Every time my wife, Nicole, and I set up a stand in a tree or on the ground, we look for ways to make that location the best it can be. We try to enhance each stand location by making sure there are one or more calling cards available to deer.
By Pat Reeve
What is a calling card? It’s some type of object or contrivance that will entice a deer to come close to your stand and offer you a shot. Because we bowhunt so much, we have to get close. A calling card can be natural or man-made, visual or airborne — such as scent. Sometimes, one calling card is all you need. Other times, it might be smart to have several.
There are many examples of calling cards: waterholes, rubs, scrapes, licking branches, small interior food plots, minerals, apple trees and other fruit bearing trees, and decoys. Nicole and I use most of these throughout the season, and we’ve had enough success to know they work.
Apple Trees and Other Fruit
Speaking of food sources, Nicole and I focus on apple trees a lot during early season in the Midwest. Deer love apples, especially big bucks. They seem to crave them. I don’t know whether it’s the sugar content or the sweet taste, but I’ve seen big bucks key on apples many times in various areas.
Bucks also love pears and fruit from other trees. Pears and other fruits don’t do as well in Wisconsin and Minnesota, probably be- cause of the cold climate, but they seem to do extremely well farther south in Illinois, Kansas and Iowa, where Nicole and I hunt every year.
I’ve planted several varieties of apple trees near my food plot on our 35 acres. One day, I hope to have a nice orchard for deer when our trees start producing fruit. If you plant fruit trees, you’ll probably have to cage them off for several years while they are young, because deer will browse the tender limbs and bark and kill the trees. I also have a problem with mice. When snow is on the ground, mice will often come in and girdle the young trees. So I wrap the trunks each winter to keep the mice at bay.