Outdoor Life Online Editor

For five minutes a 10-pointer kicked up dirt, urinated in a scrape and hooked a limb on a ridge above my stand. When the morning hunt was over, I pulled my lock-on stand and crept up the ridge to where I had glassed the giant. Which scrape had he worked? The place looked like a hog lot, and the stench from his tarsal glands filled the air. I hung my stand in the middle of it all and snuck away.

The next morning that 10-pointer loped down the ridge, hot after a doe he had picked up overnight. No shot, but 30 minutes later a barrel-chested 8-pointer wandered by, his mind in a stupor and his nose to the ground. The shot was easy.

I was able to take that buck because I was flexible. You can dawdle away your precious hunting time in a so-so stand, or you can pick up like I did and go kill a buck. This is the week to do it. Bucks are smashed on testosterone, but most of them are still sticking to some semblance of a pattern, cruising the same ridges, draws and thickets for does and bedding in the same locations each day. Even if you spot a monster chasing a doe this week, chances are he won’t run her far. The deer will probably loop round and round the same 50- to 100-acre patch of brush or timber.

After spotting an eye-popping whitetail, sneak in and check things out. If a ridge or draw is laced with fresh scrapes and rubs, Mr. Big should be back-maybe later that afternoon or tomorrow morning. And there’s a bonus. While most bucks are still homebodies this week, some have gone on the lam, wandering out of their core areas in search of the first estrous does. A vagabond will home in on a ridge or draw where he smells other rutting deer. That’s where you need to be.

Don’t think twice about moving in and hanging a bow stand downwind of a trampled doe trail or a rub-loaded thicket. This week you want to be in travel corridors, places where bucks move between feeding and bedding areas scent-checking does. Set up downwind of well-worked scrapes. Bucks are looking for does, most of which have not come into estrus yet.