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The Best Days of The Rut: November 8

Best Day Of The Year: The scent of estrous does permeates the woods today, and bucks are running wild

You need to take off work today and spend it in the woods. The moon will be in the sky for much of the daylight hours, spurring activity. It’s a weekday, and hunting pressure will be low. My journal is full of awesome hunts on this date. But even those compelling factors take a backseat to this: The rut has changed. Up to this point, the bucks have been driving the car. Now the does grab the steering wheel, and any time that happens, action morphs from the exciting to the sublime. Here’s why:

As noted previously, a few does always enter estrus early. This handful of females is the catalyst for the rut, like an opening act for the main show. But when biologists talk about “peak rut,” they mean that magical period when 70 to 80 percent of an area’s doe herd is bred. We’re on the brink of that period today.

With more of the does in your area coming into heat, the scent of estrus will be in the air, making bucks behave in ways they would at no other time of year. Monsters will stand in the open in broad daylight, looking as dumb as dairy cows. They’ll abandon caution to cross roads and fields, their noses to the ground like beagles on a track. Of course you can stumble into a giant through little more than woods time and blind luck. But why trust a rabbit’s foot? You’ve got a legitimate shot at a wall-hanger by following a simple, two-part plan.

Half an hour before first light should find you in a stand smack in the middle of a doe bedding area: those dry humps in an otherwise sodden swamp; the brush-choked end of a long hardwood ridge; that creekbottom lined with willows, cattails, and enough dense grass that most hunters would mistake it for pheasant cover. Wiggle into your stand, strap yourself in, and face the closest feeding area. Most of your early-morning action is going to come from that direction.

Don’t get discouraged if the big one isn’t with the other deer that show up in the first hour of dawn. Big bucks are notorious for mid- to late-morning movement now, and some of the biggest bucks are shot in that time frame during this phase of the rut. Stuff your pack with snacks, bring a book if you have to—whatever it takes to keep you sitting quietly until the sun is high in the sky. Rattle periodically during dead periods; you could suck a bruiser into your spot if your timing is right.

As morning gives way to afternoon, head toward the best feeding area on your property and make sure to be there long before you think the deer will. Does that are tired of harassment by bucks will often feed long before prime time. As you walk to this stand, run a drag line towing a rag soaked in estrous scent behind you, freshening it every 100 yards. When you reach your spot, hang it on a branch 5 or 6 feet off the ground. This may not only attract a nearby buck but also focus his attention away from you.

Finally, that feeding area may be your best spot to catch a buck tending a doe. A mature buck can tell when a doe is nearly ready to breed. He’ll shadow her for hours, and you want to be waiting there when she shows up.

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from PJRACK wrote 3 years 21 weeks ago

November 8th my birthday! I've been trying to shoot a buck on my birthday ever sinse I started bowhunting , and one would think with November 8th being my birthday how hard could that be. Well it has taken me quite some time but on my 43 birthday I shot this great 4x3. November 8th dawned rainy and windy almost prompting me to stay in bed, but a close look at the radar revealed that the rain would subside sometime mid morning and there is nothing I like hunting better than the back side of a rain storm. By 8:30 the shivers and rain were forcing me to re-examine my idea of a good time, I honestly began to wonder what was wrong with me that caused me to spend my birthday freezing in the rain. Then it stopped, the rain and the wind both let up and shortly afterwards I saw a huge doe hundreds of yards away. after watching her for a few minutes I swe a absolute stud behind her but they were way off. So I went through my entire call repetoire to no availe, rattling, look but no response, grunt same, can call same. At this point I only wanted to go home so I began tiipping that can for all it was worth over and over and over again I figiured I had nothing to loose . It was then he stepped out from under my stand a different buck, and a shooter on Nantucket. My birthday buck. I saw the big boy a week later but he didn't like my stand breaking while I stood up to dtraw on him as i hung there from my harness grunting at him I couldn't help but laugh, oh the joys of bowhunting

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from PJRACK wrote 3 years 21 weeks ago

November 8th my birthday! I've been trying to shoot a buck on my birthday ever sinse I started bowhunting , and one would think with November 8th being my birthday how hard could that be. Well it has taken me quite some time but on my 43 birthday I shot this great 4x3. November 8th dawned rainy and windy almost prompting me to stay in bed, but a close look at the radar revealed that the rain would subside sometime mid morning and there is nothing I like hunting better than the back side of a rain storm. By 8:30 the shivers and rain were forcing me to re-examine my idea of a good time, I honestly began to wonder what was wrong with me that caused me to spend my birthday freezing in the rain. Then it stopped, the rain and the wind both let up and shortly afterwards I saw a huge doe hundreds of yards away. after watching her for a few minutes I swe a absolute stud behind her but they were way off. So I went through my entire call repetoire to no availe, rattling, look but no response, grunt same, can call same. At this point I only wanted to go home so I began tiipping that can for all it was worth over and over and over again I figiured I had nothing to loose . It was then he stepped out from under my stand a different buck, and a shooter on Nantucket. My birthday buck. I saw the big boy a week later but he didn't like my stand breaking while I stood up to dtraw on him as i hung there from my harness grunting at him I couldn't help but laugh, oh the joys of bowhunting

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