Back in the early 2000s, before I had my own TV show and started the Big Deer Blog, I was the Deer Hunting Editor for Outdoor Life (OL) magazine. I had that dream gig for nearly a decade and wrote 100s of columns and dozens of feature articles for the magazine, back in the days when people still bought and read paper magazines.
Then came TV and YouTube and blogging, and I drifted away from OL and the other hunting publications I wrote for, many of are now, sadly, defunct.
Funny how things have a way of coming full circle. I majored in English in college long ago, and writing has always been my passion and still is. So a few months back I reached out to my old editor at OL, a dear friend, and told him I’d like to do a little writing again.
He said okay, let’s start the ball rolling with a few posts for Outdoorlife.com. I did one on my close calls with rattlesnakes and then a few on deer, and started having a hell of a lot of fun at the keyboard again.
Last month I pitched Gerry on the idea of “101 Rut Hunting Tips,” and he said go ahead and do it. I embarked on what I thought would be a pretty easy gig and paycheck.
Have you ever tried to make a list of 101 things, any things? I wrote and edited and re-wrote that piece for days, cursing and pulling my hair out at times.
I finished it and emailed it to Gerry, who wrote back pretty quickly. “This might be the best thing you’ve ever written, absolutely love it!”
Hooray, I’m a writer again! I say it as I sit here smiling and gloating and thumping my chest, but this is what I love to do.
Forgive me for this little trip down memory lane, I know it has been a long-winded way to introduce you to OL’s 101 Best Deer Hunting Tips For The Rut. I want you to read it because I think you’ll enjoy it, and I’m confident that in there you’ll find a nugget or two or 10 that will help you kill a buck.
The story begins like this:
It’s the biggest lesson I’ve learned in more than 30 years of studying and hunting whitetail deer across North America: Don’t overthink it. You don’t need a grand plan to kill a buck, especially when the rut is on in November. Just go out and have fun, hunt every hour that you can, and use these time-proven pointers to your advantage.
Here is a sampling:
#4 A copse of antler-mangled saplings or cedar branches are sign of an aggressive buck— the kind of beast you want to hunt because he’s apt to move in daylight.
#13 Penn State researchers tracked GPS-collared deer for a month, during which it rained nine days, and 22 were dry. Bucks moved on average eight-tenths of a mile on dry days and six-tenths on rainy days. That’s negligible, don’t let the rain stop you.
#19 Killer bow setup: Tree stand on an edge where pines or cedars meet hardwoods. Bucks rub, scrape, and prowl for does on these break lines.
#37 Best rut stand: Thirty yards back in the woods off the corner of a field, along a main trail. Does will come from several directions, converge in the corner, and make their way back into the timber. Bucks prowl a corner where they can see and scent-check many does.
#49 Favorite muzzleloader setup: Sitting on a hillside, looking across to an adjacent hillside where I can cover 2 or 3 thickets. Bucks move all day from one cover to the next checking for does.
#97 Studies of hunter behavior consistently show that most people hunt only a half-mile or so from a road, field or another easy area. For more elbow room and fun, hike deeper.
Good luck, and thanks for reading my writing.