Hunting Tactics For Thanksgiving Weekend

Most of the does have been bred by now, but mature bucks that have survived battles with other males, not to mention the gauntlet of hunters’ arrows and bullets, still prowl for a few days for the last 10 percent or so of gals that are still receptive.

This is a great time to whack a monster, like the 22-point, 221 4/8-inch Iowa giant that Brian LaRue got with his bow on November 22 a few years ago (picture).

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The buck crossed a field, hit the woods, and cut through several thickets, rubbing as he cruised for the sight or smell of a last hot doe. Brian put an arrow in the deer’s boiler room as it swung 20 yards behind his stand. The world-class buck was 4½ and weighed less than 200 pounds. Sometimes due to weird genetics the old guys don’t weigh much. Plus, that buck had shed pounds chasing and breeding does for weeks.

Pray for daytime highs in the 20s to 40s, with lows in the 20s or teens. Cold and snow will make the thin, tired bucks move hard and early in the day near crop fields or green plots. They still want to hook up with does, but they gotta eat. The dark moon should make for perfect hunting conditions. Skittish bucks feel comfortable moving under cover of darkness and at dusk and dawn.

 

Try this stand: You’ll probably (hopefully) have a chilly west to north wind, so hang a stand on the east side of a hillside where you can cover a wide swath of woods or pasture. If there’s good late-season food like soybeans or corn farther to the east or north, great, a lot of deer will move toward and past you going in that direction. Watch for a bruiser cutting from one thicket to the next, hoping to run across a last hot doe holed up in one of them. If he gets lucky you might too. If he finds a gal and runs her close to your stand, shoot straight and tag out on one of the last best days of the season.

Virginia 2017 Archery: Drop-Tine Dream Buck

Today’s awesome guest post from our friend and fellow Virginia hunter Tyler Knecht:

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Mike: I got this buck on my trail camera once before the season and thought he would be a cool buck to shoot, but I never saw him again.

One day in early November I decided to take my girlfriend, Jamie, bow hunting with me in a buddy stand I had set up on the property where I had the camera. She enjoys sitting with me during rifle season, but has never experienced a bow hunt before. Well, I made sure everything was in order for the hunt: warm clothes for her, gear, safety harness, etc. Except when I set my alarm I forgot to take account for the fall time change.

We woke up to a 6:00 a.m. alarm about 10 minutes before shooting light! I was so disappointed. I thought the hunt was ruined, but we rushed out the door and to my hunting spot.

We were walking down the trail very quietly on the wet leaves when I looked up and saw a buck walking across the trail. He had no idea we were there, so we crouched, waited till he passed and continued on to the stand.

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After Jamie and I were harnessed into the stand I started screwing in my bow arm. I wasn’t even finished when I looked up and the buck was 20 yards away. He stopped behind a big oak tree and started making a rub. My heart was beating so fast, I screwed my bow holder in the rest of the way, pulled my bow up, nocked an arrow and put on my release–and then he started walking again.

I wasn’t sure how big he was or that he even had a drop tine, but I was so excited for Jamie to experience this, so I asked her if I should shoot it. She said, “Heck yeah!” So I drew back, stopped him and let an arrow fly. He ran about 65 yards and dropped by the creek. Jamie must be part blood hound because she tracked that buck from the first drop of blood to the last. I spotted the downed buck and just about screamed when I saw the drop tine!

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I was so happy and so proud to harvest that deer, but I’m even more happy and proud to share the experience and memories with someone I love. I believe that’s what it’s all about. I hope you enjoyed this story! I love watching your show and proving that Virginia is home to some BIG DEER. Sincerely, Tanner Knecht

Way to go Tanner, proud of ya man…and nice shot!

 

Hanback’s 2017 Hunt Predictions Coming True

KY alex 3I hate to say I told you so, but…

On Twitter in July and August, I tweeted several times that 2017 was setting up to be the best whitetail season since 2010.

In September I posted here on the blog:

I like the way this year’s moon sets up… It exposes and enhances the seeking phase of the pre-rut in late October… Halloween into the first week of November is a good time to bowhunt in any season. This year, with the moon waxing toward full–91% visible on November 1 to 100% bright on November 4-5–the hunting should be especially good near food sources in the afternoons. If a cold front sweeps into your hunt area, better yet…

In the last 2 weeks I have seen dozens of pictures of recently killed monsters, from 170” to 200”, especially from Iowa, Indiana and Ohio. The moon was right and the cold fronts sealed the deal!

And heck, the best hunting and the rut are just starting. And it’s not even gun season yet in most states.

If you are hunting next week, which you should be (call in sick if you haven’t scheduled vacation) remember what I wrote in my 2017 moon guide:

While it flies in the face of what many scientists and hunters believe, I love hunting a full moon in early November because in my experience, the deer rut hard all day. You’re apt to see a shooter on his feet at 8:00 a.m.…11:00 a.m.…2:00 p.m….any day this week, so hang on stand as long as you can.

I will be sitting (and freezing) in a ground blind in northern Saskatchewan from November 5 till the 10th, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Hunt hard as much as you can the next 2 weeks, good luck.

 

Q&A: 6 Tips For Whitetail Rut

big rubs

How do I locate and hunt a dominant buck in my area?—Buford

Look for rubs 3-5 inches in diameter (or larger). Clusters of big rubs are sign a big buck is working the area. Hang trail cams over fresh scrapes near the rubs to get a snap-shot of the dominant buck, probably working it at night. If and when you catch the buck on his feet in daylight, move in and hunt him!

Where would you spend the most time hunting in the rut—around feeding or bedding areas, on main trails or in funnels?—Steve A.

My #1 Rut Spot: Set up on the downwind side of the intersection of two trails with fresh tracks and rimmed with rubs and scrapes. The thicker and more remote the spot, the better. A big deer might prowl by any time of day in the rut.

Is there a primary rut and then a second rut?–Judy

Yes, adult does not bred or impregnated during peak rut in November will cycle back into estrous 28 days later, leading to a second rut in December. Rut activity can be good but spotty then…the second rut is more unpredictable and rarely as intense as the first.

Why do bucks where I hunt always seem to run off when I rattle?  But grunting works great.—Bob

I have found that bucks simply respond better to rattling in some regions than others. Or you might be rattling too early in October, when it can spook deer. Try it from Halloween through November 15, when bucks are wild and apt to respond. Grunting is a far less aggressive tactic that works well anywhere all season.

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I’ve tried everything, but I have no luck hunting scrapes. Got any tips? George

Walk right by any scrapes you find on field edges and in open woods. Hang tree stands to watch fresh scrapes in thick cover back in the woods. You’ll at least have a shot of spotting a buck on his feet in daylight hours.

Which is better, hot-doe or buck urine? Bob

From Halloween through November 10 or so, try buck urine/tarsal to attract a buck to the stink of a rival buck (you). In peak rut and into December, lay scent trails and hang wicks doused with doe-in-heat. 

scent over scrape

 

4 Great Treestands for October Deer

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You can’t go wrong hanging your tree stand in one of these spots:

Break Line: Look for a linear strip where pines, cedars or hardwood trees come together with brush, tall grass or second-growth saplings. Deer walk and browse on these edges; bucks rub and scrape on the lines as the rut approaches.

Oak Ridge: A narrow hogback with acorn trees within 100 yards of a corn or bean field is one of my favorite spots. Deer cut around points, ditches and gullies on a  ridge; hang stands on these terrains to funnel bucks close. Bucks will stage, eat acorns and browse in ridge thickets not only in the evenings, but in the mornings as well.

Creek/River Crossing: Water funnels deer that move through your woodlot. The animals cling to cover on the banks, and ford the water at shallow places. Put stands there.

Fencerow: Deer and bucks in particular cling to brushy or tree-lined fence rows when traveling from fields to woods or between blocks of timber. Play the wind and set your stand near one end of a fencerow, or in a corner where the fence runs into the woods.