill to it.
Along with all the other signs, I found three huge scrapes that measured four feet across. Every one of them was on a different trail that came through the area. The ridge was also a transition zone where dense pines made up a great deal of the area on top of the ridge then gently changed to mostly hardwoods, especially white oak trees, my favorite food source to hunt around. I took out some surveyor ribbon and marked the scrapes and a tree that looked like just the right place for a stand overlooking everything. The season was almost over and I vowed to hunt that stand near the rut the next year.
This year I placed a trail camera over one of the massive scrapes that I had flagged in 2006. I’d like to say right now that I’m glad I did flag those areas. When the trees are full of leaves in July and August, the woods look totally different.
I had seen good bucks in the area, but none close enough for a shot. I knew it was just a matter of time before everything would come together. In November I got a series of nighttime pictures of two really good 8-pointers visiting one of the scrapes. I knew there was a bigger buck in the area because of the size of the trees that were torn up and the sightings I’d had while on the stand. I changed the location of the trail camera to another scrape that seemed to be getting more attention than the others. I also placed a Moultrie Scent Boss scent dispenser over the scrape to see what would happen. I filled it with Code Blue Doe in Estrous.
About a week after getting everything set up I got sick and didn’t get to go to the area for weeks. I wanted to see what kind of pictures I was getting but to add insult to injury, I had to have surgery on my knee that set me back even further. I know that you can relate to what I’m saying when I say that I was SICK about not being able to go to the woods. About ten days after the surgery, I was told to do as much walking as I could to build strength back in my knee. I HAD to go and check on my stand, camera and the area that I so desperately wanted to hunt. Man, was I in for a surprise!
I first noticed that the woods were torn up with new horned trees. The scrapes that were cold the last time I was there were now cleaned out and not a leaf in them. You could plainly see drag marks and wet spots in them. I got a tingling feeling up my spine like I’ve never had before. At that point all I could do was look up in my stand and wish I could climb the stick ladder to get in it. I checked the camera and found the batteries were very low. I pulled the SD card and swapped the batteries out. When I got home and put the SD card in the reader, I saw that I had 48 pictures, of those there were seven that took my breath.
The camera was aimed at the scrape that I had put the scent dispenser over. The seven frames showed two bucks having it out right by the scrape. On the last two, the flash went off and captured both bucks locked up on one and shows one of the bucks walking off alone on the other. When I zoomed in on the pics I saw more detail, including the lone buck’s bloody forehead.
After seeing the pictures I went back the next day and looked for blood and hair that I’ve found before at the scene of a buck fight. I didn’t find any blood or hair, but the floor of the woods was a mess where the fight took place. They fought from out of the sight of the camera and ended up right in front of it where it ended. It only lasted about three minutes. Take a look at this rare footage. I feel so fortunate to have caught it on camera. If it were not for the Moultrie trail cameras I wouldn’t have witnessed something so rare. The date was Jan. 2nd. These bucks were responding to does that had come into estrous again for a third rut. I believe that smelling the estrous scent at the scrape provided by the scent dispenser added to the bucks’ aggression and may have caused the fight.
This is the culmination of what can happen when you find a great potential place to hunt and employ the use of fantastic aids like the trail cameras and scent dispenser made by Moultrie. It has opened up a completely new way to view everything I do all year long regarding deer and the way I go about hunting them. I now have more information than ever before and can make better decisions about what strategy to use. I wanted to share this with everyone. Try these cameras and other aids. You too can have more information and something fun to look forward to. Who knows, you may even capture your own picture of a lifetime when you least expect it.