Hunt a rub line is any day early in the season. Many hunters talk a good game about rub lines, but the truth is, they are difficult to find and decipher. A more reliable strategy is to locate strips of cover or funnels between food sources and bedding thickets.
**Oversleep **is when you’ve spotted and scouted a good buck on public land. Another hunter will beat you to the punch and hunt “your” buck. Set your alarm an hour earlier and drive to your hunting spot (then take a cat- nap). When other guys see your truck, they may hunt another place.
**Still-Hunt **is when it’s dry and the fallen leaves are crunchy as bran flakes. Hunt quietly from a tree stand or blind in dry conditions to keep from spooking deer.
Rattle is in early or mid-October. One October evening I tinkled a rattle bag in hopes of reeling into bow range one of four bucks that were feeding on alfalfa 100 yards away. The bucks leapt out of the field as if I’d poked ’em with a cattle prod. Rattling or even light sparring can spook deer if your timing is off. Wait to try it until the week prior to the peak of the rut.
Hang a tree stand is the day you plan to hunt it. It takes at least 30 minutes to set a fixed-position perch and steps and maybe trim a few shooting lanes. You’ll make some noise and possibly alert a buck that something is amiss. Let a stand rest a day or two before hunting it. The exception is if you can shinny a climber silently up a tree in 15 minutes or less. Then go for it.
Hunt near a scrape is in early October, when bucks paw here and there to vent pent-up energy. These are not “primary scrapes” that deer will hit again. Don’t get serious about it until three or four weeks later.
Shoot a four- or six-pointer is any day. Shoot a doe for the freezer when legal, and let the little bucks walk. How else will you ever grow big bucks on your property?
Eat a double-pepperoni pie and wash it down with a couple of brews is the night before you plan to hunt. Studies show that the spicier the food you eat, the stinkier the molecules you emit into the air.
Scout your best spot is on the cusp of the rut in early or mid-November. If you’ve shot a couple of good bucks on a ridge or in a funnel over the years, you can be fairly certain more bucks will scrape and prowl for does there this fall. If you bust in and scout, you can only mess things up.
Go back to a stand is the day after you spooked a nice buck (either on post or during the hike in or out). Bump a buck once, no big deal; spook him twice and the gig is probably up. Let a spot rest for a few days.
**Climb into a tree stand **an hour before light is on a raw morning with temperatures in the teens. You’ll get the shivers before it’s even gray enough to see a deer. Try still-hunting into a stand at daybreak. You might get lucky and shoot a buck. If not, deer should move well around your perch during the mid-morning hours if the rut is on.
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