By Ryan Miloshewski
It’s Game Time!
Ah, yes, the moment we all have been waiting for has arrived. Bucks are filled with testosterone and ready to breed! As a general rule, I don’t start hunting hard and focusing on so-called “Rut Hunting Tactics” until October 25. It seems to be the approximate date for things to start. And let me tell you, this weekend reaffirmed that in a big way. I rattled in a 145” eight pointer to five yards the evening of October 26th. He walked into the field I was hunting, pawed the ground and grunted repeatedly. Then he walked straight at me the entire way, and I was unable to get a shot. Unfortunate, but exciting! So here’s my forecast…
October 27-November 2
Break out the rattling antlers, grunt tubes, and estrus scent: it’s game time, ladies and gents. I suspect does won’t start to come into estrus much until the following week, but the buck’s testosterone level will reach its peak this week. They will be ready to breed, but a majority of does will be having none of it. The few that do come into estrus will catapult us into the seeking phase of the rut. This is a primetime buck killing window. They are revved up and will be investigating any doe they come across. The lack of interest from the other sex will start to drive them wild. The sight of another buck will begin to agitate them to no end. Fighting will intensify from sparring to little battles. Take all this into mind and utilize it! The bucks are finally vulnerable and are the most killable (arguably) they will be all year. Use those rattling antlers, grunt tubes, estrus bleats, decoys, etc. to entice a mature buck into range this week.
This weekend every year (November 1-2 this year) is always the weekend when I see the most bucks. It’s because they are out moving, looking for an estrus doe. They are not finding any, though, and that widens their search area. Finding the first hot doe of the year is on their mind, and little else, so they try and succeed. The sight of another buck sends contempt up their spine. Let me emphasize this: the does are not going to come into estrus this week. A few might, but the majority are still a week or so away. They will be harassing does, but the classic chasing of a doe by a buck will not be happening. This is why this week is so pivotal, to me, for killing a giant. They aren’t holed up with does or chasing one doe all over the woods. They are checking any and every doe, doe bedding area, and feeding area they know of to see if any are ready. That puts bucks on their feet almost constantly.
This week is the week to hunt your rut stands. Choose a funnel where bucks cruise through checking for does, or going from one bedding/feeding area to the next. Bucks will be utilizing these routes, undoubtedly. If you use a decoy, stake one out this week. Rattle, grunt, and use buck urine. Mainly, though, set up on a known deer trail (specifically one littered with rubs and scrapes) and wait. Hunt ALL DAY, especially once we hit sweet November this weekend. Halloween will be a great day to be on stand. Don’t let the ghosts of bucks past haunt your week. Get out there and hunt! It is the start of the most wonderful time of the year. Rut 2014 has started.
-The Flehmen Sniff, or lip curling, done by bucks is something we may or may not have seen in person, but know of. Why do bucks do this? To sniff the air, right? Yes, but there’s another reason! Bucks have a structure on the roof of their mouth called the vomeronasal organ (VNO). It is used to analyze urine. So, when a buck lip curls, he is flooding his VNO with urine scent to see if a doe is ready to breed, what buck is in the area, etc.
-This weekend until November 11 or so will be the best opportunity to kill a mature buck. I’m convinced of that.
-The greatest scary movie of all time is Halloween. Watch it this week if you aren’t hunting.
-Some research suggests deer rub aromatic trees, like cedars, to aid in hormone production (i.e. testosterone). A study done on mice with cedar bedding indicated the cedar’s secondary metabolites increased testosterone production. Do bucks rub on certain trees to “jack themselves up,” so to speak? I think there is a possibility. Also, studies suggest, with pretty good certainty, the amount of rubs in an area correlates with an earlier rut. So, if there are more rubs, the does come into estrus early. Why exactly is undetermined, but theories are being analyzed.
-The most important scent a buck leaves at a scrape is the pheromones from the preorbital gland. This gland is the most unique to each deer, giving the deer a very distinct identity that is recognizable by others—more so than the tarsal gland!
-Don’t be afraid to change your set up or hunt a different area. If something isn’t working, don’t stick with it. Set up a blind or climbing stand and get ready. Confidence is a MAJOR aspect of success in deer hunting. If you aren’t confident in a setup, why hunt it?
Have fun this week and enjoy the excitement you are sure to see in the woods! Take nothing for granted. Life is short. The recent passing of St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, 22, has driven that point home to me, in a big way. Deer season 2015 may not happen for me, so I’m going to enjoy every single moment of this one. Hunt safe and smart, and welcome in sweet November with a bang!
Quote of the Week: “In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen.”—Theodore Roosevelt
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