November 22, 2013
Rut Activity Continues: But it’s Time to Hunt Smarter - 0
The whitetail rut is still on in full force. More and more does are being bred every day as whitetails across the country are busy ensuring the survival of the species. But the breeding phase of the rut is transitioning from crazed bucks running about chasing does to hunter-savvy bucks getting it done on the quiet.
The Rut Still Rules
But buck behavior is beginning to change. We watched a nice mature buck work the perimeter yesterday. He was too old and smart to enter the plot proper. Instead, he stayed back in the goldenrod scent checking the does in the plot. A few weeks ago he entered the plot along with the does and got right after them. But that was a few weeks ago and hot does were in short supply. Now they are everywhere and guns have been going off in the neighborhood.
We are also seeing mature does become more wary. They go on alert at the slightest hint of a hunter in the area. They jump at the slightest noise or movement, stand at attention checking air currents often for 20 minutes at a time. They then allow their fawns to hit the feeding spots long before them. Last evening I watched 4 fawns feed in a field for a full hour before any does showed up (when they finally came it was at was at dark).
Biology of the Rut
Hunting Pressure Building
Most hunters are reporting deer behavior that suggests hunting pressure is taking its toll. Scouting cameras are picking up young bucks but the old boys are giving them wide birth. No, they haven’t all been shot; they are just acting like they have been shot at. This is how they get to become old boys, they’ve been hunted for well over a month now and they definitely know something is up. Older aged bucks are trying to balance their natural caution and ability to stay alive with their need to breed which can easily overwhelm them.
This Weekend Hunt Hard but Hunt Smart
You are also going to have to take hunting pressure into account. If you have some out-of-the-way stands you haven’t hunt hard, now is the time to hit them. Focus on some of the less obvious funnels and neck downs for those smart old guys. Take out a map and look for places you haven’t been hunting. This is where the pressured bucks are likely traveling.
Remember, the rut is still on and just because you might not have seen a deer in 3 sits, it doesn’t mean you won’t see 5 bucks chasing a doe on your next sit. Get out and stay out. This is still an incredibly productive time to be hunting big bucks; but it’s time to start hunting smart, the dumb part of the rut is over.