By Ryan Miloshewski
Greetings to all! Deer season is in full swing all over the country and hunters are tagging some pretty good bucks. It is a magical time of year and one all of us should take time to enjoy. Firearms season has started here in Missouri, and it was a good one for my camp in Rosebud, MO.
The majority of does have been bred. It’s that simple. The fervor of the rut has peaked and lockdown is fading as we speak. I truly believe the breeding phase started a few days early this year, so deer will be shifting into the pre post-rut, so to speak. It can be a tough time to hunt, but not as tough as lockdown phase. Most does have been bred, yes, but that doesn’t mean all have found a mate. Deer are different. Some does come into estrous later than others. This time of year is when those late does are absolutely paramount. Bucks are still willing and ready, and as ramped up as a few weeks ago. As soon as they catch the scent of those late does, they’ll be on them fast. Because of this, bucks will start to cruise again, if even for a day or two. Once they find those does, they breed them. Your challenge is to set up in a travel route (much like last week) and wait for those bucks to come through looking for one last hot doe. Concentrate on thick cover more than ever, though. The does that haven’t hit estrous yet have been chased and don’t want to be caught in the open to be harassed. They’ll feed, yes, but staying tight to cover is their objective. That’s where the bucks will be. Find a travel route (and look for hot scrapes and rubs) near thick cover and you’ll likely find that big bruiser cruising through.
This time of year I tend to go back to food sources, too. Not necessarily hunting over a food plot, but hunting cover near the food source. Does coming into heat will stick near the area. Finding a lone doe is extremely important right now. Most does are back in their family groups (after being bred) and if one is alone, you can bet she is near or in estrous. If you see one, judge her nonverbal cues. A tail to one side, squatting, and looking anxious are definitive signs she’s in heat.
The bottom line is the rut is fading, but it is not over. Bucks are still looking and does are still coming into heat sporadically. It is not going to be as action packed as the past two weeks, but the action you see should give you a mature buck with a doe or looking for one. It is very similar to last week’s forecast, but with less certainty, admittedly. Try rattling and grunting, as this can be an extremely effective time for these tactics. Bucks are battling for those remaining hot does and will come in to investigate a fight in most circumstances. Start slow and quiet, as they’ve been exposed to a lot of pressure these past few weeks.
I will be hunting my rut stands for one sit to take the temperature of the situation. If sign is rampant, I’ll focus there. If not, I will concentrate on thick cover and food sources, or areas where deer normally congregate. Check your cameras and see what the deer are telling you and go from there. Good luck and be safe out there!
-The backstrap of the deer is one of the best cuts of meat on your harvest. The muscle is called the longissimus dorsii. The tenderloin, the prized possession, is called the psous major muscle.
-Listen for snow geese early and late in the day from your stand. If it is light enough to see, take a gander. You’ll likely see a flock of thousands above you.
-Bucks lose up to 35% of their body weight during the rut. The cost of breeding is extremely high for them. Does have little to no cost during the actual breeding phase.
-South facing slopes, which get the most sun, are areas to focus on when the weather turns bitterly cold. Deer will hang out there to browse and keep warm.
-A new study by Dr. Grant Woods indicates there is no such thing as a stud buck (one that breeds the most does). Instead, does likely will breed with whatever buck finds them first.
-If one of your hunting buddies harvests a buck, cut off the tarsal glands and hang them near your stand. It could pique the interest of other deer in the area.
-Deer hair is hollow. This allows them to trap their body heat extremely well and keep warm in even the coldest times.
-One of the most rewarding times to hunt is right after a snow. It is beautiful, you can tell where any deer walked, and it gets deer on their feet.
Quote of the week: “The rifle on the wall of the laborer’s cottage or working class flat is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there.”—George Orwell
Thanks for tuning into this week’s edition of Whitetail Weekly with Ryan Miloshewski. Be sure to subscribe and follow along on the Mahoney Outdoors Facebook Page so you can stay updated!