Another early Muzzleloader season has come and gone. Yes, as of this writing I can still take a Doe with a Muzzleloader in Maryland through October 27th. But with plenty of meat in the freezer from last year’s success, I am opting to hold out for a mature buck this year. To date, my commitment to this feat has allowed me to pass up at least a dozen “shooter” does and a small six-point buck. All would have sufficed last year.

I have had a change of heart recently. In previous writings, I have shunned most new technologies available to hunters. Aside from fancy weapons and camo, I try to keep my approach as traditional as possible. Not sure what exactly changed my mind, but I have decided to change my approach a bit. I will be using a trail camera this year and maybe even a commercial scent to try and attract a mature buck. Could be that all my buddies are using cameras and I must keep up! Blech! Can’t believe I wrote that. Yes, I envied the stud buck pics they were getting from using cams. I often wondered what could be roaming my slice of the hundred acres. As a compromise with myself for giving in, I purchased a basic camera. Not the super fancy kind that sends a text when a buck sneaks by. Nor do I plan on checking it every other day to try and pattern a buck. I must continue to rely on boots on the ground scouting as my Dad taught me. Luckily, at 81 years old, he is still willing and able to hunt and he would never let me get away with anything fancier. Thorough scouting, wild guesses, and strokes of luck are all I need anyway. I can always find tracks, rubs, and scraps but I haven’t had much luck being in the right place at the right time for a true wall hanger. Many of us weekend warriors complain that there are not enough weekends and vacation days to match wits with a mature buck. I can’t help but daydream about what happens at my vacation spot when I am not there. So far, I have only managed to capture turkeys, raccoons, and squirrels on my trail camera. A few adjustments to camera angle and elevation should bring the object of my obsession into focus. Hopefully, in another week or so when I return, the card will be full of my quarry mugging for the camera.

Scents are another animal. Millions to choose from. To date, I have only used those cover scent wafers pinned to my hat to make me smell like dirt and leaves. Seems to be working well. Rarely do I sit in my perch and not see deer. I don’t see the big boys. The big males helping to create these new little fawns scampering around every year. I know they are out there. I am thinking they know where I am as well. For now, the boys are not sharing their intel with the girls. So, I want to change things up a bit more this year. If I confuse the bruisers with a little fake news of doe in heat scent they will forget about me and come charging in. Works on TV and magazines so why not my area? I am still not 100% comfortable with this change in tactics, but I guess once I see that first monster on my camera, I’ll be hooked. The rut is about to begin so seems like a good time to try.


Baiting is another animal. In Maryland, baiting deer on private land is legal. Yet, I still can not bring myself to completely break from my traditional methods. Tossing out hundreds of pounds of corn in a bait pile doesn’t appeal to me. There is plenty of “natural” bait out there already. Figuring out which food source the deer are using and when is part of the chase I love. I will not waver. I enjoy sneaking around looking for acorns, hot crop fields, fruit trees and browse. Plus, I don’t have to buy it, transport it and lug it into my area. It’s already there!


Come the first few days of November I will continue my quest using a crossbow a few new tricks up my sleeve. Assuming I will be armed with photographic evidence and smelling like a doe in heat, I hope to be covered in Bucks! I often dream of writing a riveting post about being fortunate enough to harvest a mature buck. Relaxing my “standards” a bit may finally put me in the right place at the right time.