One morning in Oklahoma, a guide named Jim pointed me to a box blind and whispered, “When the sun comes up, you can see and shoot a country mile brother. Watch the tree line out front. Good luck.” I climbed into the box and the sun rose splendid pink and blue. I couldn’t see a mile to the tree break, but might as well have. My rangefinder read 412 yards to the front edge of the timber. I refuse to shoot at a deer that far away, not even with a finely tuned rifle and a solid rest, so I was basically an observer the rest of the morning. Might as well make the best of it. I glassed 3 [...]
My friends over at North American Whitetail magazine just published this article on the Science of the Whitetail Rut by deer researcher Clint McCoy. Among many other interesting rut things, Clint talks about a topic we’ve never addressed here at Big Deer: the pineal gland, which lies close to the optic nerve in a buck's brain…variations in photo-period (amount of light each day) prompt the pineal gland to initiate hormonal reactions in a buck’s body. Clint first points out that the whitetail deer is a “short-day breeder.” After the summer solstice occurs on June 21, each day’s length begins to shorten, dropping to less than 11 hours a day in early to mid-November. He then writes, …as daily photo-period reduces [...]
The seeking phase of the rut is in full swing in most regions (except the Deep South). Bucks begin to expand their range, wandering out of their home core areas to take the estrus temperature of does within 1,000 acres or so. Other big boys roam closer to home, especially in broken farmland where feed and cover are prime. If 2 dominant deer cross paths, a hair-raising stare down or a heavyweight fight might break out. Two mature bucks with broken racks just showed up on my camera in Virginia! Watch for a buck “lip curling,” or sniffing a doe’s urine to check her state of estrus. Bucks keep blazing rubs and pawing scrapes. Any day now the seeking phase [...]
You’ve waited all year for this, the rut baby! No matter which week in November you take off work, your Number One strategy is simple: Spend every minute you can in your best stands because you never know when a good buck will prowl by, or come a running hot on the heels of a doe. Here are 29 more tips to help you punch your tag. #2 In addition to big rubs, look for clusters of antler-mangled saplings or cedar branches. These “violent rubs” are sign of an aggressive buck, the kind you want to hunt because he’s apt to move in daylight. Set a stand in the area. #3 Several studies show that deer rut hard when the [...]
I pack and use simple but effective gear every day that I hunt the whitetail rut: Carry a grunt call and use it every day. Hunters grunt in and shoot many giant bucks each November. Most any tube will do the job. I lay trails and set wicks with Mega-Tarsal Plus buck scent, and Special Golden Estrus doe near my stands. Make sure to use synthetic deer lure if your state requires it. You can bring in a buck with a rattle bag or box, but nothing beats real antlers. Antlers off a 130- to 140-class buck are good. They have enough mass and tines to mimic the deep thudding and grinding of two mature bucks. Most realistic.