The Path of Least Resistance Leads to Success Easy travel and succulent food help revive a favorite deer stand

 By Fred Abbas

 Two years ago, my family and I noticed a dramatic drop in buck sightings at one of our most productive blinds. That wasn’t the only problem. Three of my grandchildren hunt from stationary blinds mounted on 8-foot platforms, and it’s not easy to relocate those.

The crossbow blind of Alyssa, my son Greg’s daughter, was only 75 yards from the door of our cabin and had produced several big bucks the past few years. However, for no apparent reason, deer changed their travel patterns. Previously, they had come over a ridge from their bedding area and traveled the trail that crosses in front of Alyssa’s blind for a shortcut to our Imperial Whitetail Clover food plot. Alarmingly, though, deer began following the top of the ridge another 100 yards farther before dropping down to cross over into the food plot. Our first thought was to use obstructions to alter their travel route, but we soon learned that was unmanageable because of the unusual structure of the land. But after deer season, we had plenty of time to figure out a solution. When we visited the farm in March to frost-seed one of our clover fields, there was enough snow to reveal that the deer were still using the far run. It became apparent they had no intentions of switching back to their previous route without intervention.

Deer can be lazy at times and will almost always take the path of least resistance, such as a pre-mowed trail. We had been using that tactic for many years. We even mow trails leading to our tree stands and blinds for quiet entry. When the time came in late summer for our fall plantings, the deer trails were covered by three feet of brush and weeds, and you could faintly see they were being used. We first used chainsaws to cut a path through fallen trees and removed every branch from the trail. Then we mowed a trail with a riding mower from the food plot to the base of the ridge in front of Alyssa’s blind. We believe in spoiling our deer. Although deer cannot reason as we know it, they know a shortcut when they see one. We then turned our attention to our food plot to further entice deer with a variety of tender food sources at one location. We called on Steve Scott of the Whitetail Institute for his expertise, because part of our plan called for various fall plantings. Because we wanted two fall plantings in one food plot connected with our clover field, Steve recommended that we plant Whitetail Oats Plus and Imperial Whitetail Winter Peas Plus. We tilled a strip 25 yards wide and about 300 yards long through our clover field in an overlapping manner to benefit one of the other blinds, too. We soon discovered that our strategy worked to perfection. Deer started using the path of least resistance regularly to reach the tender shoots. Many times, we saw more than 30 deer in the food plot. The good old days were back. Michigan’s bow season starts Oct. 1. Greg and I would start to hunt, but we viewed it more as a scouting tool.

Of course, if a big buck stepped out, we would take him, but we normally don’t get serious until the pre-rut and rut. That’s also when we begin the hunt for the grandchildren. Between school sports and activities and Alyssa’s horse competitions, our grandchildren do not have a lot of free time, so we try to use their limited time productively. Each of our grandchildren had great opportunities at bucks, especially Alyssa. She is much more selective and more apt to pass on smaller bucks to wait for a bigger one. That’s fine with Greg and me, because we’re willing to pass on the smaller ones, too — even to the point of not shooting a deer during the season. When the children returned home, our hunt began in earnest. Although we own or lease several farms in three southern Michigan counties, with all having food plots, one farm seemed to be most promising, as evidenced by trail cameras and sightings. Greg decided to hunt Alyssa’s blind because of the strong activity in that area. He shot a beautiful buck the first evening he hunted there when the deer nonchalantly walked down the mowed trail heading toward the food plot. I spent a few days at another farm hunting a nocturnal buck to no avail. Soon after, I had to head home to drive my wife to the airport and babysit the “kids” — four dogs, three of which are rescue dogs, and one of which we rescued by the skin of her teeth. She was to be euthanized within 24 hours when I learned about her. She wanted to live. She’s 11 years old now. As I moped around the house, a brilliant idea came to mind. Why don’t I take them hunting? I decided it was best to hunt Alyssa's blind because I could use binoculars to see the dogs sitting in the window of the cabin 75 yards away, waiting for me to come back. That way, I could make sure they were safe, especially since we use a wood-burning stove. It was unbelievable the number of deer I saw cross in front of me, attracted like a magnet by that fantastic food plot. I lost count after 31 and even took a picture of a piebald doe that actually called my attention to a nice buck trying to sneak behind me. She brought me good luck. The path of least resistance we created revived an old stand that is again being used extensively.  

Author’s note: Greg and I are inventors. We invent hunting products and hunting tactics. We also believe that there’s a solution to every problem. For example, we think almost everyone gets an idea now and then. Unfortunately, most will dismiss that golden opportunity as being too expensive, only to see someone else profit from their idea. Greg solved that problem by starting a new business: Invention Consulting and Submission Service, because we were there every step of the way and fell through far too many cracks when we formed A-Way Hunting Products. You can contact us at Invention Consultants and Submission Service at www.Away-