By Rick Bramwell
For The Herald Bulletin
---- — I expect to see deer when I go deer hunting, but sometimes the unexpected is the real treat.
A farmer was picking corn on my hunting property Tuesday afternoon and I was skirting a fence row on my way to hunt. It was a perfect evening except for wind direction.
My tree stand is nestled in the corner of a thicket at a cross-over between two fields. When I approached, a woodcock flushed at my feet and disappeared into the thick brush. I wondered, “How would you ever shoot one of those timber doodles?”
Settled, in my perch, a loud noise got my attention; it sounded like someone was ripping bark off a dead tree. Then, there was the thumping of wings as a red-tail hawk flew from the thicket; in his talons looked to be the woodcock.
As the corn picker continued to eat away more of the maze, four deer shot out of cover 300 yards in front of me. They wasted little time to disappear into a big creek bottom. It was 5 p.m. In the next 20 minutes, two more deer took the same route. The wind was blowing from me to them; one detected my scent and took a long stare in my direction.
Well after dark, Roger Murdock called to report a buck harassing a doe in his back yard. My favorite dates to be in the woods are Nov. 6 to 10.
My ladder stand looks down on an apple tree full of fruit. It is illegal to bait with apples, but not illegal to hunt near apple trees. The following is a pretty good explanation from the DNR:
The Department of Natural Resources is reminding Indiana hunters that even though deer attractants found at retail stores can be purchased and used in the wild, hunting near them is illegal.
“Indiana regulations prohibit the hunting of deer with the use or aid of bait, which is defined as a food that is transported and placed for consumption, including, but not limited to, piles of corn and apples placed in the field; a prepared solid or liquid that is manufactured and intended for consumption by livestock or wild deer, including, but not limited to, commercial baits and food supplements; salt; or mineral supplements.”
This includes artificial products marketed under names such as Deer Co-Cain, Buck Jam, Trophy Rock, as well as mineral blocks, salt blocks, and even natural foods such as corn and apples.
“Basically, if you place anything that isn’t grown in the area and hunt there, it’s illegal,” said Lt. Larry Morrison, outdoor education director for DNR Law Enforcement. “Hunting next to a corn field or from an apple tree is legal, but placing corn or apples under your tree stand would put you in conflict with current Indiana law.”
An area is considered baited for 10 days after the product and the affected soil is removed from an area.
Odor differs from bait. Cover scents or scent attractants are legal to use when hunting.