Sneak 15 yards…lean against a tree…look for movement…listen…glass ahead and to the sides with your binoculars…then slip another 20 yards…look and listen. I’ve killed quite a few rutting bucks that way with a gun, but only when conditions are right. This is NOT something you do on public land. And I “slip hunt” only on a private property with very light hunting pressure. You want to still-hunt without worry of bumping into a stranger, or driving an 8-pointer into his sights. Stalking has advantages. You cover a lot of ground, which increases your odds of encountering more bucks trolling for does if you do it right. The more you move around, the more rubs, scrapes and big tracks you’ll find [...]
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 [...]
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 [...]
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.
November 6, 2012, Wisconsin bowhunter Dusty Gerrits (picture left) sat and waited on a 150-class buck he called Tiny. “We had pictures of Tiny on a scrape the morning before, so I set up right there,” he says. Two small bucks showed early, but no Tiny. All of a sudden and out of the blue a giant rolled in! Not Tiny but bigger! “He pushed an 8-point off the scrape, but no shot,” says Dusty. Finally, he saw his opening and fired. The buck crashed 50 yards away. The monster netted 189 and change, at the time the new state record archery typical. Regardless of weather, moon or other environmental factors, the vast majority of does in the northern two-thirds [...]