By Daniel Mires
If you are a deer hunter this is a magical time of the year. The big bucks are on their feet cruising, looking, and smelling for that doe in heat.
This is the time of the year when bucks, especially big mature bucks, are at their most vulnerable.
Their normally almost unbeatable senses are all “dulled” by the desire to pass on their genes. This desire overshadows, many times, their need for food, water or watching out for predators.
This does not mean you can get sloppy or careless in your hunting, but it does tend to tip the odds in the hunters favor just a bit, maybe just enough.
Put in your time
The number one way to increase your odds this time of the year is the simplest yet many times the most difficult.
Be prepared to hunt all day.
When the big bucks are on their feet looking and chasing, it can happen at mid-day just like those magical first and last hour of the day. During the rut is NOT the time to take your lunchtime nap.
Even if you are hunting all day that might not be enough if you are uncomfortable or bored.
Take a book to occupy your time. Read one page then slowly raise your eyes and scan your surroundings. This too can be a double-edged sword as many times the amount of time you have between first seeing/hearing a buck running a doe and a presented shot can be short.
You may have only seconds to see the buck, get good aim on him and pull the trigger before he is off again, hot on the does trail.
Make a call
During this time of the year, never leave home without a grunt call. The snort wheeze is another great tool to get a buck’s attention or even get him headed your way.
If he is on a hot doe and he thinks there is another buck in the area about the only thing that will get him off her trail is to run a competing buck out of the area.
Bring your heavy horns to sue for rattling and be ready to see a skulking buck downwind.
If a buck is within hearing and doesn’t have a hot doe, he has no choice but to investigate.
If you decide to use this technique remember that you are now the hunted. Being loud in the woods goes against our instincts as a hunter, but it does work when all the stars align.
If you decide the stars are aligned, then get ready mentally to create a buck fight scene and do it with gusto.
Hunt the does
It stands to reason that when you are hunting during the rut you would want to be where you normally see does. The more does, the more chances that one of them will be in heat, and then she instantly becomes a buck magnet.
There are two schools of thought on this issue. Many hunters will tell you to hunt where the does are but give them a pass.
Others have seen some remarkable things done by bucks after a doe in heat has been killed and is laying within sight of their stand.
Location, location, location
The areas you decide to hunt are just as important as everything else I have mentioned.
Most hunters that I talk to usually all mention the same types of areas.
Downwind of known doe bedding areas are always a good bet.
Funnels or pinch points between doe bedding areas are good spots to catch the does transitioning between bedding and feeding areas.
This is in the hopes that one of them will have a buck in tow.
Any kind of edge in or around the woods. An edge can be as obvious the woods line between an agriculture field and a hardwoods or as subtle as a transition from thicker undergrown to more open hardwoods forest floor.
Another good tactic that will do two things is to move locations during the day.
I talked to one hunter that says he might move three times during the day if it is slow and he is not seeing a lot of movement.
This helps him stay in the woods as well as stay mentally in the game all day. This will keep you physically fresh after setting up and down a couple of times. While moving from one set up towards the next, he may find fresher sign that he can set up on.
By doing this, your confidence stays high and you will be anticipating a buck every hour which makes it more difficult for a mature buck to slip in on you.
Be where the big ones are
Many times, the hardest challenge is to hunt in an area that is known for good sized deer.
Not every farm will have record book bucks roaming around and quite simply the area of the state or country you are in will dictate what size buck you will normally take.
So, if you want to increase your odds of killing a buck during the rut, be quiet, be still but most importantly, be there.