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Tree Stand Placement
 

Tree Stand Placement
EDITOR'S NOTE: Will Primos, the founder and president of Primos Hunting Calls, lives in Jackson, Mississippi. His company, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2001, has produced "The Truth Video Series" since 1986.
Question: How did you get started in the game-call business?
Answer: I've always loved to hunt and be outside. I just wanted to get closer to game, and I wanted to call ducks. I was intrigued by duck calls at an early age. In 1976, I started selling my custom-made turkey calls. One thing led to another, and I decided I could get out of the restaurant business and make a business selling game calls.
Question: Do you hold any calling titles?
Answer: No. That's a very unique fact to my company and me. I don't make calls for the contest stage, although many people do win contests with my company's calls. But I'm a hunter first, and I win contests with animals and birds in the woods.
Question: What other interests do you have?
Answer: I'm very conservation-minded. I'm not a tree hugger, by any means, but I'm very tuned in to the loss of habitat. Everybody can complain about hunting all day long, but loss of habitat kills the most animals. I hold memberships in organizations that try to take care of the habitat and conserve what habitat we've got left.
Question: Let's talk about hunting. Where do you place your tree stand?
Answer: First off, you can't hunt a whitetail where he stands, especially if you bowhunt. You have to hunt him where he'll go. You must have the ability to move there undetected and get in position to ambush the deer or get close enough to call him. I have the greatest expertise in calling, using rattling horns, grunts and estrous bleats to get deer within range. You can't always put a stand or a blind where you want it because of the terrain features, etc. I always try to use the terrain to an advantage. Too, I always stay very tuned-in to what the wind does.
I stay as scent-free as I can. The new scent-blocker type suits work very effectively at containing your odor so you don't alert the whitetails to your location. When I finally decide on an area where I think I can have success, I always put up my stand in a site with some type of terrain feature around the tree, because more than likely I'll try to call the deer to me. I'm primarily talking about bowhunting here, The deer won't naturally approach within close enough distance. Behind me I want a ditch, a cliff, a drop-off, a fallen tree, a cane thicket or something that keeps the whitetail from seeing perfectly that no deer is standing there when he looks in my direction. If he sees there's no deer, he'll turn around and go the other way. Some of my crew went to South Dakota in late November, and they rattled a buck and got him in to 90 yards. They hunted in an open field with a lone cottonwood tree. When that buck got to where he could see everything, he stopped and looked around, walked sideways, looked, and when he didn't see anything, turned around and left. You have to make the deer hunt you when you call to them. To make them hunt you, they can't see any deer around.
Question: You talked a little bit about scent-blocker suits. Tell us more about how you keep deer from smelling you when you hunt close.
Answer: No. 1, you always want to watch the wind carefully and use it to your advantage. Try your best to hunt downwind from where you think the deer congregate so they won't smell you. But you never can tell when the wind will swirl or switch or when a deer will come the way you haven't planned on him coming. These new carbon-impregnated suits that absorb your odor are absolutely great. You have to use them like the manufacturers say.
The other day, we hunted a bunch of deer downwind from us. They couldn't smell us because we had our suits on, including the hoods. We took our hoods off to see what would happen, and the deer freaked out. So, even one small uncovered part of your body allows your odor to reach the air and travel to the deer. You've got to use the suits correctly, but they can be very effective. And sometimes they're a pain to use because, although manufacturers do make some lightweight suits, the medium- and heavy-weight suits prove difficult to use in warm, early weather like we have in the Southeast in October and sometimes November.
Calling Bucks
EDITOR'S NOTE: Will Primos, the founder and president of Primos Hunting Calls, lives in Jackson, Mississippi. His company, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2001, has produced "The Truth Video Series" since 1986.
Question: How do you call bucks?
Answer: The big issue lies in the time of year you plan to call to them. During the early season -- bow season -- the buck's horns may be hard. The blood has quit flowing to the horns, and the deer have rubbed off the entire velvet and are ready to breed at any time after that. The shorter length of light in the day really gets the deer's hormones going and puts them into the rut. The light and the buck's hormones activates the buck's pituitary glands to put him in gear, which makes does receptive. As you travel from October through November, December and January, the occurrence of the rut depends on what part of the country in which you hunt. If you hunt in the Midwest, the rut primarily occurs in the middle of November, give or take a week, depending on your location. The way you call to bucks and what the actual call means to the buck depends on the time of year. A call will mean one thing on October 1, and on November 18 it'll mean something totally different. You have to understand the deer's language and understand when to call, when not to call and when not to call too much.
What happens when you call to a deer is very involved, and I can't cover it all here. But basically when you grunt at a deer, you tell him you're a deer. If you grunt during the rut and you repeat the grunt several times, you tell a buck you're actively pursuing a possible doe. A lot of people don't realize that when a buck chases a doe, he crunches leaves, breaks sticks and makes a lot of other noise. So, bucks become suspicious when they travel by your stand at, say, 60 yards out, and you go to grunting a bunch, and they don't hear anything else. You make them curious. However, they won't close that distance and come to you because they think, "Where's the buck? I can't hear him. I can't see him. Are we going to get in a fight? Why should I go over there?" You've got to convince them. For this reason, terrain features within 10 yards of your stand such as a ditch, a cliff, a drop-off, a fallen tree or a cane thicket become so important. Since a buck can't see well, and if you can't make any sounds in the leaves or whatever, you've just got to hope he gets curious enough to come to you.
We've cured a lot of that problem with the estrous bleat, which is real hard to make with a mouth-blown call. You can best make this sound with what I call a can call. It looks like a little can just like you may have had as a child when you received a toy barn set that had a thing that sounded like a cow. You turn the can over and back up and it goes "moo." That's the same thing Primos Game Calls uses to make the estrous bleat of the doe. We make two of these type of calls, the Easy Estrus Bleat and the Hyper Estrus Bleat. They're very similar. They're both can calls that you turn upside down and back up. They have phenomenal accuracy with sound. I've killed two deer with the estrous bleat call this year. A buck knows what this estrous bleat call sound means: a doe wants to breed, she's just been bred, or she wants the company of a buck. She'll just stand there to make those sounds. So when a buck hears that, he doesn't expect to hear a lot of other sounds like deer chasing each other and that kind of thing.
One buck I grunted to last year would look but wouldn't come. I'd grunt very softly and not a whole lot because I didn't want to make my sounds resemble a buck that's just stood there -- grunting at another buck. I had a creek behind me so I had a terrain feature that kept him from seeing everything. He stopped and looked, but he wouldn't come. When I did the estrous bleat, he turned and came immediately because he knew a hot doe had to be standing there. That's the most effective calling I can tell you about.
Knowing When to Shoot
EDITOR'S NOTE: Will Primos, the founder and president of Primos Hunting Calls, lives in Jackson, Mississippi. His company, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2001, has produced "The Truth Video Series" since 1986.
Question: How long have you hunted with a bow?
Answer: Since I was 12 years old, and I'm 48, so it's been 36 years.
Question: Why do you prefer to hunt with a bow?
Answer: I guess because I get my biggest thrills from getting in close. Many times I'll have nice bucks within 20 yards and can't make the shot because I have the angle or the timing wrong, or the buck isn't where it should have been. I get a huge amount of pleasure out of knowing I've gotten a buck that close. I just like that. It makes my clock tick. There's nothing wrong with hunting with a gun. I grew up doing that. I love it, and I have a lot of friends who gun hunt. I've seen some extremely large deer that I've wished I could jerk a gun out and shoot because I can't get them close. But I just prefer to hunt deer with a bow.
Question: Do you ever hunt with a black-powder gun?
Answer: Yeah, every once in a while.
Question: Why do you like to do that sometimes?
Answer: I like that because you hunt from 100 yards or closer, and you've got to do some of the same things you do when you bowhunt. You've got to get in close. Of course bowhunting season is a great time to hunt because most bowhunting happens during the pre-rut and the rut, when the bucks get more callable. You can rattle, grunt and estrous bleat.
Question: How do you know when to shoot when you bowhunt?
Answer: People experience a lot of pressures. They dream about getting close to a buck. Then when they finally get close, they have to try to figure out when to shoot. I don't ever like to shoot at a walking animal. Since too many things can happen, I like to stop the animal. I'll generally make a noise with my voice, "meaa," which sounds something like a deer bleat. I try to stop the deer for the shot where I know no limbs or anything else lie between the deer and me. A lot of people don't know the anatomy of the organs of a whitetail well enough. But you don't want to shoot unless you've got what I call a broadside or a slightly quartering-away shot. Because the deer's lungs rise up as they come back from the shoulder, if you shoot a quartering-toward shot, you can go under the lungs or get one lung and go under the other lung. If you don't do a broadside shot and get both lungs or make some type of vital hit, your nightmare has just begun. For choosing when to shoot, as my No. 1 piece of advice I suggest you take great care to know the posture and the angle of the deer.
What to Do When You Spook a Deer
EDITOR'S NOTE: Will Primos, the founder and president of Primos Hunting Calls, lives in Jackson, Mississippi. His company, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2001, has produced "The Truth Video Series" since 1986.
Question: What do you do when you think you've spooked a buck?
Answer: No. 1, if a buck has smelled you, your hunt is over. You can spook deer through their eyesight or hearing, and you still may be able to hunt them. The deer just will know something's not right.
A couple of years ago, I walked to a stand that had a treetop laying on the ground close by the stand. A buck got out of the treetop and took off. I wasn't close enough for the buck to see me, but it heard me. I had the wind in my favor. As the buck got up, he snorted a little and took off. I waited just 5 seconds, blew back and stomped my foot. What that told the buck was, "Hey, don't run. I'm just a deer." The buck turned around and came back. I didn't make the shot, but I had an amazing testimony that you could spook deer through their eyes or ears and still make something happen. But if deer smell you, your hunt's over.
Question: Can you hunt a stand again once you've spooked a deer there?
Answer: Sometimes you can, but sometimes you can't. There are different levels of spooking. We call all deer hunters "spookers" because all deer hunters spook deer. You can't go in the woods and never spook a deer. It will happen. Some bucks have so much sensitivity that they'll never come back to that spot during daylight hours, or they may not ever come back at all. Then others seem to have such strong habits that if you spook them, they'll return to the same area the next day. But your best luck is not to spook them. Try your best not to let them smell you. Don't lay anything on the ground. Climb into your stand very quietly. Don't make a lot of noise. Anything unnatural takes away from your hunt.
Ten Secrets of Hunting Close
EDITOR'S NOTE: Will Primos, the founder and president of Primos Hunting Calls, lives in Jackson, Mississippi. His company, which celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2001, has produced "The Truth Video Series" since 1986.
Question: Can you give us 10 secrets of hunting close?
Answer: No. 1, the wind has the most importance. Get the wind in your favor. No. 2, don't hunt a stand if you have a wrong or a marginal wind. No. 3, approach your stand site with stealth. Don't make any noise - not any noise walking, not any noise climbing a tree, etc. If you've done your job and hung a stand in the right place, a buck may bed only 100 yards from you, and you don't want to make any noise.
As an example, a couple of years ago, Brad Farris, the guy who heads up our video department, and I hunted in Illinois. To get to our stand, we had to go down a big hill covered with leaves. A week before our hunt, we went in and raked a 2-foot-wide path so we wouldn't make any noise walking down the hill. We killed two bucks out of that stand, which made that stand very effective for us. No. 4, try to use some type of terrain feature wherever you have your stand -- a treetop, a cane thicket, a creek bottom -- something near you so that a deer has to hunt you. No. 5, remember not to hunt deer where they are now. Hunt them where they'll move. If you try to hunt them where they are, you'll end up spooking too many of them. No. 6, plan your calling according to the time of year. Know the language of the deer in October, and as October moves into November and December. No. 7, know the phases of the rut in your area because every part of the country has a different rut.
No. 8, pinpoint the deer's food sources for different times of the year. Many times, people overlook things like dewberry, certain grasses and specific wild clovers. For instance, deer don't normally feed on cocklebur in October. But if water stands on a certain field and provides fresh, green and small cocklebur in October, the deer will feed on it like they will soybeans. They love little, fresh cocklebur. During that time of year, the deer's whole life involves hiding, sleeping, eating and just surviving. So knowing the various food sources important to deer during early season hunting, whether it's acorns, persimmons or honey-locust trees, is important.
No. 9, keep your scent off the ground. When you walk to the stand, don't grab limbs with your hands, don't touch anything, and don't let things hang from your backpack or let your clothes drag. Wear high-top rubber boots when you go to and from your stand. No. 10, if you hunt from a tree stand, try to select a tree that affords you some type of cover -- leaves or limbs -- to help break up your outline.






John Phillips

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